A Christmas Story
A Christmas Story
I watched the snow gently falling on the white carpet that was already covering the ground. The snow fell as if it was dancing, lightly twirling as the wind kissed each flake as it fell. I was mesmerized by the snow and my thoughts began to drift as I thought of all the snow falls I have experienced since I was a boy. As I was lost in my thoughts, I felt the arms of my husband, Troy, wrap them around my waist with his chin resting on my shoulder.
"It's beautiful isn't it? I always like the snow. It looks like a wonder land."
"Yes and with you it is my wonderland. I am so glad that we got married this summer and sharing this moment with you is great. I love you Troy."
"I love you also Chad. Do you remember what Christmas was like when you were a little boy? I remember my Christmases."
"I remember my brother and I always looked forward to Christmas morning. The first thing we'd do is empty our stockings. The night before Christmas, we'd beg our dad for one of his big work stocking to hang on the door. My dad use to give us one of our baby stockings and we'd laugh while he handed us one of his work stocking. I don't think he ever really worn them, they were like the Christmas stocking you buy in the store now. Almost as big."
"Being an only child I had no problem getting a big stocking. I was really spoiled by my family. It wasn't until I started school when I realized how spoiled I was. I remember my stocking always had a small gift in it. When I was 14 my parents bought me a watch and placed it in my stocking along with a lot of chocolate and money, mostly nickels and dimes. I was so happy when I opened my stocking and found the watch. I never had one and I proudly showed it to all of my friends."
"Our stocking was filled each year with the same items, nuts, candy, an orange and a peppermint stick. But we enjoyed emptying them just as much if they were filled with presents. My parents always got us one gift we had to share. One year they got us a gun and holster set. We had two guns and one holster which we had to share. The big game that we played with our friends was cowboys and Indians. So rather than argue about whose turns it was to wear the holster, I let him have it. I was the Indian most of the time anyway. But Christmas dinner was always a feast with roast turkey and all of the trimmings. In a way I miss those days, they were simpler."
"This will be our first Christmas as a family. "
I noticed Troy had a tear in his eye as he said this. It was something to see this sensitive side of my husband who generally was the one I always looked upon as being my strength. Our love for each other seems to grow stronger each day.
"Troy, what do you want to do for Christmas dinner? We could fly home or just stay here and either have it catered or cook it ourselves, what do you think?"
After a few minutes as we continued to look out the window at the snow, "I think I would like to spend our first Christmas at home with you. We will cook our own dinner. I love the smells of roasting turkey and we must have homemade cranberry sauce, nothing from a can."
I just smiled and gave him a big hug and a soft kiss on the lips. "That is why I love you so much>"
The next morning, we were outside with the intention of shoveling out the driveway. However, Chad decided to build a snowman which led to a snowball fight. Then he had to show me how to make a snow angel. By the time the driveway was cleared and the walk to the front door, it was early evening. We never stopped for lunch but we had a lot of fun acting like kids again.
"I would like to go to church tomorrow, what about you? Will you go with me?"
"Of course, I would like nothing better."
As we entered the church, the Christmas trimmings seem to brighten our morning. It was putting us in the Christmas mood and my excitement began to grow. Christmas was only a few days away. I had some last minute shopping to do and Troy had a shopping list to fill. As we left church, wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, the Pastor came up to us.
"Chad and Troy, I have a favor to ask of you." He continued as we nodded our heads. "There is a young boy and girl in our parish that live with their father. The father has cancer and isn't expected to live through the holidays. I was wondering if you would let these children share Christmas with you. You don't have to buy them gifts, but if they could spend the day with you, I think it would be a relief to their father and I know you boys will see that they have a good time."
I looked at Troy who was already getting ready to answer and I knew what the answer would be. I had a few more things to add to my shopping list."
"Yes, Father we would be glad to share our Christmas with the children and even the father if he wanted to join us.,"
"Chad I knew you would say yes. Thanks you. Let's meet tomorrow here and I'll take you to meet the family.
And so it was arranged. Chad decided he would do the grocery shopping while I did our last minute Christmas shopping. I knew we'd have to make another trip as soon as we met the family.
The next morning Chad had a smile on his face that literally stretched from ear to ear. I knew it wasn't the time we enjoyed before sleep last night although that did put a smile on my face. "What's up with you this morning?"
"I can't wait to meet the family today. As much as I love the holidays, it always seem that a family makes it better like there's more love in the air and it reaches your soul."
"You are right and there is something I wanted to talk to you about. Let's take our coffee into the living room and I will tell you what's on my mind." As we sat down on the love seat, "I was wondering what you think about adopting a child? It would be nice to have someone in our lives that we could love and be part of us. There are so many children that need a home and we have a nice home, we can afford having one or two children, what do you think?"
"Troy you must have been reading my mind. I think that's a great idea and having those children for Christmas will be like a test run for us. I can hardly wait, let's go meet them."
I couldn't have stopped Chad if I tried. Within 5 minutes he's in the car ready to go. "Hurry up."
We drove to the church to pick up Father James so he could take us to meet the family. We drove out of town along a dirt road that was a logging road a long time ago. The house was a small wooden place that badly needed a coat of paint. It was obvious that the family was living on welfare. When Father James knocked on the door, a young boy of about 12 years old answered.
"Hello Andrew. How's your dad today?" I brought some friends with me, can we come inside?"
"Hello Father, yes please come in. Dad's in the living room and he's feeling a little better."
"Thank you, Andrew. This is Chad and Troy and they want you and your sister to go and spend Christmas with them. How do you feel about that?"
"I appreciate the invitation, but we can't leave dad. But Susan can go and I'll stay with dad."
I took a look at Chad and as if he read my mind, "Andrew if your dad can travel he can come with us as well. Do you think I could ask him to Join Troy and I for Christmas."
"Well I'm not sure he can go but if he can then I thank you for the invitation."
Father James led the way into the house as Andrew went and told his father that they had company. When we entered the house I noticed that it was very clean. The furniture looked old but showed loving care. Andrew's father was a skeleton of a man. The disease had ravaged his body and one look you knew he'd be meeting his maker soon.
After Father James introduced us, I spoke to him about coming to our home to spend Christmas. At first it seemed he wanted to say no but when he looked at his children, with tears in his eyes he agreed. Andrew and Susan came over to us and thanked us for the invitation.
The Troy said something I thought he was mind reading. "Why don't you get ready and there is no reason to wait till Christmas to join us, you all can come with us now. Would you like that?"
"Does that include my dad?"
"Yes Andrew, it certainly does. Why don't you go and pack some clothes for you,your sister and dad. Then we can all go now."
Troy looked at me and I smiled and shook my head yes. Father James gave Troy a hug, "God bless you boys." "He already has, Father."
Andrew came out of the bedroom with his and Susan's clothes in a plastic bag. He went into another room and soon came out with a pair of pants and a heavy shirt. I looked at Chad and he knew what I was thinking and nodded his head yes. Chad left and went to warm up the car.
Andrew and Susan took the clothes to the car while Father James and I helped their dad to the car. The man couldn't have weighed more than 80 pounds. The disease has taken a heavy toll on his body. We dropped Father James off at the church with the promise he'd come out to see us the next morning.
Arriving home, Chad pulled the car into the garage. I took Andrew and Susan into the house and asked them to wait while I helped Chad bring in their dad. We took their dad to the living room and got him settled into the Lazy Boy. I got a blanket to cover him as he appeared to be cold. I then took Andrew and Susan up stairs to the guest rooms. When I opened the door to one of the guest room, Andrew's eyes got big. "Andrew this is where you will sleep while you are here. Is this ok?" Andrew didn't have to answer me, his eyes and gaping mouth said a lot. "Come Susan, your room is right across the hall from Andrews." Again when I opened the door to that room, I noticed tears in her eyes.
"Thank you, this room is very nice"
"You are welcome, sweetheart. When you and Andrew are ready, come down stairs and we can have some hot chocolate." I left the doors open and smiling I left.
While I was upstairs with the children, Chad was busy talking to their father. It seems that he's their only living relative and was quite concerned about what would happen to them after he left. As I entered the room, I heard the last of that statement and then Chad surprised me, "I know that you love those children and it worries you as to what will happen. Troy and I have been talking about adopting. I see that your children are well mannered and if it would put your mind at rest, I think we would like to adopt them. We are already impressed with them and I know before this day is over they are going to win our hearts. If you are amenable to that, we could start the process now while you are here. In fact you all can stay here well after Christmas. We can take Andrew back home and get whatever you need for a longer stay."
I walked into the living room and placed my hand on Chad's shoulder. Andrew's dad looked at us, I'm not sure what he saw or thought, but soon there was a smile on his lips and a sigh of relief. He nodded his head, "I think it would be good for my children to have you in their life. I'll give my consent for you two to adopt them."
I had tears in my eyes as I gave Chad a big hug and a tearful thank you to Andrew's dad. Chad went and called Father James, while I fixed hot chocolate for the children. I asked Andrew's dad if he wanted something to drink, coffee, tea, hot chocolate or water.
"I'd like a cup of tea and please call me Dave. I haven't had a good cup of tea since my wife passed on and I'd appreciate it now."
I went to fix Dave's tea when Andrew came into the kitchen. "My dad takes these pills three times a day and may I have a glass of water so he can take one now."
As I was getting the glass of water, "Are you and Susan ready for your hot chocolate?"
"Yes, please. May we drink it in the living room with my dad?"
"Yes, you sure can. Do you need help to carry the cups?"
He didn't need to answer as Susan came and got the water while Andrew carried the hot chocolate. I carried the tea to Dave. I couldn't help noticed how the children seemed to sit on the floor making sure that they touched their dad. They knew what was going to happen and I guess they wanted to spend as much time as possible with him.
Later that evening, Chad lit a fire in the fireplace while I began preparing dinner. Chad came into the kitchen and told me about the phone call to Father James. He will be arriving about 10 am tomorrow morning with a lawyer to complete all the paper work so we can be the children's guardians after Dave passes on. I gave him a hug and a soft kiss, "I love you."
Dinner wasn't anything special but it was enjoyed by all. I set up some tables in the living room. Andrew helped his dad eat although he didn't eat much but Andrew told me later that was the most his dad had eaten in weeks. I gave him a hug, which I enjoyed and knew that these children were going to get a lot of hugs from us.
After dinner, Dave asked if he could spend some time with the children, alone. Of course we agreed and went into our study while he talked to Andrew and Susan. We could hear them talking but not what they were saying. It wasn't long before there was a knock at our door. Andrew came in with tears in his eyes. "What's wrong Andrew?"
"My dad told us that when he goes to meet my mother, that you want us to stay here. I don't want my dad to go see my mother but I know it's going to happen. I was worried about what was going to happen to Susan and me after he left us. I promise we will be good and not get into any trouble. I hope you can love us as my mom and dad does."
Chad didn't hesitate one minute when he grabbed Andrew into a hug. "Andrew, we're sorry that your father needs to go and live again with your mother, but you do not need to worry. Troy and I want you and Susan to live here with us. In fact you, your sister and dad are not going home. This is your family's new home and we're going to do everything possible to make you happy and loved."
I went over to them and joined in the hug. Facing the door, I saw Susan standing there. I opened my arms for her and in a second she was in on the hug as well.
That evening as I lay in bed with Chad, "Do you remember what we were talking about the other day when it was snowing? I never in my wildest dreams did I think we'd be looking at a family and sharing Christmas. I thought that the snow held a promise of a better day and I think that this is that promise."
I snuggled into Chad and knew that our love making tonight was going to be special. It always has been great, but tonight it was magical, our love couldn't be contained. It was 2 am in the morning when I finally fell into a deep sleep, in the arms of Chad.
The next morning, I noticed the snow began to fall again. As I was fixing breakfast, Andrew came into the kitchen. "Good morning son, how did you sleep?"
"Good morning. I slept very well. Can I help you with breakfast?"
"What does your dad normally eat for breakfast?"
"He generally doesn't eat breakfast just some juice when we have it."
"Do you think he may like oatmeal or something else? I thought we'd have oatmeal with blueberries this morning."
"I think he'd enjoy that. It sounds good. Can I help?"
"Sure, you can pour the orange juice and then ask your dad if he wants coffee or tea."
"Chad, do you think Dave could make it to the table or should we set up a tray for him in the living room. He said he liked sleeping in the Lazy Boy."
"I asked dad what he wanted to drink and he asked if he could have tea."
"Troy, Dave said if we helped him he'd like to eat with us at the table."
"Get the arm chair out of the office and then we can wheel him to the table. That would be easier than carrying him and he might not be as embarrassed."
As Andrew was pouring the orange juice and setting it on the table, Susan came into the kitchen and helped to set the table. I always liked oatmeal and especially in the winter. I noticed Dave ate all of his and when I asked him if he wanted more, he took a second helping. Andrew's eyes got big when his dad took a second helping. I noticed Dave's spirit had picked up a little. I think worrying about the future of the children was depressing his spirit and now that it's settled, he is more relaxed and his worries are gone. Andrew and Susan noticed the change and smiled at their dad. When they were helping cleaning up after everyone was finished, every time they passed their dad they had to touch him in a loving way.
It must have been hard on the family not knowing what was going to happen after Dave died. Not that they didn't feel relieved, the passing of Dave was on their mind all the time. But every time they saw a positive sign they seemed to grab on to that with hope.
Father James arrived with a lawyer and Dave signed the custodial agreement giving Chad and I custodial rights to the children. The lawyer informed us that once Dave left this world, we could apply for adoption and being a gay family wouldn't have any negative effects.
"Dave, now that the papers are signed, we need to go back to your home and bring your and the children's possessions here. I don't know what you want to bring but if you tell Andrew I will make sure we bring it here. We should stop all mail services. You can have your mail sent here."
Dave spoke to Andrew who made a list of things to bring back. I stopped at the post office and had all of Dave's mail forwarded to my address. I also took the time to check on the electric to have it discontinued. At the house, I had several boxes and suitcases in the car for Andrew to fill with their clothes and other items of remembrance. As we were gathering everything up, a woman came by the house. Andrew explained that they were moving and was in the process of closing up the house. Andrew told me later she came to the house to check on his dad.
As we were packing up the clothes, I noticed that there wasn't much and what there was showed a lot of wear. But they were clean and mended. I knew then what I'd ask Troy to help in buying them for Christmas. Besides games and books, there would be clothes as well. I thought of Dave and decided he needs some warm sweaters and a little heavier set of pants. Of course there would be slippers and bathrobes. I was getting all excited about this Christmas and I knew that Troy will be as well.
When we arrived home, I helped Andrew taking his and Susan's clothes to their room. When I entered Andrew's room, he had an old blanket out and was holding it to his cheek. "Is that a special blanket?"
"Yes, my mother made it for me. When I hold it I can smell her in it."
"You can put it on your bed. This is your room so you can do whatever wish as long as you don't blow it up." He knew I was kidding about blowing it up by the smile on my face. As I was leaving, Andrew grabbed me and gave me a big hug. I noticed the tears in his eyes, but didn't say anything.
Later that evening, I told Troy about my plans on shopping for Andrew and Susan. I chuckled as Troy said he must be a part of the shopping trip, he was glowing like a little kid. He was happy and I was happy, you could almost cut the love it was so thick.
I bundled the kids in the car and headed to the mall. There were several clothing stores that catered to young people. I told Andrew and Susan, we had to get clothes for church. I bought Andrew a smart blue suit, a very pale blue shirt and a tie to match. Susan picked out a pink dress with white flowers. The next stop was the shoe store where I bought them a pair of 'Sunday go meeting' shoes. This completed, they were ready to go home but not before we had a slice of pizza. I was pleased at how they behaved in the mall, their parents had taught them well.
When we got home, they had to dhow their dad what they had and mentioned that this was their Sunday go meeting clothes. Dave looked at them smiling, "They are very nice. Did you thank Troy for them?" Two heads bobbed up and down.
Chad pulled me aside and I gave him the tags from the clothes and shoes I had just bought. "Dinner will be at 6 and don't forget stocking stuffers." I wanted to go with him but I knew he wanted to do this.
While he was gone, I fixed a lunch for Dave. With Andrew's help, we got him into the desk chair and wheeled him into the kitchen where I had a hot bowl of chicken noodle soup ready for him. I noticed the children looking at the soup, so I dished out two more bowls. It didn't take them long to know the food was for them. While they ate, I made a tea for Dave and hot chocolate for Andrew and Susan. Again when Dave finished I gave him another bowl which he promptly tucked into. When he was finished he asked us to help him get back into his chair as he wanted to take a nap. I couldn't help notice that Dave was feeling better and his appetite was picking up. Sometimes the worst disease is worry.
The rest of the afternoon, the children found some books in the study that they liked. And so the afternoon was spent reading in front of the fire. It wasn't long before a couple of sleepy children climbed onto the sofa and were fast asleep.
I started dinner with the idea we would eat at six. Just as I was putting the finishing touches to the roast before putting into the oven, Chad came home. He was loaded down with packages all wrapped in Christmas wrapping. I helped him carry them upstairs to our room putting them in the closet. One of the bags had stocking stuffers and a special gift for the children. He had a watch for Andrew and a beautiful necklace for Susan. I smiled when he said there were oranges, chocolates and candy canes in the car. I gave him a kiss that curled his toes.
Christmas eve we all dressed up to go to church. We decided that I would go with the children on Christmas Eve and Chad would go on Christmas day. That way one of us would always be with Dave.
When we returned home, Andrew and Susan told their dad all about the service. Susan began to sing one of the hymns. I looked at Chad as he looked at me, Susan had a fantastic voice. Dave latter told me that she has her mother's voice. I told the children since it was late they should get ready for bed. "Chad and I will be up to tuck you in after you say good night to your dad."
While the children were getting ready for bed, Chad got their stocking and began to stuff them with the candy, orange and gift. He showed each one to Dave and by the time he was done, Dave had tears in his eyes and a big smile on his face. "I know my children will be happy and I can see you love them already. You cannot imagine the relief I feel with you two looking out for my children."
Chad and I gave Dave a hug and thanked him for giving us the opportunity of looking after his children. "We better get upstairs to tuck them in before they decided to come down." We went into Andrew's room and he was tucked into bed under his mother's blanket. He had a smile on his face, "Sweet dreams, love." We each kissed him on the forehead and headed to Susan's room. She also was tucked in with a rag doll.
"My mother made this for me. I always sleep with it. It's like she is here with me."
"I'm sure she is looking down upon you and smiling on what a beautiful person you are. Sweet dreams, love." Chad and I gave her a kiss on the forehead as we left the room.
We sat and had a hot chocolate with Dave as we reminisce about our past Christmases. Dave told us about how he spent Christmas with his wife and family before she left. There were tears in his eyes as he told about Christmases pass. We felt sorry that this might be the last Christmas Dave will share with his family. Right there I decided this will be a great Christmas that Dave will be able to tell his wife when he meets her.
"I think we need to bring the other gifts down and put them under the tree before we fall asleep." When we were done, the room looked liked Santa left his whole bag there. I will give Chad his gift later. Heading to bed, we said good night to Dave after making sure he was comfortable.
That night in bed I gave Chad his Christmas gift along with a diamond ring with our initials engraved inside. When we got married, we couldn't afford a ring, but now with me working as a CPA and Chad starting his own business, we were doing fine. Of course Chad had a present for me as well. We must have been a perfect match for each other, as I also received and engraved ring. Singular gold band, engraved with the words, always, and Chad's initial. There was a special love shared that night. I'm not sure, but I think I saw an angel wink at us through the window.
Morning seemed to come early. Christmas day was a lovely day. It had snowed during the night and the snow seemed to sparkle in the early morning sun light or maybe it was just the sparkle in my eyes. I quickly took a shower and got dressed ready to make breakfast. When I got downstairs, Dave was still asleep. The blanket had fallen off and the fire had died down. I pulled the blanket back up around Dave and added a few more logs to the fire. With the dry wood and hot embers, it didn't take long for the fire to catch hold.
I tried to be as quiet as possible as I made biscuits for breakfast. A special on Christmas morning for me was biscuits and ham. While I was putting the biscuits in the oven, I heard my name being called by Dave. Going into the living room, "Good morning, Dave and Merry Christmas. Would you like a cup of tea?"
"Yes, thank you. And a Merry Christmas to you also."
Bringing in his tea, "I thought there would be two elves down here by now."
"They won't be down until they wake up at their regular time. Christmas since my wife died, was not a special happy time. She died on Christmas Eve and so it's a sad time for us. "
"I am sorry but I hope the love she left behind will bring cheer into their hearts. Christmas is a time of love and hope. There is plenty of love in this house and hope is just a matter of believing. We are having biscuits and ham this morning, are you to that or would you want eggs or cereal or oatmeal? I'll fix whatever you would like to eat."
"I'll have the biscuits and ham just like everyone else. I don't like to put people out of their way."
"It isn't a problem. I enjoy helping people and family even more. A soon as Chad is up, I am going to rouse the children out of bed. This is as much my Christmas as theirs." Dave just laughed at me when I said that in fact that was the first time I heard him laugh.
It wasn't too long after I started the coffee going when two arms encircled by waist and a kiss landed on my neck. I turned into my husband's embrace giving him a kiss that I knew his shoes are preventing his toes from curling. "You need to go and wake the children while I finish breakfast. Dave said that their Christmases were not special after his wife died. She died on Christmas Eve."
I heard Chad go upstairs so I went and sat on the love seat with my coffee and a fresh cup of tea for Dave. As the kids came downstairs in their robes and slippers; their eyes popped open. They weren't sure what to make of everything. They went over to their dad and cuddled next to him. Dave just smiled and whispered something in their ears. I do not what he said, but whatever it was, the children couldn't have grinned any bigger. Andrew came over to me and Susan went to Chad. They each gave us a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "Are you ready to eat?" Their heads were popping up and down. It definitely was a yes.
While Chad helped Dave into the chair and then into the kitchen, Susan and Andrew helped to set the table. I placed the basket of biscuits on the table along with slices of ham. I asked Andrew to get the butter and jams from the refrigerator and orange juice or milk; whichever they wanted. Andrew asked if he could say Grace, we held hands while he prayed. At first he prayed silently and then he thanked God for taking care of him and his sister and the love of his father. He prayed for Chad and me and thanked God for leading us to this family. Lastly he thanked God for the food we were about to eat.
I noticed Dave had tears in his eyes again but he smiled as he looked at his children. The food must have been good because it all went. Even Dave had eaten a good bit. I think he's beginning to put on weight.
With the help of Andrew and Susan, we had the breakfast table cleared, dishes rinsed and in the dish washer. Making them a hot chocolate, tea for Dave and coffee for Chad and I, I herded them into the living room. Dave was nestled back into this chair and Chad was whispering something to Andrew and Susan. They looked at me, I nodded and smiled. Carefully they went and took down their stocking, sitting on the floor; they began to pull things out of the stocking. Laying each thing aside, they finally reached the prize. As Andrew opened his prize he began to cry similarly Susan began to cry as she looked at the necklace. They took the gifts in their stocking over to their dad to show them what they had. Dave just smiled and said that Christmas was good because they are special. Andrew came over and gave Chad and I a hug followed by Susan. Of course we had to put the necklace on Susan and adjust the strap on Andrew's watch to fit.
I believed that the children were very happy at that moment thinking they were very lucky to have such a nice Christmas. Then Chad announced that it was the duty of the youngest child to deliver the presents which were wrapped under the tree. Susan's eyes must have rivaled my coffee cup saucer. Andrew took her hand and offered to help her. The first packaged she picked up was addressed to dad. She looked a little puzzled as she handed the package to her dad. He had a questionable look and proceeded to open the package. It was a sweater and the gift was from Andrew. Before Andrew could say he didn't buy it, his dad grabbed him and gave him a hug and a kiss on the head. The next package was also addressed to dad. Susan gave him the package, when he opened it there was a pair of very warm slippers. Yes, dad grabbed Susan, giving her a kiss and a hug as well.
And so the morning went; with packages all stacked up in front of the children and a few more for Dave from Chad and I. Of course there was a few for Chad and I from Chad or I. Chad and I couldn't have been happier as the children opened their gifts. Each gift was proudly shown to their father and then to Chad and I. I think Susan thought the best gift was the necklace followed by the books and then the clothes. Andrew loved the watch and the games followed by the clothes.
That evening after all the gifts were put away and the children were in bed, Chad and I stood in front of our bedroom window watching the snow fall softly on the white carpet below.
"This has been the best Christmas I have ever had. I am very happy right now and feel truly blessed. I have a wonderful husband who I love more than anything; I have a family to love and care for, what more do I need."
"I love you Troy. My heart is yours and now I am truly blessed to share a family with you. I think you did see an angel the other night. He was leaving us with God's blessing. Merry Christmas, Love."
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