Author's Notes: The author is having computer/internet issues and hasn't been able to post.
Disclaimer:Merlin is owned by the BBC and Shine. No copyright infringement is intended and no profit is being made. Don't send us to the dungeons.
First Christmases together are, in Gwen's opinion, a super stressful situation. This is exacerbated when one is dating a super rich atheist who doesn't believe in Christmas and has, basically, everything a girl could want.
Morgana had spent hours complaining since the first decorations went up in the shops and the radio began to play anything and everything Christmas themed.
"Damn the Romans," she'd start, usually armed with a glass of wine and a menthol cigarette. "They took a sacred pagan ritual of blessings and turned it into a birthday party for a man who was actually born in April to a religion that didn't even celebrate Christmas or the solstice."
Gwen would nod along, softly humming Sia's Christmas album under her breath.
"The whole gift giving lark was dreamt up to make us buy into the whole capitalistic idea of obligation gifts. Why on earth should I buy a gift for the second cousin of my personal assistant when I've never met them? Gifts are stupid. People stampeding the malls and fighting over the last pair of slippers on the shelf. And don't get me started on the food. A forced eight course dinner that MUST be shared with relatives you try to avoid the rest of the year. And who was the idiot that invented egg nog. Absolute bullshit."
Here, Morgana would pause to sip her wine and take a drag of her cigarette.
"And why is it men that play the major roles in this vacation? Father Christmas. Jesus. The three wise men. What about Mary? What about all the women who never have a Christmas dinner because they're stuck in the kitchen cooking it. Fuck it."
Gwen stood in front of a stall selling jewelry made with semi-precious stones. She had heard that Tigers Eyes were good for bad dreams and was softly stroking a pendant made of silver, shaped like a bird hugging the stone in its wings. She knew Morgana wasn't going to buy her anything, but the pendant was just begging her to buy it. Before Gwen to second guess herself, she made the purchase and hid it in the bottom of her handbag, where all her lip gloss tubes, small change and the occasional tampon ended up.
It was Christmas eve and Gwen was able to sneak one Jewish tradition into the holiday by ordering a huge amount of Chinese take out for them for dinner.
They sat on the sofa, the coffee table littered with cartons holding broccoli and beef, chicken kung pao and egg rolls. Morgana was idly playing with Gwen's ringlets between her fingers as they watched reruns of Top Gear on Dave. Morgana was secretly a petrol head. Gwen could feel the pendant in its velvet bag, like a specter hanging over their sofa.
She pulled away from Morgana and muttered that she was popping to the loo. Morgana merely nodded, eyes fixated on the Artic special where Clarkson and May were driving a jacked up Hilux across the ice, whilst drinking GnTs. Gwen quickly dug the gift out of her bag and went back to the sofa. She grabbed the remote and muted the sound. Surprised, Morgana looked over at her. Gwen couldn't meet her eyes.
"I know you're against Christmas." Gwen fiddled with the little velvet bag. "That's okay, you know? I don't really celebrate it either. I'm Jewish."
"Why didn't you tell me before?" Morgana gently brushed some curls from Gwen's face, causing her to look up.
Gwen shrugged. "I'm not like orthodox or anything. And being away from home for so long, I haven't felt like celebrating Hanukah. Well, until now."
"And you took my ranting as a sign that I didn't want to celebrate anything at all? Oh Gwen, that's ridiculous. I love you and if that means making you happy by celebrating Hanukah with you, then I would have gladly done it. I'm sorry." She kissed Gwen on the cheek. "Next year we will have the best Hanukah ever. We'll cook the food-"
Gwen shot her a skeptical look.
"-I'll order the food," Morgana corrected herself. "We'll do the house up with all the trimmings. I'll make it perfect for you."
"You really don't have to."
"No, I really must. Because it's for you."
Gwen held out the little gift. "And this is for you."
Morgana never took the pendant off after that day. The following year, they had the best Hanukah Gwen had ever celebrated.
At the end of the day, it wasn't about the gifts and the food and the menorah. It was about the laughter, the hugs, and the love shared between those who were gathered together.