Life at the house returned to normal. Roads were cleared, Cody and Andy had to go back to school. I was left alone once again but I had reports to review for the December meeting. That would give me an opportunity to do some Christmas shopping in New York. I remembered we were going to spend New Years in New York and I had to get Mary and Brian’s permission to bring the boys.
I fixed a light lunch and continued reading my reports. Making notes in the margin as I read. I was so lost in what I was doing, I didn’t hear the garage door opening and didn’t realize I wasn’t alone any longer when someone kissed my head. I looked up and Cody had a big smile on his face.
“Why are so happy?”
“I made a decision today and I want to talk about it with you.”
“Ok, sit down and talk to me.”
“I was in class today and the subject was a discussion of different personalities one might find in a class room, the loud mouth, the exceptional student and the withdrawn student. As the instructor was talking, I kept thinking back to our comment about adopting. I don’t think two gay men can adopt but we might be able to foster a special child. What do you think?”
My answer was simply a kiss. It conveyed everything about his idea. Cody just smiled and gave me a kiss back, “I’m glad we’re together.”
“While I’m in New York, how about you getting a Christmas tree and with our adopted staff trim it. You can go to town and either buy trimmings and lights or order from Montgomery Ward. I’d like a real tree.”
“Maybe we could find a tree on the property. I’m sure our staff won’t mind.”
“What are your thoughts for New Years?”
“I thought you wanted to spend New Years in New York.”
“I do but what do you think about taking the boys?”
“Well, there is a small problem by the name of Nancy Jean. I don’t think Jeff will want to go unless Nancy Jean comes along. You can’t forget young love and that all important kiss on New Years’ eve.”
“Yes, that may be a problem but we could see if she could come as well. In for a nickel, in for a dime”
“I’ll call Mary and discuss that with her. She would know if Nancy Jean’s parents would let her go.”
Later that evening, after dinner, I called Mary. “Mary, Cody and I are planning on spending New Years in New York, I was wondering if we could take the boys along as our guests.”
“I see no problem for Andy.Jeff might not want to go, he’d miss spending the time with Nancy Jean.”
“Do you think Nancy Jean’s parents would let her go as my guest as well?”
“I really don’t know, but I could ask. How soon do you need to know?”
“By the end of the week would be good. Flights will be booked since this is a big week for travelers.”
“Ok, I’ll call you before the end of the week or sooner.”
Thinking that flights might be over booked, I called the company’s travel agency and booked five flights to New York on the 29th and a return on January 3rd. I also had them book 3 rooms for the same period.
My flight to New York for the Board meeting was unexciting. I traveled so much that flying was no thrill for me. I checked into the hotel, had an early dinner then to bed.
The meeting didn’t last too long. I guess everyone was anxious to get home for the holidays. This gave me time to shop for Christmas gifts. I bought the boys leather jackets and nice wrist watches. For Cody I bought him a Rolex watch and some clothes. For Nancy Jean, I relied on my old secretary to pick out a gift. I also bought her a necklace that my jeweler assured me was the latest fad with the younger set. This left a gift for Mary and Brian. I thought something for the house would be nice. Shopping at one of the big department stores I saw an old fashion grandfather’s clock. I asked the clerk if they could ship it in time to arrive just a few days before Christmas. He assured me that they’d send it special delivery and a service man would set it up. This was perfect, the next morning I flew back home.
Mary called as I was arriving at the house. “Hello Mary, I hope you have good news for me.”
“Yes, Alan I do, I talked to Nancy Jean’s motherand she agreed she could go but insisted she have her own room.”
“Well, you can assure her she’ll have her own room and that the boys will sleep in a suite with Cody and me. I rented a two bedroom suite so each of us will have our own bedroom. I just need to call my travel agency and finalized the trip. Thank you Mary, I’m sure the boys and Nancy Jean will enjoy the week.”
Walking into the kitchen, I poured myself a cup of coffee and waited for Cody to get home.
“How was your trip, Alan?”
“It was great, I got Christmas gifts for the boys but where’s the tree?”
Cody took my hand and led me to the patio. “Andy and I decided we’d put the tree out here so everyone can see it from the road.” He plugged in the lights and it was a beautiful tree.
“Where did you get the tree?”
“Up at the top of the hill behind the house. I have some boughs as well to decorate the inside of the house but I wanted you to help.”Yes, that got a kiss from me.
“Do you want to see what I bought the boys and Nancy Jean?”
“Sure, did you buy anything for me?”
I looked at him, “Have you been a good boy because if you have been, maybe Santa might have a small toy for you to play with.”
“That’s good because I already have a big toy to play with”
I ran from him as he tried to grab me but I made a mistake and ran for the bedroom. Cody caught me and I ended on the bed. “Let me up and I’ll show you what I bought the boys.”
I showed him, the jackets, which he liked very much, “That jacket is like the one I have. Andy will be very pleases that I have one like it.”
“Do you think we should kidnap him?”
“I thought the jackets could be from you and I’ll give them these watches. We could go in town and get stocking stuffers for the boys.”
“Did you buy something for Nancy Jean?”
“Yes, I asked my secretary to buy something and she bought this sweater and I bought this necklace. Do you think she’ll like it?I also booked the flights and hotel for the New Year trip. So except for last minute trimmings, we are ready for Christmas.”
“Do you have a special gift for me? Maybe something only I can have.”
“I laughed as Cody pulled me toward him, landing on the bed, I did indeed have a special gift for him.”
We took a nap. Our quiet nap was broken by the garage door being opened. Cody jumped up and put his pants and shirt back on. “I’ll take care of the staff while you get dressed.”
When I came downstairs, I was surprised to see Jeff and Nancy Jean there. “It’s nice to see you Nancy Jean. What’s the occasion?”
“Hi Mr. Bradley, I had Jeff bring me here to thank you for the New York trip. My mother told me when I got home.”
“You’re welcome Nancy Jean, I thought this would give us an opportunity to get to know each other without Jeff being around.” Cody could hardly keep from laughing.The look on Jeff’s face was priceless.
Nancy Jean didn’t know what to say until she saw Cody trying not to laugh. “I look forward to getting to know you better. Jeff has told me a lot about you and being without, Jeff will allow me to focus on you.”
That did it. Cody began to laugh so hard tears were running down his cheeks. I grabbed Jeff, “Jeff, I’m kidding. You and Andy will be coming as well.We’ll have a great time and I’d never think of separating you from your heart.”
The smile returned to his face and he grabbed Nancy Jean into a hug. He whispered something in her ear and she laughed. “How about some pie and drinks?”
“Uncle Alan, what do you think of the tree?”
“I think it’s fantastic. Cody said putting it up on the Patio was your idea. I really like it, great job.”
Later that evening, “Cody I think we should put the gifts inside by the fire place. What do you think?”
“I have some ornaments left over, why don’t I get a small tree and set it up in here. We can place the presents under that tree.”
The next morning, Cody took the ATV to look for a small tree. He was gone for a couple hours when I heard the ATV entering the garage.
“That is a nice tree. Maybe we should let staff decorate it. Let’s go to town and get some popcorn. I’ll bet we can get Andy to string it for the tree. Then after Christmas, we can put the tree outside and the birds and small animals can eat the popcorn.”
On the way to town, Cody’s phone rang. I took it and answered. It was Ralph saying he was 30 minutes from the diner. “That was Ralph, he’s 30 minutes from the diner.”
“I want to stop at Ron’s. I’ll get a big turkey he can take home for Christmas dinner.”
“That’s an excellent idea, I’m glad you thought about that.”
As we pulled into the diner, we saw Ralph sitting at the table taking to the waitress. Cody took the bag with the turkey and sat it next to Ralph. “What’s this?”
“Merry Christmas Ralph, it’s just a little something from us to you and your family.”
“Thanks Alan, Cody, I appreciate your friendship and gift. Anything I can do let me know.”
We had a light lunch while Ralph had a big breakfast. “Be sure to let us know when you’re this way again, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”
Shaking Ralph’s hand, we left to go home. When Cody went to buy the turkey, I bought several packages of popcorn. “Do you think we could get Andy to pop the corn as well as string it?”
“If I know that group, I think there’ll be more than one popping and stringing.” Sure enough when Andy showed up, I told him what I wanted done. He went to the phone and 30 minutes later, Jeff and Nancy Jean showed up. While they started popping I began dinner. The idea if they smelt dinner cooking, they wouldn’t eat the popcorn. The idea didn’t worked a hundred percent.I should have known better, teenagers and their appetite was something else.
After they left, Cody and I finished the popcorn strings. Placed the strings on the tree as one would if it was garland, “Doesn’t look too bad if I do say so myself.” I took the gifts I bought and wrapped them. I put Andy, Jeff and Nancy Jean’s gifts under the tree. I’ll put Cody’s gifts under the tree on Christmas Eve.
We hadn’t seen Andy for a few days. Cody thought it was because of school. They generally give tests before the Christmas break and the boys were probably studying. Cody also had finals, so he spent a lot of time studying which meant I was left alone.
About three days before Christmas Eve, Andy and Jeff came over with an armload of gifts. “Don’t tell me you robbed Santa Claus.”
They just smiled, placed the gifts under the tree and headed for the kitchen. Andy got the pie out, cut it into four pieces. He put it on plates with a scoop of ice cream. I smelt the coffee and went into the kitchen. Andy had a big smile on his face.
“Do you have a secret you’re not telling me?” He just smiled and shook his head no. “Andy, tell me.”
With a big grin, “I have a boyfriend.”
“You do, that’s fantastic! You know that Cody and I have to approve.”
He was one happy boy. Cody came into the kitchen, “Cody I’m sorry but Andy is no longer your boyfriend. He said you were too much in love with me and so guess what he did? He found his own boyfriend.I told him we have to approve before it becomes official.”
Cody went over and gave him a big hug, “Congratulations.”
“When are we going to meet this boyfriend of yours?”
“He’s coming the day after Christmas, if that’s ok.”
“Hey, any friend of the staff is always welcome. You know Cody and I are very happy for you and if you have any questions, ask Cody.”
Two days before Christmas, Mary called. Cody answered the phone. “Are you sure? …No, he didn’t say anything. …Yes, he’s right here.”
Cody handed me the phone, mouthing Mary’s name. “Hello Mary, to what do we owe this call. I hope it isn’t something serious.”
“Alan, some gentlemen came here this morning and installed a grandfather clock in our foyer. He said a Mr. Alan Bradley ordered it. I told them they had the wrong address but they insisted this was the right address. Alan, what did you do?”
“Merry Christmas, Mary; you and Brian are good friends and allowed us to share your family. It’s a small gift of appreciation.”
Christmas Eve, Andy, Jeff and Nancy Jean came over for dinner and to exchange gifts. After dinner and before dessert, we all went into the great room. Cody had a fire going in the fire place, “Andy it’s a custom that the youngest must hand out the gifts. So, staff, get to it.”
Andy did a splendid job as we knew he would. Cody and I watched them open their gifts. The boys had to put their jackets on immediately. “Cody, these are like your jacket.” Cody nodded and Andy smiled even more. I think we could’ve given him rags and if Cody had the same he would be happy.
Nancy Jean loved her sweater, Jeff whispered, but we heard him, “I’d like to see you wearing that.” She blushed.
The boy’s opened the package with the wrist watches. Their eyes opened even wider, “These are the latest styles, and you see all the models wearing them.”
Nancy Jean opened her small package, when she saw the necklace there was a small tear in her eye. The necklace had a gold chain with a gold heart. I had hers and Jeff’s initials engraved on it and a diamond embedded above their initials. It was a beautiful piece of jewelry. My and Cody’s reward was a hug and a kiss on our cheeks.
Cody and I got a scarf, a pen and pencil set and a set of barbecuing tools. We thanked them all, gave them a hug. I asked Andy to go and prepare our dessert; which he did without a comment.
The evening was pleasant, we enjoyed the company of the teenagers. We talked about our New York trip. I told them to be sure to pack a suit because we might go and see a play or musical. Nancy Jean knew what she would have to pack as a result of our comments to the boys.
That night as our teens left, Cody and I got a hug and a kiss on our cheeks. I watched Cody as they left, he had a contented smile. He would be a great father. I now had my first New Year resolution.
That night in bed, I gave Cody his watch. “It’s a copy right?”
“No, it is the real thing. You mean a lot to me and a copy would only cheapen our love.”
That night I got a special gift from Cody, and that gift I could take any time.