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There's a scratch on Kate's vanity. It's a little jagged scar running down from the upper curve of the front right leg and it's dug deep enough that it exposes the light wood under the dark varnish. There's a nasty part inside her already blaming the cleaners, the new ones who came in to do the deep clean for the holiday, and she briefly imagines calling up the company and letting her frustrations out on whoever is unlucky enough to answer her call. How dare they, it's Christmas and she loves this vanity how dare they.

She's not going to do it, but she wants to and that's almost as bad.

She rubs her thumb over the scratch as if that can sooth it away but the rough tug against her finger pad only makes its existence more solid in her mind and she can imagine her clumsy fumbling making it worse somehow so she pulls away placing her hands in tightly packed fists on her knees.

The vanity is an antique but not a family heirloom. Kate had found it in a little antique shop in Pennsylvania and she'd had it shipped back to Chicago for an amount that had made Peter do the eye squint thing when he held back saying something like, 'you know they have antique stores in Illinois right honey?'. But Kate had wanted this one because it looked like the one that had lived in her Grandmother's dressing room or at least what she remembers it looking like with intricate rose scrollwork around the mirror, soft pink fabric on the cushion of the matching stool and delicate arched legs.

She keeps a mirrored tray on the top with a silver brush and hand mirror both copies of family heirlooms she doesn't have. She pulls open a drawer and takes out her compact and lipstick then leaves them both on the tabletop as she mentally runs through her holiday checklist. It should be a completed list by now with everything checked done before the first child arrived: Catering confirmed? Check. Deep clean done? Check. New linens for the guest beds bought? Check. Camp bed brought up from the basement? Check.

All these checkmarks and everything is already falling apart. Sleeping arrangements for all the people staying at the house for the holidays? No check.


A giant house and there never seems to be enough room.

They'd purchased a house that was both gigantic and indulgent because Peter had just gotten promoted and their starter home was starting to feel claustrophobic after Megan was born and Peter's father said it was a good year to buy and offered them a loan on the down payment. Then the house which had been so cavernous when the four of them moved in became a perfect fit when their third child turned out to be twins. They had six bedrooms, a den, and a furnished attic which meant they had bedrooms for all the children plus a guest room, plus ample space to play and work.

And then Kevin.

Well…not then Kevin. Eventually Kevin. She's always been a little embarrassed about the optics of the age difference of her children as if people will guess just on their ages that her youngest was not a planned child. That he was a surprise baby. That he was a Kate's doctor didn't explain that there was a risk of pregnancy when switching between birth control methods baby.

6 bedrooms with four children meant they had a guest room. With 'and then Kevin' they didn't have a guest room.

And now this year when all the kids are coming to the house for Christmas, plus spouses, plus Frank driving in from Ohio and after Kate had planned out the sleeping arrangements for the holidays and there was room for everyone it happened again.

And then Kevin.

It's a running theme in the family. She'd spent 6 months working to organize a huge trip to France over Christmas with people from three different households…

And then Kevin.

It's not unexpected really that even though Kate had checked all the boxes on her list Kevin had thrown everything out of whack because Kevin had brought a guest home for Christmas. He hadn't called ahead to say he was bringing a guest. He'd come to Thanksgiving dinner guestless and had given no indication that Christmas would be any different and now Kate is going to have to somehow adapt the sleeping arrangements.

The problem, Kate thinks, touching up her make-up a little too vigorously, is that Kevin has always been an attention seeker. So of course, he would do this with no warning. Of course, he couldn't possibly pick up the phone and tell her he's bringing a guest.

Of course, he would bring a boy as his guest to Christmas. And everything was just going to be that much harder because of it.

The day before Christmas Eve looks goes like this:

"This is Bobby, we're dating," Kevin declares when Kate and Peter greet him at the door. Bobby, who Kevin is apparently dating, is hovering behind Kevin half in the house half out like he's ready and willing to run from that statement. Kevin has never been the hovering or hesitant kind, so he stands declaratively, revealing in the sentence he just dropped like a bomb, eyes defiant with a smirk curling the corners of his mouth preparing to enjoy the chaos he's created. 

He doesn't get chaos though. Peter's survival skill at having five children is to not falter at pandemonium and to roll with any punches so he's unruffled in the face of this fundamental change in their child's life. Peter claps the new young man on the shoulder saying, "good to meet you, son," before pulling him fully into the house so he can close the door.

Kate isn't Peter, she doesn't do unruffled but she's already been going in to hug Kevin and just doesn't change her directory just says "ok," before pressing her lips to his cheek even if her brain is screaming at the implications of what has just happened, even if her Christmas plans are falling apart already because she knows Kevin's smirk is also a dare, trying to get attention any way possible and the best solution is to not engage.

"Your brother's already here," she says into the hug more of a warning than anything else. She wants to ward off the trouble she can see looming in the future. 

"Which one?" he asks but he's already skipping past her because there is only one brother she'd prepare him for. His voice floats after him, "Heeeey dipshit!"

"Language!" She snaps more to herself than to her child before she realizes that Kevin has all but abandoned his date behind with his parents. His very nervous looking date. Everything about him screams alternative what with the piercings on both ears, the tiny silver stud on his nose, the visible tattoo snaking down his wrist and the eyeliner framing his eyelids but he's also wearing a clean red button-down and neat black pants (unlike Kevin who's wearing a t-shirt and ripped jeans and will likely do the same on Christmas dinner) and most importantly, he’s twisting his fingers uncertainly. 

"Um…you have a lovely home," Bobby says even though he's still only in the foyer. He sends a desperate look at the doorway Kevin disappeared into.

"Let me take your coat," Peter says first like a genial host and Kate follows suit with a smile.

"Can I get you something to drink? Wine? We have a nice red that should be done breathing," she offers.

"Wine is…good. I'm, uh, underage though if that…um…"

"Don't worry about that, it's Christmas," She gets them both generous glasses then steers him towards the sitting room where she can hear the bickering already. The argument between her sons is the same airing of 20 or so years of grievances that it always is. Only Jen looks up when they enter the room as Kevin and Gordon are too engrossed in what is a repeat of the great stolen salami incident of 1998.

"Kevin," Peter says raising his voice over their voices, "you left your…fella alone in the foyer."

"Whoops!" Kevin says with a smile looking hardly contrite at all. He gestures Bobby over to the couch and plops his arm back over his shoulder, "Bobby this is Jen. She's great but tragically dating my crummy older brother. Guys this is Bobby he's my boyfriend." The last part is said as defiantly as he'd said it in the doorway.

Gordon blinks up at his younger brother, "Is that a joke?"

Kevin glares as Kate's fingers tightened involuntarily around the stem of her wine glass. Shit.

"No!" Kevin snaps back in reply, "What kind of a joke would that be fuck face?"

"A stupid one." He shoves an arm past Kevin to hold his hand out to Bobby, "Hey. I'm Gordon."

"Oh, um Bobby. That's me," he takes Gordon's hand and shakes.

"Bobby, let me give you some free advice," he's still holding his hand, "You can definitely do better than my loser brother."

Bobby's laugh comes startled and shaky and Kevin scowls. "Fuck off!"

"Kevin!" Kate scolds despite the ridiculousness of stopping her adult children from swearing. Beside her, Peter stifles a snort.

"Sorry mom," Kevin said clearly not sorry and lips curling around words he no doubt finds hilarious, "F-off Buzz." 

"Don't call me that shit for brains," Gordon growls back and whatever tension there was has shifted back into the two's regular bickering.

"I'll call you whatever I want dog breath!"

"Of course you will. Lil Kevvy always does whatever he wants, doesn't he? This is just like that time when---" and so on and so forth.

"Hi I'm Jen," Jen says, pulling Bobby's horrified eyes from the boys in front of him to her gentle smile and soft moon face, "I'm with Gordon, I'm real sorry about this, it's just how they act when they first get to see each other."

Oh, thank goodness for Jen.

"Oh…yeah no, it's cool." Bobby sits on an armchair and gulps his wine and allows Jen to tempt him into light small talk that's all what are you studying, how was the drive sort of questions until the boys wind down and can function as semi-decent human beings.

It doesn't get better from there, but it doesn't get worse really. Kate's still worrying over how the rest of the holiday is going to go when Jeff arrives with Theresa and an armful of presents and baking. Theresa's obscenely huge, due in January, and moves slowly and carefully and though she looks exhausted she still has managed to make the same tin of intricately painted marzipan fruit that she gives Kate every Christmas. It's a sweet gesture, or it should be sweet but Kate can't always help but think of it as an indictment of her own hostess skill; after all, she's never been the type to cook or bake and Theresa does both naturally and gracefully.

When Kevin introduces Bobby he puts on the same 'I dare you to say something' look and Kate realizes he's planning to introduce Bobby to everyone the same way like he's spoiling for a fight.

Jeff never rises to Kevin's bait unlike Gordon and he graciously greets Bobby then introduces Theresa and instead of a fight everyone coos over the beautiful sugar cookies, blue and white snowflakes, that Theresa puts out.

Kate takes a cookie and tries to re-arrange all the people that will be sleeping in the house in a way that will work.

The original plan pre Kevin’s wrench in the gears had been: Jeff and Teresa would have the downstairs guest room so Teresa wouldn't have to walk upstairs, Gordon and Jen would take the pullout bed in the attic, Linnie would stay one night on Megan's couch since her flight got in so late before she took the camp bed in the office and finally, Kevin would get the guest room on the second floor for the first night and would move to the couch in the den when Frank arrived on Christmas Eve.

But now where exactly was Kate supposed to put both Kevin and Bobby in a house that seemed to be shrinking around her?

What if she put Kevin on the camp bed and Bobby on the couch and Linnie could stay at Megan's? No, Linnie was already annoyed about sleeping one night on a couch and isn't the biggest fan of being woken up by her nephew.

Maybe Kevin and Bobby in the attic, Jen and Gordon on the second floor, and Frank on the camp bed? Oh no, the fuss Frank would make, and he was already going to…No no no, that would not work at all. Where the fuck is everyone going to go? She's panicking but she can't pull Peter aside for help or comfort because there are too many people in the house for her to lose face in front of so she mulls it over, laughing and smiling and topping up wine glasses and it's fine.

Then it's dinner, piles of Chinese takeout and Kate grits her teeth through paying the delivery boy and Kevin screaming "I swear to god Buzz if you eat all the egg rolls I'm gonna lose it," and Theresa under her breath to Jeff saying, "You didn't say we'd be eating Chinese! It's all MSG!" and Jen making sure there are enough chairs around the kitchen table instead of sitting and taking a plate and it's one thing after another thing and amidst all that chaos The Topic comes up. Of course, The Topic comes up, it always comes up at family dinners and Kate just can’t handle it on top of everything. 

The worst thing of all its Bobby who brings The Topic up and this time when her fingers tighten around her wine stem, they stay that way the entire rest of the meal.

It starts with Jeff and Gordon repeatedly asking Bobby about Kevin trying to wrangle something out of Bobby that they can tease their little brother over it. Bobby proves to be loyal repeatedly singing Kevin's praises and seems to be more amused and less terrified with each stupid question.

"When the girls get here tomorrow it'll be a lot more civilized, I bet," Theresa says as an aside to her and Kate agrees politely with a nod and chuckle but knows Theresa is wrong. The teasing is not exclusive to just the boys and her four oldest have always tended to team up against their youngest sibling. It was a disadvantage Kevin has always had. The teasing is light and Kevin is taking it playfully not getting angry, so Kate doesn't intervene.

Bobby laughs, giddy and bright, when Jeff suggested Kevin only takes dates to Chuck E. Cheese, and shakes his head vigorously, "No, no he's great. He's wonderful! He even cooked dinner for me a few times. He's the first guy who's cooked for me that was ever actually good at it."

He beams at Kevin and it's sweet, the kind of look you want to be thrown at your child. But then he pauses side-eyeing Kevin and says, "He said," and this is where Kate's fingers tighten because there's a sort of haha gleam in his eye and like a premonition she knows what Bobby is going to bring up, "he said…that he taught himself to cook because he was abandoned one Christmas." He laughs again snorting at the absurdity, "which must be baloney so-"

"That wasn't cooking you, lying twerp!" Gordon interrupts to sneer at Kevin who sneers back, "you microwaved mac and cheese. You think that makes you a chef?"

"It was only two days Kev," Jeff adds, "stop acting like you were traumatized."

"It was three whole days!" Kevin retorts and Bobby just blinks at the bickering he’d created.

"Wait…did you really leave him home alone when he was ten?" and Bobby looks at Kate when he asks and she thinks glass may splinter in her hand.

"No," and it's Peter that answers and for a second she thinks oh, everyone is just going to lie it away this won't be a thing we need to talk about today but then he leans towards Bobby with a sly smile, "he was eight."

His timing and his voice make the table erupt with laughter and Kate forces herself to smile along.

"It was good for him," Gordon assures Bobby.

"Before he was such a whiny little shit!" and Jeff nods in agreement.

"Boys! We have guests. Can we pretend to have decorum please?"

"Sorry mom," Jeff says, "he was such a little cry baby though." 

 "I was eight!" Kevin defends.

"He couldn't wipe his ass on his own before he got left so it was the best thing that happened to this family," Gordon replies.

"Again Rimjob, I was eight!"

"I dunno Kev," Jeff says with a head shake, "I think an eight-year-old should be able to wipe his own ass."

Kevin turns to Bobby, who is stifling shocked giggles, and says in a pompous posh voice, "obviously this is hyperbole and my brothers are jealous dirty liars and I definitely had better hygiene at eight then either of these colossal pizza faces ever could."

"Fine maybe you could wipe your own ass, but could you tie your shoes?"

There's more laughter and she grits her teeth through it, has gritted her teeth through each time this story which comes up every holiday with every new partner the kids bring home.

It isn't funny is the thing. Somehow, it's ended up a family joke but it's never been funny at all.

Peter, well Peter had always been a duck, things rolled off him like he was waterproof, things that drenched Kate to the core. And the realization you're a horrible mother is a heavy downpour of a feeling.

She escapes before they get to the fortune cookies, saying "I need to run upstairs for a second," and thinks I'm fine, it's fine I'm just going to sort out the sleeping arrangements but she ends up staring at the scratched leg of her vanity hands white-knuckled fists.

Returning home after abandoning her child goes like this:

Kate's exhausted when she finally gets inside the house and smells of stale sweat and cigarette smoke and when she finally lays her eyes on Kevin he looks at her so mistrustful it breaks her heart.

He eventually gives her a smile, sunshine bright but her heart is still broken.

Then, Peter, her duck of a man, waltzes in moments later like a conquering hero gets to swing Kevin in a wild hug and call him 'my boy my boy!" and grins like a schoolboy at Kate in an, I knew it would all work out sort of way. As if she hadn't spent the last few days awake thinking about their child burning the house down or falling down the stairs and bleeding out. Hadn't been stuck in a truck hearing story after story of terrible parents only to realize she was just like those men.

But she pushes it down because it's Christmas and everyone's home and Kevin isn't hurt or dead and also someone needs to find an open store to get milk.

"I went shopping yesterday," Kevin says grinning shyly like this isn't an extremely out of character, "I got the milk, eggs and fabric softener."

He lights up under everyone's astounded delight at this, the attention seeker he is unfurling like a sunflower in daylight.

And Kate thinks maybe she can take this as a Christmas miracle where everyone home, and everyone safe.

But it doesn't last because its Kevin and Buzz screams, "what did you do to my room!" before stomping back downstairs in a furious storm, lunging at his brother as he yells, "he trashed my room! Kevin I'm going to cream you, you little worm!"

Kevin stand behind Peter and starts yelling back. 

"I needed cash! I was just borrowing some stuff."

"So, you just trashed my room!?"

"It was an accident! I need money for food dummy! And to defend myself!"

"Defend yourself? From what? My spider who’s tank you smashed?"

"No! From burglars! I was the man of the house! I needed your bb gun in case someone tried to rob the place."

Again, her heart breaks thinking about her baby scared and alone.

Her oldest son is not so empathetic, and he points an angry finger at Kevin, "Yeah right dweeb, like you could protect anything. I don't care why you went in my room jerkwad, you're gonna help me find Rosie and she better be alive or you won't be anymore," and he sneered the last part knowing Kevin's afraid of the spider and Kate's going to have to step in and nip this fight in the bud except now apparently that horrible spider is running around her house and all she wants in the world is a shower.

Kevin astounds them all again by nodding seriously, "Deal. She's definitely alive because I saw her yesterday on the attic stairs."

"Eww Buzz your nasty spider is crawling around the house?" Megan asks making a retching noise in his direction.

"Don't worry Megan, me and Buzz are gonna catch it!"

"Oh sure," Linnie scoffs, "this I have to see."

"He's gonna piss himself if he sees it," Jeff laughs

"I'm not afraid of Buzz's spider because I'm a man and spider with girl names don't scare me," Kevin says, loftily.

"It’s not a girl’s name!” Buzz snaps, “She’s a rose-toed tarantula! Whatever. Prove it!"

A spider hunting party seems to spontaneously plan itself in front of Peter and Kate her five children arming themselves with various pots and pans and, in Megan's case, a pair of oven mitts.

"Oh," Kevin says as the troop makes its way to the stairs, "I almost forgot! I kept all my receipts." Awkwardly he reaches onto the counter he's too small to even see over, scoops a handful of crumpled papers from the empty fruit bowl and hands them to Peter who looks at them mystified. "If you guys wanted to pay Buzz back for the money I borrowed."

"Come on Kevin!" Linnie calls, "hurry up!"

"Coming!" and he scampers after his siblings looking absolutely delighted.

"He kept the receipts," Peter replied staring down at the paper in his hand, "I didn't even know he knew what receipts were."

"I…" Kate is equally flummoxed. 

It’s not hard to see why it’s become a family joke. He was left alone for three days and somehow Kevin has made himself more independent because of it. He can do laundry, he can go shopping, he enters the basement unafraid and makes his own bowl of cereal.

And it could be fine, it could be funny, but she can't just laugh about it. 

The bedroom door swings open and Kate snaps back to the present as her adult son barges into her room.

"Dad sent me to find you," Kevin says flinging himself on the bed, "I think he wants to play charades and you know how everyone fights when we play charades. You have to stop him."

"In a moment Kevin," she says and it's sharper than it should be and his eyes narrow but very much in an ah-ha got ya way.

"Are you pissed? About Bobby?"

"No Kevin I am not pissed," she replies clinking her tongue over the last word to emphasis her distaste for the word.

"Oh, sure right," he bounces up into a sitting position and gives her a truly sarcastic look "except that it seems like you are super pissed."

She stares back at him, "It would have been nice to know you were bringing a guest instead of you springing it on us." 

"Ah hah," he grins pointing upwards triumphantly so happy he's finally getting the fight he's been spoiling for all day, "So this is about Bobby."

"This is about the fact you didn't think to tell me that you were bringing a guest and now I have to start rearranging things to accommodate your rudeness."

"BS! Everyone else is bringing a guest but I'm the only one you get pissed at."

"Your sister isn't bringing anyone."

"No, but if Linnie was bringing someone I bet you'd love it! I bet you'd throw that guy a parade! But when I bring someone you're pissed. This is so unfair!" He throws his hands up dramatically as if his life is full of unending hardships.

"It is unfair!" Kate agrees angrily, "It's unfair that you made it so I can't plan for another person sleeping at the house and eating dinner with us. You didn't bother to tell me because it was more important for you to make a scene than to be fair to me."

He scoffs, "You're only calling it a scene because I'm dating a boy!"

She whirls around no longer content to have this argument in the mirror, "I don't care if you want to date a boy! Date 20 boys for all I care! That's not the problem and you know it!"

His face is grim and his hands no longer flailing but crossed tight over his chest. "Sure, why would you care? I'm only your son but you have two more of those so what do you care right?" And like that they've slipped right into the same argument they've been having since he was eight.

Once, Kevin had left a brand-new copy of that Harry Potter book on this very vanity with a sarcastic note on the front page that read: "Look Ma! They wrote a whole book about me!" All the relevant passages about a sad, neglected boy forced to live under the stairs had been highlighted, which was the kind of ridiculous dramatics he loved never mind that Kevin never had to wear hand me down clothes and while his room was technically under the attic stairs that only affected the shape of his closet.

Always though, always, when Kevin tells the story, Kate is cast as the villain and this time it stabs right into the tender spot she'd been nursing all day. She takes a breath and trembles when she releases it, "I care about you, Kevin. I don't know why you never believe that."

He looks away eyes bright sullenly glaring at the floor.

She sighs and pinches the bridge of her nose, "Your Uncle Frank is going to be here tomorrow."

He looks up, confused, "I know. So?"

"You know how he can be."

He looks taken aback for a moment before he scowls his whole face twisting like he’s tasted something particularly unpleasant, "How about you take my side for once and tell Uncle Frank to shove it?"

"I can't do that," and at his face, her voice goes higher, "I can't just tell your father his shitty brother can't come to our house!"

Instead of firing back at her he laughs, "You called him shitty!" he smiles but it’s prickly not sunshine at all, "you're always riding my ass about language and now you're calling Uncle Frank shitty. I mean, he is so, so shitty mom, Jesus."

"…He's difficult," she allows.

"We should have gotten Aunt Leslie in the divorce. She used to make those amazing cheese logs."

"Well we didn't; we just have Frank." The fight has come to a standstill at this point and she's so tired so she says, "I don't know where everyone will be sleeping tomorrow."

"What do you mean? This house is huge."

"We don't have enough guest rooms for everyone, and I don't know where I'm moving you to tomorrow night."

His eyes narrow at this and he's like a puffed-up alley cat ready and willing to go back to fighting. "What do you mean move me? I thought I was sleeping in the second-floor guest room. You said I was sleeping in the second-floor guest room!"

"I'll need that room for Frank. I was going to have you sleep on the couch in the den."

His hands are back up, flailing, "Of course I was! Of course, I don't get a room with a bed!"

"Linnie is going to be sleeping on the camp bed in your father's office, that's hardly different! What do you want? Should I make your brother's pregnant wife sleep on the couch? Is that the solution you'd find fair?"

"Obviously I don't mean that Theresa should sleep on a couch! Why can't Uncle Frank sleep on the couch?"

"You know why I'm not making your uncle sleep on the couch!"

"He sucks! And you already said he's going to say shit to me about Bobby!"

Their sentences are coming out fast and clipped, words spilling over each other’s words, punctuation lost as they talk over each other.

"I didn't say that I said he was difficult—!"

"I'm not an idiot! I know what you meant—!"

"You're acting like a child—!"

“You’re acting like you wish I wasn’t your child—!”

“You always do this! You always have to be the victim—!"

At this point they are standing face to face and his hands are in his hair and her hand is a jabbing finger pointing at him, again and again, emphasizing every word.

"I'm always treated like garbage by this family—!"

"Everyone else does their part—!"

"Fine!" he yells, "Fine! Bobby will sleep on the couch and I'll go sleep in my treehouse since you clearly don't want me here! And you can be happy, and Uncle Frank can be happy, and I won't ruin Christmas!!"

"Don't be ridiculous!" she bellows, "No one is sleeping outside! And If you will just give me one damn second without your dramatics, I! Will! Figure! Something! Out!"

They both seem to realize how loud their voices are at the same time and just stop silent, wide-eyed staring out the open bedroom door listening for the rest of the family wondering if everyone could hear them.

"No one heard that," he says finally after a second of silence, "everyone's a floor down and on the other side of the house."

She sits on the bed and puts her face in her hands. After a second the bed shifts as he sits beside her.

"Look," he sighs, "Do you still have the camping stuff from in the basement? From that trip to Cedar Rapids?"

She looks up but he's staring at the floor. "I think so," she says.

"There was a big air mattress, right? Two people could sleep on that. Bobby and I can sleep on that, I mean. And… it's fair because Linnie's sleeping on the camp bed and that’s is basically the same thing."

"Thank you," she says, simply softly.

"It'll be fine," he shrugs like it doesn’t mean anything. "It'll be like we're at summer camp. Bobby won't mind."

Kate takes his wrist and tugs until he looks into her eyes. "I'm not going to let anyone in the family give you two trouble ok?"

He rolls his eyes, "You can't stop people from talking shit about us."

"I can in my own house."

He stares at her then looks away face pink and embarrassed. "I'm sorry," he says finally, "You're right, I could have called you to let you know I was bringing him. I didn't want you to tell me he couldn't come because I already promised him he could. I told him it wasn't going to be a big deal and that my family wouldn't care, and I didn't want that to be not true."

She thinks about Kevin defiantly wrapping his arm around Bobby and looking to start a fight with any family member about it and her stomach twists.

"What happened?"

"It doesn't matter." Kevin shrugs face saying that maybe it did matter a lot, "People suck, his family sucks and I didn't want him to be alone in the dorms on Christmas."

She pulls him into her arms holding him tight trying to put all her love into it, "I love you."

"Love you too," his voice is muffled.

She holds him close, kisses the crown of his head then says into his hair, "you need to go with your father tomorrow to buy to a present for Bobby."

"What?" he tries to wiggle out of the hug, but she tightens her grip.

"He's not going to be the only person not getting a present from me on Christmas morning!"

"Mom, I need you to chill out," he says escaping her arms.

"I am chill, but you will do this for me. Capiche?"

Oh my god," he rolls his eyes and flails his arms dramatically, but he can't hide his sunshine smile, "fine! I'll go. If it'll get you off my back. Geez."

"Good," she nods, the matter settled and after checking her face in the mirror and gets up. "Let's go stop your father from starting a game of charades."