Part of USS Century: The Side Stories

A Very Century Christmas

USS Century
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Commander Peters was humming to herself as she strung a length of garland around the small tree she had placed on top of a shelf in her office. It had been a few years since she’d broken this particular decoration out of storage, as she hadn’t had the time or the space to do so prior to being assigned to the Century. Standing back a little, Abigail admired her handiwork with a satisfied smile before the chime to her office door called out, ruining her momentary mirth.

Turning toward the door with her arms folded she called out, “Enter” while wondering who could be looking for her so late in the day. When the individual in question finally entered the space, Abby turned fully around to greet her guest with an amiable smile now tugging at her lips.

“Captain, what brings you down here to me?” Peters asked, both amused and curious about the strange visit.

“I wanted to ask you about a report you submitted and thought I would…” Gar’rath began before his nostrils flared a few times and his attention shifted from his XO to the strange object adorning a shelf behind her desk, “What is that?”

“That?” Abby pointed toward the small, decorated tree, “It’s my Christmas tree.”

“And what, pray tell, is a ‘Chris Mass tree’?” the Gorn asked, exaggerating the unfamiliar term when he said it.

“It’s… It’s a kind of holiday decoration based on an old Earth tradition stretching back… gosh… at least a few thousand years or so,” Peters explained in brief.

Gar’rath approached the small tree, his nostrils continuing to flair as he took in the sight and smell of the thing. The longer he looked at it, the more puzzled he became.

“Is it a… live sapling?” the Gorn asked, turning back to the Commander.

“No,” Abby chuckled, “It’s just a very well-crafted imitation. There’s an aroma ampule in the base that simulates the smell of a real tree, so that’s probably what you’re picking up from it. It’s a very nostalgic fragrance, reminds me of spending Christmases at home with my family when I was younger.”

“I see…” Gar’rath nodded before straightening up, “But why is it adorned with so many shiny objects?”

Again the woman chuckled at the question, “I don’t know anything about the origin of the tradition, but decorating the tree with my family has always been part of the fun of having a Christmas tree. Every year, even though we use pretty much the same ornaments for it, it never looks the same. It’s always a new and interesting sight to behold every time we would do it over the years. And then, on Christmas day, there would be presents under the tree for everyone to unwrap and enjoy. Oh… and the Christmas dinners we used to have afterward…”

Watching her Captain’s head lean sideways in confusion just made the whole affair that much more amusing, “I take it you never saw anyone on Cestus follow the Christmas tradition.”

“If they did so, it was not anywhere that I was able to observe. Is it a private celebration?” Gar’rath inquired.

“Not really… at least not for my family. It was usually a fairly large gathering, most of my extended family would gather at someone’s house to enjoy the festivities. My family had the largest home for a good many years so we played host the most often. The Peters clan was fairly large when I was growing up, and they were all within transporter distance of each other,” Abby remarked as she fondly recalled parts of her childhood.

Gar’rath studied the woman for a moment before returning his attention to the tree, more specifically the small box next to the tree containing several ornaments that she had yet to place on it, “May I place something onto this ‘Chris Mass’ tree?”

“Please,” the woman said with a smile.

The Gorn studied the remaining baubles resting in the box and found a shimmering green sphere tucked away to one side. Gingerly, the reptilian threaded a claw inside the loop attached to the top of the decoration and lifted it out of the box. Gar’rath lifted it up and scrutinized the object for a few moments as it lazily twisted about, reflecting the light of the office sporadically. Curiosity satiated, the Captain leaned over to the tree and slid the looped strand onto one of the central branched on the tree that had yet to be used. The Gorn stepped back and took in the whole aesthetic of the object now that his ornament was added, nodding in satisfaction at his work.

“This is indeed an enjoyable practice, Commander. Thank you for sharing it with me and allowing me to participate,” Gar’rath said, his maw taking on what amounted to a smile among his kind.

“I’m flattered that you wanted to, Captain. I’m sure my family will be jealous when I tell them my tree was the first one a Gorn has ever decorated,” Abby chuckled happily at the notion.

“I do not see any of these… presents… you mentioned. Are they not part of the tradition as well?” the Captain asked.

“They are, but you don’t put them under the tree until the night before the actual holiday. Until then, they’re just as you see it now,” Abby explained.

“I see… and when is the actual holiday?”

“Tomorrow,” Peters explained.

Gar’rath nodded but didn’t comment further on it, moving to the business at hand. Their conversation after that was brief but productive, and the Captain soon departed. After finishing off the tree, Cmdr. Peters departed her office for her quarters, looking to share the evening’s events with her family before going to bed.

At just passed 0000 hours on the Century, a bright light engulfed a small spot just under the tree, the haze of a transporter beam leaving behind a small present with a tiny tag affix with the words “Happy Chris Mass” hand-written on it.