Summary: Horace and Rachael have been partners for almost 11 years, but Horace shies away from marriage, just as he shies away from attempts by his cousin to tell him the real story of Christmas. Keywords: Commitment,
Style: Drama. Duration: 10min
Actors: 1M, 1F
Rachael Limas (his partner)
(We are in a family living room on Christmas Day. The song “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” is playing in the background. Horace Hoffe opens up his last gift from Rachael Limas. It is an mp3 player. Music fades out.)
H: Thanks, honey. I always wanted a new mp3 player.
R: Now you can listen to your music while jogging.
H: I don’t jog.
R: (She squeezes his muscles) Maybe you will soon. (He chuckles)
H: (Surveys the room) Well, I guess that’s all the gifts.
R: It goes faster each year you don’t have kids.
H: Well, we decided not to visit our parents this time around. We sent them their stuff already. So…there’s just you and I.
R: And there’s only so much you can give to one other person. (Holds up a sweater he’s given her. She holds onto to it warmly.)
H: I’m glad you like the sweater.
R: (Somewhat dreamily) Yeah…
H: It was the one you wanted, right?
R: Well, I didn’t get something I really wanted this Christmas.
H: Huh? What’s that? (She is sitting cozily beside him at this point and holds up her ring finger hand to his face. He gets embarrassed) We’ve been living together for 10 years –
R: (Cuts in) 11.
H: And I don’t want to jinx anything up by getting married. I’ve seen so many couples get divorced. My parents included. I just don’t want to bring any bad luck.
R: (Gets up to clear some wrapping trash) One can always hope.
H: We’re practically married anyway.
R: Yes, practically 11 years now.
H: I love you and don’t want to be with anyone else. Isn’t that enough?
H: Look, Rachel, I’m sorry for forgetting the length of time we’ve been together. You just caught me off guard.
R: (Laughs) Don’t worry, dear. I wasn’t really trying to push you. I’ve just been thinking about our lives and I’m open to new ways of living.
H: Not so easy for me at this point. This time of year always unsettles me a bit.
R: Why’s that, Horace?
H: Oh, Christmas and all. It somehow never feels…right.
R: (Tries to keep things playful) We’ve got the star hanging. We’ve had a nice meal. We’ve given each other presents. We’ve even got the cheesy “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” playing on the stereo.
H: Stupid American imports.
R: (Nice smile) And St. Nicholas left you your favorite chocolate in your slipper a couple of weeks ago, I believe.
H: (More seriously) Rachel, why do we do this thing every year?
R: (Really listening now) You’re really bothered by this, aren’t you?
H: It just grows on me every year. We unwrap gifts that we bought only because we’re supposed to buy them this time of year. We eat more food than we need to.
R: Doesn’t show on you.
H: And we keep up this charade about some fat man in a red suit.
R: No one except children really believes that.
H: And why should they anyway? They’re just going to learn later on it’s not real.
R: Well, it’s part of the atmosphere. (Beat) It can be fun.
H: (Looks at her face carefully) I’m sorry again. I’m not trying to spoil the day and I don’t want to complain. But I really want to talk this out.
R: I’m listening.
H: Merry Christmas. We say that every year, “Merry Christmas”. I suppose it can be merry just for the sake of spending time with family or giving something to someone that they really wanted. But it just feels like something is missing.
R: You mean that the reasons why we celebrate aren’t enough for you?
H: (Coming to the realization) I guess they aren’t. The story of Santa Claus and even St. Nicholas don’t do it for me. And there are many unhappy people at Christmas. Suicide rates go up this time.
R: There are some people who make it a point to help others at Christmas time.
H: Like who?
R: Well (thinks a bit), that church on Engelsgrube takes in alcoholics and gives them a place to stay and meals to eat.
H: Really? Why would they do that?
R: Well, because…they’re church people, I guess.
H: I never heard of this church.
R: Your cousin Stephanie told me about it.
H: (Grunts) Figures. She’s so religious.
R: (Takes his hand) I guess I also know how you feel. I like Christmas time. The atmosphere is special. It’s always been that way for me since I was a child. I never could sleep because I was so excited about waking up and opening all my presents. But as the years have gone by, I’ll admit some of the magic has faded. Maybe I just am getting too old for this sort of thing.
H: I always felt like saying, “Okay. So now what?” after all the festivities were done.
R: (Reflective) I sometimes wish that I could return to being a naïve child. Life just makes you jaded bit by bit.
H: There must be something more to it. After all, why all the hoopla? It can’t just be all commercialism.
(At that point, a church bell rings. It is time for the neighborhood church service. Horace winces from the bell clangs. He goes to the window.)
H: Hey, can’t you ring softer? It’s Sunday. Quiet day!
R: Uh, dear, it’s Monday this Christmas.
H: Oh. (To the window) Well, don’t you know it’s Christmas? People are trying to be merry here!
R: Horace, don’t be so upset. It’s always this loud every weekend. (At that moment, someone knocks on the door outside.)
H: Could you get that dear? I need to sit down and think a moment.
R: Okay. (She goes to the door. Comes back a few seconds later with a small gift package.)
H: Who was it?
R: I don’t know. The person must have just rung and left. But they gave you a present. (He looks up in surprise.) Yes, there’s a card here addressed to you.
H: Who’s it from?
R: (Opens letter) “Dear cousin, Merry Christmas from your cousin Stephanie.”
H: (Totally surprised) Stephanie?
R: “I had to go to church and I only had time to leave this at the door. I just hope you’ll enjoy your Christmas present.”
H: What did she do? Write the card at our doorstep?
R: There’s something on the back of the card. “I knew you’d say that, Horace.” (He looks up) “Actually, no, I didn’t just write this. I just didn’t want to give this to you personally because of what it is. I wanted you to enjoy it with an open mind and without any distractions from yours truly. Do enjoy.”
H: What’s she up to anyway?
R: Well, she knows you pretty well. (Pauses) Are you going to open it or shall I?
H: Go ahead. I’ll sit here and be “open minded.”
R: (Opens the present. Inside is a Bible.) Oh my goodness.
H: Figures she’d send me a Bible. What’s that sticky note on the outside?
R: (Reads) “Turn to Luke chapter 2 and read it.”
H: I don’t even know where Luke is.
R: “Or just open to where the marker is in the book if you don’t know where it is.” And she drew a smiley face.
H: A what? (Rachel imitates the drawing on the note) And she expects me to be open minded?
R: Well, Horace, just relax. She usually has good things to say at the right times. Remember that time you were depressed over the job you didn’t get?
R: And she was there every day for 5 days trying to console you.
H: She even bought groceries for us a couple of times.
R: Just humor her. Let’s read this thing. (He nods. She turns to the spot in the book.) Oh there’s another little note here. “The first Christmas ever.”
H: She’s got more notes in there than there are pages in the book!
R: (She reads Luke 2 about the birth of the Christ child and the heavenly announcement to the shepherds. This starts off like normal monotone reading, but it slowly captures Rachel. Read it as if something in the very back of her brain starts to click on for the first time. She finishes.) That’s a good story.
H: Not bad.
R: I’ve heard it when I was a child, but it’s been so long. It feels new reading it this time.
H: Why did she give this to me? She knows my family’s not very religious.
R: (Turns the next page over) Oh, there’s another note here.
H: (Throws up his hands) Figures.
R: “You’re probably wondering why I’m giving this to you.” (She looks at Horace)
H: Heard that.
R: “It is the real meaning behind this Christmas celebration. I’ve talked about this before, but you aren’t always open to listening about Christian things. That’s why I chose this method. I know Christmas time isn’t the easiest for you.” (She looks again at Horace)
H: (Embarrassed) So great! She sneaks in a Bible reading and then disappears?
R: (Continues reading) “But now that you’ve read this passage, I’ll be coming over to your house after church to talk with you some more.” (She looks up at Horace who sits bewildered.)
H: Does she have a spy camera in this room?
R: “There is great hope we celebrate during this Christmas time. Hope that makes the Merry in Merry Christmas truly Merry. We’ll talk more later. I’m bringing Zimtsterne after Oma’s recipe by the way. Much love, Stephanie.” And she drew another smiley face.
H: (Stunned, slightly upset, and even amused at the same time) She is something else.
R: Well, we wanted to know why we do what we do today. She seems to know something.
H: What bizarre timing.
R: Tell me about it.
H: You know what the strange thing is?
H: I’m kinda looking forward to talking with her.
R: She does know how to bring you up.
H: (Picks up the mp3 player) By the way, thanks once again. (Real warmth) It was very thoughtful of you.
R: You’re welcome. (Hefts the sweater) And thank you for this. It will go very nicely with (hold up ring finger hand) this future gift.
H: But I didn’t buy you a ring.
R: (Big smile and lays in his arms) Well, one can always hope, right?
(He chuckles a little nervously at first and then they both laugh. Christian Christmas music fades up and out.)
© Copyright David Jansen 2007, all rights reserved. The script may not be reproduced, translated or copied in any medium, including books, CDs and on the Internet, without written permission of the author.