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"That is a decoration similar to the ones we saw in the covered marketplace. The... mall," Martouf observed, when they went into the living room after eating.

"What?" Sam frowned. "Ah, the Christmas tree. Yes." She looked around, noticing no one else was in the living room but them. "Most people would recognize it, whether they celebrate Christmas in their culture or not, so don't ask about it when my brother or his wife is here."

Martouf nodded. "I understand. There are more decorations on this one than on the ones in the mail. Lights, colourful balls, thin slivers of metal, and so on. Is that traditional for the versions in the home?"

"Yes, but the way it's decorated varies a lot, both between cultures and among individual families. Is there anything else you want to ask about before the others come in here?"

"Most of the furniture is recognizable to me. There are obvious Christmas decorations. The television I know from the base..." Martouf slowly turned around, looking at the place, and taking in everything. "Is the small house with figures a toy belonging to one of the children or does it perhaps serve some religious function? Is it an altar, perhaps?"

"Small house with figures?" Sam asked, confused. "You mean the nativity? It's a Christmas decoration, but yeah, it does have religious meaning too - and I guess it's often mainly set up for the kids, so you actually got that one pretty close to right."

"I see." Martouf looked bewildered.

Sam grinned at his expression. "How much do you know about Christianity?"

"On some of Sokar's planets..."

"Do you guys want coffee?" Marian asked, as she, Mark, and Jacob entered the living room.

"I do not drink coffee," Martouf said.

"Sure," Sam told them.

"Do you want tea instead, Martouf?" Marian asked.

*Tell her yes, or they will probably find it strange. Besides, we like tea,* Lantash told him.

*Some kinds of tea.* Martouf smiled at Marian. "Thank you, that would be nice."

Marian nodded. "Sugar or cream?"

"In the tea?" Martouf asked. "Uh, no, I don't think so."

"Great, I'll get you some tea - won't be long." Marian smiled at Martouf, and left for the kitchen.

"Sit down. You guys must be tired from travelling," Mark said.

"It was only around five hours in total, Mark. We'll be fine," Sam assured him.

"Right. It's just me who doesn't like flying. I guess you love it... Well, we've prepared the bedrooms upstairs, as you know. We should probably all get some sleep soon. There's a lot to do tomorrow, and the kids will probably wake early from the anticipation," Mark said. "They do almost every day around Christmas."

Everyone sat down. Jacob in a large recliner he liked, Sam and Martouf/Lantash on the couch, and Mark in an armchair.

Marian entered, carrying a tray with five cups. "Here you go."

"Thank you," Martouf told her, accepting the cup. He sniffed it. *Black tea, somewhat fragrant. I do think it looks like it will be bitter. Perhaps I should ask for that cream. Or the sugar.*

*No, that would be impolite - and suspicious, I think. We also don't want to give Marian any more work. It would seem she is the one tasked with most of it today. Just drink it,* Lantash decided. *Besides, cream in tea sounds vaguely disgusting. Maybe you can ask for milk tomorrow.*

Martouf took a hesitant sip. *Not as bitter as I had feared. I tastes a bit bland, though.*

*You don't have to tell me. I get that at the same time as you, remember?* Lantash grumbled.

"So, you guys got any plans for tomorrow?" Marian asked.

"No, I don't think so.* Sam looked to Martouf, then Marian. "I have some presents I need to wrap, though. Do you have some wrapping paper I can borrow?"

"Sure, we've got plenty," Marian assured her. "You can have all you want. Ribbons and what's not too."

"Presents need to be wrapped in a special kind of paper?" Martouf wondered.

"They don't have to, it's just customary," Jacob told him. "If it's for Christmas, people often use colourful paper with various Christmas motives on."

"I see," Martouf said, clearly concerned.

*Part of their rituals, no doubt,* Lantash suggested. *The Tau'ri seems to be governed much more by that than we had thought.*

*Do you think we should ask for some wrapping paper for Samantha's gifts?*

*Perhaps. No, maybe not. One of them is wrapped in a nice piece of cloth, and the other is in a box. I believe that would be acceptable.*

"You don't wrap gifts in your country, Martouf?" Marian asked, curiously.

"We do not have a special type of paper for it," he answered, carefully.

Marian nodded. "Ah, well, I suppose there's no reason to have that, really. It does look pretty, though." She looked at Sam. "I promised the kids we would bake some cookies tomorrow. If you have the time, do you think you could do that with them, Sam? I've got a lot of other stuff to do, and..."

Sam held up her hand to stop her. "Don't worry. Sure, I'll help them," she promised. "It's been a long time since I baked cookies. It'll be fun!" She smiled.

"I would be happy to assist you as well," Martouf said.

"Great! Thank you so much, both of you!" Marian smiled. "Mark, before I forget it, could you get some apple cider and some potatoes tomorrow? I totally forgot about it yesterday."

"No problem - I have a few things I need to get myself," Mark said. "Sam - I'll make sure to buy some diet coke for you also!"

"Um, thanks!" Sam said. "But you really don't have to..."

"It's no bother - as I said, I'm going shopping anyway."

Sam yawned. "Sorry. I must be more tired than I thought."

"There's no need to apologize, Sam. I think we're all tired, so maybe we should turn in for the night," Marian said.

"Good idea." Jacob got up. "'Night, guys!"

"Goodnight, Jacob," Martouf said.

"'Night, dad!" Sam told him.

They all emptied their cups and said goodnight.

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