I just... feel like writing Christmas stories. ^_^; Everyone's horribly out of character, but just ignore that, and we'll all be happy. ^_^.
She looked out the window, and saw the standard beautiful, manicured lawns and well-kept rose gardens. Not a thing out of place. Perfect, polished, and boring. Every weed was pulled out, any rose that grew out of place was trimmed back. They didn't survive for more than a few hours, they didn't survive for any longer than they could last unnoticed.
The house was decorated elaborately, red and green, with typical - tasteful - Christmas miscellany. Of course it was tasteful. Every light was perfectly proportioned, the exact distance between each measured, the colouring of each sorted appropriately so as to not clash.
Sprigs of holly hung, and a Christmas tree that hung with thick silver tinsel and gold baubels. A wreath hung on the front door. There was no sign of cheerful Santa decals or a novelty doorbell that played Christmas carols, no sign of glittery banners proclaiming goodwill to all men... They were tacky and without class.
Of course, such things would look out of place at this house, but she could remember her son asking, before he was too old to realise he should not, "mother, how come our decorations don't say anything?"
She had wanted to tell him, don't call me mother, call me mom. Call me something that is not formal. Instead, sensing her husband nearby, she had replied, "that is not the way things are to be done. Additionally, please take further care with your grammar, James."
Now, looking at it all, she wondered why it really mattered, Christmas, that is. It was the given thing to do; say "merry Christmas", automatically. What did it mean? Another chance to get together with friends, talk for hours but say nothing...
To show off, basically.
She remembered when she was young. She had lived with her mother, as her parents had divorced. She had not heard from her father in several years, but that was okay. The small family, just the two of them, were happy enough. Christmas, then, meant something. They had not much money, but for this one day, both of them would splurge, buy a lot of food and eat themselves sick, give and receive gifts...
Gifts that were small compared to what she would get now - can you compare a book to a new car or diamond necklace? - but they had more meaning. They were gifts suited to her, not to how someone thought she ought to be.
After her father returned, things changed. He was wealthy, arrogant, had fallen in with a snobbish high class, and, recognising that a daughter was a valuable asset, used his position to assume custody, and there it all began.
No singing, unless it was properly orchestrated.
No eating any but half of what is on one's plate. That is the way the eating habits of a lady ought to be; dainty.
No walking into the garden and lying on the grass, staring at the sky just for the sake of it.
No fancy concepts about love; marriage is merely for sake of preserving property and ensuring good business associates.
No free will, no dreams, no life.
It worsened when she married. A woman was to give way to her husband at all times, and marriage, unlike living with one's parents, was forever.
Some women are happy to be waited upon hand and foot, to not be required to make their own decisions.
She was not among them.
She wondered, sometimes, what had happened to her mother. What would she say if she could see her daughter now? It did not always seem real, more as though she but played a part, and nobody seemed to care.
Her biggest dream, when she was young and thus allowed such things, was to marry someone who loved her, and have children who loved her. Such women were considered to be without ambition, but this bothered her not. Even after the first dream failed - her husband merely expected her to follow him, and rarely showed any affection unless appropriate - she vainly clung to the latter.
Her first son was born, her only son, and he was exactly like her, she recognised it. A dreamer... born into a family and society that did not allow dreams. It was not fitting for a lady of her class to have to raise a child herself, so servants and nursemaids saw to that. She saw him when the family went on outings, but she knew her dream was dead.
So she silently watched as her husband berated their son for being himself. She stood by him, as a good and loyal wife ought. When he ran away, she did not mind, and she was not surprised. She only wished she had had the strength to have done likewise before it had been too late.
Her husband wanted no more children. He said the first-born male was the only child of any significance, and that James would eventually return. She knew he was wrong, but agreed with him and tried not to mind that she had to live with no more dreams.
Now, many years later, she still wished for something, but not well defined. She wished the rose gardens could be left alone, for roses to sprawl and spread and climb all about, showing themselves naturally. She wished she could go out and do her own Christmas shopping, to find meaningless gifts that had more meaning than expensive trends. She wished she could sit down with her son and give him something herself, watch his face as he opened it, and then go and eat a picnic lunch out in the garden, not worrying about whether it was proper or not.
She wished for freedom, I think, but she was somebody else now, somebody who she was not.
She wished for the true meaning of Christmas to come alive again. Things like love, friendship, warmth - things she was told had no bearing on the real world. But maybe they were the real world. Maybe they were all that was important.
Turning from the window, she placed the rose she held carefully on her - stylish, of course - dressing table. It had wilted, but the colour was still in it. She smiled.
Perhaps she did not know her son as well as a mother should, but she was a mother still. And a mother can know things about her child, just because of who she is and who they are. She knew her son was having a merry Christmas.
In a small, tumbledown shed, just near the entrance to a forest, Jessie put the finishing touches on Team Rocket's Christmas tree.
"What do you think?" she asked proudly.
James smiled. "It looks awful!"
She hit him. "It does not! Why do you say that?"
"Well, just look at those mismatched decorations. Perfectly tasteless! And that little Santa clay figurine is so tacky... not to mention that little pipecleaner candy cane. And -"
She looked at him. "What's wrong with them?"
"They don't... match."
"They're not MEANT to match. Who wants a Christmas tree that's perfectly in order? Come on, James, WE'RE not perfectly in order."
"Oh, cut it out, James. Stop acting like a snob!"
"I'm not a snob."
"Don't you think perfectly arranged Christmas decorations are a bit boring?"
He looked at the dented tree - Jessie had probably stolen it from somewhere - with its mismatched assortment of ornaments. He realised that for her to be carrying those ornaments around with her for so long meant they obviously did mean something to her.
"Where did you get them?"
She grinned, and began telling him the story of each one. James rarely saw her like this, she was usually a lot more guarded.
"Well, that 'tacky' clay Santa, I made when I was in the second grade. It didn't come out real well, 'cos that stupid Sandra Brown pushed me in the arm when I was painting his hat - see that bit smudge there? I couldn't paint over that properly. And then when I dumped my paint all over her, she got even more mad and threw it on the ground - see, that's where his leg got chipped off."
She moved to another ornament.
"See this silver pinecone? I thought if I painted it silver, it'd look like it had snow on it. I like snow... anyway, there were all these pinecones around where we used to live, and I used to collect them, and one day Dad suggested I actually DO something with them, so I got his permission to use his paints, but after I accidentally spilled paint all over his favourite sofa, he wasn't really enthusiastic about letting me do any more..."
"This little gold pair of bells, Cassidy gave them to me... ehh, of course, that was before she turned into a snotty little brat. But she said her family always put that ornament on their tree, and she thought it would bring me good luck. Pretty stupid, but... I guess I never got around to throwing them out."
James knew this meant she cherished them, but Jessie, being Jessie, would never outright say so.
"This candle was carved by one of our neighbours. He'd invite us kids from the neighbourhood 'round and show us how he did our carvings. He died from a stroke a bit later on, but he left his favourite piece, this wooden candle, to me."
"That old sprig of holly was picked from the woods near our house. I'd go there for hours, just to get away."
She never did say what she had to get away from, and James did not like to ask.
"This gold star on the top," she said slowly, "that's real gold."
"Why don't you sell it?" asked James, truly wanting to know.
"I couldn't... my family never had much money... but my big sister said that we should have at least one nice thing on our Christmas tree... she was always going on about how our tree had no taste at all, but I think she still liked it. She liked it enough to contribute, anyway. I never found out where she got the money to buy it, but I think it was a big deal, whatever she did."
"I never knew you had a sister."
"Yeah, well, I don't any more."
"Do... you mind?"
"Not any more."
There was a long silence, which James broke by saying "I like the tree".
He realised he did. He realised that to have every ornament different, each with some special meaning, was a lot more valuable than one that cost thousands of dollars.
She smiled, slightly. "Of course you do. *I* set it up, after all!"
He grinned back.
"I wish Meowth would come back with the food," he said presently, "I'm starving!"
"Typical," said Jessie, but unconsciously rubbed her stomach in agreement.
There was a knock at the door.
"Finally," groaned James, but Jessie put a hand on his shoulder.
"Wait a second. Meowth never knocks."
"Oh yeah. He's pretty ill-mannered."
The door opened and swung shut, leaving enough time for a Growlithe to bound in, leap at James and tackle him to the ground. It licked his face and wagged its tail furiously.
"Growly," he said, with no little surprise, "how did you get in? How did you find me?"
James patted it on the head and laughed. "Secretive, are you."
"I want to know how it knocked at the door," muttered Jessie, and opened it. She took a step back.
"James," she said lowly, and he looked up.
He saw his mother in the doorway. She looked as polished as always, yet somehow different. He realised it was the first time he had seen her without his father. Even though he was just wearing faded jeans and a rather old black t-shirt, although his hair was slightly scraggly, although he was lying on the ground rather inelegantly, in an old, wrecked house of no value, she showed no sign of berating him.
"M...mother?" he got out.
"Don't call me mother," she said quietly, "call me mom."