"The town so it seems, was covered in greens..."
Seven days later and it was the last night of Hanukkah. There were nine candles burning in the window at the commune.
There was also a tree in a corner of the dining room and boughs and branches and holly and ivy everywhere. There was even a sprig of mistletoe above a side doorway. Not that anyone in the commune needed encouragement to kiss, but it was traditional.
Sal grumbled about all the greenery but had not really complained since her discussion with Marge and Luna.
All around the town, neighbors had put up lights and occasional garish displays. There was a nativity scene on the town green.
And the Reagons across the street thought it would be festive to erect a billboard denouncing "The War on Christmas".
"So that's why they brought the rifle," said Viv. "When the battle against Christmas comes down the street, they'll be prepared."
"More likely, they're getting ready to shoot anyone who says 'Season's Greetings!'," said Marge.
"Let's not worry about them and just enjoy the holiday," Luna said. "Who is going to be staying here for Christmas?"
"I think I have to go home with my family," said Ken.
"This is my family," said Cat.
"Me, too," said Viv.
"Oh, yeah," Sal and Nancy said almost together.
Marge sighed. "I have a sister near Worcester that I need to be with. I don't want her alone for the holiday."
"She could come here," Luna said.
"I wish," Marge replied. "We lost our parents last year and she won't go anywhere. She gets depressed at the holidays. As I said, I don't want her alone."
"Oh, wow," Viv said. "I know what that's like. Can I go with you?"
Marge went over to Viv. "Are you sure you want to?"
"Would you like it?"
"I'd like it, if you really want to come."
Viv gave Marge a hug. "I really want to come." She turned to everyone else. "Sorry folks, but this is calling to me."
"That's fine," Luna said. "I just want everyone to enjoy themselves."
"And we'll send lots of pastries with you," said Nancy.
"And my special Yule cupcakes," added Cat.
"And so the commune, in their dining room, had a merry Yuletide intertribal..."
Christmas morning came clear and very cold.
It had snowed a couple of days before and, with the frigid temperatures, it didn't look like the eighteen inches of snow on the ground was going away any time soon. The sky was blue, the snow glistened, and at the commune, four folks were in the kitchen, preparing a yuletide feast.
Sal and Luna were cutting up veggies and Cat and Nancy were baking away. But Nancy stopped what she was doing when the doorbell rang.
It was Ralph and Ed, carrying several sacks that seemed to be filled with bottles of all kinds.
"Eggnog and cider, hard and soft," Ed said.
"Glad you're here," Luna called from the kitchen. "Peter said he'll be over soon, too."
Not two minutes later the doorbell rang again.
"That should be him," Luna said.
Nancy opened the door and almost dropped the wooden spoon she was carrying.
"Surprise!" Amanda and Steve said in unison. "Merry Christmas!"
"Oh my..." said Nancy. When she got her breath she added, "You should have told us you were coming."
"And miss the shocked look on your face?" asked Steve.
Cat and Luna and Sal all came bustling in from the kitchen, joining Ed and Ralph who had just finished putting their coats away.
"And guess what two people have gone smoke free?" asked Amanda.
"Two months now," added Steve.
"Congratulations," said Cat.
"Wow, yeah," said Sal. "Congratulations."
"I'm stunned," said Nancy.
A minute later the doorbell rang again.
"Now that should be Peter," said Luna. She opened the door.
"Merry Christmas," said her mother.
"Mom, what are you doing here? Where's Dad?"
"He was being an old grouch so I decided I'd join the commune for Christmas. Besides, he was so busy watching the game when I left, he may not even know that I'm gone. What can I do to help?"
Sal and Nancy herded the crowd into the kitchen.
Luna's mother helped her and Sal steam up veggies. Ralph, Ed, Amanda, and Steve started fixing up the dining room and setting the table.
When the doorbell rang again, Luna said, "That better be Peter."
Fortunately, it was.
Dinner was a joyous and somewhat raucous feast. Lots of jokes, lots of laughter, lots of affection.
At one point Sal started nibbling on Nancy's ear.
"Stop it," Nancy said, but she was giggling. "Later."
"Hey, you two, the mistletoe is over there," Cat said.
People started pushing away their plates and giving sighs of satisfaction. Nancy and Cat stood up to get the desserts.
"Wait a minute," said Luna. "I just want to say something."
She sat back. "This is amazing."
There was a pause where she did nothing but smile.
"I feel blessed."