(Please remember that A New Family's Christmas
is a serial, and the parts are best enjoyed when read in order from the start).
It had been a relaxing day. In some ways, it felt like a million years had passed since Thanksgiving. In others, it felt like I'd been living with the boys for no time at all. But here it was, Christmas Eve.
All my boys were finally home. Lane and Mark had both 'hung out' with friends for a while. Ross and Todd had been invited to join the Gisbournes for a special showing of The Santa Clause, followed by Putt Putt.
We'd all slept in, then enjoyed a big breakfast like we normally didn't have time to prepare. Everyone had bummed around until time for the little guys to get ready to go. Then Mark and Lane had made a few phone calls.
It was fun with Lane. Ricky was still grounded from last weeks little episode, and, while Blake's mom was notoriously lenient, she'd been ticked off enough to park him at his grandparents for most of the vacation. That left Lane spending a lot of time with Brandon and Scott. As rough as it had been on him, I think he was coming to appreciate the benefits of a sore butt over alternatives.
As for me, it had been such a nice day that I took my regular bike out, ridden my regular, five mile route, and then just kept going for a while. I'd come home, showered, and had a light lunch (knowing I was going to be doing a week's calorie intake over the next twenty-four hours or so). After that, I'd sat out on the porch swing, reading and enjoying the unseasonable, and slightly depressing weather.
Yes, depressing. You might get tired of snow, but this Texas boy only remembers one White Christmas in his entire life, and Mark is the only one of my boys who remembers that. We're more like 'imagining' then dreaming, so - yeah, a high of seventy-three on Christmas Eve was a bit depressing.
Now that the boys were home, the last hints of sunlight were fading away, and the temperature was starting to drop, it was time to get started.
I wandered inside, feeling like.. Well, like a kid on Christmas morning. I didn't want to rush things, but I felt like I couldn't wait any longer. I couldn't concentrate to read, so I just wandered around the house for a few minutes, then puttered in the kitchen until I decided we could start a bit early.
While I waited for everyone to answer my call into the great room, I looked around one last time. I was as nervous as a virgin bride, and I hoped everything was perfect.
When Lane came wandering in, trying to make sure I understood how much important texting I was interrupting, I issued the marching orders.
"Okay guys, I've got plans for tonight - no, we're not going anywhere - stay home plans. First of all, I want all you guys to go get showers - make sure you wash your hair, Ross - yes, Todd, you and Ross can use my bathroom."
"Why do they always get to use your bathroom?" Lane complained.
"Because there are two of them."
"Yeah, but I'm bigger than them."
"Can we use the big tub?"
"No, Todd, you can use the big tub tomorrow. If you get in there, you'll want to stay for an hour playing with your toys. And you two use your bathroom tonight, so Lane can..."
"Nah, that's all right, I'll use ours."
I find it ironic that teens have a reputation for rolling their eyes, when they're actually the cause of so much of it.
"Okay, great. After your showered, then put on your Christmas pajamas and come back here."
"We don't have Christmas pajama," Ross and Mark both explained.
"Did I forget that?"
I stepped into the kitchen and lifted the four, red bags, with furry white lining, and a black belt around the middle. Checking the tags, I handed them out.
"NOW you have Christmas pajamas. Go get your showers, guys."
"Hey," Ross protested. "How come you don't have to take a shower."
"Because I had one after my workout, Alec."
"Why you calling me Alec?"
"'Cause you're a smart alec," Mark and Lane both answered for me.
As soon as I was sure the guys were all getting cleaned up, I got to work. The kitchen first, pausing only to set the thermostat a bit cooler. After a couple of minutes in the kitchen, setting things out and setting the oven, I rushed back into the living room, lit the fire and candles, turned on the tree lights, and started Manheim Steamroller on the stero, then raced back to the kitchen. Yeah, I'd spent part of my quiet day home reading and relaxing, but I'd made a few preparations as well, and now I started warming everything that needed to be warmed.
Lane was the first one back, obviously unshowered. He was wearing nothing but his boxers, and carrying his pajamas.
Not worried about his near nudity (which, honestly, is how he ran around the house ninety percent of the morning and evening anyway), he gave me the fish eye.
"Seriously?" was his only comment, as he held up the pajamas.
"Please, Lane. As a favor to me, just do it."
He shook his head.
"For your brothers?" I suggested.
He shook his head again, but acquiesced, but not without having to add, "You owe me, big time!"
As soon as Lane was gone, I finished prepping everything else, then ran to get into my own pajamas.
I heard Ross and Todd first. Even showering together, they managed to finish up faster than their big brothers did.
"I c-c-can s-s-see your bu-butt," Todd managed to choke out between giggles.
I should have known that would be the first thing they noticed, and I just hoped they'd get it out of their system.
I have to admit, they looked cute as button quail, in the light blue one piece pajamas, covered with snowflakes and penguins. Both boys had even donned the stocking caps that were included with them. I loved the sound the feet made as the boys padded down the tile floor from my room.
Of course, Ross had his seat flap undone, mooning his little brother. I fasted it for him, suggesting another purpose for which it could be used.
He tuck his tongue out at me.
Lane and Mark did cut their showers shorter than normal, and pretty soon they joined us. Lane had refused to wear his cap, but neither boy complained too much, after they saw we were all wearing the same thing.
The kitchen drew them all to see what was giving off all those odors: most of it was the cinnamon toast, but there was also peanut butter toast, sausage balls, potato pancakes, and slices of cheese and sausage, with some crackers. I was just putting the food on platters, and had mugs ready to fill with hot cocoa.
They guys had forgotten any and all complaints about the pajamas as they took in the snacky feast.
"How about some Uno," I asked.
Two hours later, there was nothing left on the platters but one lonely slice of pepperoni and some crumbs. We were all sated, and everyone had managed to win at least one game of cards. Jaws were cracking wise with yawns.
"I guess you guys are too tired to watch Muppet Christmas Carol?"
Yeah, I didn't really think so.
Finally, it was nearly midnight, but everything was done. I paused to look around, and caught Mark doing the same thing. Manheim Steamroller was playing in the background again, but a bit more quietly, since the little guys were in bed.
We'd had to carry the little guys to bed, but Lane had been awake enough to help us clean up a bit, before we chased him off to bed.
"I KNOW why you're sending me to bed," he'd complained.
"Because we want to have wild monkey sex until Santa arrives?" I suggested.
Before I could finish 'Santa', Lane had clapped his hands over his ears.
"Lalala, I can't hear you! I'm going to bed now!"
Mark had laughed so hard I thought he was going to hurt himself.
Now, a large screen TV and PS4 were sitting to one side, clearly labeled for the living room.
On the hearth, next to where Mark was now laying a fresh fire, sat Lane's new tablet, and the little guys' 3DS games. Above his head, hung five, new, stuffed, matching stockings. In the opposite corner, the tree stood, glowing with tinsel and bulbs and colored lights, which sparkled off the brightly wrapped packages beneath it.
As Mark finished up the fireplace, I quickly padded off to my room. By the time he stood, I was back, but now holding a small package.
He looked at it for a moment, tilting his head a bit.
I nodded. "I wanted to give it to you privately."
He smiled, then held up a finger.
"I got one like that for you," he admitted.
He ran off and was back a moment later, with something that looked like a wide, but short tie box.
We exchanged the gifts. He tore into his. I started to unwrap mine, but was mostly watching him.
When he opened the box, he looked inside a bit quizzically, like he wasn't sure what it was. Then he reached it and lifted out a bunch of tails on a handle. The grip was about six inches long, and the tails were just over a foot, so not quite twenty inches total. I knew there were eighteen of the tails, and that they were of elk hide.
"It's a flogger," I explained. I know you don't like real hard spankings, but I thought you might want a change from just hand spankings. That's supposed to be pretty stingy, but not real intense or long lasting.
He smiled up at me. "Thank you," he said, sounding honestly pleased. "I'll bet that'll be fun before a long teasing session.
"I had thought the same thing," I admitted.
He looked at it a minute more, then looked up at me.
I tore the rest of the wrapping paper off mine, then removed the lid. Inside rested a small, lexan paddle. Not including the handle, it was maybe a foot long and three inches wide. The handle was wrapped in leather, with a thong off the end to go over your wrist of hang it by, and there was an 'X' pattern of holes in the blade.
I looked up at my boy friend.
"I think this is way too intense for Lane."
"It's for me."
"I thought you were scared of Lexan."
"I am, but I guess I can still be a pretty naughty boy, and I guess maybe I need something like that... You know, just in case I have another attitude attack or something."
"And you trust me to use this when you really need it?"
He just looked at me and nodded. I could feel tears starting to fill my eyes.
Instead of trying to hide them, I pulled Mark in close to me, wrapping my arms tight around his shoulders. His arms circled around my waist, pulling me tight, so I could feel how happy he was.
I brushed my lips lightly against his, then a bit more forcefully, before nipping at his full, lower lip. Then I brushed my tongue across his lips, and they opened for me.
After a long moment, he pulled back, and looked at me, a question in his eyes.
"What?" I asked.
"I can't believe you spent money on pajamas the kids are only going to wear once."
"Hey," I protested, "it's a winter design - not Christmas. These things are warm and comfy. I'll bet the kids love them when it gets cold."
"This is Texas, Dean. That means they might wear them twice?"
"At least three times," I assured him.
"I was just wondering how many kids ever really got spanked in these kind of things."
"I think union suits had droppable backseats, too."
"You think you could give a spanking with just those down?"
I pulled him in a bit tighter, then reached around and undid his flap, letting it fall. He shivered a bit as the cool air brushed his bare skin, right before my hand did.
I cupped a check, gently massaging it, then I pulled back for a light smack.
"Are you asking me to give it a try?"
He'd laid his head on my shoulder, and had his face tucked in against my neck, but I could still understand him as he replied. "Please put me over your lap, then we can deal with whatever comes up."
I moved my left hand down to join my right, took each cheek, and gave them firm squeezes. Mark moaned and forced his firm body tight up against me.
"You get to my room and get your nose in the... Wait, turn down my bed first, then get your nose in the corner."
"Yes, sir!" Mark snapped, pausing for a lingering kiss (and rubbing himself up against me), before turning to mind.
As he padded down the hall, I took a last look around the room. I decided to leave the tree lights on, but I put out the rest of the lights in the room, leaving the candles for last.
I'd never thought of myself as a family man. I had never really felt like part of a family growing up, and I'd been happy by myself. Yet now, by flickering candlelight and flashing Christmas light, with Steamroller's version of Carol of the Bells in the background, and with my boyfriend waiting in my room, and my little boys asleep in their own rooms, I realized why I'd never thought of myself that way.
I'd never known how much I was missing.
As I blew out the candles, my thoughts turned to Mark, but they quickly turned back to the bedrooms behind me and to all the friends I'd made in the last few months.
"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night."