A/N: Here's the redone chapter. I had to redo it, because I agree with everyone who said it was rushed and hard to understand. I'm sorry I haven't updated my other stories, but I had writer's block (oh, how I hate it) and my computer decided that it's going to conveniently wipe out all of my files just as I finish my science paper. :-) Never the less, here it goes. Credits to Chris van Allsburg, the author of The Polar Express, whom I quote in here.
*7th installment in the That '80s Beginning series*
Point Place, Wisconsin
December 24th, 1987
Location: Forman Household
"Jackie, you can't be serious."
"I most certainly am!"
"No one in their right mind buys two one year olds thirty gifts each!"
It was just another typical day in the Forman household. Except it wasn't a typical day. It was Christmas Eve, to be exact. Currently, Jackie and Hyde stood in the Forman's hallway, fighting about Katie and Leo's, their twins, Christmas gifts. Hyde had just discovered his wife's secret stash in the basement and was clearly very angry.
"Come on, Steven," Jackie coaxed. "It's their first Christmas; don't you think they deserve it to be special?"
Hyde rolled his eyes. "It is not their first Christmas. And what makes Christmas special doesn't depend on how many gifts they get."
"Fine, but it's the first Christmas they'll actually understand what is going on," said Jackie, crossing her arms defiantly.
"Yeah, right. All they do is sleep, eat, and poop. And last Christmas they could care less about what you got them."
"They were barely a month old last Christmas," Jackie pointed out.
"My point exactly. Katie and Leo will probably be more interested in the boxes the stuff comes in, instead of the actual gifts."
"Hey, guys, you mind keeping it down up here?" Brooke asked, slowly trudging up the stairs.
"What, it's too loud for the librarian?" Jackie fake pouted.
To make the night more special, much to Red's disappointment, Kitty invited the whole gang over to spend the night. She'd even invited Laurie and Casey (whom she'd eloped to early in the decade), but, though they heard from her often, no one had seen her since Eric and Donna's weeding, and that was in 1981. Fez and his wife June had declined the gesture, saying they wanted to spend the holiday somewhere more romantic. Besides, they had insisted, there were enough people and too many excited kids spending the night as it was.
"Yeah, sorry," Hyde told her, half with meaning and half with annoyance. "We wouldn't want to wake your new bun-in-the-oven."
Yes, that's right; Kelso had knocked the chick up again.
"Well, that's not offensive at all." Eric came out of his old bedroom, carrying his one year old son Luke in his arms. He slowly rocked the baby back and forth, trying to get him to fall asleep.
"Shut up, Forman," Hyde spat back.
"Excuse me if I'm trying to get my kids to fall asleep," Eric contradicted. "And, in case any of you haven't realized, trying to get a seven year old to sleep on Christmas Eve is as hard as brain surgery."
"You don't have to tell me twice," Brooke leaned up against the hallway wall as she spoke. "Even Michael can't fall asleep. Betsy is literally bouncing off the walls."
"Don't you think that eight is too young to believe in Santa Clause?" Jackie asked, more out of curiosity than meanness. "I mean, haven't any of her friends told her otherwise?"
Brooke shrugged. "Maybe, but I think it is fine for her to keep believing in him. It gives her more of an imagination."
"Sheesh, you're really pushing the librarian thing, aren't you?" Eric remarked.
"Betsy loves to read, thank you very much," Brooke scuffed with a bit of a sigh. "I'm going back down to the basement to check on Michael and Betsy, if you don't mind."
Jackie turned toward Hyde. "What do you think, Steven? Is eight too old to believe in Santa?"
"I can't really relate. Like I've said before in the past, I never really woke up on Christmas morning to the sight of a mountain of presents. It was always some new uncle covered with bows and hidden under a case of beer," Hyde remembered. "Besides, I guess Ma figured that she'd be lying to me if she told me Santa existed. It was probably the only time she told me the truth."
"I remember when I stopped believing in the guy," Eric reported. "I was ten and I'd overheard one of Kelso's brothers when I was over his house one day."
"Right, man," Hyde snorted. "You still believed in him when we were teenagers."
Suddenly, a loud, sharp sound pierced the air. Charlotte, Eric and Donna's daughter came running into the hall, wailing.
"Daddy!" she shrieked in sobs. "Is it true that Santa isn't real?'
Eric looked at Hyde and Jackie with a sickening stare, then returning his gaze to his daughter. "Of course he's real. Don't you remember when you talked to him at the store last week? Who would tell you he that he's not real?" Eric said, as if it was rehearsed.
Charlotte looked up out of the red curls that were stuck to her face by hot tears. She pointed up at Hyde and Jackie, her godparents.
"He's real," Hyde said coolly.
"But I heard you say he's not!" cried Charlotte.
Eric stared at his friends, not satisfied. Hyde sighed, staring at the child. He turned to Jackie and started to whisper something in her ear. "She's your problem now, Jacks."
"No way," Jackie backed away, heading towards Laurie's old room where the twins lay fast asleep. "I'm going to check on them."
Hyde looked to Eric, who was heading down the stairs.
"Where do you think you're going?" Hyde questioned, grabbing Eric by his shirt collar.
Eric shrugged him off. "In case you haven't realized, I have another child to take care of."
All alone, Hyde looked down at Charlotte who looked even more pained now. He got down to her level, getting on his knees. "You know, Santa's not going to come if everyone's still awake."
"But Santa's not real!" she replied.
Hyde groaned and picked Charlotte up. "I'm going to make you believe in Santa if it's the last thing I do!"
"Well, have a nice time trying," the seven year old retorted.
Hyde chuckled. Charlotte was weird, she had her mother's hair and her father's eyes, but she definitely had Jackie's attitude, and they weren't even blood related!
Hyde descended the flight of stairs, setting Charlotte down on the living room couch. "Now," he started as he stood above her. "What makes you believe Santa Clause isn't real?"
"Aunt Jackie and you were—"
"Forget about what Aunt Jackie and I said. What else?"
Charlotte thought about it, finally saying, "Last year he didn't bring me the Barbie Dream House I wanted. And I put it on my list."
"Not everyone can get what they want," Hyde told her. "Anyway, you got a lot of other stuff."
"Uncle Fez says I was probably a bad girl so I got one less thing than I wanted."
"There you go." Hyde smiled; at least Fez was good for something. Now he wouldn't have to spend another ten minutes of deliberation before he finally gave up.
"Fine," Charlotte gave in. "I guess he does exist. It would be silly if mommies and daddies bought all of the presents."
Yeah, thought Hyde. Parent's buying their kids gifts is such a stupid idea. Jackie should listen to her more often.
The kitchen door swung open and Eric came out, an empty bottle and Luke in tow. "Are we good now?" he directed the question toward Hyde.
"Yes, Daddy," Charlotte smiled with glee up at her father, like only a child on Christmas could.
"Well, then it's time for someone to go to bed."
Everyone's heads turned as Donna came down the stairs, rubbing her eyes. "It seems like no one in this house knows how to be quiet."
"Sorry," Eric murmured.
"Do I have to go sleep, Mommy?" Charlotte batted her eyebrows, trying to look as cute as possible.
"Let her stay," Eric said, taking a seat on the couch next to Charlotte. "Only for a little while longer."
"Okay," Donna gave in, settling herself in Red's old green chair. She was worn out and tired from the craziness of the past week, having an eight month old didn't make it any better. "Just remember, Santa won't come any sooner if you stay up for a while."
Charlotte giggled, excited for the opportunity she had. "Tell me a story," she demanded, just Hyde went back up the stairs.
"What kind of story?" Donna probed.
"Your favorite Christmas… ever."
"Hmm, I've got one," Eric told them. "And I think Mommy will agree with me that this one was the best Christmas ever."
"What?" she demanded enthusiastically.
"Well, we were just a few years older than you are now, 13 years old…"
~~~ . . . ~~~
Point Place, Wisconsin
December 24th, 1973
Location: Eric Forman's Basement
"But Mrs. Forman! Santa's never going to get here now!" Fourteen year old Michael Kelso yelled at his best friend's mom.
"Calm down, sweetie. He'll get here, don't you worry." Kitty rested her hand on Kelso's shoulder with compassion. She wondered when this teenager would get over his childish ways.
Kelso pushed it away, folded his arms, and fell on the couch next to a laughing Hyde. "You think this is so funny? Well, it's not going to be when Santa can't bring your presents tonight!"
Eric came down the basement steps along with Donna. "Yeah, Mom, there's no way Dad's going to get in either. The blizzard has pushed the snow almost all the way up to the top of the door." He waved his hand in the general direction of the door.
"Oh," Kitty wiped the sweat off of her forehead, even though it was getting colder and colder outside. "Well, I guess you guys will just have to stay over a little while longer." (After forcing them all to go to Christmas Eve mass, Kitty invited them over for
"Yeah," Hyde exclaimed, exchanging a high-five with Eric. "Sleepover at Forman's…" he looked to the girl standing behind him, "and with Donna too!"
"Ugh!" Donna shouted in desperation, hurrying to get behind the couch. "You guys are disgusting!"
"No, no," Kitty reassured her, pulling Donna into a comforting hug. "You will only be staying until Red comes back from the store, most likely within the hour, and then he'll bring you all home."
"But Santa's never going to get here!" Kelso repeated.
"That's what the chimney is for," said Eric.
"You don't have one!" cried Kelso.
At that moment, fifteen year old Laurie's voice rang down the stairs. "Mom," she called. "I'm going out."
"You are not!" Kitty yelled back, running up the stairs
Kitty was wrong; Red didn't get back within the hour, or the one after that, or the one after that. Kitty called up Kelso, Hyde, and Donna's parents, assuring them that their children were safe and sound. But, even though they were older, it was still Christmas Eve and neither Eric nor Donna could fall asleep.
"Come on," Donna said, dragging Eric off the basement couch. "Let's go up stairs."
"Why?" Eric complained. "Can't you let me just sleep?"
"No," Donna told him, jokingly. They climbed the stairs up to the intricately decorated living room. The large Christmas tree, which they walked over to, stood tall and proud in the corner of the room.
"Beautiful," Eric remarked.
"Yeah, it really is, isn't it?" Donna sighed with delight.
Eric turned to her. "I was talking about you."
The power went out at that moment, and it was a good thing it did, because Donna didn't want Eric to see her blushing. There was a long, awkward silence following the gesture.
"Hey," Donna broke the silence. "You know what we forgot to do tonight?"
Eric smiled, still very puzzled. "What?"
"We need to put milk and cookies out for Santa," she answered, goofily.
"Don't forget the carrots for the reindeer," Eric joked.
"You can't forget that!" Donna laughed.
Suddenly, the power came back on and the lights from the Christmas tree illuminated the room. But Donna's smile was brighter than everything, Eric would later remember. She truly was the most beautiful thing in the room.
~~~ . . . ~~~
"I forgot about that Christmas," Donna said in almost a whisper. "It really was the best Christmas ever."
"Everyone with you in it is," Eric leaned over, tenderly touched Donna's cheek, and kissed her. He looked down at Luke sleeping in his lap, at Charlotte curled up beside him. "Looks like they finally fell asleep."
"With sugarplums dancing in their heads," she commented, going over to the couch to pick up Charlotte.
"You think she still believes?" Eric asked as he followed Donna up the stairs.
"At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I've grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe."