Author: Taralicious (Blayne)
The problem with moving in together, expecially during the holidays, is you learn each other's peculiar holiday traditions associated with their childhood, which have carried over into adulthood.
Things about the other person filed away in a musty storage closet in a disused bedroom at the back of one's mind until December of each year when you slip into them; normally among people who have been there since the inception of the rituals or at least having grown up with them so they all excitedly join together in an unspoken acknowledgement and understanding that this is how the holidays are celebrated with no thoughts as to how they would look to an outsider.
Tara was enjoying the eight days of Hanukkah, they were on day five if she remembered correctly, learning from her flame-haired girlfriend, whose child-like giddiness burned as brightly as the candles they lit every evening, about the fundamental tenets of Judaism.
She had chuckled heartily when Willow had told her that her Rabbi, Professor Holstein, had claimed he could walk into any elementary school in the country and achieve a 100% conversion rate based solely on the argument that Judaism was eight times better than Christianity since there were eight days during Hanukkah to get presents and only one day, Christmas Day, to get presents in the Christian tradition.
Tara had endured a more fractured and divisive holiday season as a child, what with her mother as a practicing Wiccan and her father as an elder in the God-fearing Pentacostal tent revival brand of Orthodoxy. After her mother died, Tara had gone off to U.C. Sunnydale, refusing to live under the same roof with the two Maclay men, father and son, now that the balance had tilted heavily in their favor; there being no one for Tara to run to for comfort and security when the two men quoted scripture and once had even tried to perform an exorcism on her while she slept to wrest her from the demon thrall of impurity in thought and deed they ascribed her belief in same-sex love to.
Now she not only had a partner in WIllow whom she could share the spiritual and healing power vested in the Wiccan tradition but Willow was the first person in Tara's life intent and keenly interested in the Gospel According to Tara; the curious hodge-podge of Christian traditions and made-up embellishments which Tara had placed her own unique imaginatively warped stamp on. She approached the subject of religious faith much in the same way that she had astronomy and the myriad other subjects she'd taught herself since her father had refused to send her to one of those "Pagan Palaces of Pornography" he called the public school system and that resulted in her being home-schooled.
At U.C. Sunnydale, she and Willow had been friends, then best friends, but it was only recently that they had become serious after Willow's dog Max, named after the faithful, loveable, eager to please, mutt in the animated classic "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", had been inadvertently poisoned by digging in the watebasket and eating out of the last can of Who-Hash, which had escaped the recall of dog food manufactured in China due to the excessive levels of Melamine in the feed contents.
Tara had asked Willow what she could do to console her devastated best friend and a comforting friendly embrace soon turned a longer and far more intimate one until both women revealed they wanted to be closer to the other in every way possible but neither one had wanted to broach the subject for fear of losing their friendship if one had any doubts.
Even that day had seemed several lifetimes ago as they now jointly owned a house together and had decided to have a room in their home which embraced both their religious faiths hence Willow's menorah on the mantlepiece.
Tara, however, had been mysteriously cagey about the details of her own personal traditions even going so far as to make Willow leave the house that day so Tara could organize her space without Willow's endearing but also interrupting babble-fest.
She had gone to the tree farm that morning, selected a fresh aromatic Douglas Fir, tied it to the roof of her hybrid vehicle, and it was now standing tall in their living room, its branches unfurled like tendrils of pure nature beckoning Tara to adorn them with all of her home made decorations, including her rather unique tree top centerpiece.
So wrapped up in decorating the tree, the first one she could call hers, well theirs really, that Tara was startled to feel the small yet elegantly tapered fingers that she loved so dearly, of her very own Willow Tree, spread around her waist and her head rest upon Tara's shoulder, not having heard the redhead come in.
"Baby, I don't see why I couldn't have gone with you to pick out the tree and help you decorate it," Willow's best and most pitiful pout evident in her voice. "I mean it's beautiful but it looks like all the trees I saw growing up at Xander's house every year. My parents didn't like me going over to his house to watch "Charlie Brown" and do the dance in our pajamas but they knew I would just sneak out of the house for a slice of Roast Beast so after a year or two they stopped lecturing me."
"True, this tree has the advantage over any of those since it doesn't have Xander's Uncle Rory passed out under it but I still could have helped you with the crocheted red and green Christmas roping and the clay ornaments reminiscent of every childhood art project gone horribly awry and the..." Willow paused, as her eyes had moved up the tree to come to a stunned and screeching halt at the top.
"Baby?..." was all a very confused Willow could say as she nodded to the stuffed armadillo which adorned the pride of place atop the tree.
"You wanted to know my holiday traditions," laughed Tara. "Well, my father wouldn't let us have a star on our tree as he refused to believe it wasn't a pentagram, my mother being "a devil worshipper" as he called her, and he thought all of the angels were effeminate so he wouldn't allow them on the tree either."
"I had this stuffed armadillo I won at a county fair once which I spray painted gold, named him Frank N. Sense, and his voicebox made a noise like 'myrrh' when you squeezed him so I talked my dad into placing him on the tree as a representation of a trio of Germanic scholars sent to bless the Christ Child who called themselves the Three Weiss Men, bearing this golden armadillo named Frank N. Sense who said 'myrrh' when you squeezed him."
"You have to understand, Willow," said Tara, through the hysterical laughter both women had succumbed to at the sight of Tara telling this dark tale of her abusive father in such a way that made it seem comical, "I was a very precocious child. Home schooling by a scary religious father and older brother will do that to you."
"Do your holiday tradtions also involve turning us into a pair of human Yule logs?" asked a profusely sweaty Willow. "What's the thermostat set at, anyway, a hundred?"
Responding to Willow's verbal cue, Tara pressed 'play' on the remote she had palmed and the horn section blared the unmistakable intro to one of Willow's favorite songs from the catalog of Christmas specials she had watched with Xander after school every year but, if it had ever been like Tara's version, Willow was sure she wouldn't have spent those 10 lonely years pining over Xander when there had certainly been a lot of cute girls she could have met.
"I'm Mister Green Christmas, I'm Mister Sun," lip-synched Tara, as she did a sultry and exotic strip tease to the lyrics.
"I'm Mister Heat Blister, I'm Mister Hundred and One,
"You're too much, alright" yelled Willow over the horns, tears of laughter and joy streaming down her face as she wrapped her arms around her naked blue-eyed Christmas angel.
"I'm your present for day five. Happy Hanukkah, sweetie" purred Tara. "Now hurry up and light your candle 'cause I've got a fire you need to put out."
"Vixen" murmured Willow, as she embraced the first of many years to come celebrating the Twelve Days of Tara.