Trace is up early today. He wants to get the driveway shoveled. As he ran the snow-blower, he thought about how lucky everyone in his home was at this point in time. He’s hoping life will stay good, and just wants Blake to enjoy the next two days.
Ian wakes up to the sound of someone entering his bedroom. He assumes the noise came from Trace, but then the sounds of sobbing reach his ears; he sits up and sees Blake standing with his back to him. He must have entered the bedroom and then went to leave. Ian was hoping that Blake’s tears would come to a stop.
“Blake, come here, son.”
If this crying continues, it’ll have Ian in tears. He can’t stand to hear someone crying. Blake doesn’t say anything, but he does turn around and he joins Ian on the bed. Blake’s eyes are red and streams of tears are coming down his face. Ian hands his son a tissue. Taking the tissue in his hands, he wipes his face. Blake leans his head against Ian’s chest. Ian places his arm across his son’s back. No one he spoken for three minutes.
Finally Ian breaks the silence.
“Blake, what’s wrong?”
The young man didn’t say a thing right away. It took a few seconds for him to respond.
“I just want to go home.”
Blake managed to get one sentence out before the sobbing came back.
“I… I… I just want to go home.”
The boy is torn between wanting to go back home and knowing that he’s not welcome in his father’s house. Ian doesn’t know what to say, but rather than saying nothing, he says, “Blake, Trace and I love you.”
Blake didn’t stop crying, but things did slow down. He lifted his head from Ian’s chest.
“Ian, I… I didn’t mean to wake you up.”
The boy was seeking compassion. He was looking for one of his adopted fathers. Blake didn’t have it in him to move from the bed.
“Are you okay?” Ian asked, looking at his son. He knows that the young man misses his family, but still, it’s good to talk things out, and Blake looked like he needed someone to talk to.
“Guess I’m homesick. I get like this sometimes. Maybe Christmas isn’t going to be fun after all. What I really want is to see my brothers and sisters.”
You didn’t have to see his face to know that Blake was in pain.
Ian could understand how his son felt and said, “I wish I could snap my fingers and send you back, but I can’t. So what can I do instead?”
There isn’t much he can do besides be wherever Blake needs him to be. The teen just wants to be loved. What he doesn’t know is just how much love his new family is able to provide. It’s amazing how safe he feels right now. Blake realizes that this change in his life will take some getting used to.
“Ian, what are we doing today?
“Well, we’re going to have dinner at Trace’s parents’ house and tomorrow we’ll have dinner at my parents’ house.”
As Ian finished speaking, the front door of the house opened and closed. Two minutes later, Trace walked into the master bedroom. He was surprised to see Blake there.
Ian looked at Blake, expecting him to field the question.
“I just needed to get something off my chest,” Blake answered, but didn’t quite spill all the beans. He figured that there was no reason to relive the issue.
“Oh… okay! Problem solved then!” Trace said, but he knew there was so much more to this. Their son’s new concern was that empty feeling in his stomach.
With that, Blake’s stomach started to grumble and he looked at Trace and Ian.
“Can we eat now?”
It’s amazing that you couldn’t hear all of their stomachs rumbling from the neighbor’s house. Blake left the master bedroom in order to get dressed. He figured that could always shower later. Ian kissed Trace as he got up out of the bed and grabbed some clean clothes and a towel.
“I’ll take my shower and meet you downstairs. I’ll try to be quick,” Ian said to his lover, as he entered the master bathroom. Trace followed him and closed the door. They took the opportunity to enjoy each other’s bodies.
When both Trace and Ian got out of the shower, they smelled food. Who was cooking?
Blake had started making omelets. This was his chance to surprise Trace and Ian. Trace came down first. He entered the kitchen, and laid on the island were mushrooms, bell pepper, and onions; all of them had been chopped. A bowl of grated cheese also sat on the island. Six egg shells lay in the garbage and Blake was beating them into a bowl.
“Blake, what’s this?” Trace asked with a smile. He was a little surprised that Blake just jumped in and started cooking. Even Trace had to admit that it was cool. He was glad that Blake had felt comfortable enough to make the kitchen his own.
“This is the makings of omelets. I hope you like them,” Blake answered his adopted father, as he added a little from each bowl to the eggs.
“Yeah, I love omelets!” Trace answered. Blake had no idea how often they actually ate omelets around the house.
“Good! Do you have an omelet pan?”
“Sure, let me get it for you.”
One thing about Blake compared with other kids his age, Blake is polite. Trace got out the pan and then handed it to his son. Trace turned around and almost hit Ian in the process. Trace went into the dining room and motioned for his husband. He couldn’t wait to tell Ian what was going on in the kitchen.
“So what’s happening?” Ian asked.
“Blake is in there cooking omelets for us. Did he ask you to do this? Did you suggest it to him?”
“No.” Ian was just as surprised as Trace. “He didn’t ask me anything. There’s been no mention of cooking whatsoever.”
Quite frankly, Ian and Trace were astonished. The least they could do was to set the table. The two dads got out three plates, three glasses, three forks, and three knives, and in a heartbeat the table was set. In five more minutes Blake came out and put three whole omelets on the table. Blake sat down, bowed his head and quietly said a prayer. Trace and Ian still can’t get over Blake saying a prayer, but neither one of them was going to stop him either.
“Are you guys going to eat?”
“Heck yeah, we’re going to eat!” Trace said. And the guys started to dig into the food in front of them. It seemed like forever since Blake had been able to do service for someone else and it felt good. Still, the breakfast pales in comparison to the amazing things that will be done on his behalf.
Earlier today, Blake needed to be comforted and across the country Blake’s family, or at least part of it, is missing him too…
It’s Christmas Eve and Blake’s younger brother is in his room crying his eyes out. His mom and dad have already tried to calm him down. Mom explained to him why Blake isn’t home and why he won’t be coming home. She makes sure to stress the words “sin” and “evil”. A small but faint sentence leaves the 8-year-old’s mouth.
“I love you, Blake!”
Sadly, his older brother can’t hear him and won’t wake up with him tomorrow morning. Blake’s grandparents also miss him, but they support his parents. One final wish is uttered by the little boy.
“Merry Christmas, Big Brother.”
Back home, Ian has climbed into the attic to get the Christmas tree. It may not be real, but it does add to the Christmas spirit. Things have been so busy that the tree hasn’t been a priority at all. Today, though, the tree is going up. Usually, Ian and Trace put it up the first weekend in December. This year is going to be special since it’s Blake’s first Christmas in their family. Downstairs, Blake is making popcorn while Trace is getting the ornaments. Christmas music fills the house. Ian gets the tree down and into the living room. Trace comes into the room with a box filled with ornaments. Blake shows up with a bowl of popcorn, a bowl of cranberries… and a needle and thread.
Trace and Ian start working on the tree and Blake goes to town on the chain of popcorn and cranberries. Blake would rather help with the tree than be stuck doing this needle and thread junk, though he admits quietly, it’s better than being out on the streets and having an empty Christmas. He keeps thinking about what tonight will be like with Trace’s parents.
It takes about an hour to get the tree up. Now all that remains are the ornaments. One by one, as a family, the lights, ornaments, and Blake’s garland addition, make the tree look amazingly festive. With the tree up, it’s time to wrap the presents for Trace’s family.
One by one Trace gets the presents for his family out of the basement. For his parents, Trace put together a collage of photos of Ian, Blake, and himself. They are also getting an ornament or two. Travis and Karen are getting an ornament also. Despite Trace’s anger, he is giving the couple $180.00 and offering babysitting services so that the couple can have a night out on the town. Michael is getting a box set of his favorite sci-fi series. Ashley is getting a CD of music of a singer that she listens to whenever she visits the guys. Little Corey, Trace’s nephew, is getting a truck and book of nursery rhymes. As Blake watches Trace and Ian wrap each gift, a feeling of guilt washes over him. He wanted to get something for everyone. There just wasn’t time to get presents. But more than anything else, he’s nervous about meeting his extended family.
Ian and Trace finished wrapping presents and went into the kitchen. Blake stayed in the living room and just stared at the gifts. Ian turned around to see what was holding Blake up. There was a serious look on his son’s face.
“What’s wrong, Blake?”“I feel bad for not getting anything for anyone,” Blake replied with a sad look on his face.
Seeing that this was really bugging his son, Ian looked at him and said, “No one is going to be upset. They just want to meet you, so cheer up.”
Ian waited for Blake to start moving. Blake never did get up. He was busy thinking.
That was good enough for Ian; at least he was going to try. Blake knew that Ian was right, but it was important for him that everyone accepts him.
Blake watched as his dads went about the finishing touches. Trace left the kitchen and came into the living room and sat down beside his son. He wanted to warn Blake about Karen, but he also didn’t want to worry him.
“Did you want something Trace?” Blake asked, looking at his dad. He was worried that maybe he did something… or maybe he forgot to do something.
“No, I just needed to sit down.”
Which was sort of a lie; he was hoping that Blake would talk to him about whatever has been bugging him. Apparently that wasn’t going to happen. Blake was keeping things inside, for now anyway. Either that or maybe he preferred talking to Ian about whatever problems he’s having. Ian came out of the kitchen with a bag. He gave the bag to Blake, who was already busily digging through it. Much to Blake’s surprise, the bag contained some boxes that had new clothes in them.
Trace looked at him and said, “Why don’t you take the bag upstairs and get cleaned up before we go to the grandparents’ house?”
Blake didn’t think twice about it, he made a beeline straight for the stairs. First impressions were going to be very important tonight.
While Blake showered, his dads were busy gathering all the gifts up and placing them into a box. With that done, Trace got on the phone and called his parents’ house.
“Hello!” his dad answered the phone.
“Hey Dad, are you guys ready for us yet?” Trace asked, so he could figure out when they needed to leave.
“Just about, I think Mom is doing her last minute touch ups. How is everything there?”
There was something about the way he said it; Trace’s voice sounded a little worried. It was enough to let his dad know that his son wasn’t being totally honest.
“Okay son, what’s wrong?”
“I don’t know, Dad. Blake just seems worried, maybe even a little sad.”
Trace figures that maybe by talking with his dad, he can iron things out.
“Son, it’s Christmas Eve. I’m almost positive that he’s missing his family. Put yourself in his shoes. How would you feel?”
Trace closed his eyes and imagined what it must have been liked to be thrown out of the house, sent to live with a great aunt, and then ending up on the streets. Trace knows that he would want to come home, but there would also be a fear of not being able to go home.
“You know, you’re right, Dad. I guess I would be feeling pretty darn miserable.”
His dad thought for a second before speaking again.
“Well, we’ll just have to cheer him up.”
His dad was right. If Blake was going to be down in the dumps, then he needed to be cheered up and made to smile.
“I’d love to be able to send him home to Idaho.”
Trace’s voice trembled a little bit when he spoke that last sentence. He was willing to send Blake home, but he also knew that he really wouldn’t want to send him back.
“Son, I know you want to send him home, but we both know that’s not going to happen any time soon.”
It was true; there is no way he was going home. He may long for his family, but he wants acceptance and love just as much.
“Dad, I’m going to hang up and see if Ian needs any help.”
“Okay son, see everyone when you get here.”
“Thanks, Dad… for listening.”
A smile appeared on his dad’s face. He never gets tired of hearing his son say “Thanks”.
“You’re welcome, son.”
With that said, he ended the call.
Trace stood up and came up behind Ian. After standing there for a moment, he embraced him.
“Do we have time to cuddle?” Trace asked as he broke the embrace. Ian looked at his watch as Trace looked at the stairs. Ian smiled and walked into the living room. Together, the guys sat down on the couch and hugged each other. A kiss landed on Ian’s lips and another kiss landed on Trace’s. It seems like it’s been ages since the guys cuddled. For another half hour, they stayed in each other’s arms. They didn’t even hear Blake coming down the stairs.
At first Blake was shocked, but then he realized that the love he saw in front of him was exactly the type of love that he wants someday.
‘They really do love each other,’ Blake thought as he took the last step into the living room. His dads just looked too peaceful. But they couldn’t stay like that forever, or they might be late.
“Trace, Ian, is it time to leave yet?”
For the first time, they were aware of Blake’s presence in the room.
“Sorry bud,” Trace said as he and Ian untangled from each other. Blake could see a bit of embarrassment on Ian’s face. Ian tends to be a little bit more private than Trace when it comes to affection. Though, he’s had to get use to public kisses and hugs.
“You guys don’t have to be embarrassed. You weren’t doing anything wrong,” Blake said. And what he said was true; they didn’t need to be embarrassed. Still, Trace and Ian were a little red in the face; they aren’t used to being caught. Ian looked at his watch and then looked at Blake.
“Thanks for saying something. It’s time to leave.”
Trace, Ian, and Blake got their coats and gloves out from the closet. Trace disappeared into the kitchen, and came back with four liters of pop in his arms. He handed Blake two bottles of root beer and two bottles of ginger ale. Ian grabbed the presents and Trace took the keys to the pickup.
Once Trace unlocked the pickup and everyone got inside, Ian turned on the radio and Christmas music filled the pickup. Ian’s favorite Christmas song, “Oh Holy Night”, came on and he couldn’t resist singing along with it. Blake was surprised; Ian sounded wonderful! He spent the next few minutes listening to his dad sing. When the song was over Blake clapped and shouted, “Encore!”
“Thanks, Blake. Maybe when we get home we can do some singing together.”
Most teens would be against the idea, but Blake loved it.
“Cool, Ian!” He was excited at the thought of hearing his dad again.
Periodically, a song would come on that Ian liked and he’d sing along with it. Of course, he did it mainly because he enjoyed singing and the song, but he also did it for Blake. If Blake liked it, why not do it? After nearly twenty minutes, they were almost to Trace’s parents’ house. The longer they drove, the more and more nervous Blake became. With only ten minutes to go, another song came on, and this time both Ian and Blake started singing together. He didn’t take his hands off the wheel, but Trace did tell Blake and Ian that he felt like he was in the presence of angels.
Now it was Blake’s turn to blush. Ian nudged him and said, “You really sing well!” Blake felt proud. It wasn’t often that he got compliments on his voice.
The pickup came to a halt.
“We’re here! Everyone out!” Trace said, as he pulled the keys out of the ignition. Blake almost didn’t want to get out. But he did want to meet Trace’s family. He got out and walked up the steps to the porch where Ian and Trace stood. Ian knocked and an older gentleman opened the door.
“Come in and get out of the cold.”
“Thanks, Dad, Merry Christmas!” Trace said, confirming Blake’s suspicion. Blake thought he looked like an older version of Trace. As Blake entered his grandparents’ house, he felt everyone’s eyes on him. He wasn’t very comfortable, but he figured that it could be because he didn’t know most of the people here and it was a new situation for him. At least he isn’t alone; Trace and Ian are here. One thing about it though, he does feel accepted.
As he enters, the house, a kind, older woman directs him to the kitchen so he can put the pop down. Trace’s mom didn’t know what to do with the teen in her kitchen. She thought he looked so sad, so hurt. Hopefully, Blake will rise above his pain and enjoy today.
Blake is slowly discovering that Trace’s family is very kind. No one has belittled him or given him any strange looks. Still, he wants to hang close to Trace and Ian. He left the kitchen and found them hanging out in the living room.
“Hey!” Blake said to the room before him.
Everyone smiled at him. It was a beautiful thing. Maybe this wasn’t going to be as bad as he thought it would be.
Trace thought it was time for introductions.
“Everyone, this is our son, Blake.” Trace and Ian stood beside their son.
“So this is our new grandson. Welcome to the family, Blake!” And Trace’s dad got up and hugged his grandson. Blake smiled at Ian and Trace.
After he said hello to everyone, Ashley grabbed Blake by the arm and dragged him up the stairs to her room. Michael, Trace’s younger brother, looked at Trace and said, “We won’t see him till dinner.”
Trace smiled because he knew that his baby brother was right. Ashley had a knack for making others feel good about themselves. At least Trace and Ian could relax a little. Blake seemed to be more at ease.
At first Blake was a little unsettled. He had no idea who the girl was or what she wanted, although he was pretty sure that she’s a relative. For that matter, he didn’t know where she was taking him. She let go of him and opened a door and walked inside.
“Well, come on, Blake!” she said to him.
He walked into the room and realized it was her bedroom.
“I’ve never been inside a girl’s bedroom before.”
He felt okay, maybe a bit lost… until her wall caught his attention and he saw all the photographs on it. They were all amazing shots of people and nature.
“Did you take these?” he asked her, while he continued to look them over. Then he found him, this guy he just had to meet.
“Yeah, I took them all, why?”
Then he said what was on his mind.
“I love him, I… I… mean them.”
Ashley didn’t say a thing as she got out her camera.
“This is what works all the magic,” she said, holding out her digital SLR camera.
Blake might have replied to her, but he never turned around to face her.
“Would you like a copy of that picture?”
“Yes, please!” he said, smiling. ‘Whoever he is, he’s perfect. He has short brown hair, brown eyes, and looks like he’s a jock,’ Blake thought to himself.
Ashley handed him the picture and wondered if Ben, the guy in the picture, would feel the same way about her nephew.
She had heard from her dad that Blake had been kicked out of his family for being gay.
“Blake, can I ask you a question?”
“Sure!” he said in response.
“Why did you tell your parents?”
Blake was confused. What in the world was she talking about? “Excuse me?” Blake asked.
“Why did you tell your parents that you’re gay?” Ashley rephrased her question.
“My mom found my journal and asked me about one my entries in it, so I admitted to her that I was gay. She yelled at me and told me not to leave my room. When my dad got home, he came upstairs and told me to grab my backpack and a few clothes. When I got my clothes packed, I was led out the door.”
Seeing that Blake was upset, Ashley grabbed him in a hug and just let him cry. She whispered in his ear, “You don’t have to say anything else.” There is something about her that Blake likes. She seems friendly and they both share a love of photography, but it’s more than that. She knows him. After a few minutes Blake regained control and Ashley relinquished her hug. The boy pulled out the picture and looked at him. He thought to himself, ‘How do I meet him?’
Then the pair heard Trace bellowing up the stairs “Come down to eat!” Blake left first and Ashley followed. They stopped long enough to wash their hands. Blake is very glad that he came with the guys.
When Trace’s mom puts a meal together, she really puts one together. ‘This meal looks like the ones back home’, Blake thought. ‘The only thing missing is the smell of Mom’s pies.’ Blake wanted a taste of her mince meat pie so badly. He misses his dad standing up to say grace. He’ll just have to form new traditions around his new family.
“Blake, I know it’s your first Christmas with us, but would you please give thanks?”
Blake bowed his head and returned thanks.
There was more food here than Blake could put on his plate at one time. His grandparents were glad to see him eating. Blake knew he was being watched and that was making him feel very self-conscious. He’s never been fond of people staring at him. Today though, he just has to deal with it. Finally, dinner was done and it was time for dessert. Blake had his eyes on the pumpkin pie and some of the tapioca pudding. It’s one of those treats he hasn’t had in months. At his parents’ house, it was practically a staple because it was his dad’s favorite dessert.
He’s really loving this, and like any young person, Blake can’t wait to open presents. Trace, Ian, and Blake are all excited, though they aren’t excited over the same things. The dads are looking forward to watching their son’s reactions to his presents. Of course it doesn’t hurt that this Christmas is their first as dads. Blake is hoping to hit the jackpot.
The family is now moving to the living room. Everyone is taking a seat wherever there is a spot to sit. Grandpa Andrews normally passes out the presents… except this year.
“Trace, would you please hand out the presents?” Grandpa asked.
Trace smiled and nodded. He started with Corey, his nephew. Corey tore excitedly into his presents. Everyone, including Blake, loved watching him open his gifts. Next in line is Michael. Soon everyone except Karen and Blake has received their presents. Trace decides to pass to Karen first.
When Karen got Trace’s and Ian’s presents, she seemed kind of shocked. Trace had laid into her for bad mouthing Blake, so why the present? Guess she hasn’t heard about compassion and love.
Blake was starting to think that maybe he wasn’t getting anything.
Then Trace picked up a package and handed it to Blake. It was signed from Grandma and Grandpa Andrews. He looked at the package and carefully opened it up. Normally, he would be a tad upset over getting clothes, but not now; he needs them. The next present was signed from Uncle Travis and Aunt Karen. Corey moved over to Blake and the two of them opened up this present together. He got a computer game, The Sims 3. Trace wondered what happened in Travis’ home when this was bought.
“I’ve never played it, but it’s going on my computer when I get home.”
Karen was a bit pissed off and she tried to hold it in. She thought the gift was for one of her nephews. She didn’t say anything to Travis about it, but she would tonight. The next gift Blake received was some movies that Michael likes to watch. Blake got the Lord of the Rings Trilogy and the new Clash of the Titans.
“Thanks, Michael!” Blake said with smile on his face.
“No probs!” Michael said, as he gave Blake a high five.
Michael was glad that Blake seemed to like the movies. Next, Ashley’s present was passed to her nephew. As he opened it up he found a photo album and two three-subject notebooks.
“I thought that maybe you could use the notebooks as journals,” Ashley said, hoping that Blake would use them.
“Cool! It’s been awhile since I’ve been able to write anything down. Thanks Ashley! Thanks everyone, I love the gifts!”
Trace left the room and then came back carrying a box. He set the box in the middle of the room.
“Well open it!” Ian said.
Blake opened it and inside the box was a snake about a foot long with orange and reddish markings on it. “This is your very own corn snake, but if you decide that you don’t want it, then it becomes the family’s snake.”
“Umm… cool, Dad! I… I’ve never had a snake.”
Blake isn’t too sure about the snake, but what the heck. He knows the snake was given to him out of love, so he’ll love the snake.
With all the presents open, it’s time to head home. The three guys said their goodbyes, and Blake thanked everyone for making his first Christmas as a member of the family so special. Then they walked out to the pickup carrying their presents. Ian turned on the radio and the carols again were filling the vehicle. Ian and Blake sang to every single carol that came on the radio. Every once in a while, Trace would sing along, too. Blake loved it. He didn’t care that people might think they were crazy. He was having fun.
The fun lasted the entire ride home. When they arrived home, Blake helped carry things inside. Once everything was inside, Ian and Blake went to the pet room and carefully placed Blake’s snake inside its tank. Ian had spent a few hours here and there putting the tank together. With the snake inside its tank, Ian left the room. Blake stayed to watch the snake explore its new home for a couple minutes and then left to get the rest of his gifts.
Once back upstairs, he grabbed his presents and went to his room. He put the game and the movies onto his entertainment center, then laid everything else on his bed and sat down. He pulled out the picture that Ashley gave him.
‘He’s going to be my boyfriend.’ Blake said to himself, as he stared into the teen’s eyes.
Blake was entranced. He was so captivated by the picture that he didn’t notice Trace entering the room. “Who’s the kid?” Trace asked Blake.
Blake snapped out of it when he heard Trace’s voice. He was caught off guard and didn’t have time to hide the picture.
“He’s a friend of Ashley’s. She gave me the picture.”
Trace knew there was more to it than his sister just giving Blake the picture.
“Oh? Are you sure about that?”
Blake got caught, so he gulped some air and focused on his words.
“Actually, Trace, I thought the guy was cute. I sort of said ‘I love him’ out loud in Ashley’s room and she gave me the picture.”
Trace smiled and then sat down next to his son.
“You think this kid is hot?”
Blake didn’t say a thing. He just smiled. He couldn’t deny that he liked the boy.
“Blake, just be careful, huh? This kid may not like you the same way. I hope I didn’t burst your bubble.”
Blake didn’t want Trace to know that he wasn’t worried about this kid not liking him, because he knew, without any doubt, that whoever he was, he would someday be his boyfriend. With that, Trace left his son’s room and joined Ian in the basement so they could wrap presents together. Blake was bushed, so he quietly retired for the night.