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I'd hoped to get "A Chiming of Bells" finished for this Christmas, but real life stuff has taken precedence over fic-writing, so here is a ficlet instead. Merry Christmas, all. :)

Make the Season Bright
By Barb C.
Rating: G
Synopsis: A Summers-Pratt Christmas circa 2013.
Author’s notes: This story takes place in the same universe as "Raising In the Sun," "Necessary Evils," and "A Parliament of Monsters." It contains spoilers for previous stories in the series.



"You're sure, Mrs. Thurman? Sharon loves skating so - of course, I understand. Maybe next summer. Goodbye."

Buffy sighed as she set the phone down and hitched Alex to a more comfortable spot on her hip. Another student gone. The recession had hit California hard, and skating lessons were the first thing on the budgetary chopping block. At least the other family business was scraping along, if barely - wizards, it seemed, were still unwilling to forego their eye of Scrovulax, no matter how much Spike jacked up the prices on demon parts. And a good thing, too, or...

Alex blinked big hazel eyes up at her and chewed on his fingers. Sigh redux. "I'm so glad you're too young to have any expectations," Buffy murmured.

In the kitchen Spike was inducting the two older kids into the mysteries of chestnut roasting, and in the living room Boris Karloff was declaring that Christmas had come without packages, boxes, or bags. Boris was right, Buffy decided. She wasn't going to let this get her down. The tree might be small and scruffy this year, and the presents awfully thin upon the floor beneath it, but there was a tree, and there were presents. What really mattered was the spirit of loving and giving and...

"...so the brilliant thing about chestnuts," Spike was saying as he sliced an expert cross in a glossy brown hull with his skinning knife, "is that when you peel 'em, they look exactly like little brains, and you can pretend you're cracking open the skulls of your enemies."

Bill's eyes flashed yellow approval, and Connie caroled, "Mommy! Come help! We're roasting brain nuts!"

...and OK, the 'loving and giving' concept sometimes needed a little tweaking when you lived with vampires, but...

"Want to have a go, love?" With a hopeful smile, Spike held out the knife and a handful of chestnuts.

"Yeah, sure." She handed off Alex in exchange for the knife. Totally not pretending that Spike was handing her half a dozen Mrs. Thurman skulls. "Who doesn't love brain nuts for Christmas?"

...after all, it's the thought that counts.


End

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Comments

( 27 rants — Talk To Me )
velvetwhip
Dec. 25th, 2012 11:44 pm (UTC)
I love this. It's adorable - and so very Spike to think of chestnuts as brains.


Gabrielle
rahirah
Dec. 26th, 2012 07:24 pm (UTC)
Actually walnuts look even more like brains, but they didn't quite fit the seasonal theme. *g*
readerjane
Dec. 25th, 2012 11:58 pm (UTC)
Ahaha! Nice little slice of Summers-Pratt life.
rahirah
Dec. 26th, 2012 07:24 pm (UTC)
:D
varina8
Dec. 26th, 2012 12:43 am (UTC)
brain nuts

Love it. Merry Christmas to you and yours.
rahirah
Dec. 26th, 2012 07:24 pm (UTC)
And to you!
auroramama
Dec. 26th, 2012 12:56 am (UTC)
A happy-making thing. My son is old enough now to appreciate how in character Spike is.
rahirah
Dec. 26th, 2012 07:22 pm (UTC)
Aw, thanks. :)
thisficklemob
Dec. 26th, 2012 12:58 am (UTC)
Aww. Christmas really is about family time... and if you're Buffy, your family is probably all bloodthirsty weirdoes.

As a grown-up, I can finally sort of appreciate how much Christmas costs parents. One more reason to be thankful I don't have kids.

On the other hand, sometimes you get deliriously happy cheers from five dollars worth of glow sticks. Or roasting brain nuts.
red_satin_doll
Dec. 26th, 2012 02:11 pm (UTC)
and if you're Buffy, your family is probably all bloodthirsty weirdoes.

I like that. Not exactly the thing one can boast about publicly, is it? "My dad can suck your dad's blood!" or "My mom can beat up your dad!"

As a grown-up, I can finally sort of appreciate how much Christmas costs parents. One more reason to be thankful I don't have kids.

Right there with you on both counts. (I once tried to suggest to my mom that to save money - which none of us really had much of - that we try the secret Santa thing people did at my workplace, ie, get a gift for just one other person from a name pulled from a hat. She looked at me like I'd grown a second head. Granted she worked in retail at that time and was able to take advantage of sales and discounts like nobody's business, but still I have no idea how she managed it most years.)
thisficklemob
Dec. 27th, 2012 12:09 am (UTC)
I especially liked how it wasn't just the vampire contingent that was bloodthirsty -- Connie's reaction was just as instinctive as Bill's.

As you say below, I like Buffyverse fic that deals with financial realities too, not least because the show really wasn't very good at it. They tried, bless, but it just wasn't very credible... especially since no one seemed to wear the same thing twice (except Spike).
red_satin_doll
Dec. 27th, 2012 01:01 am (UTC)
Connie's reaction was so innocent in a believable way - that she's not constrained yet by what she "shouldn't" do.

And yes, the show was awful at it - which is pretty normal for American tv shows (and movies); everyone has a much nicer house or bigger apartment than they would in real life, given their presumed job/income. There are of course exceptions (in the 1970's All in the Family, Good Times; Roseanne; Raising Faith) but they're rare.

So the fact that no one wears the same thing twice I understand as a convention, even as it irked me in the early seasons How does Joyce make ends meet? What does she do? Manage the gallery or own it? And how the hell is Giles able to make it while unemployed for so long? I suppose he's collecting a decent unemployment check - but then can buy the Magic Box? As it turns out, I've read that Joss said that he had family wealth, which is a lazy cop-out. (Come to think of it, how did Angel go from being a filthy bum eating rats in alleys to having a nice apartment decorated with sophisticated modern and ancient art within a year of first seeing Buffy at Hemery High?)

The real problem was that they then went in S6 and attempted to make finances one of the major problems Buffy has to deal with - without having set that up to begin with in the earlier seasons. They do touch on class differences a little in S3 with Faith, and Xander in S4, but there's not enough of a foundation there to build on credibly. And making Buffy the "single mom" for the season but not even bringing up the issue of child support for Dawn....argh. I guess I grew up with those issues so I should probably just let go a little. (Or read fanfic.)
thisficklemob
Dec. 27th, 2012 01:26 am (UTC)
You can do a certain amount of hand-waving in Sunnydale, because of the high mortality rate... but yeah, unless getting chosen by the PTB involves a million dollar signing bonus (where's Buffy's??), there's no way you can explain Angel's apartment.

Or, you could, if you said Angelus put away money back before he got cursed... but at least say that. Mention child support, or Social Security survivors' benefits, or Willow and Tara paying rent, or something. (No, "babysitting" a developmentally non-disabled fifteen-year-old does not constitute sufficient payment in kind, even one so prone to getting kidnapped.)

That's why we have fanfic, as they say -- to fix things.
red_satin_doll
Dec. 27th, 2012 08:23 pm (UTC)
Exactly. Had none of the writers ever lived hand-to-mouth or come from working class backgrounds? norwie2010 mentioned to me on my LJ that "Joss doesn't understand the working class", but apparently no one else in the writers' room did either. (perhaps I shouldn't be surprised? I remember reading a newspaper (NY Times?) review of Barbara Ehrenreich's "Nickled and Dimed to Death: On Not Getting By in America" in which she took dead-end minimum wage jobs at Walmart, etc and wrote about the experience; and the things she wrote about came as a shock to the reviewer. Which in itself shocked me.

Joyce's hospitalization was another big one to me - my brain was all but screaming "How the hell is this being paid for?" when she was having the operation in S5. Even ten years ago, medical bills were oppressive - I've gone for years on and off as an adult without insurance myself and just wasn't able to afford going to the doctor. (ok, enough about me.) That sort of thing would be a huge financial suck-hole, as would health insurance for the self-employed, if you can qualify. (And the rates for SD residents have to be through the roof, assuming you can get it.)

I guess there's a plot bunny in there somewhere, if someone had the wherewithal and skill. Or at least a really good meta. (Fanfic fixes things, meta points out what needs to be fixed - it's a good combination.)
thisficklemob
Dec. 29th, 2012 02:39 am (UTC)
I always assumed Joyce had health insurance, otherwise she couldn't have even gotten the surgery -- that had to have been a six figure operation.

Probably not great insurance since "good" life insurance (as Tara called it) should have a six figure payout for a (previously healthy) woman in her 40s, so if they had that much in medical bills, it enough medical insurance. (But then, a lot of people have found that out about their insurance to their sorrow once they get sick.)

I'm not surprised none of the writers had working class backgrounds... but crack a book, read a newspaper article, something! If you care enough to find out, this information is out there. Clearly they did not care enough.

(I grew up middle class, and I was still always wincing at the way they wasted food.)
thisficklemob
Dec. 29th, 2012 02:40 am (UTC)
* it wasn't enough medical insurance, I meant.

Hey, here's a thought! Maybe the writers were all from Canada or England where anyone can get the health care they need?
rahirah
Dec. 26th, 2012 07:22 pm (UTC)
Yup, all that!
ayinhara
Dec. 26th, 2012 03:33 am (UTC)
"Who doesn't love brain nuts for Christmas?"

Wonderful. Brain nuts for all!
rahirah
Dec. 26th, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC)
:D
kerry_220
Dec. 26th, 2012 10:26 am (UTC)
His "skinning" knife? Ick :)
rahirah
Dec. 26th, 2012 07:21 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I know, you should never use a good skinning knife to slice chestnuts, but it was a special occasion. *g*
red_satin_doll
Dec. 26th, 2012 02:02 pm (UTC)
Grappling with financial realities in the Buffyverse is def. one of my fanfic sweet spots. :)
rahirah
Jan. 2nd, 2013 04:28 am (UTC)
Glad you like!
readers_only
Dec. 27th, 2012 03:54 am (UTC)
Merry Christmas to you and yours Barb. Happy New Year too!

Thank you for sharing your Summers-Pratt family!
rahirah
Jan. 2nd, 2013 04:28 am (UTC)
De nada!
hello_spikey
Dec. 28th, 2012 08:29 pm (UTC)
Heartwarming! As always. Mmm brains of my enemies. nom nom.
rahirah
Jan. 2nd, 2013 04:29 am (UTC)
What is best in life, etc. *g*
( 27 rants — Talk To Me )

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