Christmas Eve 1975

by Rob Warr

Part 6

Sammy and his family didn't come till that Monday after Will's visit and we helped them find a tree and dig it up. It wasn't the one Will had picked out, but it was a nice one, and Sammy was really excited about putting it up and decorating it. His little brother Brian was even more excited, and he kept bumping around like a puppy endearing himself to everyone, including gramps, who loved kids.

The three of us rode in the wagon with the tree while Sammy's dad rode on the tractor beside gramps and chatted. Brian had somehow managed to situate himself between the two of us and kept leaning into me causing a stirring down below that was a little uncomfortable. Ever since Sammy had told me about him and Brian jacking off together I wondered if they'd done more. I knew Sammy was a horny kid, and from what he'd told me about his little brother, so was he, so it only stood to reason that they might fool around at some point.

"Thanks for the tree and all," Brian said looking into my eyes and blushing.

"You're welcome, it's not a big deal. Just take good care of it and when Christmas is over plant it somewhere by your house so it can go on living."

"That's cool," he said, and we can decorate it in our yard next year."

"Yeah, good idea."

We chatted about school and Christmas, and what we wanted Santa to bring us, and soon we were back at the farm. We helped load the tree into the Granger's pickup truck, and by that time gran had appeared on the back porch carrying a brown paper sack loaded with something.

I watched as she approached, and had to laugh at how determined she looked to make sure Mr. Granger didn't turn down her gift.

"Fred, I baked an extra apple pie today and I'm sending it home with you along with some of my homemade plum jelly for your breakfast."

"Mrs. Miller that's mighty nice of you, but you shouldn't be goin' to all that trouble. We're doin' just fine now that I got me a good job."

"Oh hush, it's no bother at all. I just baked one too many and I thought you folks might enjoy it. And as for the jelly, well we had a good crop last year and I canned way too much for us to use."

"Well, thank you kindly," he said giving in more easily than I'd thought he would, "thank you all for the tree too. I guess we better get goin' though. Sally'll be waitin' supper on us."

I watched as they drove off, waving at Sammy and his brother, and they waved back. It felt good to have friends like Sammy and to help folks out once in a while. I was learning some very valuable lessons from my mom and grands, and that desire to help folks would stay with me all through my life.

The next weekend we all piled into the Chrysler and headed to town to finish up our Christmas shopping. I'd already gotten mom and gramps and gran's gift, but I still needed to figure out what to get Will. This was important and I wanted to get just the right gift, well at least just the right gift for under 10 bucks that is. Mom always gave me money for Christmas shopping, and with what I'd saved from my birthday and allowance, I had thirty bucks when I started my shopping. A new set of knitting needles for gran and a new cap for gramps had set me back a little over ten dollars, and a new sweater for mom (picked out by gran) brought me down to just a little over ten bucks. I wanted to get Sammy something too, but that would have to wait till I got Will's gift.

I looked at the five and dime first, but didn't find anything I really liked, so while mom and gran were shopping I asked if I could go down to Western Auto and look around. My mom told me that was fine and to just meet them back at the car in a half hour.

I walked the half block to the Western Auto and was greeted by the owner, Mr. Howard, and I noticed there was a teenage boy behind the counter that I'd never seen before. As if reading my mind, Mr. Howard brought the boy over to me and introduced him as his son Ron, who was home from college and helping out for the Holiday season.

"Hi," I said blushing as I shook his offered hand. It was soft and warm, and his grip was tight, but not a crushing one like some older boys liked to use. As we shook we looked each other over, and I don't know what he decided, but I sure did like what I was seeing.

Ron was about 6 foot tall and maybe 150 pounds, most of it muscle from what I could see. He had long blondish hair that fell across his eyes at times before he would swipe it away with his long fingers. His blue eyes sparkled, accentuating his long eye lashes and thick brows, and he had a pixyish nose and a pair of soft looking full lips that were constantly forming a smile.

"Hi Bobby," he said using my name as if we were old pals, "I met your mom last week. She's a nice lady."

"Uh, you did?" I asked numbly, what was mom doing in here hanging out with this stud of a college boy?

"Yes, but I promised her I wouldn't tell her son what she'd bought if he came in here," he chuckled, "and now here you are."

"Oh, yeah...she must've bought my Christmas gift here," I said, understanding now. Ron was part of the adult conspiracy to keep secrets from little kids about Christmas.

"So, what can we do for you today?" Ron asked, studying me intently. His dad seemed to have wandered away and was out of sight at the moment, probably in the back doing, well..whatever people do in a store like that, and for the moment it was just me and this hunky blond stud.

"Well, I was looking for..." what was I looking for, oh yeah, "a gift for my friend Will. He's like my best friend, and I really want to give him something special," I rattled off, once I got started.

"Well, we have a lot of things boys like. How old is your friend? Is he a teenager like you?"

"He's 12, almost 13," I said, not correcting him concerning my own age.

"Ah, does he like sports, how about a basketball, a new bat maybe, a soccer ball?"

"Yeah, he likes sports, but he has all that stuff. I want this to be something special...something no one else would get him."

"Oh, okay. He must really be a good friend then," he said, almost as if he could sense my true feelings for Will.

"Well, we're like brothers," I said quickly, "we're really close friends, best friends really."

"Okay. Wait! I have an idea. We just got in a new shipment of pocket knives, and there's this one that's really cool. I wouldn't even mind having one myself, let me show you," he said placing a hand on my shoulder and leading me to a display case near the register. His grip was firm, yet gentle, and his warm soft hands were sending tingling sensations all through my body.

"It's a Swiss Army knife," he said opening the case and pulling out a red handled knife with all sorts of gadgets sticking out of it.

I took it with trembling hands and began checking out each feature of the knife as my excitement grew.

"There's a spoon, and a fork, and cork screw (though I doubted Will would be opening any wine anytime soon), a toothpick, three knife blades, and even a screwdriver. This is really neat. How much?" I asked, already sold.

"12 dollars," he said quickly without so much as batting an eye. As if 12 bucks was no big deal, and kids like me just forked over that kind of dough without even thinking about it.

"Oh, I guess I better look at something else then," I said handing him the knife back and wishing I was a rich kid like Will for once, "I only have about 10 bucks to spend," I added, trying not to let my disappointment show.

"You didn't let me finish," he said grinning, "but it's on sale for 9.99, so how's that?"

"Perfect," I said smiling like an idiot, "I'll take it," I added digging in my pocket for my money.

It was only after I'd left the store that it suddenly dawned on me that there had probably been no sale, and that Ron had discounted that knife just for me, and that made me smile. There were lots of nice people in the world, if you just took the time to look around. Not only was Ron a good looking, sexy guy, he was friendly and nice to kids like me, and he'd made my gift for Will something special. I was whistling Jingle Bells as I headed to the car to meet my folks.

The Saturday before Christmas found us back in town again, this time with Will, and with just over seven dollars in my pocket I went in search of a gift for Sammy and one for his little brother. Mom had pointed out that even though I didn't know Brian as well as I knew Sammy, that it would probably hurt Brian's feelings if I didn't buy him a gift as well. That made sense, and I was sorry I hadn't thought of that myself, but at least it wasn't too late.

"So did you get my gift yet?" Will teased as we walked along. He knew I had because it was wrapped and under the tree with his name on it.

I'd wrapped it in a bigger box to throw him off and he was going crazy trying to figure out what it was.

"You know I have," I said shaking my head, "but I have another gift for you Christmas Eve when you sleep over," I said giving him a wink.

We'd already made all the arrangements for Will to sleep over Christmas Eve and his mom was coming for dinner on Christmas day. We were going to see if one of us could sleep over that night too, but we decided we'd wait till the adults had opened their presents and were full of turkey before asking.

"Oh wow, I got one for you too," he giggled, "and I can't wait for you to unwrap it."

"Are you gonna wear a bow," I asked as we headed up the sidewalk, our hands brushing occasionally as we walked along.

"If you want," he giggled.

We'd reached Western Auto by then, and as luck would have it Ron was running the store while his dad was at lunch. He greeted us with a big smile and a wave as he finished ringing up a customer, then walked over to where we stood when he was finished.

"Hi Bobby. Is this your friend you told me about?"

"Yeah, this is Will, Will, this is Ron. Mr. Howard is his dad," I said, proudly introducing them.

They shook hands and I noticed Will was blushing when they broke it off. Was he as attracted to this handsome older boy as I had been? And if so, what did that mean? I supposed it was only natural that we notice boys that way, just like straight boys noticed girls and women, but this was something new for me and I was sure it was for Will too.

Another customer came in then, looking for some paint, and Ron excused himself and told us to holler if we needed anything, so we started looking around for something for Sammy and Brian. I found a cool glider for Brian that cost two bucks, but nothing for Sammy, then Will had a good idea.

"Sammy likes to draw, right. Why don't we go to the office supply store and see what kind of art stuff they have. I know they carry that stuff cause my mom bought some for a project her ladies group was doing."

"Great idea," I said heading to the register to pay for Brian's gift.

"Another gift for a friend?" Ron asked grinning, "Boy you must be the most popular boy in town."

"It's actually for my friend Sammy's little brother. I didn't want him to feel left out," I said, opening up to Ron despite the fact that I barely knew him.

"That's really cool," Ron said grinning, "I could just tell from the first time we met that you were a cool guy."

I was blushing as I pocketed my change, and after telling Ron goodbye, we headed up the street to the office supply store, me in a bit of a daze.

"What's up with you and that guy?" Will laughed, "I thought I was gonna have to throw a bucket of cold water on you two."

"What do you mean?" I asked, trying to sound indigent and failing miserably. Did Will see the attraction I had for the sexy teenager?

"He is hot," Will said, causing me to relax some, "I bet he has a big one too."

"Yeah," I giggled, "and big balls, and probably hair on his chest. I think I like what we have better," I confessed. Though I might find Ron attractive and nice to talk to, I realized I didn't want to have sex with him.

"Yeah, he's probably all hairy everywhere, even his butt crack," Will cackled.

"Ewww, nasty," I said making a face.

At the office supply store we found a nice set of charcoal pencils, but they were 8 bucks, way more than I had.

"Darn, they're 7.99," I said frowning.

"How much you got?"

"About 5 bucks" I said quickly counting my money.

"Okay, how about this idea? We go halfies on it. I pay four and you pay four."

"Really, you want to? That would be okay I guess. We could put both our names on the to and from card. Yeah, I like that idea, and I'll even have enough to get this sketch pad too."

"Okay, I'll go half on that too. Just get it all rang up and we'll split it."

The total was just under ten bucks and we pooled our money and paid the lady at the register and we were on our way.

With that last gift bought I was now officially ready for Christmas 1975.

Since Christmas was on a Wednesday that year, Tuesday, Christmas Eve, was a short day for us. This year since we traveled and didn't have just one classroom or one teacher, there was a party in our homeroom class. Several of the kids brought treats, and the school furnished milk. Gran had baked two dozen of her sugar cookies and we'd put sprinkles on them this time instead of going to all the trouble to hand decorate each one. Needless to say they were very delicious and all the kids loved them.

We all signed a card for our homeroom teacher, Mrs. Beal and we sang Christmas carols and visited with one another till it was time to go off to our first class of the day. Most of our teachers were as eager for Christmas vacation to begin as we were, and since the periods had been shortened to 30 minutes that day, most of them just let us visit, but a few stuck to the class schedule and even gave us homework to do over the Holiday. HO HO HO, Merry Christmas Mr. Scrooge.

After lunch we had a short assembly in the auditorium, then we were released for the Holiday break. Ten glorious days of no school.

As if that wasn't enough to make me happy, I had the night to look forward to, since Will would be spending Christmas Eve with us. However, his mom was bringing him over later because she said they had some things they needed to do, so he didn't get to ride the bus home with me. We said our goodbyes at his car and I waved as they drove away, knowing that in a few hours we'd be reunited and I had the biggest smile on my face as I headed toward the bus stop.

Will's mom had given in on the tree and the week before Christmas she'd bought a six foot tree at the Lion's Club lot and I'd helped her and Will decorate it, and I think that did a lot to lift both of their spirits. It's hard to be sad around a Christmas tree, even if your husband and father won't be joining you for Christmas.

I joined Sammy and Freddy on the bus, and Sammy excitedly told me that he was sleeping over at Freddy's house tonight for the first time. Freddy seemed almost as excited as Sammy, and I wondered if they'd be doing some fooling around that night.

When Sammy didn't get off at his stop, Mr. Daniels must've figure that Sammy was coming home with me, but when he got off with Freddy instead I saw him give them a curious look. Sammy said something to him and he waved the two on, and I heard them exchange Christmas greetings then disappear out the door.

Left alone with my thoughts, I was barely aware of Michael Wheeler until he was standing next to my seat.

"Hi Bobby, can I sit with you a minute?"

"Sure," I said scooting over some to make room for the bigger boy. No longer did I fear this boy. Since he'd been beaten down by his father he was like a different person.

"I just wanted to give you this," he said pulling an envelope out of his coat pocket.

It was a little smudged and bent, but the card inside was in perfect condition. The picture on the front of the card was Santa Claus flying across the sky over a snow filled landscape with a small town below, and inside was the usual Merry Christmas stuff, but on the opposite side was a hand scrawled message just for me. I read it quickly, tears clouding my eyes and causing my throat to tighten.


I know you don't have no reason to believe me, but I'm really sorry for what I done and when you forgave me that really changed how I looked at things. I may not ever be the perfect kid, but I am sure gonna try now that I know there are good people in the world.

Merry Christmas,


"Thanks," I said when I could finally speak, "I only did what my grands and my mom taught me to do. I'm glad it helped though."

"Yeah, well...I should get back up there with Craig, he's coming over tonight," he said blushing, causing me to grin.

"I'm glad you have a friend who stuck with you. We all need good friends."

"He's about the only friend I got, but things are better."

"You have me," I said feeling generous, "I mean if you want to be friends, I'm willing."

"Yeah, I'd like that," he said smiling, "Oh, by the way, you ain't signed my cast yet," he said pulling out an ink pen.

"Give me that thing," I laughed, and only then did I notice the picture someone had drawn near the middle of the cast. One look at it and I knew exactly who had drawn it, Sammy.

"This is good, really good," I laughed as I studied the drawing. It was almost as detailed as the one he'd drawn for me, but I'm sure he didn't have as much time when he did this one.

"Yeah, he's a good artist. I was surprised at first, but I really like the drawing a lot. It's cool."

The drawing was of a horse which seemed to be galloping across Michael's cast, and below it Sammy had written "Run Free" and his initials, S.G.

I tried to think of what to write, then suddenly it came to me and I began.

Friends don't give up no matter what, I wrote, and then signed it Bobby Williams.

He had a hard time reading it at first, since it was upside down to him, but when he finally managed to make out the words he looked as if he were going to cry.

"Have a good Christmas," I said as the bus came to a stop at the road leading up to my place, "I hope Santa is good to you," I added grinning.

"He already has been," he muttered.

As I passed by Craig I wished him a Merry Christmas, then raised my voice and wished everyone else on the bus a Merry Christmas then I piled off, ready for ten days of Freedom.

Grabbing the mail on my way up to the house, I saw that we had gotten a couple more Christmas cards and a letter from my aunt Beth who lived in Canada. Beth was my dad's sister and she had been as devastated by her only brother's death as we had been. Though I'd only seen her a few times I remembered her as being a nice lady, and at the funeral she had stuck to me like glue as we shared our grief.

Once inside the house I announced my arrival and plopped the mail down on the kitchen table where my mom sat thumbing through a Sears and Roebucks catalog while gran was doing something in the kitchen.

"We got some more Christmas cards. Oh, and a letter from aunt Beth," I said as I sat down across from mom.

"Oh, how nice," mom said reaching for the letter. Then opening it, she began to read it out loud, and suddenly as the words came tumbling out of her mouth a hush fell over the whole room as she continued.

"I am sorry to inform you that mom (my other grandma) passed away December 20th. I know you didn't see her much since she lived so far away, but I know you loved her and she loved you and Bobby. She told me a few days before her death that she was going to join Robert (my dad) and that she would give him a kiss from all of us. Then a few days later she slipped away quietly in her sleep."

"Grandma is dead?" I said wiping at my eyes. Though I didn't know this grandma as well as the one standing behind me now hugging me gently, I felt as if I had lost something very special. She was my dad's mom, and now it seemed I'd lost another part of who I was.

"I'm sorry son," mom said wiping at her eyes, "I should have read the letter first and then broke it to you gently."

"No," I sniffed, "it's okay. I'm the man of the family now," I said straightening up, "read the rest."

The letter went on to explain that as the only two living heirs of grandma's estate she had willed everything to aunt Beth and to my dad, and since dad was dead, mom and I would get that part. I didn't care about the money, but it was nice to know that grandma still loved us and wanted to take care of us even though dad was gone.

"It says we should be receiving a check in the mail very soon," mom said reading on, "and to let her know when it arrives. She said I should call her and she's included her phone number."

"Is this it?" I said excitedly as I held up a plain white envelope that I'd dug out of the stack of mail.

My mom took it with a trembling hand and read the return address and nodded, "It says it's from the law firm of Dwight and Evans, Ottawa Canada. Should I open it?" mom asked looking as if she was holding a snake and not a gift from her dead mother-in-law.

"Of course," gran said making a clucking sound, "don't keep us in suspense honey."

With trembling hands mom opened the letter and read it first before reading it to us. It sounded almost like a form letter, very impersonal and cold, stating simply that my mom had inherited one half of the estate of my late grandma, and that after taxes and legal fees, the check enclosed represented her part of the inheritance.

"Does it say how much?" I asked, suddenly forgetting my grief.

"No, but here's the check.." she said finally looking at the cashier's check that had been enclosed with the letter, "Oh my, this can't be right," she said, looking ready to faint, "I knew George was successful, but I never knew he was worth that much..."

"How much is it?" I asked, squirming in my chair.

Instead of replying, my mom slid the check across to me, and as I read the numbers my eyes grew wide with surprise, "That's a lot, right?" I said trying to wrap my mind around the figure on the check.

"Yes dear, enough to send you to college and make sure your future is secure," mom said, "of course we need to pay mom and dad back for all they'd done for us, but with this money we can move out on our own again."

"NO," I said stubbornly, "I don't want to leave gramps and gran. I...I love it here."

"You do?" mom asked looking surprised, "I thought you hated being pulled away from our home and the city and moving here."

"I did, at first, then...well, then I realized that it's not where you live, but who you live with. I mean, maybe I'm not saying it right, but I love gramps and gran and I love being here with them. We make a good family, don't you think?" I said near tears, "and I have friends here and I sure don't wanna lose them, especially Will," I said daring to let them know that Will was special to me.

"Land sakes girl," gran said, ignoring me and addressing mom's comment first, "you don't owe us nothing sweetheart. You're our flesh and blood, our baby girl, no matter what, and we took you and Bobby in because we love you and we've loved having you here. So don't go thinking you're a nuisance or an inconvenience, cause what you are is a God-send. Your father steps more lively these days, and his spirit is renewed. I can see when he looks at Bobby that he sees the son he never had, and he feels like God sent him that son in his old age."

"I guess I've been too worried about putting you and dad out to realize that this is working for all of us. I love being here and if Bobby loves it too, well then I guess we'll hang around," she said wiping at her eyes, "and for the record, dad is doing a great job filling in for Robert."

"So, it's settled," I said sighing, "we're staying here?"

"Yes, if that's what you want."

"Yes, that's what I want."

"What's going on?" Gramps said as he entered from the back door and saw us sitting there looking so emotional.

"Well, we've gotten some bad news, and some good news," then mom went on to explain the whole situation to him.

As he sat at the table drinking coffee he nodded occasionally and then grunted when mom brought up the part about thinking we needed to move.

"Listen here little Missy," he said trying to sound stern, "you and Bobby boy are family, and you are always welcome here. You've taken the load off of me and Lois, not placed a burden on us. We both feel younger and more alive since this youngun' has come into our house, and having you home, Mildred, has made both of as happy as could be. So, don't you even think about leavin' us on our account. If you ever decide you need to move on and live your life, we'll understand. It will be sad, but we'll survive. Let me ask you one thing daughter, are you happy here?"

"Actually, yes...very happy. I feel loved here, and safe, and I know Bobby is getting a good upbringing here. Sometimes I miss the city, but mostly I miss Robert and the life we had, but that's all in the past. I've moved on and I feel satisfied and happy here."

"What about company? Don't you ever long to have male company again?" gramps asked, causing me to blush. I knew what he meant, did mom want to date men, maybe even have sex?

"Sometimes, but what are the odds I'll meet anyone in this little town?" she laughed, "I'm happy with things the way they are, but if my Prince comes along then I might give it a shot," she chuckled.

"Well, there are places to meet good men in this town, church is one of em'," this from gran.

"Yes, well...since you've mentioned church, what time do we have to be there tonight?"

"Seven o'clock," gran said wiping her hands on her apron, "that should give us time for supper before we go."

"Don't forget Will and his mom are coming with us," I said grinning.

"I haven't, and they should be here in time for supper. We'll have a nice meal, and the dishes can wait till we get back," gran said heading off to the kitchen to check on the roast she had in the oven.

I headed up to my room then and left the adults to talk since I didn't want to hear anymore about mom dating. I mean, I guess I understood that she might have needs in that area, but I really didn't need to hear about them. I mean I had needs too, Will being the biggest one, and I couldn't wait to see him again. Little did I know that things were about to change once again for both me and Will.

Will and his mom arrived around five thirty and when I heard the car pull up I was out the door in a flash, and boy did I get a shock. Will came popping out of the back door, then the driver's side door opened and out stepped his dad. I stared in shock as he walked around and opened the door for Will's mom, and when he finally offered his hand for me to shake I was almost too shocked to take it.

"Uh, hello...Mr. Morgan."

"Merry Christmas Bobby," he said taking my hand then pulling me into a hug and really surprising me. I mean he had always been nice to me and all, but he'd never hugged me before.

"Merry Christmas," I said giving Will a what's going on look.

Will wasn't giving anything away though, he was acting as if nothing was different and that was driving me nuts at the moment.

"Merry Christmas Bobby," Will's mom said taking me from her husband and hugging me just as tight. Geez what was with these two? You'd think they hadn't seen me in years, but I liked it.

"Merry Christmas. I'm glad you're both here. Gran has fixed a great supper for us, roast and potatoes, and carrots, and salad, and rolls," I rattled off, "and coconut cream pie for dessert."

"I'm starved," Will announced pulling me away from his mom and herding me toward the house, "come on slow pokes," he giggled.

Mom met us at the door, and if she was surprised to see Mr. Morgan she didn't show it. Was this another adult conspiracy that had been pulled over on me? Had they known all along that Mr. Morgan was coming home for Christmas?

While the moms hugged and exchanged greetings, Mr. Morgan shook hands with gramps who had wandered up all smiles, another player in the "pull one over on Bobby" plan, and he gave me a wink when no one was looking.

Gran showed up next and shooed us all into the dining room and told us to sit, and she and mom started filling the table with bowls and platters of food. As we ate we talked, but no one was addressing the elephant in the room, namely Mr. Morgan, and everyone acted as if his being there was the most natural thing in the world.

"Okay, okay...I got a question," I finally said, having had enough of this bull. Where I got the courage to question five adults I'll never know, but there were some things that you just had to do, "Well, a couple of questions really, I the only one who didn't know Mr. Morgan was gonna be here tonight, and second, are you back to stay?"

"Bobby!" mom scolded, but Mr. Morgan held up a hand to stop her from going on.

"I think Bobby has a right to know what's going on since he and my son are so close."

What did he mean by that? I wondered. Did everyone see that we were more than just friends, or was I paranoid?

"I did some thinking these last few weeks and I've come to a very important decision," he said looking ready to cry, "I love my wife and my son, and I need them in my life as much as they need me. I will admit that I haven't been a very good husband or father for a while, but I hope I can make that up to them and earn their respect and trust again. It took some good friends to help me see what was most important in my life, and I want to thank your momma and grandma and grandpa for that," he said giving me a smile, "you're a very lucky boy to have such wonderful and loving folks in your life. And Will is very lucky to have found a friend as good as you. So, to answer both your questions, yes the adults knew and they wanted it to be a surprise for you boys, but they didn't do it to be mean, we all love you boys very much, and as for the second question, yes, I am back to stay."

"Okay," I said simply, "let's eat and go to church." The laughter that followed was typical of the rest of the evening.

It was colder by the time we loaded up in the two cars and headed to church. Of course I rode with Will in the backseat of his dad's almost new Cadillac, and we were in the lead as we pulled out onto the main road.

"Looks like snow boys," Mr. Morgan said, "We might just get a white Christmas after all."

"I hope so," I said excitedly, "I have a sled I've hardly ever used. Back home, where we used to live, we had lots of snow." I added, the memories of that time and place flooding back over me.

"I don't have a sled, but I do have that silly disc thing that you can slide on," Will said, "it's pretty fun."

Will and I sat as close together in the back as we could without being to obvious and talked quietly as Will's mom and dad kept up their own adult conversation up front. The trip to the church took about 15 minutes and by the time we arrived the church parking lot was over half full. The Christmas Eve service was well attended and some folks who never set foot in a church all year showed up that night.

Of course a lot of them just came to see the Christmas play, a Crayton tradition for over twenty years. All the actors in the Church's production were kids, ranging in age from six and up, and some of the kids returned year after year to reprise their roles or try out new ones.

We joined up with mom and the grands in the parking lot and walked in together and were met at the door by Reverend Johnson and a couple of the Deacons. No one seemed surprised to see the Morgans there, and I wondered just how many people actually knew about their brief separation. After all, in a town that small there had to be a few tongues wagging over juicy gossip like that.

"Well hello boys," Rev. Johnson said shaking our hands.

He was a tall slender man in his late 50's and he'd been preaching there for over 20 years. He was well liked and respected in the community, as was his wife Beverly. They'd raised two sons, one in college now, and the other in the Navy and stationed in San Diego.

"I heard you had real animals this year," Will joked, "can I see the camels?"

That got a big laugh out of the Reverend and the Deacons, but Mr. Morgan herded Will away before he could crack any more wisecracks.

We a found a pew near the middle of the church and all of us managed to squeeze in together. I saw some of my friends from school including Jerry, the football player who'd shared the showers with Will and I that day at school. He was sitting with his family in the pew in front of us, and we exchanged greetings and talked as we waited for everyone to get seated and the program to begin.

By seven fifteen everyone was seated, and Rev. Johnson made his way to the stage and made the usual announcements and welcomed everyone. The place was packed, and he joked that he wasn't used to seeing so many folks in the church at one time, and that he was tempted to slip a sermon in on us, causing everyone to laugh.

"And now, our annual presentation of the Christmas Story. Please give all the players a round of applause before they begin, then save the rest till the end please. We don't want to frighten the animals," he joked, getting another laugh from the audience, especially Will.

Over the years, or so I was told, the scenery had been improved, the costumes updated, and lighting and special effects had been added to give the play a more professional look. But it was the kids who made the play special, and even when one of the little ones messed up no one minded.

As the play came to a close, everyone was on their feet cheering and clapping as the cast of children and teens came out to take their boughs. After things died down a little, a children's choir began to sing Christmas songs and that lasted another thirty minutes or so.

There were refreshments in the activity room and gran had brought some of her homemade ginger bread cookies which everyone raved about. Will and I grabbed some cookies and punch and found a nice quiet place away from the adults, and pretty soon Jerry joined us.

"Hi you guys," Jerry said, "you all looking forward to Christmas?"

"Yep," I said grinning, "Will's spending the night and we get to open one present tonight. Then tomorrow we're gonna get up early and tear into the rest of em'."

"That sounds fun. We save all of ours till after we eat on Christmas day, which is kind of cool cause it gives us something to look forward to while our food is settling."

We talked a little about school, the play, and what we hoped to get for Christmas but eventually it was time to go and we said our goodbyes and made our way to the car. Mr. and Mrs. Morgan seemed in good spirits and kept a lively conversation going, pulling me and Will into it before long.

"Are you still coming for Christmas dinner?" I asked, wondering if Mr. Morgan's return had changed things.

"Of course, we wouldn't miss it for the world," Mr. Morgan said, "and in case you're wondering, we've asked your mom and grandparents if Will can stay over Christmas night as well. My wife and I have some things to talk over and some making up to do," he chuckled.

"DAD!" Will said making a face, "we don't wanna hear about that."

Everyone laughed, but both Will and I were blushing. We had some making up to do ourselves, or should I say? Making out.

The Morgan's dropped us off without even going inside and pretty soon gramps old Chrysler pulled in and we went to meet my mom and grands.

"Well, you two look happy as two pups rolling in the grass," gramps chuckled.

"Yes sir, can we open our gifts now?" I said excitedly.

"Mildred, what do you think? Do we keep the boys waiting a little longer our let them have at it?"

"Let's get this over with," mom chuckled, "it's been a long day and I'm tired. And gran and I will be up early getting the Christmas dinner started."

We'd started this tradition when I was just a kid and my dad was still living, but I soon discovered that our family wasn't the only one with this tradition. Will said they did the same thing, and that each Christmas Eve he and his folks picked out one gift and opened it.

"Which one should I pick?" I wondered aloud, "as I surveyed the gifts, checking each name tag carefully.

"That red one with the silver bow would be a good choice," mom said grinning.

"Okay, what about for Will?" I said grabbing the package she'd pointed to.

"That one with Santa Clause paper. Yes, that one," she said nodding as I picked up the package and handed it to Will.

"Aren't you and gramps and gran gonna open one?" I asked as I took my package back to the couch and sat down.

"I think we can wait till tomorrow," mom said, "we just want you boys to have something to tide you over till tomorrow," she chuckled.

"Okay," I said easily, "okay Will, on the count of three," I said grabbing the paper at the seam and grinning.

I ripped the paper off noisily and when I saw what was inside I held it up for Will to see, "It's that cool game I been wanting, The Game of Life," I squealed, "we can play it up in my room tonight."

"Cool," Will said holding up his gift, a transistor radio, "and we can listen to music while we play," he said proudly, "thanks you guys, thanks a lot. This is really neat."

"Yeah, thanks for the game," I said giving my mom and grands a hug, "is it okay if we go on up to my room now?"

"Yes, but don't stay up all night," mom warned, "or Santa might pass the house by."

"Okay, we won't," I promised, "be sure to leave some milk and cookies for the jolly old fat man," I joked.

In my room at last I latched the door behind us and grabbed Will into a big hug, "I'm so happy about your folks," I said as tears of happiness streamed down my face, "now you don't have to worry about moving or anything."

"Yeah, I couldn't believe it when I got home and dad was there. I wanted to call you and tell you, but mom and dad made me promise not to. They wanted to surprise you."

"Well, they sure did. Hey, speaking of surprises I got a big one today," I said, then went on to tell him about my grandma dying and the check. He listened intently, his emotions going from sympathy to intrigue, then to awe as I told him how much the check was for.

"75,000 dollars?" he said as his mouth fell open, "that's, that's, a fortune. What are you gonna do with all that money?"

"Mom says she can send me to college now, so...maybe we can go to the same college when we graduate. I mean if we're know, together," I said, suddenly feeling unsure of myself.

"You dope, of course we'll still be together. We love each other, right?"

"I sure know I love you," I said melting into him again.

"And I love you, so there. We were meant to be together. I think even our folks know that."

"Why do you say that?" I asked looking up and into his soulful eyes.

"Just little things they say. I mean I don't think they know we're boyfriends or that we mess around, but I think they can see that we have feelings for each other."

"Yeah, I kind of get that feeling myself."

"Hey, is it..." Will said suddenly breaking away and moving quickly to the window, "It is, it is, it's snowing."

I moved up beside him and gazed out the window and giggled with excitement, "It's snowing like crazy, look at the size of those snowflakes," I said in awe, "if it keeps up like this, by morning it will be deep enough to sled on or build a snowman."

"Or have a snowball fight," Will laughed, "Man this is the best Christmas ever."

"Yeah, but even if it hadn't snowed, even if there were no gifts, no Christmas dinner, it would have been the best ever just cause I have you," I said melting into my Will once more, "I love you so much," I choked out.

"I love you too, how about we shed these clothes and hop into bed?"

"What about The Game of Life?" I teased.

"We'll play the real version of it," he said grinning, "You can be my wife," he added doubling over with laughter.

I popped him on the arm, but I wasn't mad, and soon we were naked and rolling around in my bed. We were desperate for each other that night and I had never felt so alive or so happy in my life. As I looked back on my life I realized that until now I hadn't really lived at all. Sure I'd had my share of happiness and sorrow, and I'd experienced a whole range of emotions before this, but I was sure nothing compared to the feeling of loving someone and having them love you back.

It must have been how my mom and dad felt, how gramps and gran felt, and even Will's folks now that they'd reconnected. It was a wonderful feeling, but scary too, and as our love grew and we got older I was sure there would be challenges, but I was also sure that as long as we didn't lose sight of the most important thing, our love for one another, that everything would work out.

As we experienced our second orgasm that night and snuggled up to one another, Will summed it all up in a just a few words, "I want every Christmas to be just like this one," he said kissing my nose, "for the rest of my life and yours."

I cried when I heard those words, but they were tears of joy and were soon forgotten as Will took me tenderly in his arms and kissed them away. We slept some then woke up and made oral love to one another, then collapsed again and slept till morning. Of all the Christmas Eve's of my life that one, Christmas Eve 1975 was not only the best one of my life, but the one that set the tone for the rest of the Christmas Eve's to follow. I had it all, I had Will, my mom and gran, a good life, and a promise of a good future, one that I was certain Will would share with me. Yes, I had it all, but most importantly was that I had love, and that love would endure for the rest of my life.

The End


It's been over 30 years since that Christmas Eve that set the tone for the rest of my life. I guess you're wondering if Will and I are still together. To that question I give you a resounding YES. Our love grew day by day, week by week, year by year, and though nothing was ever said till years later, I think everyone who knew us well knew that we were more than just friends.

When we went away to college, we learned that there were others like us and we made many new friends, however we were never tempted to have sex with any of them and have stayed true to one another to this very day. By the time we graduated we felt we were ready to come out to our families.

I remember that night as if it were yesterday. We'd arranged for Will's folks, and my mom and my step-dad (more about that later) to have dinner with us at my grandparents. We were nervous as heck that night, and gran kept asking me what was wrong, but I just shrugged it off and told her I was just tired from all the cramming for finals and all.

When my mom and step-dad arrived, I got even more nervous, but Will seemed cool as a cuke. However, when his folks finally showed up with his little sister Ruth (yeah that talking between the Morgans Christmas Eve had resulted in a baby) he was sweating bullets.

When we finally sat down to one of gran's delicious meatloaf dinners, Will and I could hardly bring ourselves to eat. Our stomachs were all tied up in knots and our folks soon noticed, but it was gramps who addressed the issue.

"Boys, what's gotten into you? Ordinarily you'd have been on that plate of food like locusts on a field of crops. What's eatin' you boys? You didn't flunk out of college did you?" he teased.

"No sir," I said, knowing he knew full well that we'd graduated since he was at the ceremony, "we just have some stuff we need to talk to all of you about, but we wanted to wait till after we ate, only we're not very hungry I guess."

"Well, is it bad news or good news?" my mom asked.

"Well, I guess that depends on how you look at it," I said glancing at Will for help.

"Why don't we just tell them and get it over with?" Will said throwing down his napkin, "I'm tired of waiting. If they're gonna disown us, then let's find out now," he said almost angrily.

"Whoa boy," Will's dad said looking upset, "What's got you so worried? Just tell us son, it can't be all that bad."

I took in a deep breath and stood, pulling Will up with me, then almost defiantly I took his hand in mind and leaned in and kissed him on the lips, "I guess it might be better just to show you," I said pulling Will into a hug, "but in case you don't get it, Will and I are in love. We have been since we were 12 years old, and we want to be together for the rest of our lives.

"Is that all?" gramps chuckled, "boy do you think we're blind?"

"Uh, what do you mean?" I sputtered.

It was gran who spoke next, "Land sakes boy, we could see it in your eyes. We suspected it was something like that way back then, but we figured it was just a crush, an infatuation. It's not that strange for a boy to have a crush on another boy, just like a girl can have a crush on another girl. But as time went on we figured out that it wasn't no crush and that it was something stronger."

"But why didn't you say anything?" I whined.

"Cause it was your business son," mom said gently, "as far as we could tell you were handling things well, and no one but us suspected what you boys were feeling, well except maybe for your closest friends. We decided that if, and when you felt comfortable enough to come to us then we'd talk about it, but it had to be your decision. Frankly I'm surprised it took you this long to finally tell us."

"Robert," my step dad said using my given name, my father's name, yes I was Robert Jr., but Bobby to those closest to me, "as a professional I can tell you that there is nothing wrong with either you or Will. I know society in general may think that same sex relationships are immoral, unnatural, and sinful, but the truth is, homosexuality is just another facet of human sexuality.

Yeah, my step-dad was a doctor, and very educated in such matters.

"So you knew all along," Will said sounding frustrated, "and you, us?" he said as tears clouded his eyes.

"Of course we do," Will's mom said getting up to hug both of us.

Soon the others joined us and we had a nice group hug. Eventually we went back to our dinner and suddenly Will and I had an appetite.

That was 1985, and after spending the summer with our folks, Will and I moved to St. Louis and opened our own business. Computers were the up and coming thing, and someone needed to be able to repair and set them up and Will and I loved doing that. We'd learned coding in college, and even wrote our own programs, and years later when apps became a thing, we made a small fortune designing apps and selling them.

We built a lake house on Lake Crayton and spend most of our summers there since much of our work can be done online, thanks to the internet, which is the lifeline of our business. We spend a lot of time with our folks and we spoil Will's little sister Ruth ever chance we get.

Gran had a heart attack in the summer of 1990 and at the age of 75 she passed away. Gramps had always said that the two of them were going together, and two days later at age 78 gramps passed quietly in his sleep. It was a sad time for all of us and I felt like I'd lost something very important to me. But in retrospect I see that my grandparents left a legacy for me. They taught me how to be a decent, loving person, and showed me what true love between two people was like. They were true to each other to the end, and I like to think that they are sill together even in death.

Mom took her parents death very hard, but fortunately she had my step-dad Don to help her get through it. Don and my mom had met at the medical center where gramps and gran went for their medical care, and they had started dating soon after. There's had been a whirlwind romance and six months later they were married. I was a little unsure of how I felt about my mom remarrying, but Will talked me through it and made me see that my mom deserved the right to find someone and be happy, and as it turned out, Don was a good choice.

Don fit right into our family, and he doted on my grandparents and always made sure they had the best of care. I think that's one reason they lived as long as they did. When I went away to college, gramps had sold all the livestock and leased the pastures out to another farmer and finally retired. I was glad he got to spend his final days in leisure, but I think he missed the life he had once lived. Gran had kept on feeding folks right till the end, and hundreds of folks, young and old turned out to pay their final respects for my grandparents who were buried the same day in plots side by side.

Sammy and Becky got back together in high school and got married the year after graduation. Though Sammy never went to college, he took art courses through the mail and hone his skills, and still continues to draw and paint. He and Becky run a frame shop in a larger city not too far from Crayton and Sammy sales of his artwork are quite brisk. In fact Will and I have several of them, including the one he drew of me that December of 1975 in the nude. Yes, I managed to hold onto that picture all those years, and Will loved it so much that I just couldn't bring myself to destroy it. Sammy and Becky have three kids, all boys, and everyone has Sammy's booger green eyes and freckles, but they're cute kid,s and Will and I enjoy having the whole bunch over as often as we can.

Michael Wheeler went on to become a stock car driver, but unfortunately he was killed in a multi-car pile up at the fair the year he turned 22. Craig Johnson had remained his loyal and true friend, but I don't think anyone but Will and I knew that they were also lovers. After his death, Craig moved away, and the last I heard he was in San Francisco.

Jerry attended college on a football scholarship and played till he graduated, then moved to Texas and went to work in the oil and gas industry. He still visits his folks occasionally, and we've seen him a time or two around town with his wife and son and daughter.

Freddy, Will and Sammy's old friend, turned out to be gay, just like Will and I, and though he and Sammy had messed around a lot during their teenage years, Sammy eventually went back to girls, and Freddy found others to play with. He attended the same college as Will and I, but we didn't see much of him since he was dating a hunky black football player on the sly, and later they became lovers, and as far as I know they are still together.

The Hadley clan scattered to the winds as they graduated from school, and though one or two still remain in Crayton, most are off seeking their fortunes and living their lives in other, more exciting places. At least I like to think they are, but as I said so many years ago, it's not where you live, but who you live with that matters. I am quite sure that I could live anywhere as long as Will is by my side, and I'm pretty sure he feels the same way too.

As I wrap up this tale of life and love, I'd like to leave you with one last thought, Life is too short to pass up any opportunity for love. What started out for Will and I as a simple friendship soon blossomed into something that has lasted a lifetime. So, the next time someone offers you their heart, think twice before you turn them down.

Robert (Bobby) Williams II

Dec. 2019

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