Christmas Cheer

Nick Carter sighed as he rolled over in his bed. It was early morning on December 25th, and he was spending yet another holiday season alone.

Not that he minded, he’d been invited down to his Dad’s place for Christmas dinner, but declined, saying he had “work” to do. Work, of course meant Nick sitting on his couch for the entirety of the day watching old horror movies and eating a box of hamburger helper.

Nick stumbled out of bed and made his way to the living room. On his table, he noticed a stack of unopened mail. Rifling through it, he found an envelope with a return address of B & L Littrell. Nick laughed a little as he opened up the holiday card. Brian always made sure you knew a Christmas card was enclosed, with all the stickers and holiday glitter that decorated the envelope.

Opening up the card, Nick had to laugh. The card had a picture of Santa holding a burnt turkey amidst a seemingly roasted kitchen. Brian had written “Kevin” with an arrow pointing to Santa and on the inside he had written; “I thought this was appropriate. Merry Christmas! Love, Brian, Leighanne, Baylee and Tyke”

Nick continued to snicker to himself as he placed the card atop his fireplace, which became his only decoration. Of course, there was a story behind this…

**Eleven Years Earlier**

The five Backstreet Boys gathered in Kevin’s hotel room, it was their first Christmas away from their families. Their first CD had been released about 7 months prior and as such they were doing a tour all across Europe.

“This sucks.” The young Nick pouted as he sat glumly on the floor. His entire family was home in Florida, while he was stuck under the watchful eye of the other four boys and their management. “My family’s eating turkey right now.”

Howie sat down beside Nick in an effort to comfort him. “I’ve had some pretty rough Christmases too.” He said, putting a hand on Nick’s shoulder, which was promptly brushed off.

“Me too!” AJ agreed, standing in front of Nick. “When I was seven, I saw Santa Claus standing outside the mall smoking. Ruined Christmas for me that year.” He said, kneeling down in front of Nick.

Brian show AJ a look, wondering why on Earth he would bring that up. Evidently, it helped cheer Nick up though, because he laughed a little.

“Besides, we’re going to eat turkey.” Howie continued, still sitting beside Nick.

At that, Nick’s frown returned. “TV dinner Turkey, is NOT real turkey.” He stated, putting his head back into his knees.

The other four boys exchanged a look, wondering if anything at all could be done to cheer up Nick. Kevin sighed, placing the processed turkey onto the electric grill which he had plugged in on the other side of the room. It wasn’t much, but it was an attempt at something familiar.

Brian pulled a Christmas gift out from underneath the side table. The boys had agreed not to open presents until after dinner, but Brian figured one gift to cheer Nick up couldn’t hurt.

“Here, Nicky.” He said, holding the gift in front of Nick.

Nick looked up, and noticing that a brightly wrapped box was being held before him, he immediately perked up. “Thanks, Bri!” He said, promptly grabbing the gift and tearing off the paper.

Once Nick had opened the box, he pulled out a collection of SpiderMan comics. “Awesome!” He exclaimed.

“Where’d you get those?” Kevin asked quietly, coming up behind his cousin.

Brian shrugged. “A fan gave them to me, I guess they must’ve got their backstreet boys trivia mixed up.” He chuckled, whispering to Kevin.

Upon watching Nick open up a present, AJ promptly pulled a gift with his name on it out from under the table. “We might as well open gifts now.” He said, tearing into the package.

Howie, Kevin and Brian didn’t argue that idea, and soon the five boys were sitting in a circle tearing through gifts. They only stopped momentarily to hug the person who gave them the gift before moving on to the next one.

As they opened gifts, Howie noticed a faint smell filling the room. Looking around, he noticed that the turkey lay on the electric grill, forgotten. Before he had a chance to react, one of the turkey pieces started to sizzle and smoke, becoming a charred mess.

“Shit!” Howie exclaimed, running to the washroom. Seconds later he returned with the ice bucket filled with water and splashed it all over the grill.

“My grill!” Kevin shrieked as he moved over to Howie. Noticing the burnt pieces of turkey, he started to laugh and soon he was joined by the others.

“I can’t believe you forgot about the turkey.” Nick laughed, barely able to breathe.

Through their laughter, Brian, AJ, Kevin and Howie exchanged a look. Mission accomplished.

**Present Day**

Nick smiled to himself as he recalled the fond memory. They never had let Kevin live that one down. He picked up his phone, deciding to call Brian and thank him for the card.

“Merry Christmas!” Brian said cheerfully, after seeing Nick’s name come up on the caller ID.

“Thanks for the card, Bri. It totally made my day.” Nick said, still smiling.

Brian chuckled, he’d figured Nick would appreciate that more than anyone. “I take it you didn’t send out any cards this year?” He asked, knowing Nick either didn’t bother with cards, or just forgot.

Nick shrugged. “I only sent one. To Aaron.” He replied, snickering.

Brian rolled his eyes. Nick and his brother loved to play pranks on each other, and the holiday season was no exception. “Oh?”

Nick continued to laugh, remembering the card he had send to his brother. “It has a picture of Santa on it, stuck in the chimney, with some witty fat Santa remark.” He explained, calming down a little. “Inside, it says ‘You’re beginning to look a lot like Santa, everywhere you go. I’m talking about your ass, it’s gaining a lot of mass’.” He quoted, amused by his own wit.

“He’ll get you back for that.” Brian replied, laughing. “I gotta go Nick, Leigh’s parents are on their way over and I’ve gotta clean up before they get here. Have a good day.” He said.

“You too Bri. Don’t burn the turkey.” He replied, hanging up the phone.

Nick flopped down on his couch and opted to watch Adam Sandler’s ‘Eight Crazy Nights’ rather than old horror movies. He was now feeling a little more in the Christmas Spirit.

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