I’ll Be Home For Christmas
PG-13 (probably PG but let’s just be safe and say PG-13)
Set around six years after Francesca’s birth, Olivia finds
herself on the West Coast with no way to get home for the
Disclaimer Ahead (as always): Guiding Light is a product
of Proctor & Gamble (like Mr. Clean, Duracell and Old
Spice), and appears on CBS at the time of writing this. The
characters are the creative property of the show and its
producers – I'm just borrowing them for my amusement, and
hopefully for those few souls who read this.
Is your plane gonna leave today?” an hopeful, seven-year-old
Francesca asked into the phone.
wore a bittersweet smile. The sound of Francesca’s
excitement warmed her heart, but the situation was far from
Sweetie. We’re still waiting.”
miss you,” Francesca whimper.
miss you too, Kiddo – all of you. Is your Ma there?” she
you going to be home for Christmas? You said you would,”
Francesca reminded her.
closed her eyes as she sat in her hotel room. Literally, it
was HER hotel room since it was now her hotel. The acquisition
of the Galaxy property would be a great stepping-stone to the
Beacon franchise in the Pacific Northwest. And after weeks of
negotiations, the deal was done. At the moment though, being
stuck in Portland wasn’t part of the plan.
know I said I’d be home, Peanut, but right now it’s not
looking very good.”
Olivia could hear the disappointment in her daughter’s
voice. “Here’s Ma. I love you, Mom.”
love you too, Sweetie.”
few seconds later Olivia heard Natalia’s disappointed,
“Hey, no luck huh?”
could only groan at first. “No. Planes are getting in, but
no one’s getting out. They don’t have enough de-icer here
so no one can take off….This really sucks.”
promised Chessie I’d be home.”
should have waited until after the holiday.”
couldn’t wait,” Natalia told her. “You were right to
close this deal now. Marriott wanted that property bad and
it’s a great location for Oregon, right?”
smiled. “Thank you for trying to make me feel better.”
here understands. It’s the weather that’s keeping you
away; not anything of your choosing.”
half tempted to rent a car and drive home,” Olivia muttered.
but first you’ve gotta get around the Cascades and then the
Rockies. That’s a great plan,” Natalia laughed.
but don’t worry. Frank’s here to keep me warm.”
ha, ha. Like I believe that for a second,” Olivia giggled.
and Doris then?”
snorted. “Like Doris would share her lady. Please.”
chuckled. “Hey, I made you laugh.”
did, but I still feel like the winner of the worst Mom of the
She misses you too, but when you’re 17 you can’t admit you
want your mommie. She’s at Jodi’s now, but she’ll be
home this evening. Want me to have her call when she gets
nodded although she knew Natalia couldn’t see her. “Yeah,
I miss my Jellybean too. I miss everyone, hell, I even miss
the Coopers. We’ve only got so many Christmas’s, you
get yourself worked up, okay? It’s not good for your
been eating right?”
grinned. “Okay, I had a cheeseburger for lunch today and
really, how do you do that?”
that I cheated.”
know you. It’s day three of trying to get home and you’re
feeling pretty defeated. You’re getting to the ‘screw
this; I’ll eat what I want because I’m never coming
home’ phase. We both know that’s not true though.”
could hear the smile in Natalia’s voice it and it made her
you’re right. I was depressed when they canceled my flight
again,” she offered in explanation.
let it slide this time, but Liv-.”
know. I’ll try to be good for dinner. Rabbit food only,
smiled again. “I love you, Honey.”
love you too.”
talk to you later. I’ve got some last minute Christmas
Talk to you tonight.”
hung up the phone and then hung her head.
was December 23rd, 2015 and Olivia found herself wandering the
halls of her new hotel after spending the day watching a NCIS
marathon. The fact she was walking around HER new hotel
brought a momentary grin to her face. Professionally, things
were looking up. She had 10 hotels in the growing chain now.
Personally, though, she was lonely, missing Christmas with her
family and friends.
in all, however, she figured there were worse ways to spend
the holiday. She really needed to ‘buck up.’ She thought
of the soup kitchen that Natalia helped with each week and the
people that came in for food and shelter. Her life could be
worse… much worse. And although she understood that fact as
she walked the halls of the plush hotel, she still ached for
her family no matter how blessed she felt.
arrived at the hotel bar and took a seat on the stool. She
checked her cell phone yet again to see if Emma had called.
can I get you?” the bartender asked politely. He looked
rather young - perhaps early 20's.
extra olives, a little dirty.”
right up.” He nodded and went to work.
let out a sigh and watched the TV screen above them that
showed a news reporter talking about the ‘freak storm’
that was hitting the area. Snow and blistering cold was
playing havoc with travelers unused to the extreme shift of
the weather. But they did manage to get some planes in with
extra de-icer on board. Still, it didn’t sound like they’d
be ready to get everyone out by the 25th.
one’s getting out soon it seems,” she muttered.
you one of the trapped folks?” he asked her.
nodded. “I’m trying to get back to Illinois before
Christmas, but I don’t think that’ll happen.”
if you’re here come Christmas, we’ll do our best to make
you feel at home. It’s a nice bunch of folks; good
know. That’s why I bought the hotel.” She smiled.
Ms. Spencer?” he asked curiously. She nodded. He wiped his
hand on his apron and then extended it so they could shake.
“Nice to meet you. We heard about the take-ove-uhhh,
purchase of the hotel. In fact, rumors are flying around like
went to work mixing the drink. “Honestly? They say you’re
going to fire everyone; clean house and start fresh. Stuff
have no intention of firing ‘everyone’ here,” she
answered. “I need people to run the hotel. But I will be
doing reviews to see who’s doing their jobs well and who’s
grinned. “Well, if that’s the case then drinks are ‘on
the house’,” he teased as he put the martini in front of
away my money already, huh?” she said with a grin.
figured you’re buying anyway,” he countered.
smiled larger. “What’s your name?”
Daniel, tonight you’re my surrogate son. How’s that?”
Does that mean Santa’s gonna bring me something nice for
Christmas?” he joked.
took a sip of her drink. With a look of satisfaction she
reached into her front pocket and pulled out a roll of money.
She pulled a hundred from the roll and put it on the counter.
Christmas,” she said as she slid it over to him.
Christmas indeed,” he replied as he picked it up. He leaned
toward her a little bit. “Would it be too forward to say I
have an Oedipus complex, ‘Mom’?” he asked playfully.
laughed out loud and pulled another hundred from the roll.
“That was funny. Have another,” she retorted. “As cute
as you are ‘Sonny’ I’m very happily married with
or children?” Olivia joked.
he said as he smiled. “But now I’m more intrigued by the
bet you are,” Olivia smirked at first and then looked off
fondly. “Natalia’s beautiful and funny and…decent.
She’s a good person, you know? A good heart?” Daniel
nodded. “And we’ve got four children. Well, not really
children. There’re two grown-ups – Rafe and Ava; one
who’s almost grown – Emma, who’s in high school, and one
who just turned seven - Chessie.”
that’s a stretch in ages. One about to go to college and one
in elementary school.”
Chessie was a surprise, but a welcomed one. And Emma, our
Jellybean, she looks more and more like a woman everyday. It
seems like yesterday she was begging for Hannah Montana
CD’s; now she’s shopping for colleges…You have kids?”
single and loving it,” he replied. “I might settle down
someday if I find the right gal. For now though, I’m
exploring my options.”
plan. Keep your freedom and don’t settle. That way when you
meet the right gal you’ll know it in your heart.”
that how you did it?”
nodded. “But with lots of road bumps along the way,” she
added. “Hey, you think I can get some dinner over here?”
course, you’re the boss.”
smiled. “Yes, I am.”
reached down and handed her a menu. She looked at it for a few
chicken and rice, huh?” she asked absently. “It’s
chicken and rice night tonight,” she explained although he
looked confused. “Back at home, I mean. Christmas Eve is
turkey and Christmas Day is ham.
Today though, it’s chicken and rice night and
Natalia, my wife, she makes the best…I miss her cooking. I
miss her. I miss…everything. Don’t mind me though. I’ll
just have a little pity party here by myself.”
acceptable,” Daniel replied. “Would you like another drink
while you ‘wallow’ there on your barstool, Ma’am?”
grinned. “Hit me.”
an hour later, with her two martini’s down and her plate of
Salmon with slivered almonds on asparagus mostly gone, she bid
Daniel a goodnight. She checked her cell phone again on the
elevator, but there was no message. As she entered her room,
she placed the phone on the nightstand and went to the dresser
for her pj’s. Before she could get them on, the phone began
to ring with Emma’s ringtone.
smiled as she hit the ‘send’ button.
Jellybean,” she began. “How are you doing?”
she replied. In the last few years, Emma’s voice lost its
‘squeaky’ tone. It was deeper; more womanly than
childlike. “Ma said you wanted me to call tonight. I guess
Christmas in Springfield isn’t going to happen, huh?”
probably not,” Olivia sighed. “You’ll have to look after
Ma and Chessie while I’m gone; help them out. Rafe and Ava
should be there soon though.” There was a bit of a silence.
“Emma? Did I lose you?”
here,” she replied in a soft voice.
then Olivia heard a knock at her door. “Hold on, Bean.”
stomped toward the door. Unless it was someone telling her the
airport called for her to go home, she found herself growing
annoyed. She flung the door open to see Emma standing there
with her arms open and her head cocked to one side.
you I was here,” she replied.
rushed forward and pulled her into a tight embrace. She
didn’t let her go as she asked, “How did you get here on
such short notice?”
was grinning from ear-to-ear as she pulled back a half step.
She motioned to the other side of the hallway.
had help,” she said as she nodded.
looked in the direction Emma pointed and saw everyone there
– Doris and Blake, with Ashlee; the Coopers who included
Frank, Buzz, and Lillian. The Spauldings were there too -
Phillip, Beth, Lizzie, Bill, their son Harlan Billy IV. It
only took a few seconds before Natalia released her hand from
Chessie’s shoulder. A second later the girl flew toward
Olivia as Rafe and Ava looked on from behind with a smile. She
picked the young girl up in her arms and hugged her tightly as
they collectively began to move forward.
we don’t have to miss Christmas,” Chessie told her.
Peanut, we don’t,” Olivia said as she kissed the girl in
the cheek firmly.
Christmas,” Natalia greeted her wife as she closed the
set Chessie down and pulled Natalia toward her. She kissed her
wife deeply and then rested her forehead on hers after pulling
a sight for sore eyes,” Olivia told her. “How did you all
daddy’s rich and he’s gotta plane,” Emma said smugly,
which made the group chuckle.
looked over at Phillip. “You did this?”
shrugged bashfully. “What can I say? Yes, I spoil my kids.
Emma wanted her Mom for Christmas so who am I to say no.”
that I’m complaining but…everyone? How did you get
everyone here that quick?”
wanted to be with Emma,” Chessie offered.
we wanted to be with her,” Buzz said as she tussled his
we,” Rafe provided as he pointed to himself, Ashlee and Ava,
“just readjusted our flight schedules from Springfield to
Ashlee replied. “Mom and Blake said the plan changed so here
course,” Ava offered. “That's not without a few looks from
ticket counter clerks who thought we were nuts for going INTO
the storm area.”
of which,” Phillip offered, “we would have been here about
an hour ago, but the roads are horrible.”
how did you all plan it this fast though. I just found
made a few calls, and here we are,” Natalia said. “You
might not be able to come home for Christmas, but there’s no
reason we can’t bring Christmas to you.” Olivia began to
tear up. “Oh no. No crying allowed,” Natalia warned and
then kissed her soundly. “This is a happy time,” she added
sniffed and then squared her shoulders. “You’re absolutely
right! Let’s drop the bags and I’ll give you the tour.”
with cheering approval of the plan, the group made their way
inside Olivia’s suite, but Olivia pulled Natalia aside.
wonderful. You know that?”
been a good girl this year,” Natalia said playfully.
“It’s only fair I get what I wanted for Christmas -
cupped Natalia’s face and pulled her in for slow burning
love them all, but these people are NOT staying in our suite
tonight," Olivia said with an unmistakable leer in her
voice that made Natalia chuckle.
reminds me of our first Christmas,” Olivia whispered as
Natalia cuddled into her shoulder as they lay in bed next to
remember us fighting over fake trees verses real ones.”
correction. Our first Christmas as a real couple. We were up
late because Emma was convinced she could stay awake and catch
smiled into her wife’s shoulder. “And Chessie was up every
three hours to eat. Yes, I do remember.”
spent a lot of time curled up like this. I don’t think we
got more than two hours sleep that entire night,” Olivia
like us right now,” Doris’s voice said from the foot of
the bed. “Go to sleep.”
the suite was a litter of people. The Coopers were in the
living room area; not more than 15 feet away. The Spauldings
were in the second bedroom right next door. The Spencer-Riveras
and the Wolfes were in the master suite, and although it was
large, it felt crowded with seven people. Olivia had spent the
day before showing off the hotel to their family and playing
pictionary games in the ballroom to keep them, and the other
hotel guests, entertained. The storm was finally letting up
and they might have been able to fly out, but they voted to
stay another day. Right now it was a few moments before
midnight on Christmas Eve.
not my fault there’s ‘no room at the Inn’,” Olivia
told her best friend.
thought as the boss you had some ‘pull’ around here?”
would have given everyone a room if they weren’t all booked
because of the storm.”
rose up and said, “So we should be happy we’re not away in
a manger?” She grinned.
no crib for a bed?” Doris added.
lucky you got the roll away,” Olivia said sternly.
you’re in a king-sized bed,” Doris shot back.
sat up and waved her hands. To her left were Natalia and
Francesca, and to her right were Emma and Ava. There was
hardly any room to turn over for any of them.
wanna switch?” Olivia challenged.
Doris asked. “Blake for Natalia? Kinda kinky, but what the
hell? I’ll try anything once; twice if I like it.”
pillows were suddenly hurled at Doris from Blake, Natalia and
giggled from her side of the bed as Doris tossed the pillows
back to their owners.
to sleep,” Olivia warned her daughter.
can I with all this talking?” Emma asked. “It’s like a
lesbo slumber party.”
Rafe,” his voice called up from the floor.
Ashlee,” her voice floated up too.
A lesbo slumber with Rafe and Ashlee,” Emma added and paused
a beat. “You know, Auntie D, if you don’t like it in here
you could always go to the living room and stay with the
smile could be heard in Emma’s voice although her face was
you’re real funny,” Doris replied. In a smaller voice she
added, “Smart ass.”
began to giggle although she sounded sleepy, “Apples really
don’t fall far from the tree.”
do the Spaulding’s get the other room, huh?” Doris asked.
brought the plane,” Natalia said sleepily. “He gets the
like Bean said,” Olivia added. “If you’d like to move to
the living room.”
stay here,” Blake spoke up quickly.
so,” Olivia retorted. “I don’t think Frank’s
homicidal, but I wouldn’t trust sleeping in a room with him
when he’s got a pillow in his hand. He might ‘slip’ and
smoother one of you.”
both of us,” Blake offered.
both of us,” Doris parroted.
Frank,” Natalia sighed.
please,” Ava groaned. “Enough with the poor Frank routine.
He likes lesbians, okay? If he picked women better suited for
him this would be a moot point.”
wasn’t a lesbian,” Blake replied. “And neither was
Frank just turns women gay?” Olivia teased.
Natalia warned. “Behave.”
wasn’t gay,” Blake continued. “Curious, sure.”
I satisfy your curiosity?” Doris asked and then wiggled her
then some,” Blake said after smiling. She leaned over and
kissed Doris slowly on the lips and made a humming noise in
kissage, okay?” Ashlee begged. “The last thing in the
world anyone wants to hear is their mom making out while
they’re on the floor, trapped, with nowhere to go.”
Ava, Rafe and Emma all said at once.
are just no fun today,” Olivia told Natalia who was
struggling to keep her eyes open.
came her mumbled drowsy response.
guys, let’s get some sleep,” Olivia replied as she
snuggled next to her wife. “Goodnight kids, Goodnight Doris,
JohnBoy,” Doris joked, making Olivia snort. “Can the
Walton’s just go to bed now?”
the Waltons?” Emma asked.
I’m old,” Doris sighed.
next morning the Coopers and Spauldings looked rested. The
Spencer-Rivera’s and Wolfe’s were another story. Olivia
nursed her coffee, trying to stay awake as Francesca played
‘Santa’ and handed out gifts to everyone. Doris and Blake
were in a continuing state of yawning, but, Natalia, on the
other hand, was alert and playing hostess to the gathering.
She served drinks and a continental breakfast to the crowd.
Olivia wasn’t sure how Natalia could do it. She didn’t get
much more sleep than her it seemed. Rather than question it
though, she just enjoyed it as she let the steaming cup of joe
ease her into her day.
the last present was unwrapped, Olivia looked around at the
destruction of it all and smiled. It wasn’t about the mounds
of material items that inhabited the room along with the
scraps of disregarded paper. In truth, she could replace any
of those things. What she couldn’t replace was the people
scatted on the floor, the chairs, the sofas… the entire
room. They were what really mattered; her most prized
possessions you might say.
the end, she didn’t miss Christmas. Christmas came to her.
And although she knew how lucky she was for all the gifts of
love and friendship in her life, for the first time she felt