Making Room

By Michael Jessup

Summary

Susan and Tom are descended upon by unexpected relatives at Christmas. On top of that, they have to cope with a strangely changed mother. The resulting chaos causes them to question what the season is all about.

Characters

Susan:  A middle-aged stressed woman
Tom:    Susanís husband
Jenna: 14-year-old daughter of Susan and Tom
Caleb:  10-year-old son of Susan and Tom
Anoria: Snobby hypochondriac
Max:  Anoriaís husband
Joyce:  Big and tough woman; recently released from prison
Joe:  Joyceís fifth husband, skipped parole
Rena:  Joyceís five-year-old daughter
Carol:  Tomís recently reformed mother
Bill:  Susanís long lost brother

Script

Scene 1
(Stage: Modern kitchen and dining room, with access to a foyer. Tom enters, sits at the table and begins to read the newspaper.  Susan enters frantically.)
Susan:: What are you doing just sitting there?
Tom:  Reading the paper.  Did you know that they are going to. . .
Susan: How can you read at a time like this?  I have an entire house to clean.  Have you seen the downstairs bathroom?  The dust in our bedroom is reproducing.  I donít like it.  And that smell, where is it coming from?  And have you seen the family room!  Our children are slobs, and let me tell you which side of the family that comes from.  Have you noticed, I am the only one who picks up around here?  If I didnít pick up, I swear you could get lost in the clutter.  To make things worse, I have five dozen of cookies to bake, and then. . .
Tom:  Susan, take a deep breath, breathe. . .  breathe. . . Repeat after me, ďWe are going to have a nice, quiet Christmas.  We are going to have a nice quiet Christmas.Ē  Sit down for just a second, and here (goes to the hutch and pulls out a huge chocolate bar), have some chocolate.
Susan: How can you think about sitting down. . . (stops, and takes three deep breaths).  Okay, I feel better.  What are you doing telling me to breathe and sit down, your mother is coming tomorrow.  Give me that chocolate (grabs chocolate, rips it open and starts eating Ė has chocolate covering mouth)
Tom:  Yeah, so, itís only my mother.  Whatís the big deal?
Susan: (Mocking, imitates Tom): Yeah, so, itís only my mother.  (Grabs Tom by the shoulders and starts shaking him, screaming) Itís only your mother, itís only your mother.  Breathing, Breathing.
Tom:  So my mother is a little (pause) intense.
Susan: A little intense.  Your mother intense.  Let me tell you, your mother makes Martha Stewart look like a girl scout.  Part pit bull, part Baptist, Ė she could be the anti-Christ.  Did you know that Darth Vader was based on your mother, and that was on one of her good days?  Iím afraid your mother has fallen to the dark side.  (Grabs Tomís cheeks) She thinks her little boy can do no wrong; but let me tell you, I can do no right.  She cleans her house everyday, everyday I tell you, and twice on Saturday, just in case unexpected royalty show for up Sunday dinner.  And Sunday dinner, itís not just throw something in the slow cooker.  Bam! Itís an episode on the food channel.  Did you know the. . .
Tom:  Honey, honey, more chocolate.
Susan: Oh I see, now you are taking her side.  She is going to walk through that door, take one look at me and say, ďSusan, it looks like you have put on a few pounds.  Maybe a few too many chocolate bars.  You know, I am wearing the same size that I wore to my wedding, thirty-eight years ago.Ē  I tell you Tom, you better have 911 on speed dial on that phone, because that women may just drive me over the edge (chocolate drips from mouth.)
Tom:  Okay, so my mother generates enough static electricity to . . . significantly weaken our dependence on foreign oil.  But youíre not exactly Miss Peaceful Easy Feeling right now.  Anything else on your mind?  (Grabs the chocolate holds it in front of him) And donít hurt the chocolate!
Susan: Iím sorry, I do occasionally get a little stressed.  But your mother is so... I donít know, she just brings out the worst in me.  When she says sheís coming for a visit, I feel compelled to make everything, well, perfect.  And a part of me loses control in the process.  I am warning you, if she even thinks she is going to take her hanky and run it across the top of the fridge again, Iíll. . . (pauses) pick up her skinny-little-havenít- changed- a- size- body- since- puberty,  and throw her across the kitchen.  They donít call me the bone crusher for nothing.
Tom:  Have you been watching the Wrestling Channel again?  You know what happens to you when you watch that stuff.  Viewer discretion advised Ė you know we canít afford new chairs again.  No, I know exactly what youíll do.  Youíll smile and ask her if she would like some more coffee, or ask her if she has any new tips on removing tea stains from polyester.  Iíve seen it hundreds of times Ė itís the old detract and change the subject move that you have been perfecting over the years.  Womenís Emotional Strategies and Tactics.  Now thatís a TV channel we could use Ė all day WESTerns, get it?
Susan: Funny.  Why are you always making a joke out of my feelings?  Well, at least I have some.
Tom:  You want serious, how about, itís Christmas, time for joy, happiness, and forgiveness.  You know, Deck the Halls, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire, and all that stuff.
Susan: Christmas or no Christmas, your mother drives me nuts.  Iíll be much happier after Christmas.  By the way, where did you get that chocolate?
Tom:  If you must know, I have a secret stash that I keep in case of emergencies.  My momís visiting us usually counts.  I picked up a twenty-pound box a couple of years ago, for such a time as this.
Susan: Oh great, I am having an emotional meltdown, and you are trying to poison me with twenty pounds of old expired chocolate.  I feel much better now (rubbing her stomach like she is feeling ill).
Tom:  Merry Christmas darling, I love you Ė
Susan: Would you stop, now get to work.  I have made a list of a few jobs still left to do.  Why donít you. . .
Tom:  I think its time to. . . floss my teeth.  Donít want gingivitis during the holidays.  Bye honey, I love you.  (Runs out of room).
(Lights go black, Susan leaves for costume change.)

Scene 2
(Susan, Tom, Jenna, and Caleb are at the table wrapping Christmas presents when there is a knock at the door.)
Jenna: Iíll get it. [Jenna rushes up to answer the door.]
Anoria: Oh, you must be Jenna, oh my how much you have grown Ė practically a real  women; but we must do something about that hair.  (Jenna looks confused.)  You probably donít remember me, Iím your cousin, second cousin to be precise, from your motherís side.  I am Anoria, from Boston, Wellesley, actually.  This is my husband Max.  Surely, your mother has talked about me?!
Max:  Very nice to make your acquaintance.
Anoria: What absolutely dreadful weather!  Out of my way so I can bring my Louis Vuitton bags in the house.  I donít want this snow to cause the leather to crack.  Did you know that these bags are really not made out of leather, but a plastic composite designed to look, feel, and smell like real leather?  I could never have real leather, and have a poor cowís hide on my conscience.  (Snaps fingers) Max, hurry up with those bags!
Jenna: Follow me and Iíll take you to meet my family.  Iím sure they will be surprised.  Mom, thereís someone hear to see you (yelling).
Anoria: Must you yell so loud?  Did you know that sound waves are damaging to the vestigial mucous tissue?  Oh, I feel sorry for your epidermis.
Jenna: Mom!  (Yelling louder!)
Susan; Anoria, is that you?  (Anoria gives her a Hollywood kiss).
Anoria: Buffy, I canít believe it.  I havenít heard from you in years.  Of course by looking at your house, I can understand why you might be a little embarrassed.
Susan: It been such a long time, what are you doing here?
Anoria: Oh Buffy, now that weíre older, even though I surely donít look much older, can I just call you Buff?  We had such a time getting here, but hey, looks like you have all kinds of time to sit and listen to my problems.  Before I forget, Iíd like you to meet my husband Max.  Max is such a dear, and he gives pedicures to die for. . . Take off your shoes, and he can get started right away.
Susan: Oh, excuse my manners, let me introduce you to my wonderful family.  Tom, Jenna, Caleb, come here.  Tom, you remember Anoria?  (Tom looks confused.) Anoria is the one who gave us the lovely sampler of Tartuffo Bianco speciality cooking wine, and those lovely Scarpache escargot forks for our wedding.
Tom:  So nice to finally meet you.  And I must say, your taste in Tartuffe Bianco is exquisite.  And those escargot forks, hardly a day goes by without us using them for just that special touch.  And have you tried the escargot in that new Pennzoil 10w40 sauce.  It really knows how to rev oneís appetite.  Bon Appetite.
Anoria: Susan, you never told me your husband was so charming, and we obviously share a passion for fine French cuisine.
Susan: Yes, he is full of surprises.  His real speciality is chocolate, however.  You have met my daughter Jenna?  (Anoria shakes her head.)  And this is my youngest son Caleb.  (Caleb steps forward.)
Caleb: Itís nice to meet . . .
Anoria: Gasps!  Max, come here, come here.  Look!  (Anoria grabs Calebís face).  I donít believe it, I think Caleb has an unsightly blemish on his face.  Fascinating, Iíve never seen one of these  up close and in person.  Caleb, you must be terribly embarrassed.  I feel so sorry for you.  Susan, I certainly hope you are not cleaning your house with polyethylene glycol steradian.  Did you know some scientists in Bolivia believe it is the leading cause of pimples?  Caleb, in my bag, I have something that will clear that right up Ė it is new from Iceland, made from Alpaca saliva, goatsí milk, with a touch of basil.  Did you know that  Icelanders have almost perfect skin?
Caleb:  Thanks, Iíll look forward to using that.  Excuse me, I have got to go floss my teeth.  I donít want any pre-holiday plaque buildup.
Anoria: Susan, guess what?  We are spending Christmas with you!  You are so lucky.  Just me being here is a Christmas present.  We usually go to the Riviera for the holidays, but due to an unfortunate miscommunication, we are not welcome in France anymore.  Mumsy and her husband are on their second anniversary, and all of our friends, well, declined our invitations to have Christmas with us; so here we are.  If you show me where the guest quarters are to your house, Max and I will get settled.   I promise, we wonít be any bother.  You wonít even know we are here.
Susan: Anoria, we would be delighted to have you and Max for Christmas.  I am afraid, however, that our guest quarters are closed for remodeling, and Tomís mom is coming, and she will be in the guestís bedroom.  So, I guess that means you and Max will have to sleep on the sofa sleeper.
Anoria: It sounds delightful.  Whatís a sofa sleeper?  And I must tell you, I certainly hope you have the Samantha Riggins 600 thread count Egyptian combed cotton sheets.  You know, I have an aversion to petroleum-based fabrics, and have to avoid dyes made in Asia.  Last time I slept in a bed without my Samantha Riggins sheets, I had this rash for days.  It was dreadful.
Tom:  Buff darling, I just took the sheets to the cleaners, and they wonít be back for a few days.  Should we use some plain non-distinct, light refracting  sheets from the Sam Walton special collection?  Anoria and Max, would you like a piece of fine Pierre Chardino chocolate on your pillow?
Anoria: That would be lovely.  That husband of yours is so sweet.  Maybe he can give Max a few pointers on loving and respecting others.
Susan: What a great idea!  I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.
Anoria:  Max and I will get settled, and then you and I can have a long conversation, and I can tell you all about my life since we last saw each other.  This will be so much fun.  Maybe we can even sneak in a facial Ė better yet, a pedicure.
Susan: You think of everything donít you!  Iíll be right back, I have a phone call to make.

 Scene 3
(Susan, Tom, Caleb, Jenna, Anoria, and Max are comfortably visiting around the table, drinking eggnog.  Susan is still trying to frantically clean before her mother-in-law arrives.)
Tom:  Caleb and Jenna, would you like some eggnog?
Jenna and Caleb: Yeah, dad (together).
Tom:  Anoria and Max, would you like some eggnog?  Itís fresh.
Anoria: I most certainly would not.  The last time I had eggnog, I got deathly ill, and couldnít sit still for days if you catch my drift.  That stuff makes me sick.  I think it is the guar gum in most dairy products that triggers an allergic reaction.  The same thing happens when I eat cottage cheese.  Moreover, there is a fear that mad cow disease may spread to poultry.  As I see it, there is probably only about four things I can eat.
Tom:  Max, would you like some eggnog?
Max:  Yes, please. . .
Anoria: Max would not care for any either, would you honey.  I want you to stay healthy (pats his heart) so you can take care of me when I get old.  Wonít that be lovely.
Max:  Yes, dear, I canít wait.  I can just imagine how charming and delightful you will be (pauses) when you are old enough not to care what other people think, and feel free to speak your mind.  (Whispers to Tom) I certainly hope my hearing is the first to go.
Tom:  Susan, do you think you could sit down long enough to enjoy a very tiny glass of eggnog.  You have been running around here like a crazy women.  Iím getting my exercise just watching you.
Susan: Tom, I am just straightening up a little.  I just love Christmas so much.  What could be better than being surrounded by family and friends during the holidays?
Tom:  Skateboarding in a field of land mines comes to mind.  Anyway, you havenít sat down in days.   You know Christmas makes you insane.   (Starts singing)  ďHave yourself a medicated Christmas.  Let your feelings. . .
Susan: Okay, I get the picture.  Iím not that bad, am I?
Tom:  Susan, every year itís the same thing.  And your family, well letís just say that most of them are one episode away from Jerry Springer. . . You remember the time when. . .
Susan: Tom.  (Yelling!)  I have a wonderful family, some of them are just (thinking) unique.
Tom:  Unique!  Your family makes the Jacksons look normal.  You have to admit, your aunt Clara could be a whole season on  Dr.  Phil.  I canít. . . (there is a knock at the door).
Jenna: Iíll get it.  (Jenna goes to the door).
Joyce:  Yo, you must be Jennifer.  Do you remember me?  The last time I saw you, you were just a little rugrat with a snotty nose.   Now look at you, all grown up, you go girl!  (Joyceís arms are full of all kinds of clothes and small items)
Jenna: (Looks puzzled) Iím sorry, I donít remember you.  And itís Jenna.
Joyce:  Jennifer, itís your aunt Joyce, and this is my husband Joe, and my daughter Rena.  (Jenna shakes their hands and opens the door.)  Joe, (she hits him on the shoulder) say hi to your new cousin.  (Joe goes to shake her hand, but she hits him again) Never mind, you idiot.
Jenna: Come on in, Iíll get mom.  (Yells!) Mom, more Christmas cheer.
Susan: Joyce!  Joyce!  Is that you?  I canít believe it.  Itís been years. . . at least five.  Where have you been?
Joyce:  Oh, I spent the last five years in. . . in the Mill Valley Correctional Facility for Women.  I had a bad lawyer, and if I ever see that lying, cheating, stealing scumbag of a man, Iím likely to. . . well I better not say since there are children present.  But nobody messes with me, I tell you Ė just ask Alice in cell block M.  Next time heíll find himself on the end of my shotgun.   Donít make me angry.  I can hurt you.  Iíd like you to meet my husband Joe.  (Susan looks puzzled.)
Susan: What happened to Chuck?
Joyce:  Chuck!  That no good, dirty rotten, lying, cheating, stealiní worm of a man.  Listen honey, he was two husbands ago.  Very old news. I change husbands like must people change cars.  After a few years, it gets time to trade in the old model for (looks at Joe flirtatiously) for a new mustang.  If you know what I mean.
Susan: Iím afraid I do.  Itís nice to meet you Joe.  And who is this young lady?
Joyce:  This is my daughter Rena.  Sheís the only good thing from my fourth husband Tim.  (Looks down) I hope itís hot where you are at now, Tim.  (Joyce tends to talk to herself with hints of rage.)
Susan: What happened to Tim?
Joyce:  Letís just say Tim had an unfortunate accident Ė and I hope he rots in. . .
Susan: Rena, how old are you?
Rena:  Iím five.  Does Santa know where you live?
Susan: Yes Rena, Santa knows where I live.  What do you want for Christmas?
Rena:  A daddy, a nice daddy that doesnít  yell at me, and maybe some WWF wrestling action heroes,  particularly Jake the Saw and Bobby the Bonesplitter  Those guys are awesome.  I could also use a new winter coat.
Joyce:  Here Susan, I have some Christmas presents for you and your family.  I didnít know what sizes to get, so I picked up a bunch of different sizes.  If those donít fit, Iíll get some more later this week.  If I were you, I wouldnít be taking those back to Kmart anytime soon if you know what I mean.  Rena, Joe, why donít you go and meet the rest of the family.  I want to talk with Susan alone. (Rena and Joe go to the kitchen to meet the rest of the family.)
Susan: So Joyce, you shouldína done that.  What if. . .
Joyce:  Oh, I know, but itís Christmas, and hey, youíre family.  I always like to pick-up a few things for my family.  Thatís what families do -- they take care of each other.  If thereís anything else you need, you just let me know.  Some weasel in the office dissing you, Iíll pound him.  If your boss is gettiní on ya, let me know, I have lots of friends in low places.  You shoulda seen what I did to Marg just last week.  Well, she wonít. . .
Susan: Thanks (interrputing).  I appreciate the offer, I think.  Iím not a big fan of violence.
Joyce:  Me neither, Iím with ya.  Buffy, can we hide out, I mean, stay here for a few days.  We just drove from California, and could use a few days rest before we hit da road again.  One more big favor (Susan nods).  Could we hide the car in your garage Ė we kind of borrowed it on our way out of town.  Joe just broke parole, so if the cops come looking for us, tell 'em you havenít seen us in years.  I hope this isnít going to be a problem?
Susan: You did what!  I canít believe it!  And then you come here and want to endanger me and my family.  I donít think I can do this.  What am I going to do?  You give me stolen Christmas presents, want to hide a hot car in my garage, and your husband is wanted for numerous parole violations.  Please donít tell me thereís a dead body in the trunk.  Let me see, thatís at least three felonies, and who knows how many misdemeanors.  Is there anything else you need to tell me?
Joyce:  Nah, it looks like you got a good handle on the situation.  I know, Iím sorry.  Itís Christmas, and we had no where else to go.  We havenít eaten in two days, or showered in four.  Weíve  been sleeping in the back of the car.  The last Christmas before I went to the slammer, I spent Christmas day stoned, living in a 1987 Buick.  Renaís been in and out of foster care, and taken in by friends living on the street.   I donít want Rena to spend another Christmas in a shelter, or visiting me for a half-an-hour Christmas day.  She shouldnít have to be searched just to see her momma.  I want her to have a real Christmas with a real family, and presents, and fresh hot food.  Renaís never had a doll, never sat on Santaís lap, and never even seen a Christmas tree, except in the stores.   Iíve screwed up my life so bad, but I want more for Rena.  The only reason I stayed clean in prison was so I could get out and make a better life for Rena.  Thereís no hope for me, but there is hope for her.  If we canít stay here, I understand, weíll just keep driving Ė maybe spend Christmas at some truck stop in Ohio, sleeping in the car.
Susan: Okay, you can stay here for a few days, but stay out of trouble.  I donít know how I am going to explain this to Tom and the kids.  This is insane.
Joyce:  Buffy, thanks.  (Hugs Susan)  Itís not often we get treated with kindness.  Just maybe there is something special about Christmas.  And if you tell anyone I just hugged you, Iíll break your legs, and you know I can.  Can we keep the curtains closed?
Susan: Merry Christmas!  Now, go move the car.  You and Joe can sleep in Jennaís room.  She can sleep in my room on the floor.  This house is suddenly getting very very crowded.  Please donít hurt Anoria.
Joyce:  Susan, about the trunk.  (Susan runs away screaming!)
Susan: I donít want to know.  I know nothing.
 
Scene 4
(The family is in the living room visiting and drinking more egg nog.)
Max:  Joe, thatís a really nice car you have.  How long have you had it?
Joe:  (Joe looks petrified) W-e-l-l, weíve had it just a few days.
Max:  So what year is it?  What kind of mileage do you get?
Joe:  (Very slowly) It.ís a 2002, I think.  Iíll probably be getting 5-7.
Max:  Miles per gallon?
Joe:  No years.
Max:  (Max looks confused) Maybe I can take it for a spin.  I love the smell of faux leather.
Joyce:  Yeah, thatís a great idea.  You and Anoria take it for a spin Ė drive it as much as you want.  Here are the keys Ė just donít look in the trunk.  (Throws Max the keys).
Susan: I donít think that would be a very good idea Max.
Max:  Why not, donít you trust me.
Susan: Well, I just think. . .
Joyce:  What she was gonna say was that we stole the car on the way up here from a rest stop just outside of LA.  Some loser guy  went to take a leak,  and left his door unlocked.  Joe hotwired the car and we drove off, and didnít look back.  Joe is good, we were gone in sixty seconds.  Funny, we found a spare key in the glove compartment! The cops  never had a chance to follow us.
Susan: J-o-y-c-e!
Anoria: (Anoria laughs hysterically after a brief silence) Joyce, you are quite the comedian.  I havenít heard a joke in years.  Stole the car.  Such jocularity.  Oh, laughter is so good for my immune system.  Did you know that laughter stimulates endorphin production?
Tom:  So Joyce and Joe, how did you two meet?  Was it love at first sight?  You seem like such a happy couple.  How long have you been married?
Joyce:  Let me tell you honey, it was love at first sight.  When I saw him in that cute orange jumper, I said to myself, thatís the man Iím going to marry.  There I was in the visiting center of the prison, and he was chilliní with his sister.  Our eyes met, and bam Ė I was struck by the love bug.  Two weeks later I went to the prison to visit him.  By the third visit, we were engaged.  He got down on his knees, with the warden watching and everything, and asked me to be his wife.  It was so romantic.  The other offenders started to cheer.  You could hear chains rattling all the way down Cell block C.
Anoria: (Laugh hysterically again) Imagine a prison wedding!  Where do you come up with these masterful stories?  You are quite the prevaricator!  Go on, finish your story.
Joyce:  What did she just say?  That lady scares me, and very few things scare me.  Bonnie in K block scared me.
Tom:  Go on, finish your story.
Joyce:  Three months later, I came to the prison and we were married by the prison chaplain.  Because Joe didnít have any D-Rs, the warden let us slide.  The guys in Cell K even bought Twinkies and made us a fine-looking cake.  Although Joe and I didnít get to go anywhere for our honeymoon.  We couldnít even leave the room.  I did get a new pair of handcuffs out of the deal, however.  You could say this is sort of our honeymoon.
Anoria: You are such the witty women.  Stop.  I canít breathe.  No more stories.
(There is a knock on the door.)
Caleb:  Iíll get it.  Why should Jenna have all the fun?
Carol:  Hello, Caleb.  (Hugs Caleb)
Caleb:  Grandma, is that you?  I hardly recognized you.  You look so, so different.  Grandma, itís so great to see you.  Iím so excited.  Do you want to play my new game with me?  And then I Ďll show you how to play Nintendo.
Carol:  And just what makes you think you can beat me?  And let me tell you, I bought a Nintendo for me at home, and I have been practicing.  Iím the fastest granny in the Midwest!  My name is Grandma Carol, you killed my father, prepare to die!  Before I beat the socks off of you, let me say hi to the rest of your family.  It sounds like there is a party going on in there.
Caleb:  Itís so good to see you!  You bought a Nintendo?  You bought a Nintendo?  Iíve got to cut back on that eggnog.
Carol:  Tom, Susan, Jenna, Iím here.  (Tom, Susan, and Jenna all give hugs and kisses.)
Tom:  Mom, it so good to see you.  Youíre early!  We didnít expect you until later.  How did you get here?  Your flight was not supposed to arrive for another three hours.
Carol:  I wanted to surprise you.  I took an earlier flight and when I landed, I rented a car and drove here.
Tom:  You took an earlier flight, rented a car, and drove here?  Okay, who are you?  What have you done with my mother?  Is this some new reality freak out-your-family Ė TV show.  Are you wearing a hidden camera?  You never change your plans, you hate to drive, and now look at you.  You look like you just stepped out of a magazine.  You changed your hair, you changed your clothes.  Youíre not going to tell me a new baby brother is on the way are you?  I hate that!
Carol:  Jenna, look at you, all grown up.  I canít believe my special granddaughter in high school, and Susan, you look great, have you lost weight?  This is the best you looked in years.
Susan: (In shock!)  Thank you.
Tom:  Okay, thatís it, whereís my mother.  Now youíre giving compliments?  Are you sick?  Do you need to lie down?  Should I call the doctor?  Have you been drinking?  Oh no, the aliens have landed!  My mother, a poster child for AARP.  Honey, whereís that chocolate?
Carol:  Iím fine.  In fact, I have never felt better.
Tom:  So what happened?  Why all of a sudden my momís a Cosmo girl.  Youíll have to forgive me, but this is just a little hard for me to take.  I think I need to sit down.  The world changes, the times change, but my mother? Mom, three years ago, you refused to buy a TV with a remote.  I still hear you telling me.  ďLived without one for sixty-one years, why get one now.Ē  Just last year, you finally got rid of your rotary phone.  Mom, the light on your VCR is still flashing.  My mom just doesnít change that quickly.
Carol:  Tom, after your father died, a part of me died with him.  I retreated into a little corner, and was not going to come out.  I was depressed, lonely, and miserable.  I had no friends, all my children lived far away, and I had clothes in the closet that I could have bought at the Brady Bunch Rummage Sale.  I finally snapped.  I realized that I had to go on living, and that I wasnít going to spend the rest of my life a bitter old woman.
Susan: So what did you do?
Carol:  It started slowly.  After being a stuck-in-the-mud for sixty-four years, how fast could I go.  First, I went to the mall and got a whole new wardrobe.  New clothes, shoes, everything.  Even went to one of those Victoria
Secret stores.  Oh my gosh, Satan lives there.  I have never been so embarrassed.  Anyway, no more avocado green polyester for me.  While I was shopping, this lady came up and asked if I wanted a makeover.  I said, ďa what?Ē  I was so out of touch, I didnít even know what a makeover was.  Initially, I turned her down.  Four days later I called her up, and viola Ė a new women.  She dyed my hair, gave me a special cut, and even showed me how to use makeup.  Can you believe it?  Makeup.  I even went to Wal-mart and bought some hair spray.  Here I am an old woman buying hair spray for the first time.  I am woman, hear me roar!
Tom:  So what else did you do?
Carol:  I bought a Harley!  Nothing like the open road and the feeling of fresh bugs in your teeth.
Tom:  Youíre not serious.
Carol:  Gotcha!  No, I didnít buy a Harley, but look here (points to her ears).
Jenna: Gramma, you got your ears pierced.  Way cool!
Susan: I think I need to sit down.  This is just too much for me.  I can handle a lot, but Carol with a sense of humor.  This is a Christmas miracle.
Carol:  I know itís hard to believe.  I canít believe it myself.  But for the first time, I feel alive.  Iíve left the 1950s, and it feels good.  And Susan, the house looks terrific.  I donít think I have ever seen it look this nice.  You are amazing.
Susan: (Faints!)
 
Scene 5
(All of the characters are mingling in the living room, drinking egg nog..  Anoria and Susan are in the kitchen.  Susan has her head on the kitchen table, moaning.)
Anoria: Susan, wake up.  I brought my juicer with me, and made you a fresh broccoli, potato, strawberry and pomegranate juicer.  I also added some thiamin powder and a dash of fennel.  This will have you on your feet in no time, not to mention keep you regular, and give you shiny hair.
Susan: (Susan sits up and takes a drink, and makes a horrible face)
Anoria: Well, how do you like it?  I made it up myself Ė a special recipe.
Susan: Oh, its something to talk about.
Anoria: Iím glad you like it so much.  I made a half a gallon, all for you.  So drink up.  Iíll leave you the recipe so you can make it when I am gone.
Susan: Thank you, Iím feeling better already.  Nothing shocks you like your mother-in-law changing into a human being with a sense of humor.  She even played a practical joke.  Oh. . .  pass that juice.
Anoria: When youíre done with your juice, I have some goat weed tablets for you to take.  That will calm your nerves, and also whiten your teeth.
Susan: Anoria, is there no end to your (pauses) talent?
Anoria: No, I guess not.
Caleb:  (Caleb runs into the kitchen) Mom, the toiletís not working!  It overflowed onto the bathroom floor.  Guess what? Iím beating grandma in Nintendo!
Susan: Not funny Caleb.
Caleb:  Mom, Iím not joking, the toilet is backed up.  You need to go clean the bathroom.  Thereís floaties. . .
Susan: Tom!  Tom!
Tom:  Susan, come here, I need to talk to you.  (Tom and Susan huddle in the corner). Honey, first, what died in your mouth Ė you need a tic tac or something.  Buffy, the sewer is backed up.  Nothing going down at all.  Weíre going to have to call the plumber Ė the night before Christmas.  Thatís gonna cost a fortune, if we can even find one.  What a mess.  So much for a nice, quiet Christmas.
Susan: (Calmly) Let me assess the situation: We have the Vitametavegamin girl and her husband, an ex-con and parole violator with a stolen car, with who knows whatís in the trunk, a mother-in-law with pierced ears and a sense of humor, and we are up to our eyeballs in. . . waste.  (Susan starts wailing) Wahhhhh.  Wahhhhh.  Whereís my juice?
Tom:  Buff, could you back up the boat a few words?  Whatís this business about a stolen car?
(Thereís a knock at the door)
Jenna: Iíll get it... (Jenna goes to the door)
Bill:  Hello, Iím Bill, your uncle Bill.  You must be Susanís daughter.
Jenna: I donít have an uncle Bill.
Bill:  Is your mother home?  Will you tell her her brother Bill is here to see her?
Jenna: Yeah, wait here.  (Jenna goes to the kitchen.) Mom, thereís this guy out there who says heís your brother Bill.
Tom:  Jenna, your uncle Bill died a long time ago.  Tell him he must have the wrong address.
(Bill walks into the kitchen.  When Susan sees him, she gasps, and drops her drink.)
Bill:  Susan, itís been a long time.  Can we talk?
Susan: As far as I am concerned, you died when mom died, so get out.
Tom:  Hello!  Did I miss something?  If youíre dead, you look amazing for a corpse.
Susan: This is my brother who has returned from the grave.  Bill, youíre not welcome here.  Please go.  Go back to where you came from.  You left me before, remember?
Bill:  Susan, itís been almost twenty years, donít you think its time we talked.
Tom:  I really donít know whatís going on here.  Susan, is this really your brother?
Susan: (Hesitantly) Yeah, at least I think so.
Tom:  Whoa!  Married to someone for nineteen years, and did I know she had a brother who was alive?  Susan, you are full of surprises. Jenna, letís go to the living room, and give these two some privacy.  They obviously have some catching up to do.  Iím going to make a phone call.  (Bill and Susan are alone.)
Susan: I said I donít want to talk to you.  Bill, leave me alone.
Bill:  Susan, I am not leaving here until I have a chance to give you this.  (Hands Susan a present.)
Susan: Itís not going to explode is it?  Youíre not a serial killer are you?   I think we have enough criminals in this house for one holiday.  Bill, this is not a good time.  Canít you see we have a house full of guests?  I donít think I can deal with this now.
Bill:  So when can you deal with it?  Itís been twenty years.  Donít you think thatís been enough time?  You canít avoid me for the rest of your life.  Sometime, you are going to have to talk to me.
Susan: I donít know.  I just donít know.  Just go away, youíre good at that.
Bill:  No, not this time.   Iíll be back in a few hours.  (Leaves the present on the table.)
Susan: Iím moving to Australia in a few hours.  I wonít be here.
Bill:  Susan, please, this is important.
Susan: Okay, come back in a few hours, and maybe we can talk.  I said maybe.  Step out of line though, and Iím talking to Joyce.
Bill:  Iíll be back.  (Bill exits. Susan sits there in silence.  She finally takes the present and opens it.  Itís a photo album.  She opens to the first page, and start crying, almost uncontrollably.  Tom enters the room).
Tom:  Susan, are you okay?  (Gives Susan a big hug.)  Whatís going on?
Susan: Iíve spent my whole life trying to forget my past.  And now, the night before Christmas, my whole life is turned upside down.  He opened a few doors and rattled a few skeletons.  I want those doors closed, locked, and the key hidden.  Bill just waltzes in here and opens wounds, and it hurts.  Thereís pain, and I donít like pain.
Tom:  I donít know why he came back, and what youíve been through, but you at least owe him the benefit of the doubt.  Talk to him, just for a little while.  And no matter what, Iíll be here for you.  Youíll get through this, I promise.
Susan:  Thanks honey.  What a way to spend Christmas Eve!
 
Scene 6
(Susan is alone in the kitchen when Bill enters.)
Bill:  Susan, can I come in?
Susan: Yeah.  Why did you come back?
Bill:  Because I had to.  I should have done this years ago, but I was afraid you would hate me.  I would rather be a dead brother than a hated one.  (Pager goes off) Excuse me.  (Bill looks at pager).  Iíll have to go in a little while Ė some kind of Christmas emergency.
Susan: Iíve got to tell you, when you showed up, I wanted to run.  Years of bitterness and anger, which I thought I had gotten over, welled up inside.  I was emotionally paralyzed.  I have worked so hard to keep my childhood in the past, but every now and then, it smacks you in the face.  Now matter how hard I try, it still stings.
Bill:  Susan, I know itís late, and probably long overdue, but I came to say Iím sorry Ė please forgive me?  I know I probably donít deserve it, but somewhere in your heart can you make room for your long lost, taken-for-dead, brother?
Susan: I gotta tell you, itís gonna be tough.  When you left, my world came crashing in.  When mom died, she was my strength, my rock.  Here I was, thirteen, waiting for normal body parts to show up, and then my world came apart Ė exploded might be a better word.  Mom died, and I was left with dad.  (Susan lifts up her sleeve.) You see this scar?  I was helping dad in the kitchen, and spilled a glass of juice.  Dad flipped out, and threw pieces of the broken glass at me, and then left the room.  I was crying, and my arm was covered with blood.  Some of the glass was still embedded in my skin.  I ran to the neighbors, and Lucy took me to the hospital.  I had to have twelve stitches.  That was my third accident in a year, but my story sounded believable.   When I came back home, dad asked where I had been.  When I told him I had been to the emergency room, he just told me not to be so klutzy.  I wanted so much for him to tell me he was sorry, and I wanted his approval, but instead, all I got was his anger.   I have also got a scar on my leg, and two on my back.  All accidents, of course.
Bill:  How about the scars in here (makes a first and puts it over his heart) Ė the ones we canít see.  The ones that take more time to heal.
Susan: Oh, theyíre still there.  I see them and feel them every day.  Bill, how come you left me?  You were my only hope.  First mom left, than you, I was hanging by a thread.  My life was over.  I hated you for leaving.
Bill:  Susan, I had to leave.  When I went to the hospital and saw what he did to you, I lost it.  Here is this seventeen-year-old kid looking at the little sister, bruised and bandaged, and I wanted to kill him.  In fact, I had plans.  When he came home that night, and went up to him and started yelling and screaming, calling him every name in the book for what he did to you.  He just stood there, silent.  Finally he said, ďget out of here and donít come back.  If you come back, Iíll finish the job.Ē  I knew what he meant.  That night, I left, and never came back.  I thought I was doing it for you Ė to save your life.  I was a mixed up kid with a lot of anger, and several scars of my own.  Itís only now that I can come back and hope that we can slowly begin to pick up where we left off.
Susan: Bill, Iím sorry too.  I didnít know.  All I know is that when I came home, you were gone, and I was all alone.  Dad never said anything to me.  He told me you left and wouldnít be back.  You know he never even visited me in the hospital.    A few days later, a lady came to the house and said she found a new home for me.  A home where I would be safe.  I was empty inside, out of tears.  I couldnít even cry.  I packed a little suitcase and left.  You know, I never said goodbye to dad.  I never saw you again, so I told everyone you had died.  It was easier that way.
Bill:  A couple of months after that, I called you several times at home.  I never got an answer.  Finally, dad answered the phone.  When I asked where you were, he just said, ďdonít knowĒ and hung up.  That was the last I ever heard from him.
Susan: Sounds like we both have some scars that havenít healed.
Bill:  Susan, have you forgiven dad?
Susan: What, are you crazy!  No, I have tried, but I canít.  I canít get past the pain.  Every time I think of him, it hurts.  I just canít get past the pain.  Is that why you came back?
Bill:  Yes and no.  About fifteen years ago, I met Jane.  Jane was wonderful, and let me tell you, she changed my life.  We got married, and everything was going pretty well.  Eventually, we had a son, Brent.  Things were getting kind of rough, but we managed to keep patching things up.  One day when Brent was about five, I was teaching him how to ride a bike.  He was being careless, and ran into the car.  It left a little scratch on the fender.  I lost it.  I was yelling and screaming, he was crying, and I was this close to hitting him.  I stopped, but it scared me.  Like before, I left.  Leaving was something I was good at.  I got into the car and drove off.  I couldnít face being like my father.  I had too much anger, and was shutting off the people in my life that really mattered the most.
Susan: So what happened?
Bill:  I bottomed out.  I realized I had messed up my life, and I was messing up others in the process.  I was thinking about ending it all, but this guy at work invited me over to his house.  Come to find out, this guy grew up in an abusive home, and he knew some of my struggles.  He shared with me how he was slowly getting his life back.  I started to go to church for the first time in my life, and the walls didnít even fall down.  After a few months, Jesus Christ changed my life from the inside out.
Susan: Yeah, Iíve heard that story, but why are you here?
Bill:  Let me finish.  Itís not the going to church that changed my life.  I learned about love and forgiveness.  My heart was full of hate, and it was killing me, and those all around me.  I couldnít love myself, and could never be the husband and father I wanted to be.  But Jesus slowly replaced that hate with love.  Over time, I learned to forgive myself, my father, and now I have room in my heart for Jane and Brent, and now Katy.  Best of all, now I am free Ė free not to become my father.  I am not a slave anymore to my childhood, living in emotional bondage that was sucking the life right out of me.  I am free to love, and to live.  It doesnít mean I donít have pain, and that some of my memories donít still haunt me, but they donít control me.  So thatís why Iím here.   Susan, itís you.  I now have room in my heart for you, but I need your forgiveness.  And I want you to be free.  I want you to experience the love and forgiveness that has radically transformed my life.
Susan: So why now?
Bill:  Well, itís just about Christmas.  Christmas is about making room.  Making room in your heart for love and forgiveness.  Making room in your heart for Jesus.  Making room in your heart for a brother who was once dead, but now is very much alive.  Susan, will you forgive me?  Is there room in your heart for me?
Susan: Bill, I too have hate, and itís killing me.  I hated you, I hated my father, I hated me.  I have gone my whole life making others happy while I was dying on the inside.  Yes, there is room in my heart for my no-longer-dead brother, but I donít know if I can forgive dad.  It still hurts, but I think I would like to try to make room for this Jesus.  Iím dying here.
Bill:  Susan, letís pray. . .
 
Scene 7
(Susan and Bill are at the kitchen table looking at the photo album and happily reminiscing.  Billís pager goes off.)
Bill:  Excuse me, I need to make a phone call.  (Bill exits)
(Tom enters with a huge Hershey kiss)
Tom:  Here honey, I thought you could use this Ė kinda an early Christmas present.  Itís fresh Ė bought it just last week!
Susan: Thanks honey, you shouldnít have.
Tom:  Oh, anything to make your, no my, life easier!
Susan: You know,  Iím not sure I going to need that as much any more.  Honey, I do have some juice for you though.
(There is a knock at the door.)
Tom:  Should I open it?  Maybe they will go away.  Honey, get the gun, weíll scare them off.  Whereís Joyce when you need her?  Iím not sure we have any more room. . .
Susan; I donít know, I think we might be able to make some room at Christmas.  (Susan opens the door, and Bill is standing there.)  Bill what are you doing here?
Bill:  Didnít someone in this house call a plumber?  (Bill turns around and has a work shirt that says Ė Billís Plumbing Ė The Royal Flush.  Iím pretty good flushing unwanted waste Ė letting things go.
Susan: Bill are you serious!  (Laughing) (To Tom): Who said we couldnít get a plumber on Christmas Eve.  I guess itís a Christmas Miracle on 34th Street.
(Phone rings Ė Susan answers the phone.)
Susan: Hello, Anoria.  The police!  Yeah.  Ah huh.  Okay.  What? Iíll be right down.  Bye.
Tom:  Whatís going on?
Susan: It seems that Anoria ran out of ginseng, so she borrowed Joyceís car to go to the grocery store.
Tom:  So?  Whatís the problem?
Susan: She borrowed Joyceís car.  She borrowed Joyceís car.  (Tomís not getting it.)  Ah, remember, the car was stolen.  So now Anoria has been arrested for auto theft.
Tom:  Big problem.
Susan: Grab your coat and go get Max.  Iíll explain on the way to the jail.
Tom:  Iíll grab the chocolate and the juice, and the egg nog, and maybe we could sing some Christmas carols on the way, like ďJail Bells,Ē or ďThereís No Place Like Home for the Holidays,Ē Maybe Joyce can give her a few pointers.
Susan: TOM!  (Lights out!)
ÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖÖ.
Copyright Michael Jessup, all rights reserved.
This script may be used without payment, provided no charge for admission is made to the performance. In return for free use, the author would like to be told of any performance. He may be contacted at mmhojessup@earthlink.net