from the Eye
Naomi can't affort a decent Christmas present.
didn't originally intend to write a holiday story because I pretty much dislike
the genre, but I ran into some story which was all about Poor Widdle Blair
never having a decent Christmas. My inner Naomi-lover objected, and this story
is, indirectly, the result.
Also, thanks to all the guys from SW who helped!
They didn't actually celebrate Christmas, what with being Jewish and all, but Naomi didn't want him to feel any different from the other kids so they acted like they did. They decorated and sang carols and one of Naomi's friends even found a tree for them to put in their tiny living room. They lit candles and sang the prayers, too, because Blair loved doing that and Naomi thought all deities should be respected.
Naomi was working as a waitress then, and they barely had money for rent, let alone anything more. The decoration and candles were all right, because Blair knew how to make paper chains and another friend of Naomi made candles and had plenty to spare. Gifts, on the other hand, were difficult.
Blair wrote Naomi a story. He didn't think it was very good, but it had a happy ending and a Powerful Feminine Character, which was what really mattered. Naomi liked his stories, and she tried to get him to send them to a magazine. Blair did, once, and it was rejected. Naomi blamed the publishers.
When asked what he wanted for Christmas, Blair had said, "World peace." He'd actually meant to say "Space Lego," but he couldn't say that in front of Naomi's friends. He told Naomi, afterwards, and she laughed and patted his head.
"There's nothing wrong with wanting material things sometimes," she said, "as long as you remember--"
"Important things are hidden from the eye. I know, Mom. I'm not three."
She hugged him tightly, then ran off to work.
He knew it was expensive. Naomi had been letting him help with planning the budget lately, and he knew how difficult it was. But he also saw her putting some away in a little jar, and he hoped like anything.
Naomi came back from work on Christmas Eve with aching feet and a surprisingly heavy bag. Blair knew it was heavy because he tried to carry it inside himself, and barely managed to lift it before Naomi snatched it back from his hands.
As he lay awake in bed, he wasn't quite sure what he was supposed to listen for. Prophet Elija coming in for a drink, perhaps. But that was another holiday.
The gift waiting under the tree in the morning wasn't space-Lego-shaped. Blair could tell it was a book. He plastered on a smile for Naomi's sake.
Naomi, sitting in her favorite chair, ooh-ed and aah-ed over his story. While she was reading it, Blair ripped off the brown wrapping paper. The book was old, and coming apart in places. It smelled musty. Blair felt the smile vanishing. Couldn't she have gotten him a new book?
He stiffened slightly as he heard her rising from her chair to sit next to him. "Oh, Blair," she said, "I couldn't afford the toy you wanted. I'm so sorry. But the guy who sold this to me told me it has plenty of adventures in it for you to read."
Blair didn't have the heart to tell her that he only liked books that had aliens in them now.
He read the book before going to sleep, because the library was closed and he was already through the ones he'd borrowed. Twenty pages into the book, he found that he couldn't stop turning the pages. He finished the book before dawn.
His last thought before falling asleep was, Forget about Lego. Next Christmas, I want a sentinel.
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