Cody and I were lazily masturbating. She was talking about her new boyfriend. She asked if I thought he was really over his ex-girlfriend. I pumped some lube into my palm and opined that if he’s still sleeping with her, they are probably not as broken up as she would like. She agreed, told me my dick looked hot, and turned up the speed on her Rabbit.
“I’m probably going to get my heart broken,” she said, spreading her thighs wider. “But the sex is awesome.”
“I can imagine,” I said, jerking as she flicked her clit.
“All five minutes of it,” she laughed.
“Yeah, well, you can train him. Now shut up about your boyfriend, I want to jerk off.” She moaned as I lifted my hips and stroked until I shot. Jism splashed on my belly and oozed from me as my body convulsed.
“Yeah, he would never jerk off while I’m watching,” Cody went on. “He wouldn’t be down with that.”
“It’s kind of new to me too, hon,” I panted. I scooped some spunk with my finger and traced a line on her belly. “Finish up, I want to take you someplace.”
She adjusted the speed again. “Where?”
I traced semen on her neck. “Baby, we’re going grocery shopping.”
It was a few days before Thanksgiving. My ex was taking Lillie on a road trip to visit a friend in the Midwest. The boys and I were going to enjoy a bachelors’ holiday. I asked them what they wanted to do about Thanksgiving. We could have the turkey and trimmings, I offered, or we could do something entirely different.
“I like traditions,” Jason said. “Do you mind making a turkey?”
I put my hands on my hips and laughed like a pirate. “Do I mind? Ha! I’m going to own that turkey.”
I needed help getting the groceries hauled back to my place, and so Cody was pressed into service.
“Did you notice that I’m not using a shopping list?” I boasted. “I can prepare a Thanksgiving meal, soup to nuts, without reference to any recipes or lists.”
“Yeah, you’re awesome,” Cody said, rolling her eyes.
“Some men fuck,” I nodded. “Others fuck and cook. That’s the real measure of a man.”
The total came to seventy-two dollars and charge. I put down a card. “Check it out,” I said. “I’m paying for Thanksgiving with naked Australian girls, my favorite currency.”
“Actually, that is pretty awesome,” Cody grinned. “You should invite some of them to dinner.” Ever since I began to earn money from Abby Winters and other affiliate programs, I have enjoyed identifying things that were purchased thanks to my blog and its readers. I particularly enjoyed knowing that the naked Australian girls were treating my family to a holiday meal. It made me feel thankful.
On Thanksgiving Day, I began to assemble things around ten thirty. Collie and I prepared stuffing from bread I had allowed to grow stale overnight. We mixed in raisins, apple, spices and milk as I talked him through the recipe. He held open the bird’s cavity as I filled it full.
The turkey went into the oven just after eleven. Over the next several hours, Collie would return to the kitchen to baste it. About an hour before the bird was due to emerge, I staked my place at the stove. Soon, all four eyes of my stove were busy with mashed potatoes, sweet and sour Moroccan carrots, brussel sprouts with bacon, and a cabbage and turkey soup.
I sang along to Ray Charles as I cooked.
The turkey came out and rested as I finished the side dishes. Collie basted it absent mindedly before deciding the set the table. He put out napkins and silverware, along with a centerpiece of two cartons of juice. Having not one but two cartons seemed abundant and luxurious to him.
When everything was set, we called Jason to the table. He emerged from his gaming wearing only boxer shorts.
“Now, here’s a manly holiday,” I noted. “Real men eating a huge feast in their underwear.”
Jason looked down. “I didn’t even notice. Should I get dressed?”
“Doesn’t matter to me, dude,” I said. I picked up my camera to photograph the spread.
“You’re taking pictures?” Jason scurried away. “Then I’m wearing clothes.”
“Whatevs,” I called.
We did our best eating, but we barely put a dent in the bird. The turkey returned in several forms over the next week before finally vanishing into the last of the soup.
During the meal, Jason commended my cooking and talked about food and holiday traditions. “I can’t wait for your burritos on Christmas Eve,” he said. “They’re always good, don’t get me wrong, but you do extra stuff to them on Christmas Eve.”
“I’ve got my secrets,” I smiled. Among my secrets was the fact that I wouldn’t be making burritos this Christmas Eve. Lucy had uninvited me from Christmas with her family. This news had come down over the previous weekend. I hadn’t told the children yet. I planned to tell them when they were next all together, which would be during the week after Thanksgiving.
On Sunday morning, Lillie called from the road.
“Hey, sugar. How’s the driving? Are you doing it all or is your mom helping?”
“Dad,” she laughed. “I can’t drive.”
“Oh my God, are you drunk? Please tell me you haven’t been drinking. I just can’t bear to face your probation officer again.”
“Dad! I’m too little to drive.”
“Seriously? I was sure you were a teenager already. Can you please get on that? Times a-wastin’, sugar.”
“You’re so weird, Dad.”
“Mama raised me as best she could.”
“Yeah, right. So Mom told me you won’t be coming to Christmas at grandmother’s house.”
I sat up. “She did? Well, how do you feel about that?”
“Eh.” She paused. “It’s okay.”
“Well, listen, honey. I love you and we’re going to have a very fun Christmas at our house, too. We can talk all about it when you get home.”
“Yeah, Mom says when I go to your apartment on Christmas I can run to the presents and open them all!”
I closed my eyes. “Well, we’ll see about that.”
“Please?” she begged.
“We’ll make Christmas plans when you get home. Now, tell me about your trip. Did have a good time?”
Lillie switched topics to tell me about her visit with Lucy’s friend. I listened and thought about what I would tell the boys now that the cat was out of the bag. They would need to know the change in our holiday tradition today, as their sister would tell them if I didn’t.
I pondered this as I made breakfast. I had no idea what Lucy had told Lillie—not surprisingly, Lucy had not spoken to me about telling our daughter—but I could imagine it was consistent with her usual “your father and I have decided” presentation of plans that were made without my input. It still stings to recall her telling the children about our separation by saying “your father and I have decided to live apart.” I sat there watching the children’s responses as I was implicated in a lie. I had nothing to do with the decision to end our marriage. That was entirely and solely her decision. I was forced to accept it, and forced to pretend it was mutually agreed upon.
Of course, the kids were younger then. I plated eggs, bacon and grits, and called the boys to eat.
We talked as we ate. Eventually, I announced that I had some news.
“So, listen, guys. Your mother has decided that she doesn’t want me to come to Christmas at her mother’s house. This makes me sad, as I want to be with you for Christmas, and that’s been the only way you’ve ever celebrated the holiday—with your entire family together at your grandmother’s house.” Collie and Jason exchanged a glance. I went on. “But, the good news is that we will now have two Christmases. This year, you’ll wake up Christmas morning with your mother, and then you will come here for more Christmas celebrations. Next year, we’ll reverse it—Christmas Eve with Dad, Christmas Day with Mom. So we have a brand new way of celebrating Christmas, and we’re going to need to come up with new traditions.”
“Why doesn’t Mom want you to come to Christmas?” Collie asked.
I shrugged. “That’s a question only your mother can answer.”
Collie grinned and looked at Jason. “I’ll ask her. She’ll tell me.”
Jason shook his head. “Please don’t ask her.” He looked at me. “Well, that sucks.”
“It does suck. But, like I said, we’ll have a new Christmas tradition, and we’ll make it fun. So let’s think of things we want to do for our new Christmas.”
“That’s good,” Jason nodded. “Well, I don’t care if we get a tree or not. That’s not a big deal.”
“Oh, I want a tree!” Collie said.
“We can get a tree,” I said. “Here, let me write down these ideas.” I took a pencil and pad from my desk and we brainstormed as we ate.
The next morning, I took the boys to school. That afternoon, they would go home with their mother. After school, I got a call from Jason. He had left a textbook at home, and he would need it for homework. He said his mother would swing by in the car after she picked up the kids. These drive-by retrievals of forgotten items are common in our family. I told Jason to call when he was about a block away and I would come down with his book, as usual.
He called and I picked up his book. When the elevator doors opened in the lobby, Lucy was waiting.
“Oh, hello,” I said. I handed her the book. “How was the drive home?”
“Fine. What did you tell the boys about Christmas?” She was prepared with an interrogation. I knew that she only asked questions for which she already had answers.
I put my hands in my pockets. “I told them we would now be having two Christmases and so we could create new traditions.”
She squinted. “Huh. Because what they told me is that you said it was my decision to exclude you from Christmas with my family. They said you were very upset about it.”
I nodded. “I was upset, yes, but now I’m over it. We’re going to have a fine Christmas. But yes, I did tell them that this was your decision.”
Lucy’s hands became fists. “Jefferson, why did you do that? We have to stick to the party line and say we decided this together.”
“I wasn’t informed of any party line,” I said, my voice dropping to a calm low tone. “And I didn’t have any say in this. You told me I wasn’t invited. I wanted to be clear with the boys that when they wake up Christmas morning and I’m not there, it’s not because I didn’t want to be.”
The elevator door opened. A number of people got out. I smiled at a neighbor. A line of people waited to board the car. The lobby was busy with residents returning home from work.
“I didn’t . . .” Lucy began. She lowered her voice. “I didn’t tell you that you couldn’t come. I told you that we should have two Christmases now.”
“Lucy, it’s the same thing. You presented it to me as if I had a say, but obviously, if you don’t want me at your mother’s house for Christmas, I’m not going. You made your position clear.”
“Look, Jefferson it wasn’t just me. I spoke to every adult in my family about this, and everyone agrees. No one wants you there.” She shook her head heavily. “No one wants you there, Jefferson.”
Lucy had twisted this in her mind to such an extent that everyone now despised me as she did. My response burned up from my chest, fetid with sarcasm. “Really? And I’m sure you did your best to argue in favor of my attending, didn’t you, Lucy? Because you know that being together as a family matters to the children, and you always put the children first.” Those words were poised to jab forward, meaning to stab while I prepared to parry. But the words that erupted from my chest were reshaped in my throat and cooled by my tongue. My ears, coiled for action, were surprised by their untroubled tone.
“That’s a real shame. It’s unfortunate when adults can’t get over themselves and do the right thing for children. Christmas is supposed to be for the children.”
Her mouth opened, but nothing came out. Her jaw closed. She stood and looked at a wall for a moment. She had no immediate response, so she had no alternative but to dig deep for tested attacks.
“That’s so passive aggressive,” she turned and hissed. “You have to take responsibility for this.”
Passive aggressive. Wow, I hadn’t heard those two words in what? Two years? Three? They were so devoid of injury now, like salt on a wound that had long since healed. “Passive aggressive” once served as her most wounding attack, the diagnosis that proved I was just as sick as she was. She knew she was right in attributing passive aggressiveness to me, and I couldn’t argue. In fact, until she explained the term to me, I had never heard it. Like most of my failings, my passive aggressiveness was visible only to her. Alone among people in my life, my wife had the unique gift of seeing through my pleasant veneer to know the twisted maggots of my true self.
I used to buy into that. But now, it’s all stale water under a tedious bridge.
“Okay, Lucy. It’s my fault that you decided to exclude me from Christmas with the family. It’s also my fault that your family hates me. And that business with Jim Jones and the Kool-Aid? All me.”
The elevator discharged another crowd. We stood aside to let them pass.
“You don’t get to blame me for this!” Lucy snarled. She jabbed a finger at me. “You have to take some responsibility for this decision.”
“This is bullshit,” I said. “End of conversation. Goodbye.” I walked away and went to the mailbox to collect my mail. When I turned back, she was staring at me, her face contorted and furious. She left, walking across the lobby and outside to the children in her car.
Tant pis, poor Lucy, I thought. I pushed the elevator button and chatted with a neighbor. I wasn’t proud of how the conversation had ended, but at least I hadn’t let her walk over me. She sent me an email that night that said, among other things, that it was very interesting that I thought Christmas was for the children. Didn’t I agree that blaming her for my exclusion from Christmas made it all about me? Nice try, Lucy, I thought. Looks like that one got to you. I left the note unanswered.
As I thought it over, I realized that one advantage of missing eXmas was being absolved of any responsibility to buy gifts for Lucy’s family. That was always a chore, as I spent several hundred dollars on gifts for people I saw once a year. I sadly realized that this also meant no gifts for me, but those are the breaks. I could do without a new sweater. Then it dawned on that I was at a great economic disadvantage. Lucy’s family is wealthy and all of the adults have good incomes. By contrast, my Christmas with the children would be dependent on the resources of one adult, and I am not a wealthy man.
Actually, I realized, while I am not rich, I do have a wealth of friends.
“Ho, ho, that bitch wants a competing Christmas?” Bridget laughed. “She won’t know what hit her.”
Another friend dug in her attic and found bags of lights and decorations. “What are the children’s sizes?” she asked. “I’m going shopping anyway.”
I took the naked Australian girls shopping.
I put an Amazon Wish List on my blog, and Viviane reposted it on hers. Soon, presents began to show on my door. Lynsey and Tilda targeted Lillie’s list. Eden baked and Jocasta wrapped presents. Bridget showed up with a Christmas tree nearly seven feet tall. We decorated it with the children, adding a special angel to the top.
Christmas is a little over a week away.
The kids are going to feel the love.