A Christmas Tree brings back memories.
“Love you too, M.” Mikey laughed. “But come on we gonna decorate this tree.”
From the sofa Alicia and Holly watched as the progress continued. It had taken Mikey only minutes to place the tree in the stand even with all of Molly’s “help”.
“God, it’s good to see Mikey smile like that.” Alicia whispered to Holly. “He hasn’t been this happy in a long time.”
“Okay, M where should this one go?” He held up a bright red glass ornament.
Molly stood back to survey the tree. “Mes tinks dare.” She pointed to a spot just to the right.
Mikey handed it to her. “Go ahead.” He urged.
Holly was about to warn that maybe that wasn’t a good idea when it happened. The ornament slipped from Molly’s fingers crashing to the ground.
"Oh.” Molly’s face scrunched up. “Mes bwoke it.”
Alicia jumped up. “I’ll grab the broom.”
Mikey was patting Molly on the shoulder. “It’s okay, M. We got lots of ornaments.”
“But its bwoken.” She cried.
Carefully Mikey picked up the large pieces of glass then tossed them into the trashcan Alicia had placed by them. She swept up the small pieces while Mikey continued to comfort Molly.
“Was so pwetty.” Molly hiccuped looking down into the trashcan.
Holly got off the sofa to join them. “Molly, it was an accident. No one is mad at you.”
Tears still streamed down the little girls face. “All don now.”
“Oh.” Holly said softly understanding Molly’s concern. “Hey, I know what.” She reached into the trashcan and carefully picked up the two large pieces of glass. “It’s broken but not forgotten. I will take these out to the garage and I’ll put these pieces into my next wind chime. That way we’ll always remember it.”
Molly smiled, “Otay.” Knowing that the beautiful red glass would come to life again made her happy.
Mikey glanced over at Alicia both realizing Holly had worked magic.
“Okay now M.” Mikey said, “Back to decorating.” This time he handed her a plastic candy cane.
When Holly returned from the garage she sat back down next to Alicia.
“Remember that night we decorated Donna’s tree?” Alicia laughed. “God, Gee was in a mood but you snapped him out of it.”
Holly smiled at the memory….
Dec 10th 2006
“Gee your brother and Alicia will be here soon.” Donna said walking into the living room where Gerard and Holly had just taken seats after dinner. “Go on down and bring up the tree and ornaments.”
Gerard moaned. “Ma, I’m tired.” The band had just returned a few hours earlier from doing a show. As soon as he’d walked in his mother had placed dinner on the table. They’d eaten and now he was just hopping to relax.
Holly laughed, “I’ll help you.” She offered.
Gerard looked over at her. God, did the woman ever stop smiling? She was terminally happy. And what the hell was she wearing? He’d never seen such an ugly sweatshirt. It looked like Christmas had thrown up all over it. Slowly he got to his feet knowing Holly was right behind him.
Down in the basement he walked towards the large storage closet unable to keep from sighing.
"Tired?” Holly guessed.
“Yeah, I’m tired and not in the mood to decorate this damn tree.” He said as he pulled open the doors.
Holly tried not to laugh but he sounded like a whiny kid. “Oh it will be fun.”
He pulled out the artificial tree then let the box slide to the floor. “Yeah, fun.” Suddenly he couldn’t stop himself, “What the hell are you wearing?”
Holly smiled, “I assume you are referring to my sweatshirt?”
Gerard looked it over, “Uh, yeah.”
“Another gift.” Holly smiled looking down at the large Christmas tree embroidered on her sweatshirt. It was adorned with beads and sequins. “One of the ladies at St Tim’s made it for me.”
Gerard tried to keep a straight face believing if he said anything more he’d hurt her feelings. “Oh, nice.”
Holly burst out laughing, “Hey, you haven’t seen the best part.” She reached up and pushed a small button. The lights on the tree came to life.
“Oh fuck.” Gerard said shaking his head in disbelief.
“Pretty hideous, isn’t it?” Holly grinned.
Gerard smiled, “Yeah, it really is.”
Holly nodded, “Yep, I agree. Now where is the box of ornaments?”
He gave the sweatshirt one more look then turned to pull out the large cardboard box. “In here.” He said lifting it off the shelf.
“Need help carrying up the tree?” Holly asked.
He frowned; did she think he was a weakling? “No I got it if you can carry the ornaments.”
Holly lifted it in her arms. “Got it. Lets go.” She smiled.
He picked up the tree struggling not to let her see it heavy. As they started up the step he smiled. God, even in a hideous Christmas sweatshirt the woman was cute.
Mikey and Alicia had arrived when they’d been downstairs.
“Wow, what a shirt.” Mikey said as soon as Holly set down the box she was holding.
Alicia laughed, “Oh my God. Holly where did you get that?”
“It was a gift.” Holly explained. “Donna told me we were gonna decorate the tree tonight so I figured it would be fitting.”
Donna walked in with a tray filled with mugs of cocoa and cookies. “Okay boys get that tree up.” She said.
Gerard snagged a mug and a gingerbread man cookie then sat down. “Gotta get my strength built up.” He said when he was his mother’s disapproving look.
“Someone isn’t in the holiday mood.” Mikey said to his brother.
Gerard’s eyes narrowed. “Oh yeah this is just how I wanted to spend my evening. Putting up this huge artificial tree.”
Holly burst out laughing.
“What?” Gerard said looking over at her.
“Uh.” Holly tried to look serious. “Nothing.”
“You are laughing at me.” Gerard's eyes narrowed.
Holly nodded, “Well it’s just you…” She picked up a gingerbread man and repeated his actions by biting off its head. “God, poor guy. He got his head bit off by Scrooge.”
“I’m not Scrooge.” Gerard said trying not to sound angry. “And I’m not in a bad mood.”
“Tell that to the gingerbread man.” Holly laughed.
Gerard sat back and had to admit her teasing was warranted. “Okay, maybe I’m a little cranky.”
“It’s okay.” Holly said as she untied the string holding on the artificial tree’s box. “Soon you’ll be full of Christmas cheer.”
Gerard rolled his eyes.
“Hey, if you want I’ll let you wear my sweatshirt.” She teased when she looked over at him.
“Oh hell, no.” Gerard shook his head. “Wouldn’t be caught dead in that thing.”
Holly just smiled and he smiled back. Her smile was contagious.
“God Holly tell me you don’t still have that light up sweatshirt.” Alicia said pulling Holly out of her memories. “Remember that thing?”
Holly smiled, “No, sadly I somehow lost in during one of my moves.”
Mikey had overheard their conversation, “Wouldn’t say, sadly.”
“Oh, man.” Holly pretended to be hurt. “You’re just like your brother. He hated it too.”
“Yeah, Gee did.” Mikey laughed. “But that was a fun night.” He smiled, “Good memories.” He turned back to the tree to gauge the progress he and Molly were making.
Dec 10th 2006
“So ma, what do you think?” Mikey asked Donna who was standing back to admire the tree.
“Looks good but we won’t know for sure until you plug it in.”
Mikey nodded then moved towards the back of the tree.
“Oh hold on.” Holly said suddenly. “Don’t plug it in yet.” She ran around the room turning off most of the lights. “Okay, now.”
Gerard, who had sat down on the sofa, shook his head.
Holly sat down next to him waiting for the big moment.
“Wanna drum roll?” Gerard asked.
“Nope, not needed.” She smiled.
Suddenly the tree came to life in a burst of color. Holly clapped her hand, “Oh, very pretty.”
“We did a good job.” Alicia said.
Mikey walked over and put his arms around her. “Yeah, it looks good.”
Holly turned to face Gerard, “Well what do you think?”
He stared at the tree a moment. “Yeah, it looks pretty good.” He admitted. “Not as colorful as the one on your shirt but okay.”
She looked down at her shirt. “I totally know what I’m getting you for Christmas.” She grinned.
Gerard laughed, “Oh hell no.” His cell phone went off. Standing he pulled it from his pocket as he walked out of the room.
Donna glanced back to make sure he was out of earshot. “So what’s up with him and Eliza?” She asked Mikey.
He shrugged, “Not sure. He said he needs some time to think about things.”
Holly agreed but remained silent.
“So should I expect her for Christmas dinner?” Donna asked.
Again Mikey shrugged. “You’ll have to ask him.”
Donna smiled over at Holly. “You and Sonja are coming, right?”
Holly was surprised by the question. Even though they’d been invited for Thanksgiving she really hadn’t expected a Christmas invite.
“Oh.” She wasn’t sure if Donna was just being polite. “I’m not sure.”
Alicia took the spot Gerard had vacated, “Oh course you guys are coming. Why not?”
“Well that’s kinda a big family time.” Holly said softly.
“And you and Sonja are like family.” Donna said shaking her head.
Holly was touched by her words. “Thanks. We’d love to come but I insist on making something.”
Gerard walked back into the room. “Glad you and Sonja are gonna be here.” He said, “But for the love of God, wear something else.”
Holly liked his teasing, “Okay, I’ve got a great musical sweatshirt. It plays Rudolph the Red Noses Reindeer.”
“God, let me guess, there is a reindeer on it? His nose lights up?”
Holly laughed as she touched the tip of her finger to her nose, “On the nose”
Lindsey had just put Bandit to bed then returned to the living room where Gerard and his mother sat talking.
“Donna can I get you anything?” She asked.
“I’m fine, dear.” Donna responded. “I was just asking Gee when you guys are gonna put up your Christmas tree.”
Lindsey glanced over at Gerard and saw he was frowning. “Not sure.” She hedged. “With Bandit it’s a little rough.”
Donna laughed, “Yeah, I suppose that’s true.”
“She’ll try to pull stuff off of it.” Gerard added knowing it was true.
“One year when the boys were little Mikey pulled the whole Christmas tree over.”
Gerard laughed as he pulled out his cell phone. “Uh, speaking of Mikey.’ He said handing over his phone to his mom. “He just sent a pic.”
Donna took the phone from him, “Oh that’s sweet.”
Lindsey moved so she could see the picture too. It was Mikey and Molly standing in front of their freshly decorated tree. “That is sweet.’ She said. “We should have them over when we decorate ours. I’m sure little Molly would like to help.”
Gerard nodded. “Yeah, I’m sure she would.” He said softly but his mind was really on the past. Years ago, another tree. It seemed like another lifetime.
Late Dec 10th 2006
Mikey and Alicia had left and now only Holly, Donna and Gerard remained drinking more cocoa and looking at the tree.
“Well think I’ll head off to bed.” Donna said rising to her feet. “Holly, thanks for helping us with the tree.”
“I was happy to.” Holly smiled, “It was fun.”
“Hey, where’s my, thanks son.” Gerard teased.
Donna rolled her eyes. “You had to do it.” She kissed him on the top of his head before leaving the room.
“Well I better be going.” Holly said, “You’re tired.”
“Finish your cocoa.” Gerard smiled. He’d gotten his second wind and knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep for a while.
Holly settled back against the comfy sofa cushions sipping her cocoa.
“So where’s Sonja tonight?’ He asked.
“At her friend’s house.” Holly sighed, “You know she’s at that age where being with friends is much better than hanging out with Mom.”
Gerard laughed, “Yeah, I suppose so” Suddenly his smile faded.
Holly studied him a moment, “You okay?”
“Yeah, sure.” He answered quickly. “Just thinking about how rough this month is gonna be. We’ve got so many appearances and shit.”
“But you have to be so excited.” Holly said, “I mean the album is doing great.”
“I’m really psyched about that.” He nodded. “It’s doing better than we’d hoped.”
“Because it’s brilliant.”
He looked over at her, “You really think so?”
Holly laughed, “Well sure, don’t you?”
He’d never had anyone ask him if he thought his own work was brilliant. “Yeah, I’m pleased with it.”
She nodded, “Brilliant. Come on say it.”
Gerard laughed, “Okay it’s brilliant.”
Holly pretended to be shocked, “Wow, conceited much?”
He saw the laughter in her eyes, “You made me say it, woman.”
Again the smiled returned to her face, “Yep I did cause it’s true. You need to believe it yourself and not worry what other’s say. You gotta believe it from your heart and soul.”
Gerard considered her words, “You think I worry too much about what other’s think, don’t you?”
Holly shrugged, “A little. I just think it’s important that you believe in your work. When you do, it shows.”
He sipped his cocoa. ‘Yeah, that’s true.”
“So." Holly said, "I see you’re still rockin’ that hair.”
Gerard reached up to touch his short white hair. “Still hate it?”
“Didn’t say I hated it.” Holly hedged. “Uh, it’s just different.”
“And different isn’t always good?”
Holly smiled, “Different is different.”
Again they grew quiet for several minutes both looking over at the lights of the Christmas tree. Gerard was thinking about the phone call he’d received from Eliza. Suddenly he pushed that thought from his head. He didn’t want to think about her right now. He sighed.
“Okay I can tell you are running out of steam.” Holly said getting to her feet. “To be honest I’m kinda tired too. I was on my feet for nine hours today.”
“At the diner?”
Holly nodded, “Yeah, and I’m going down to St. Tim’s tomorrow so I’ll be on them again.”
He got up and helped her into the marshmallow coat trying not to grin.
Holly caught him. “Yeah, yeah I know. Hideous sweatshirt and coat. I am a fashion icon.”
He laughed, “You are one of a kind.”
“Suppose that’s true.” She nodded. “Well it was good seein’ ya again.” She said as she pulled open the door. She was surprised to see he had slipped on his jacket and followed her out. “Watcha doin?”
“Walking you home.” He said pulling the door closed behind him.
“Gee, you don’t need to do that. I promise I won’t fall and flail around in my coat.” She laughed, “But if I do I’ll push the button on the sweatshirt and the lights will alert people that I need help.”
He shook his head laughing, “I need some fresh air anyway.” He said as they started walking up the block.
“It’s a beautiful night.” Holly said looking up at the stars.
He nodded, “Yeah, it is.” But he was really looking at her huge green eyes.
When they reached her step she said, “Well thanks for walking me home.”
“Get on up the steps.” He said, “Gonna make sure you get inside.”
“Okay.” Holly said. She unlocked the door when he spoke again.
“Hey Holly? If I pick up some hair dye tomorrow wanna come over tomorrow night and help me?"
She smiled, “Dye your hair?”
“What color?’ She asked.
Gerard laughed, the woman rarely just answered a question she always seemed to ask one of her own. “Black?”
Holly nodded, “Excellent choice. See ya then.”
As Gerard had walked back home he’d smiled thinking to himself how nice it was to be around someone that made him feel comfortable and that’s how she made him feel, comfortable.
“Gee.” Lindsey said again to get his attention.
“Oh sorry, what?”
She leaned forward to hand him his phone.
“So I’ll talk to Mikey tomorrow and see about them coming over maybe tomorrow night to help with our tree?” He asked.
Lindsey sighed, “Not tomorrow night I’ve got that art exhibit I promised I’d attend.”
Gerard nodded trying to hide his hurt. She’d not asked him to attend the event with her. “Oh okay.”
“But maybe the next night.” Lindsey said softly.
“Yeah, maybe.” He answered sadly.