Christmas Eve at Mikey and Alicia's home.
“Calm down.” Holly smiled.
Mikey got up to answer the door with Molly following closely behind.
“About time.” Mikey said pulling open the door to allow his family to enter.
“Sorry we’re late.” Lindsey said walking in carrying Bandit. “Gee and Don are grabbing the gifts out of the car.”
Mikey nodded then went outside to help.
“Hey Donna.” Lindsey greeted her mother in law.
Donna smiled, “Good to see you and that beautiful granddaughter of mine. She took Bandit from Lindsey’s arms. However Bandit had spotted Molly and started squirming wanting to be let down.
“Okay, okay.” Donna laughed giving her granddaughter a kiss then placing the toddler on her feet.
“B” Molly jumped up and down.
Bandit giggled and ran to Molly.
“Girls go settle down in the living room while we get the food ready.” Holly, who had joined them, said. She turned to Lindsey. “Merry Christmas.”
Lindsey laughed, “Well not yet.”
“Okay but saying Merry Christmas Eve sounds strange.” Holly grinned. “Alicia’s in the kitchen.”
Lindsey nodded then followed Holly while Donna returned to the living room to watch the girls.
'Hey." Alicia said looking up from the vegetable plate she was placing on the table. “Glad you guys are here. Everything’s ready. Figured we’d eat first then open presents.”
“Sounds good.” Lindsey said grabbing a carrot stick then taking a bite.
Soon they were all gathered around the kitchen table. Since there was a shortage of chairs Holly was sitting on her stool from the garage and Molly was sitting on Mikey’s lap.
"You sure you don’t want me to grab the other stool from the garage?" Holly asked.
Mikey shook his head. “Nope, me and M can share the seat.”
From her high chair Bandit tossed a small baby carrot Gerard had placed on her tray towards them.
“No, B.” Gerard said shaking his head. “No throwing food.”
Bandit just smiled.
“That’s her new game." Lindsey sighed.
Holly smiled, “Molly went through that stage too.”
As the food was passed around the conversation was relaxed and upbeat. Holly smiled at those around her feeling the love that these people shared. She was grateful to be a part of it all.
“Holly, you look awful happy.” Don, who was sitting next to her, said softy.
“I am happy.” Holly smiled. “I’ve very grateful to everyone for letting Molly and me be a part of this Christmas Eve.”
“Well that’s cause you’re part of the family.” Mikey said as he speared another slice of ham for his plate.
Holly knew that even though his words weren’t quite true they still touched her deeply.
“Thank you Mikey Boy.” She answered.
“Mikey Boy?” Lindsey repeated in confusion.
“That’s what she used to call me all the time.” Mikey explained.
Lindsey nodded then turned to her husband. “Did you have a special name too?”
Gerard looked over at Holly then turned back to his wife. “Uh not really.”
Holly giggled. “That’s not exactly true.”
He looked back over at her. “Behave Holly. What you used to call me wasn’t a nice name.”
Lindsey’s eyebrow rose.
“I’ll tell you later." Gerard laughed.
Lindsey nodded then continued eating.
As the dinner started to wind down both of the children were growing more and more anxious. While Bandit didn’t exactly understand why she knew that something good was going to happen.
“Okay let me just put the leftovers away then we’ll get to the presents.” Alicia said as people began to move away from the table.
“Yeah, you guys take the girls into the living room.” Donna said.
Holly, Lindsey, Alicia and Donna started to clear the table.
“Is it okay if I take a plate of food over to Hal?” Holly asked Alicia.
“Sure." Alicia nodded. “Why don’t you do that now.”
Holly grabbed a Styrofoam plate from the cabinet. “I’ll help you wash the dishes tonight after everyone leaves.” She said to Alicia who was standing at the sink.
Alicia nodded, “Sure, no problem. Hey wish Hal a Merry Christmas for us, okay?”
“I will.” Holly promised as she began to place food on the plate. Once it was done she covered the dinner with plastic wrap. “Oh, maybe I should take him a little plate of the deserts too.”
“Yeah, definitely.” Alicia got out a smaller plastic plate.
As soon as it was filled and covered Holly said, “Okay I’ll be right back.”
“So who’s Hal?" Donna asked once Holly had left the kitchen.
Alicia smiled, “Our neighbor across the street.”
“The old mean guy?"
Picking up a plate off the table Alicia sighed, “Yeah but you know I feel bad Mikey and I ever thought about him like that. Holly got to know him and he’s really just a lonely old man. Actually he was here for our party and he and Don really got along.”
Donna smiled, “I’m not surprised Holly got to know him. Back in Jersey she made friends with all the neighbors, even some of them I didn’t know that well.”
Lindsey who had been listening spoke. “Okay I gotta ask what did Holly call Gerard?”
It took Alicia a moment to understand the question but when she did she laughed. “Oh Holly’s pet name for him was Jackass.”
Lindsey was shocked, “That’s a pet name?”
It was Donna who explained, “Well back then my oldest was going through a bad time and well a lot of the time that’s what he acted like. Holly wasn’t afraid to point that out to him. The name just sorta became a running joke.”
Alicia nodded, “Yeah and he called her Bossy.”
Lindsey turned to the table for another plate while letting all of that information set in. Something was bothering her but as of yet she just couldn't put her finger on it.
“Where you going?” Mikey asked seeing Holly walk in with the plates.
“I’m gonna take this over to Hal. It’s Christmas Eve and I know he’s alone. But I still have to grab something out of my car too.”
Gerard stood up from his spot on the floor by the little girls. “Need some help?”
Holly thought a minute. “Sure if you don’t mind.”
He opened the front door for her and they made their way towards Holly’s car.
“Here.” She handed him the plates.
Gerard watched as she pulled a small potted fir tree from her car. It was decorated like a Christmas tree complete with lights.
“He doesn’t have a Christmas tree.” Holly explained. “I just think he should.”
Gerard smiled, “That’s very thoughtful of you.”
Holly was suddenly reminded of the Christmas Eve Bob had showed up on her doorstep with a small tree similar to this one. “A friend once brought me a tree like this on Christmas Eve when I was alone.” She paused looking into his eyes. “I remember how it made me feel.”
“Bryar.” Gerard said softly.
Holly stood with the tree in her arms. “Yeah.” She hoped Gerard wasn’t angry.
“I’m fuckin’ glad he did that for you.”
His words were rewarded with a beautiful smile.
As they walked across the street Holly looked up into the clear night sky.
“Looking for Santa?" Gerard asked softly.
“No, it’s too early for him.” Holly smiled, “But Molly and I for sure will look later.”
It pained him that he knew she would bring Molly outside when that happened. Only because he wished he could be there with them. As that realization hit him he frowned.
“What’s wrong?” Holly asked.
Gerard forced himself to smile, “Nothing at all.” They had started up Hal’s sidewalk when he suddenly stopped. “Holly, that Christmas Eve when I found you outside..”
She knew exactly what he meant. “Yes?”
“You said everyone is sad sometimes. You said that people always thought that you were so happy but that you were tired of pretending.” He took a step closer to her. “Are you still pretending?"
His question surprised her. Her first thought was to simply lie but something in his eyes stopped her. “Sometimes.” She answered then quickly made her way up to Hal’s front door.
By the time Gerard reached her side Hal was pulling the door open.
“Merry Christmas.” Holly sang out.
Hal’s tried eyes took on a new light. “Holly, Gerard, come in.”
Once they stepped inside he closed the door. Holly handed him the tree.
“What’s this?” He smiled.
“Hal, I know you don’t like to celebrate but I just thought….” She was suddenly afraid she’d overstepped her bounds when she saw his eyes had filled with tears. “I’m sorry.” She muttered.
Hal looked at the little Christmas Tree. “It’s a doozy, thank you.” He walked across the living room, sat it down on the little end table then plugged in the lights. When he turned back to them he’d wiped his eyes.
Holly smiled, “And we brought you food.”
Gerard held out the plates.
“Oh my.” Hal said taking them carefully. “I’m gonna have a feast.”
“Just wait until you try the fudge and Apply Brown Betty.” Gerard said. “Holly made them and they are wonderful.”
“Can you sit for a minute?” Hal asked hopefully.
Holly knew that soon the other would be waiting to open their gifts. As much as it pained her she started to decline the offer when Gerard’s words stopped her.
“Sure we can.” He said kindly. He understood this lonely old man needed the company if only for a short time.
Ten minutes after Holly left the other women had cleared the table. As they walked into the living room Lindsey noticed her husband was missing. “Where’s Gee?”
Don answered. “He went with Holly over to Hal’s. She was having trouble juggling the plates of food.”
"Yeah, because she had something else for Hal in her car.” Mikey added.
Donna sat down then smiled, “Oh I know what it was. It must be the little Christmas tree she showed it to me earlier.”
Alicia sat down on the floor by Mikey. “Oh.” She said softy. Suddenly she remembered what Holly had told her.
“What?” Mikey asked.
Alicia smiled slightly. “I was just remembering that Holly told Christa and me about that first Christmas Eve after she left Jersey. She was alone in Colorado by that time and Bob showed up on her doorstep Christmas Eve with a little Christmas tree.”
Mikey thought a minute than said, “I’m glad he did that. I just wish we’d known she was alone.”
“Me too.” Alicia nodded.
By this time Lindsey had sat down on the floor by Bandit. “You know I’ve been wondering about that since I saw him at Holly’s show. They have remained friends this whole time?” She had wanted to ask Gerard about this but had been afraid since it had to do with Bob he’d be upset. Gerard still has holding on to a lot of anger towards their former drummer.
“Not exactly.” Alicia went on to explain how Bob had found Holly.
Lindsey listened with a frown marring her face.
Mikey believe he understood what she was thinking. “Yeah, he went to the trouble to find out what had happened to her but we didn’t.”
Lindsey looked around, “Yeah, I’ve been wondering about that. I mean obviously Holly was a very close friend. Didn’t any of you wonder why she just took off like she did?”
Alicia sighed, “I feel worse about it than anyone.” She admitted. “I honestly don’t know why I just let her disappear from my life. When we first got back from PR things were so crazy…”
Mikey spoke up looking at his sister in law. “Yeah, you and Gee had just gotten married, we went back to touring…” He paused. “Still we should have found the time. Bryar did.”
Don sat quietly watching Lindsey closely. What he saw was beginning to bother him. “Hey, that’s all in the past.” He said rubbing his hands together wanting to change the topic. “Now if they’d just get back we can open some presents.”
Immediately the little girls started bounding up and down excitedly.
“I’m sure Holly will be back soon.” Lindsey said softly. “But I’m guessing she just wanted to spend a little time with Hal.”
Don nodded. “Hal’s a great guy but very lonely.”
Lindsey looked over at him. “I’m sure she understands what that’s like.”
“Yes.” Don nodded. “Holly has a very tender heart.”
“A good heart.” Lindsey said softly.
At the door Hal suddenly reached out and hugged Holly. “Thank you for making an old man very happy.” He whispered.
Holly returned the hug.
“Wish everyone a Merry Christmas for me.” He said releasing her then stepping back. He looked over at Gerard. “Thank you for coming.”
Gerard smiled. “Merry Christmas, Hal.”
Walking down the sidewalk towards the road Gerard spoke softly. “I’m glad we stayed a few minutes. I think it really made him happy.”
“It did.” Holly smiled.
“You’re an incredible woman, Holly Lintz.” He said suddenly.
Holly laughed, “Okay where did that come from?”
“You just are and I wanted to say it.”
They had almost reached Mikey’s front yard when Holly suddenly stopped. “Gee, I’m not remarkable at all. I’m just like everyone else. I have good days and bad. I can be nice but I can be a bitch at times.”
He was shocked. “Okay seriously, I’ve never seen you be a bitch to anyone.”
She shook her head, “You just don’t know. I’m no saint. It makes me uncomfortable for people to think I’m so damn good.”
Again he was shocked not understand where this attitude was coming from. “Okay you’re not a saint but you are one of the most caring people I’ve ever know. Mom once told me that the world would be a better place if there were more people like you.”
This time it was Holly who was shocked, “Donna said that?”
“Sure did and she’s right. So just get over yourself, Holly. You’re a good person, deal with it.” He teased.
Holly laughed, “Oh whatever.”
When they got inside Gerard moved to sit down by his wife and daughter while Holly sat down on the floor by Molly.
“Sorry we were gone so long.” She said.
“How’s Hal doing?” Don asked.
“He’s a lot better now, thanks to Holly.” Gerard answered from his heart.
Holly glanced over at him then turned her attention to Don. “He wanted me to wish everyone a Merry Christmas.”
“Think maybe tomorrow I’ll stop by and visit him on my way to the airport. I’ll have time in the morning.”
Gerard nodded, “Sure dad. I can bring you over in the morning earlier than we planned.”
“I’m sure Hal would love that.” Holly smiled.
Molly nudged her mother. “Pwesents?”
Holly laughed, “Presents? You think we should open them now? I don’t know, you have to ask Uncle Mikey. It’s his house so it’s his rules.”
Mikey grinned. “Oh yeah, that’s true. M I think you’re right. It’s time to open the presents. Wanna help me pass them out?”
The little girl jumped to her feet. “Mes wants too.”
Soon wrapping paper was being ripped and the room was filled with happiness.
Holly was unwrapping her gift from Gerard and Lindsey. She lifted the designer bag and smiled. “Thank you guy.” She said. “I love it.” In truth she did love the bag but it was something she would never have bought for herself knowing the cost of these bags.
Lindsey smiled over at her. “Glad you like it.”
She was busy herself opening Holly’s gift. Carefully lifting the necklace out she exclaimed, “Oh, it’s beautiful.”
Holly was pleased she seemed to like it. “I used a piece of that stained glass you gave me.”
Gerard was also examining the piece. “Wow, that’s beautiful.”
Lindsey nodded. “Holly you should definitely consider making jewelry too. This is gorgeous.” She held the necklace out to her husband then turned so he could fasten the clasp around her neck.
“Do you really think so?” Holly asked. “I was thinking that maybe it is something I’d like to try. I had to use an already shaped silver pendant to make yours but I was thinking that if I started working more with sliver I could make pendants in different shapes.”
“Definitely.” Lindsey nodded reaching up to touch the pendant around her neck. “That would be awesome but this one is just wonderful.”
“Oh and look she made me earrings.” Alicia cried out happily.
Holly hoped they truly liked her gifts. Money was still very tight for her and she’d worried that the presents she’d made would seen silly to people who could afford to buy gifts.
Mikey thanked his dad for the new video game then suddenly saw that Molly was opening the gift he and Alicia had bought her. When he saw the look of puzzlement on the little girls face he went over to sit down by her. “M this is the player like Ray has, remember?”
She suddenly smiled. “Mes knows. Pway dames.”
He nodded. “Yep, see here are two games for it. This is the one you liked so much at Rays and here is another one.”
“Mommy lookie.” Molly said tugging on Holly’s arm. “Mes gots games too.”
“That’s great, Baby. But what do you say?”
“Tank yous guys.” She said to Mikey and Alicia.
Bandit had just discovered the play cell phone Holly had bought for her. She crawled across the floor to show Molly.
Lindsey laughed, “So now maybe she’ll stop trying to use my phone.”
Holly grinned. “I did see her try to grab yours a couple of times.”
“Oh Holly.” Mikey said as he gently lifted his gift from it’s bag. “Thank you.”
Gerard looked across the room at the Luke Skywalker figure his brother was holding up for all to see.
Mikey showed it to his Dad. “Holly made me one like this years ago but it got broken.”
Alicia laughed, “I swear my boy almost cried.”
“Fine work.” Don said to Holly.
More paper was ripped and tossed while the gifts continued to be opened.
Lindsey looked over to see her husband lifting the bag that contained his gift from Holly.
Holly had glanced over and was watching too.
Gerard carefully lifted the Yoda figure out. “Holly how did you know?” He asked.
“Lindsey mentioned the first one met a bad fate.” She laughed.
Gerard tried to push that memory from his head. “Yeah, he did. Thank you for making me another.”
“Glad you like him.” Holly answered. “Can’t have you going around without The Force.”
Their eyes met for a brief moment.
Donna had just opened the gift Mikey and Alicia had bought and was thanking them for the blouse. Next she opened the one from Holly. “It’s beautiful.” She said holding up the stained glass picture frame in which she’d placed a copy of the photo of Bandit and Molly sitting on Santa’s lap. “The girls are adorable and I just love this frame. You made it, didn’t you?”
Holly smiled. “Yep.” She’d also made a similar frame for Don which also contained a photo of the girls.
"Holly, thank you.” Don said examining his gift. “This will look great on my mantel.”
Holly was opening her gift from Donna when Bandit toddled over to her. She laughed when Bandit held out the play cell phone.
“Oh, it’s for me?”
Bandit nodded then rewarded Holly with a smile when she pretended to talk to someone one of the phone.
“Baby B tell Holly thank you for the phone.” Lindsey said to her daughter.
“Tants.” B said then threw her arms around Holly’s neck to give her a big hug.
“You’re very welcome, B.” Holly hugged the little girl tightly.
As Bandit made her way back over to her parents Holly went back to opening another gift. “Oh.” She said softly lifting the heart shaped clay heart. Reading the inscription she smiled. “Thank you.” She said to Alicia, who she knew had been watching.
Alicia smiled. “Hey, I’m not a great artist with clay or anything but I wanted you to know how I feel.”
Lovingly Holly’s fingertips touched the flower shapes covering the heart but it was the words “Sister In My Heat” that touched her deeply. “It’s beautiful.” Holly said softly. “I feel the same way towards you.”
Alicia smiled. “Okay now open our real gift.”
“Alicia this is a real gift.” Holly said still looking at the heart. “A wonderful gift.” When she opened the gift bearing the tag “from Mikey Boy and Alicia” it was nice but did nothing to touch her heart like Alicia’s homemade gift.
An hour later the adults were enjoying various deserts, drinking coffee and watching the girls. For now they were playing with the toy Mikey and Alicia had bought Bandit. It was a large series of tubes. When a ball was inserted into the hole at the base a fan pushed the ball through the tubes. The ball then popped out at the top all the while playing a strange tune.
Lindsey laughed, “Fun toy but that music is gonna drive me nuts.”
Mikey laughed. “Kinda figured that.”
“You are evil little brother.” Gerard said pretending to appear upset. “Just wait until you have a kid. I’m gonna find the loudest toy I can.”
Alicia snuggled closer to Mikey. “Well hopefully it won’t be long before you have to find that toy.”
Donna gave her a surprised look, “You and Mikey are thinking about starting a family soon?” She asked hopefully.
“Sure are.” Alicia answered happily.
“Excuse me.” Holly said hearing her cell phone ring.
Alicia watched her walk into the kitchen. “Bet that’s Bob.” She said to Mikey.
He nodded, “Yeah, I was sure he’d call her tonight.”
Gerard sighed trying not to let that conversation ruin his mood. He knew he shouldn’t let the fact that Holly and Bob were friends bother him but somehow it still did.
Lindsey started to say something to her husband but at the last minute changed her mind.
Gerard glanced at his watch. “This had been an excellent Christmas Eve but we better get Bandit home.” He noticed that his daughter was starting to get cranky. She’d just thrown a ball from the game.
Lindsey nodded, “Yeah, B’s getting tired and I still need to pack.”
“How long you gonna be gone?” Mikey asked.
“We’re just gong for a few days.” Lindsey answered. “I know Gee has to get back for that taping on Wednesday.”
Gerard stood. “Come on.” He said to his brother.
Lindsey understood that Gerard was going to give him the gift they’d purchased for “Santa” that was intended for Holly.
“I’m sure it will be nice to spend a few days with your family.” Donna said to Lindsey as her boys walked outside.
Lindsey forced herself to smile. “Yeah, it will be. Mom’s planning a big dinner for the family the day after tomorrow.”
Holly walked back in and sat down.
“Bob?” Alicia asked.
“Yep." Holly nodded. “He just wanted to wish me and Molly a Merry Christmas.”
“That’s nice.” Alicia smiled.
Lindsey stood and started gathering up their gifts. Holly went into the other room and returned with a large shopping bag. “You can use this.”
“Thanks.” Lindsey said taking it from her. As they were placing the presents in the bag she said. “Thanks again for my necklace. I love it.”
Holly smiled, “Thanks again for my bag it’s beautiful.”
By this time Mikey and Gerard had returned coming in through the garage where the gift had been stashed. Gerard had made Mikey promise he wouldn’t let Holly see it until Christmas morning. He wanted Holly to be surprised by her Santa gift.
All of the adults decided to walk Gerard’s family to their car. The night was clear and beautiful.
Once again Gerard saw Holly look up into the sky. He moved to stand beside her. “Molly’s gonna love looking for him.”
Holly smiled, “I’m not sure she remembers but we looked for him last year too.”
As the bags were being put in the car the rounds of hugging began. When Gerard hugged Holly there was so much he wanted to say yet words failed him. “Merry Christmas, Bossy.” He whispered.
“Merry Christmas, Gee.” She whispered back surprising him.
Soon the family was waving good bye as they backed out of the driveway.
“Okay, Molly we gotta help Alicia clean up. Santa should be getting close very soon.”
LITTLE AUTHORS NOTE:THANKS TO ALL YOU BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE FOR THE REVIEWS. THEY MEAN MORE THAN I CAN SAY!