"Christmas is... different this year. Not bad, just different. Usually, I would be spending the day before helping Aunt Evelyn prepare dinner, and playing Christmas themed games, decorating, and caroling, and making cookies, and yelling at my cousins for making the gingerbread men fight to the death, and... and well... stuff?"
"There was always insanity around the holidays. I don't miss it. Maybe? Possibly? Just a little bit. Okay, I miss it and I'll admit it, not that I'm going to tell anyone but you and maybe Tasha, but you can't tell anyone. Not here anyway, but really, I'm going off-topic. What I was trying to say is that I highly doubt this year will be as hectic as back home".
"Are you sure about that?" a 20 or so year old African American girl with perfectly coiffed hair asks as she steps in view of the frame.
"Tasha the" the first girl calls out waving to the newcomer before stopping with a quizzical look displayed on her face.
"What is that supposed to mean?" the first girl asks tilting her head.
Tasha giggles before replying. "Really Chris? Did you forget?".
"Forget what?" Chris asks, eyes narrowing.
"Tsk tsk," says Tasha, shaking her head. "After all we've gone through and you can't even remember. Christmas is that time of year".
"What?" Chris asks, turning as red as a tomato.
"Oh so now you remember?" Tasha says with a smirk. "Don't worry, the first year is always the most chaotic".
"How does that help?" Chris asks. "Doesn't that just make it worse?".
Tasha shrugs her response before stepping out of frame to slip on her periwinkle blue snowflake jacket.
Chris sighs, shaking her head. "Of course Tasha, of course".
"Come on miss elf," Tasha says stepping out of the door, a mischievous grin spread across her face. "The boys await".
"Taassshhhhaaaa" Chris groans before the film goes dark.
The film starts up again a short distance from a large, festively decorated building. The camera tilts up displaying a realistic sky where snow appears to fall from yet not a single piece flutters past the lens.
"Beautiful isn't it" Chris vocalizes from out of view from the camera. "Nothing like back home, but if you ignore the lack of snow on the ground and the above freezing temperature you can almost picture being back on Earth".
"Not as beautiful as you, I mean, er... bad timing," a boy says, fumbling with something behind his back before slipping it into his coat pocket, taking care to make sure neither Chris nor the camera caught sight of it.
"How are you doing today," he says, an awkward smile plastered across his face.
"Oscar? Hey, Oscar" Cris says turning the camera to see both of them.
"This is my other best friend Oscar," she says to the camera. "You know, other than Tasha. He was the candidate that was sent up the year before me, but you probably already knew that".
Osar waves to the camera. "Hi... People".
Tasha snorts as Chris skips the rest of the way to the meeting hall.
The word smooth is barely audible as Chris continues forward.
Chris stops at the meeting hall scanning the camera over the arch. "Wow"
"That's what I said the first time I saw you".
Chris turns to stare blankly at the speaker of the terrible pickup line.
"Okay," she says awkwardly before turning to the camera to explain, but is cut off.
"Hey, angel. You know I thought we'd make the perfect couple".
"Yeah" big, blond, and stupid continues, reaching into his pants pocket to pull out a ring that looks like it came from a 99 cent mart back on Earth. "I was wondering if you'd be my wife. Were like made for each other" he says going on to list a bunch of stupid and often repeated reasons for why she should say yes.
Having common sense Chris slowly backs away nodding as he distracts himself before slipping into the crowd as the camera goes black.
The video returns with Chris holding a colorfully wrapped box standing in a room with what looks like a mural of a Christmas village painted on the wall.
"Hi," she says waving at the camera. "This is amazing," she says with a smile that's brimming with happiness. "There is pretty much every kind of Christmas party ever combined into one massive party. There. Is. EVERYTHING!"
"If you can't tell, as of now, I am heading to the white elephant room," Chris says looking down at her box with an evil grin. "I hope nobody steals my box," she says giggling in a maniacal manner before stopping abruptly, turning to stare into the camera.
"You made me like this, yes you. You know who you are you thief. I toned it down this year which is a real shame because I had the perfect deterrent this year. I was planning it since last Christmas eve but instead opted to use something...else. You are familiar".
Grabbing the camera Chris opens the door slipping in just in time for the start of a new game.
The game starts uneventfully with numbers drawn and people grabbing gag gifts from the pile.
Chris has the kind of expression on her face that says she's wondering if she will even get the chance to launch her probably glittery, and most certainly messy, trap.
When it comes time to pick, like a primadonna, Chris strides forward pushing her hair back in a move that leaves one boy blushing, not that she notices.
She reaches forward grabbing the last box on the table. The room fills with a nervous buzz as people watch with anticipation. Sitting back on her seat she opens the box to find a card and a ring, the card having only four words; Will You marry me?
Before she can reply, or even contemplate the words, an explosion of green and red fills the room.
"Dang it. I'll get paper towels" Chriss says jumping over a chair and shoving through a group of laughing teens, the white elephant gift forgotten.
The camera is left catching sight of a distraught looking boy being consoled by his friends.
"Don't worry man. There's always next year".
"You know that's not true. They rarely last the night".
The footage resumes with Chris landing a ping pong ball into a red plastic cup full of a light brown liquid.
"Yes," she says twirling her paddle and doing a fist pump in celebration. That is...until another ball lands in one of her cups splashing her elf jacket with the liquid.
Pulling the ball out she swings down the glass before turning to face the camera. "Don't worry," she says, wiping the line of froth from her lip.
"It's just root beer" she finishes before getting hit by another ball which bounces off her head landing in another glass.
"Fowl," she calls, pointing her paddle at the offender.
Laughing, the offending boy says "How is it fowl when there are no rules?".
"Liar, Nick, liar".
"How am I the liar?" he says raising a brow in the way that so few people can.
"If there were no rules then you wouldn't have to chug root beer whenever a ball lands in one of your cups".
"Then why aren't you chugging now?".
"Because you ricocheted it, off my head".
"So? There is no rule against it".
The two glared at each other, eyes locked and unrelenting. They stop, blinking twice before they burst out laughing.
"You. You're the one who started an argument over root beer".
"No, ping pong rules".
"Is that better?".
She stops to think about it. "No?".
He burst out laughing as she glared in a mock sort of way.
"Chris," Nick says as he calms. "Were, ah. Were close, right?".
She nods. "Of course we’re close. You're" she stops. "You're kinda like the annoying older brother I never had" she continues, looking at him with a knowing expression.
"Ah," he says, raking his hand through his chestnut brown hair only to stop when he notices the aforementioned hand is now covered with jell.
Looking up from his hand he says with a sheepish smile on his face "I take that as a no then".
"Yeah" Chris replies looking slightly less sheepish than him before she raps him in a hug and pecks him on the cheek.
"So you're free then" comes the overly loud voice of yet another young man. This one is little more than a stranger. At first, it seemed that Chris doesn't even know the man, but then she asks "Keith?"
"The one and only," he says.
"I'm pretty sure there's more than one" Chris replied flatly.
His eyes widened a bit, surprised by the rebuttal. Before he can reply yet ANOTHER obnoxious voice chimes in.
"HEY, YOU! Get away from my girl!" big, dumb and blond shouts charging through the crowd of late teens and young adults.
The surprise is evident on Chris' face but quickly changes to a mischievous smile as she grabs the camera and runs leaving them to duke it out distracted from their prize.
"You were right".
"Oh, the boys getting to you?" Tasha asks Chris as they sit on one of the public benches.
"I have essentially been proposed to three, no, four times tonight".
"Four?" Tasha says leaning forward on her hands.
"There was that weird blond guy".
"Joshua? The guy who called you his girl".
"Don't worry. He's an idiot".
"Isn't that why I should be worried?".
"Why is that?".
"He asks everyone, and I mean everyone. Now, what other guys were fighting for my girl's attention?".
"You mean besides Keith?" Chris says resulting in a snort from Tasha.
"Yes, besides idiot number two". Both girls giggle at that.
"Nick attempted to".
"Yeah," Chris says looking awkward.
Tasha noticing says "Hey don't be like that. It was sorta expected"
"Yeah, why do you think they sent us up here".
"To colonize...the moon?".
"How do you think you do that?".
"By building?" Chris replies questionly.
Tasha scooting closer whispers in her ear. "By having babies".
Chris turns redder than the Santa coat she changed into.
Tasha burst out laughing. Chris tries to sputter out a response but Tasha raises a hand to stop her.
"They harass you after a while if you don't tie the knot. Nick probably just wanted to make sure he at least ended up with someone he liked even if not romantically. Now tell me about the other guy".
Blinking a few more times as the pink gradually leaves her face, Chris replies. "I don't know. It was a white elephant".
"Did you glitter bomb someone?".
"How do you unintentionally glitter bomb someone".
"It happens okay".
Tasha snorts. "Okay, so what kid was being consoled?".
"Makes sense. He has been crushing on you for a while now".
"Yeah, but ignore him?".
"Wait what, why? Is something wrong with William"
"For reasons, I am yet to tell you. Just go to the beach" Tasha says stretching as she gets up from the bench. "Oh and one more thing. Why did you bring the camera?".
At the beach, you can see the sky at its clearest. Chris ignores it staring at the boy in front of her. He's wearing a beat-up camel coat and worn sneakers. He's awkward, fumbling with the ring in his hand as he kneels on one knee and his forehead gleans with sweat, but as she sees him she does not hesitate.
Chris races forward dropping the camera to embrace the man she would spend her life with.
The last thing picked up by the camera before the recording ends is the word "Yes" shouted by Chris as the clock hits midnight and the camera partially submerged in sand catches sight of the mistletoe lining the trees.
Back on Earth a family crowds around a television as a recording plays. A cousin comments about "Liking that girl" another stands up pulling up his sleeves to "pound some-". An uncle laughs remembering his favorite trick and an Aunt cries over "Such good friends''. An entire slew of reactions occur as the camera hits the ground ranging from "That little twerp better not-" to "My baby's growing up" but one reaction is missed. As a small girl worms her way closer to the screen her eyes lock on the girl hugging her fiance. "Stay safe sister, stay happy, and there better be some nieces and nephews for me to spoil when I get up there".
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