Christmas Spirit
by Judith Freudenthal
1995

It was the middle of December, the weather was cold as usual. Everywhere seemed to be decorated for the upcoming holidays. Christmas music poured from store speakers.

Somehow Natalie just didn't feel like celebrating. She loved Christmas and could not figure out the exact reason for her lack of holiday spirit. Was it Schanke's death earlier that year? Tracy's youth and perkiness? How close Nick and her had been?

She headed into the store to buy something for dinner.

 

Meanwhile back at Nick's he too was feeling a bit down. He came up with the same reasons for his lack of holiday spirit. He looked around his loft and noticed the definite lack of Christmas decorations.

He had noticed Natalie's lack of holiday cheer, and was glad he wasn't alone in the feeling. He was a little concerned because she was usually quite cheery at this time of year.

 

That evening at work Tracy entered more perky and cheerful than usual. He knew it would be a long night. She added a few holiday decorations to her desk while humming Jingle Bells.

 

After his shift Nick dragged the largest tree he could find into his loft. He went down to his storage area and brought up any Christmas decorations he had.

 

Natalie was in her apartment watching a holiday episode of some series as she ate her TV dinner. It did nothing but make her feel worse. She looked over at her small little tree sitting on her desk all decorated and reached for the phone. It rang, startling her.

"Hello."

"Nat, I was wondering if you could come over. I have a little problem I need help with."

"I'll be over in a few minutes."

She hung up, grabbed her jacket and medical bag. She was glad for the excuse to go anywhere else.

 

About ten minutes later she entered Nick's loft, hung her jacket over a kitchen chair as she headed for him. He was seated on the couch.

"What's wrong?" She asked before she spotted the tree and the boxes around it.

"I was shot this evening. I had forgotten about it until I moved the wrong way."

"Sit down and I'll take a look. Where is it?"

"My left shoulder," Nick said as he removed his shirt.

Natalie examined his shoulder and removed the bullet. Nick flinched in pain as she removed it, surprising them both.

"I felt that," Nick said with a grin.

"There's hope for you yet." Natalie grinned then became a bit more serious. "You have to be more careful. I don't want you getting your brains scrambled again."

"I don't want a repeat of that either."

"What's with all this?" She asked motioning towards all the decorations.

"I thought you'd help me decorate it."

"Sure."

They started by unpacking the boxes and examining what there was to work with. She noticed the age of some of the ornaments.

"Some of these are beautiful. How old are they?"

"Those there are from the late 1800's. These here are from the 1920's, '30's and '40's. That box there contains some from the 1950's, '60's. The box way over there are from the last few years."

"How are we going to reach the top of the tree? I know you don't have a ladder."

Nick had been standing behind her. He wrapped his arms around her waist and grinned mischeviously.

"Like this."

Natalie felt herself rising off the floor and was a little nervous at first. She knew he would never hurt her and quickly relaxed.

"Sure beats a ladder," she said with a grin.

He lowered them back to the ground and released her.

"How about some holiday music?" She asked trying to set the proper mood.

"Umm....."

"Hold on."

Natalie made a quick trip to her car and returned with a CD still in its plastic shrink wrap.

"I bought this earlier, hoping it would put me more in the mood."

She popped the CD into the player and hit play. Christmas carols softly wafted through the loft.

"Why are you checking the lights now?"

"If we string them and they don't work we'll have to undo the tree to remove them."

"Good point."

They strung the lights on the tree. Natalie enjoyed being in Nick's arms as he levitated by the tree following her directions for which way to go next.

Once that was done they hung the ornaments. They worked together on placing them in the perfect spot. Several hours later they finished. Nick's hovering had been much easier than trying to maneuver around with a ladder.

Once the tree was finished he plugged it in and they stood back to admire their handiwork. Both had smiles, pleased with their work.

They both suddenly realized that they did not want to be alone. That was what bothered them.

They decorated the rest of his loft making it look very festive.

They had made a quick grocery run. She picked up a few items to stock his place with so she would have some food there. She also picked up the necessary items to do her cookie baking with.

She used his larger kitchen area to make her Christmas cookies. She was determined to teach him how to make them and showed him how to do everything. He found the mixing and rolling parts boring but enjoyed the cookie cutters. He accidentally burned his hand on the oven. He enjoyed decorating the cookies. He pictured them like little mini canvases.

Somewhere along the way they had found their Christmas spirit.

Near the end of their baking they had gotten a little silly. He flicked some flour at her and she flicked some back at him. Before they knew it the stuff was flying, coating them and their surroundings in white. They started laughing and shook the stuff out of their hair and brushed it off the other's face. They had one more batch of cookies to finish.

Once they had finished with their last batch she made him try one of each kind. She also sampled the product of their labor. He swallowed the bites without much complaint, just for her.

The end.

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