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    Aditus
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 

Our Christmas Songbook - 2. Shout for Joy! (Two Turtle Doves)

On the second day of Christmas my true love sent to me, two turtle doves.

Dante stood on the balcony of their hotel room and inhaled the cold, crisp air. The view was breathtaking. A sweeping horizon, endless skies, snow-laden firs. The thick flakes had stopped falling for the first time since they’d arrived yesterday. He shivered. Suddenly, a smooth blanket was wrapped around his shoulders, and Loris’ strong arms embraced him from behind.

“You shouldn’t stay out here in the cold too long.”

“It’s so beautiful here.” He snuggled into his man’s arms. “I’m glad we came.”

“I have a little surprise for you later.”

Dante grimaced. “Do we have to go out for it?”

“Yes, but I promise, it’s worth it.” Loris pulled him against his body and pressed a brief kiss against his ice-cold ear.

“I don’t know. I’d rather stay in.” Dante swallowed. “It’s Christmas Eve.”

“What about taking a nice shower first? According to the hotel’s brochure, it will be ‘a new dimension of multisensory shower experience with multiple outlet points that turn your encounter with the element water into a special shower experience. Wellness for the body and mind’.”

Dante snorted. “That sounds complicated.”

“Or—you simply stand under the rainfall showerhead to warm up. In the meantime, I’ll order us a light dinner. Then we see how you’re feeling about going out today.”

While Dante was still in the bathroom, a knock sounded. “Perfect.” Loris got his wallet and quickly went to open the door.

“Good evening, sir.” The smiling hotel clerk standing in front of him held out two garment bags and shoe bags. “I hope it’s okay we took the liberty to sew a button on one of the suits.”

“Of course. Thank you very much.” Loris tipped the man generously. Then he carefully laid out their clothes for the evening on the bed. Two freshly-cleaned black suits with matching waistcoats, festive white dress shirts, and bowties. Last, he pulled two pairs of gleamingly-polished Chelsea boots from the flannel satchels, the one amendment to the Baker Christmas dress code he’d made due to the weather conditions. He rubbed his hands. “So far, so good.”

At that moment, Dante entered the room with a blue towel wrapped around his hips, his military short hair still damp. His long, black locks had to go months ago when he’d taken over his father’s care after his cancer had gotten worse. He lost weight during that time. His pale face looked almost sculpted with its sharp cheekbones and prominent jaw. Two weeks after the funeral, he still woke from the nightmares in which his father died alone, calling for him. Pronounced dark rings under his bottle-green eyes told of how badly he slept.

When he saw what Loris had done, his expression instantly darkened. “What is all this?”

Loris tried for upbeat and encouraging. “These are our clothes. For tonight.”

“I don’t think so.” Dante grabbed some checkered pajama bottoms and fresh underwear and jerkily pulled them on.

“Today is your dad’s favorite holiday.”

“Yeah, but my dad is dead.”

“He tried so hard to make it until Christmas Eve.”

Dante sat down on the bed, his back to his boyfriend. “He tried, and failed. He suffered horribly, trying to live and see fucking Christmas Eve.”

“It was his decision to try and live till Christmas Eve, but not his decision to die beforehand. Don’t you think?” Loris sat beside him.

Dante wrapped his arms around his chest, visibly grappling with his composure. Finally, the words came. “It was devastating. He was in so much pain. I begged him to let go, let them give him something to ease the way, but that stubborn man wouldn’t do it. He-he practically disintegrated alive. All because of his obsession with a date. I just want to go to bed—and it won’t be the same anyway. We’re not at home, the food is wrong, no tree, the music—he won’t be there.” A lonely tear ran down Dante’s cheek.

Silently Loris opened his arms. Dante reluctantly tucked into his side. “Next year we might decide to fly to the Maldives.” He chuckled. “Well, that’s actually very unlikely.” He tightened his embrace. “But this year, we’ll celebrate the traditional way with him in our minds and say good-bye.”

Finally, Dante nodded. “Okay.”

They quietly pulled on their clothes.

“Can you help me with this damn thing? I was never good at putting a ribbon on myself.” Loris held his tie as if it were a poisonous snake.

Patiently, Dante smoothed out the crumpled piece of cloth and tied it expertly. “Here you go.”

A few minutes later, another knock sounded, and their dinner arrived. A waiter pushed a cart into the room, looking around. “Perhaps in front of the window?”

Loris smiled. “Good idea.”

The waiter quickly set the table. Then he lifted, with great flourish, the gleaming silver dome from a crystal bowl filled to the brim with potato salad, garnished with a few sprigs of parsley, mini tomatoes, and quartered hard-boiled eggs

Dante giggled, surprised. “Potato salad.”

“Of course.” Loris grinned, proud of himself. “Following the Baker rules for Christmas Eve.”

Next, the waiter pulled the lid off some kind of insulated tureen filled with four wieners swimming in hot broth.

Dante clapped his hand over his mouth. “You got the wieners too!”

At long last, two bottles of cold beer were opened and placed beside iced glasses.

After the door closed behind a well-tipped waiter, Dante stared at the table. “I can’t believe this. You thought of everything, even the mustard. You love salmon. I saw they have something called pastrami-style cured salmon on rye. I was sure you’d order that.”

“I admit I was tempted to order the fennel clementine salad too, but tonight we dine in the traditional Baker family way.”

“The potato salad has some fancy ingredients.” Dante sorted through his salad with his fork.

“I believe it’s walnuts —and little cubes of apple.”

“It’s good, though. The wieners too.” Dante dipped a piece of sausage into a dollop of hot mustard. “I’m surprised they offer this kind of food here.”

“Normally they don’t. I think the chef had a heart attack when I ordered plain potato salad with a couple of heated wieners. He personally called me back to convince me to choose something else from the menu.” Loris grinned.

“He probably had it prepared at a faraway spot in the kitchen.”

Loris put his fork and knife on the plate, took the napkin, and dabbed his lips before he emptied his beer glass. “How do you feel now about going out?”

Wrapped into warm winter gear, they took the elevator down to the foyer. It was dominated by a huge burning fireplace, surrounded by cozy leather armchairs. Off to the right stood a Christmas tree decked over and over with silver stars of different sizes and tiny lights. Loris talked briefly to the valet and, minutes later, their prewarmed car was brought out front. After a thirty-minute drive through a snow-covered landscape illuminated by a bright full moon, he followed the road leading up a hill.

“Where are we going?”

Loris smiled. “It’s a surprise.”

When they rounded the top, a small church came into view. The surrounding parking lot was almost full, and they had to take a spot at the far end under some snow-covered trees.

“Are we going to mass?”

“Nope. Come on, let’s hurry. We’re a bit late.”

They entered the brightly-lit nave. A girl wearing a green bobble cap with antlers on her blond hair gave them laminated sheets of paper. ”Good evening, gentlemen. There are a couple of free spots left on the right.”

Puzzled, Dante wanted to look at the sheets in his hands, but Loris ushered him to an aisle that had just enough free space for them to stand in.

He met the excited gaze of a smiling woman in front of him and nodded at her. It just felt like the right thing to do.

They had barely settled in when a tiny man went to the front of the church. He, too, wore a hat decorated with antlers.

“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, fellow singers.”

Fellow singers? For the first time, Dante noticed a mixed group of people, all wearing antler-decorated hats of course, standing in front of the altar. In the back sat a small orchestra.

“In case you’re wondering about our attire this year.” He gestured to his head. “There were some antler hats on sale, and we totally couldn’t pass up that opportunity.” People clapped their hands and whistled. The man grinned broadly. “Anyway—you all know our motto: listening to music is never wrong, but even better is to participate in making it. That is why we decided years ago to organize this event on Christmas Eve. Many people enjoy the great composer Johann Sebastian Bach’s fantastic Christmas Oratorio over the holidays, perfectly executed by a famous orchestra, choir, and singers.”

At this point, Dante grabbed Loris’ hand, looking at him with wide eyes.

Loris winked at him and put a finger on his lips.

“We, however, thought, why not do it a little more scaled-down and handsy or voicy?” People laughed.

“We asked friends, some actually who actually play for established orchestras, mind you, to accompany us and as many people who want to immerse themselves in Bach’s beautiful work.”

He touched the conductor’s stand three times with his baton. “Without further ado, welcome to our annual sing-along! As we do every year, we’ll start with:

Jauchzet, frohlocket, auf, preiset die Tage,
(Shout for joy, exult, rise up, glorify the day),
rühmet, was heute der Höchste getan!
(praise what today the highest has done!)
Lasset das Zagen, verbannet die Klage,)
(Abandon hesitation, banish lamentation,)
stimmet voll Jauchzen und Fröhlichkeit an!
(begin to sing with rejoicing and exaltation!)
Dienet dem Höchsten mit herrlichen Chören,
(
Serve the highest with glorious choirs),
laßt uns den Namen des Herrschers verehren!
(let us honor the name of our ruler)!

(translation by jesuitjoe.blogspot)

 

Dante climbed into the car, his eyes still gleaming with joy. ”This was perfect. Dad always listened to a part of the oratorio on Christmas Eve. It was exactly as the man said. We had a CD of the Dresden Philharmonic orchestra and the Kreuzchoir.” He turned and grabbed Loris’ arm. “To sing the words with us... Dad would have loved it.”

They drove for a while through the silent, silky snow. Dante stared out of the front windshield. “My parents didn’t have much money; they were just building the company. Mother planned a simple meal, store-bought potato salad and wieners from a can. A day before Christmas Eve, she went into early labor. That day, Dad lost the love of his life, and on their favorite Christmas holiday, he sat on my mother’s rocking chair in their tiny apartment, clad in his best suit and shirt, with a crying newborn in his arms, listening to Bach. He told me the cantatas calmed me down. When midnight arrived, he lifted a glass of cheap sparkling wine and wished my mother a Happy Christmas, firmly believing she saw us, wherever she was. Now you know how what you call the Baker tradition to celebrate Christmas Eve came to pass.”

“Thank you for telling me the story. I always wondered about this.”

Dante pressed his palm against the cold window. “The snow looks blue.” Then he turned to Loris. “Can we take a longer way back to the hotel?”

“How about we drive around the lake?”

“I’d like that.”

When they entered their room later, there stood a champagne cooler on the table with two glasses on the side. Dante touched the bottle with the orange label. ”Dad’s favorite champagne. You simply thought of everything.”

Loris hurried to open the balcony doors. “It’s almost midnight.”

They lifted their glasses together. ”Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad.”

“Merry Christmas, Albert and Chrissie.”

Dante put his glass down on the banister and took Loris’ hand. “It was the same as always, and yet it was not. The perfect way to introduce change.” His eyes glistened with unshed tears, but they didn’t fall. “I think I can accept that he’s gone now.” He wrapped his arms around his boyfriend’s neck. “I love you so much.” He pulled at his tie, opened the first two buttons of his shirt, and fished out his father’s pendant. After a short hesitation, he broke it in two.

“Shit, Dante! What did you just do?”

Smiling, Dante presented the pieces lying on his open palm. Only then did Loris see that it was two turtle doves. Put together, they built the pendant Dante had inherited from his father. “It belonged to my parents. They bought it in Venice during their honeymoon. After my mother died, Dad wore the reassembled pendant. I want to make new traditions while we’re wearing this.”

“I’d be honored to wear it.” Loris kissed Dante. “Merry Christmas.”

 

This is the video that inspired me to write the church scene.

 

If you love this music as much as I do, you might want to watch this video too. I smiled the entire time watching them playing and singing with so much joy and enthusiasm. Don’t forget to read the comments. Google translate does an adequate job.

Please leave a comment and let me know how you liked the story. We'd also love to hear about your favorite Christmas songs and memories associated with them. I hope you enjoyed part two of our journey through the Twelve Days of Christmas!
Thank you @Parker Owens  for the link . :hug:
Copyright © 2021 Valkyrie, Cole Matthews, Aditus; All Rights Reserved.
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Stories posted in this category are works of fiction. Names, places, characters, events, and incidents are created by the authors' imaginations or are used fictitiously. Any resemblances to actual persons (living or dead), organizations, companies, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
Note: While authors are asked to place warnings on their stories for some moderated content, everyone has different thresholds, and it is your responsibility as a reader to avoid stories or stop reading if something bothers you. 
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13 hours ago, Carlos Hazday said:

Is the street where Partridge lives named after the Baker family? :D

After asking Google, I now know all about the Baker family, thank you very much for that. :puke:   That's a genre I do not touch with a ten-foot pole and ignore every information. Bleh.  Anyway, I gathered so much that Partridge's can opener wouldn't survive those neighbors. 

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12 hours ago, Cole Matthews said:

Such a lovely heartfelt story that honors the past and looks forward in peace.  Beautiful job!

Thank you, for your help, Cole.:hug:

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11 hours ago, astone2292 said:

This was a moving tale! The love and compassion Loris has for Dante is truly touching. Wonderful work, Adi!!

Thank you. I'm glad you like it. :)

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11 hours ago, Headstall said:

that is the magic of Christmas...

It envelopes us in light, warmth, love..and spices. Thank you, Gary. I'm glad you like the pendant. :hug:

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11 hours ago, Mawgrim said:

For a while I wondered how the turtle doves were going to come into it, then they’re they were. Lovely story with a perfect ending.

It took me long to come up with an idea. One night I couldn't sleep and ding, I had an solution. I'm glad you liked the ending. :)

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9 hours ago, Valkyrie said:

I love how Loris created a Christmas for Dante filled with his family traditions to honor his father.  The concert was perfect, as was the feast.  The necklace topped off a perfect evening.  Great job incorporating the turtle doves.  :)  I really enjoyed watching the videos.  

I'm happy you watched the videos. I know it's a little difficult because of the language, but I thought the music speaks for itself. Thank you for your help, as always. :hug:

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9 hours ago, Parker Owens said:

to love Dante through his grief.

I like this very much. Thank you, Parker.

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6 hours ago, drsawzall said:

keeping that flame burning brightly, again...its what Christmas should be!!!

Beautifully said. Thank you, drsawazall. 

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Wow! You so beautifully covered the reasons I love Christmas so much.  It was not a tale of money or religion, but of the true spirit of Christmas love, family, traditions and music.  Thanks for so wonderfully framing them in this sweet tale.  As Loris helps Dante reconnect with Dante's family Christmas traditions, Loris gives his love and understanding of Dante to help bring the same closure to him, that Dante's birth gave to his father. It brought both tears of sadness and joy to me.  Just..Wow!

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