“If I hear one more remake of ‘Santa Baby,’ I swear I’ll scream, Lena said as she poured hot water – just off the boil – over the hand-filled sachet of orange spice tea waiting in her mug. “Really, it’s the most insipid song.”
“Except when Eartha Kitt sings it,” her niece amended, in the sort of sing-songy tone that meant they’d had the same discussion more than once.
“Well… Eartha. Eartha Kitt could do no wrong.”
“So you say.”
“So I know,” the older of the two women answered. She joined the younger at the table, carrying her mug with her. “You’re not drinking your coffee.”
“I was waiting for you,” the younger woman said, amused affection in her tone. “Besides, it’s still plenty hot.”
Both women were silent, stirring their respective beverages in a fashion that made it obvious they were related.
Finally, the younger woman spoke, her words coming out in tentative fits and starts. “Listen, Auntie… I was wondering if you’d join us for Christmas this year. Mom won’t admit it, but she really misses her favorite older sister, and there’s someone I want you to meet.”
“I’m her only older sister,” Lena replied automatically, but then she continued: “Oh, Tessa, I don’t know…”
The older woman’s dithering lit a fire in her niece. “Aunt Lena you have been playing hermit at Christmas since I was sixteen years old. I’m twenty-six now, and Brian is probably going to propose on Christmas Eve, and I want my only aunt to be there.” She took a beat. “Besides, who else will I be able to mock all the cheesy Christmas music with?”
It would have been obvious to an outside observer that Lena wanted to agree almost as much as Tessa wanted her to. “He’s really going to propose?”
“I’m almost completely certain.”
“And you’re sure you want to marry a musician.”
“It worked for you, didn’t it?”
“So, you’ll come?”
Lena fussed with her tea, removing the sachet to a small glass dish that was waiting to be used for that purpose. “I guess I will.”
“Yay!” For just a moment Tessa was a child again, delight written in every line of her.
“Can I bring anything?”
“A positive attitude,” Tessa answered immediately. “And that record you have – the one on vinyl – of Eartha Kitt singing ‘Santa Baby.'”
*Inspired by a recent conversation with my friend Fran, and of course, the incomparable Eartha Kitt. Also? Welcome to Holidailies 2017.