Mom's Christmas Dressbyalwayswantedto©
All characters are 18 years or older.
I was looking forward to Christmas at home. I'd been away for two and a half years, but the last time had been just a short two week visit between finishing college and leaving for my summer job. I was eager to leave home then because it was the last time I would be able to see the friends I'd worked with for several summers in the small surfing community on the west coast. After that, I was off to graduate school in Europe. I did stop at home but only to pack my bags; I was gone the next morning.
When I first arrived in Europe, I missed my parents but as I settled in to my new life my responses to Mom's emails soon dwindled in length, detail and frequency. I hardly paid attention to Mom's casual references about Dad's slowly declining health, or her comments about his growing reliance on his wheel chair, which had been more a convenience than a necessity when I left. Mom's emails became increasingly gloomy in contrast to the growing excitement in my life.
I was under too much pressure at school to return home for Xmas and it was far too expensive anyway. That summer, I won a spot on a research vessel in Antarctica so I didn't go home. My parents understood. At least, Mom did. Dad didn't exchange emails though Mom said he was on the computer a lot. Mom wished me the best and said how proud she and Dad were. I felt a twinge of guilt and berated myself for not emailing more often, promising to engage in more substantial conversations rather than the periodic and brief reports about my activities. But the guilt was soon superseded by other, more pressing tasks. The summer passed and before I knew it, I was back at school with a whole new set of priorities. My thesis beckoned.
Of course, I just couldn't refuse another summer in Antarctica followed by a four month stint at much better pay. I submitted applications to start my PhD the following fall. I was confident that my grades, thesis, and the contacts I had made in Antarctica would land me a spot in any of a dozen good departments in Europe or America. I wasn't worried. So it was that I returned home in the fall, two and a half years after leaving home, proud of my accomplishments but feeling a little burnt out.
I changed planes in Newark and caught a domestic flight home. In the airport, I saw Mom before she saw me. A pretty woman with dark brown hair pulled back and pinned in a roll along the back of her head, just as I remembered her—almost. She looked tired and worn, but that her face brightened the moment she saw me walking toward her through the crowd. She was beaming by the time I passed through the glass doors into her waiting arms.
"Ryan, oh Ryan," Mom cried. I was surprised at the strength in her arms as she hugged me tight. "Oh, Ryan. It's so good to see you." Tears filled Mom's eyes. "I'm so happy. Oh, darn. I knew I'd start crying."
We were carried along with the rush of people flowing toward the baggage area. Mom fell in step beside me, reaching into her purse, hand emerging with a tissue which she used to dab at her eyes, smudging the trace of make-up there. She smiled up at me and pushed her arm through mine. "It's so good to have you home."
Her joy made me ashamed of how seldom I had written her. I felt even worse when I counted the times I had actually called home. Twice. In two years. I vowed to make up for it.
Mom insisted that I drive. It was snowing but I was fine until we entered our subdivision. Then I promptly got the car stuck. Several futile attempts to get us free brought my frustration to the surface but Mom just laughed. Nothing was going to upset her today. She seemed to be actually enjoying herself and her humor lightened me up. I was almost in a good mood as I grasped the rear bumper in one hand and put my shoulder into it, preparing for a giant heave to free the car. But after a few gentle rocks back and forth, Mom simply eased the car forward and drove ten feet down the road, leaving me crouched in the street. The tinkle of her laughter through the window mingled with the sparkly lights adorning the houses on the street. I ran up to the car and got in the passenger seat where I belonged. As we drove down the street, I felt reconnected, but even more pained by what I'd missed while away. We didn't speak about Dad until Mom pulled into the driveway.
"You'll see," Mom's voice dimmed though she tried to remain cheerful. "He'll be glad to see you."
"He's still up?"
"Of course. His boy is home."
"Oh. I thought..."
"I know. He wants to be alone almost all the time, but he's up at all hours. He'll be waiting for you. You go up and see him while I make us a nice snack before going to bed."
I walked up the stairs with trepidation. Would my father be angry? I knew Mom would forgive me but would Dad?
Dad wasn't in my parent's bedroom. Re-entering the hallway, I noticed a new door at the end, beside my room. Then I remembered Mom telling me about Dad moving into a huge new room they had built above the double carport.
Dad was sitting in a wheelchair beside his desk, pleased to see me. He held out his hand as I strode toward him. He pulled me down and curled his other arm around my shoulder. Unlike Mom, Dad's hug was feeble. He wan't nearly the still vibrant man I had left behind two short years ago, still strong despite part time confinement to a chair. His arms were still beefy if not muscular but they lacked strength. I sensed that his spirit had waned. I sat down in the desk chair and we talked briefly about Antarctica and Europe. But Dad cut our reverie short.
"Let's save this for tomorrow. It's not fair to keep you away from your Mom. She's been just beside herself waiting for you to come home." Dad paused, as if thinking about Mom pining during my absence. I was just about to apologize for failing to keep in better touch when he continued.
"Thank God for email. Your mother's told me all about your adventures. Thanks for keeping in touch with her and letting her be part of your world, son. God knows, I haven't been much of a companion for her."
Dad shook his head and I, mentally, shook mine. Dad's mistaken praise for being the good son made me feel even worse but I didn't own up to Dad how rotten I'd been. Obviously, Mom had covered for me and I didn't want to spill the beans on her; at least, that's what I told myself.
"I have a favor to ask of you," Dad said.
"Anything, Dad." I was eager to make up for my neglect.
"I'd like you to stay close to the house from now until Christmas. Can you do that for me?"
"Sure, Dad. Any particular reason?"
"No. I just think it would be nice if you hung out with your Mom. She really has missed you."
"Sure, Dad," I reiterated my commitment.
"That's great, son."
"Ok. Don't keep your mother waiting any longer." I was dismissed.
I left, trying out the elevator that had been built while I was gone. It descended into the garage, right next to the door leading into the house. Mom was surprised to see me come in that way. We ate our snack, or rather, I did. Mom talked excitedly about her plans for the holidays now that I was back, interspersed with questions about Europe and Antarctica, which I answered truthfully most of the time. I did get caught a few times telling her about places I'd obviously been to on little holidays; times I probably could have used to come home. Mom didn't catch me out on any of them.
A large parcel arrived just before noon the next day. Mom answered the door but called me because the package was in my name and I had to sign for it. Mom insisted on staying while I opened it.
"Who's it from?" Mom asked, her curious green eyes glinting in the flash of the Christmas tree lights which were on from the time she got up in the morning. Mom loved Christmas.
I said I didn't know as I removed the heavy manila paper from the package but Mom asked several more times anyway. Inside was a box about 4 inches high by two feet wide and three long. It was wrapped in high quality Christmas paper and ribbon with a very fancy bow, obviously professionally done.
"Who's it for?"
"I don't know."
Mom pointed at the small card attached to one of the ribbons leading away from the bow. She leaned forward and opened the card with a finger.
"For me?" She was surprised and excited.
"From who?" I repeated Mom's first question.
"It doesn't say."
"Well, let's just put it under the tree," I said, moving that way. I laid the box down and returned to gather up the brown manila wrapping paper. Mom kept looking at the present.
"I'm hungry, Mom. What are we having for lunch?"
Reluctantly, Mom pulled her eyes away from the tree and followed me into the kitchen.
Several times that afternoon, Mom looked at the mystery present but didn't say anything about it. Finally, late in the day, she couldn't help herself and queried me further.
"You must know who it came from." she said, not bothering to say what she was talking about.
I denied any knowledge of it.
"But it was addressed to you," Mom persisted.
Again, I pleaded ignorance. Mom asked the same question several ways, searching for people I thought might have sent the package, but finally gave up, dissatisfied with my answers. Still, she kept glancing toward the tree, her gaze fixing precisely on the new gift.
Mom handed me a tray and asked me to take it up to Dad. I was suspicious that she would open the present while I was gone and kept my eye on her as I climbed the stairs. She laughed and shooed me along when she turned and saw me looking at her.
"I won't touch it," she promised.
I asked Dad if he had sent a secret present to me for Mom but he denied it and from his expression and follow-up questions, I was convinced the whole thing was news to him. I returned downstairs to eat dinner with Mom. As soon as we finished, Mom made a couple of eggnog drinks, from scratch, the way she did when I was little. Unlike then, I got a shot of rum, just like she and Dad used to have, telling me it was cod liver oil, which I hated, and offering me some if I wanted. She led the way into the living room and sat looking at the present while I put more logs on the fire, her childish curiosity shone in stark contrast to the conservative manner of her dress and prim hair style.
"There's only one way to find out, and that's to open it," I said, breaking the silence.
"No, presents should be opened on Christmas day." She paused and added, "Except maybe a special one on Christmas Eve."
I shrugged and selected a DVD, one of Mom's favorite movies. I paused half way through to make some hot chocolate with whipped cream. When I returned, Mom was eyeing the present again. She had the curiosity of ten cats. Several times through the rest of the movie, Mom looked at the tree, each glance longer than the last. When the movie ended, Mom broke.
"I can't stand it," she cried. "I can't wait until Christmas."
"Santa will be mad if you peek," I mimicked the stern voice Mom had used when I was a kid, warning me not to get up in the night and sneak down to handle the presents.
"Oh, you," she waved me away. Impulsively, she jumped to her feet, surprising me with her agility.
"Bad Mom," I teased as she knelt down and pulled the big present toward her, resting it on her knees.
She played with the ribbon and the bow, then flicked the card with her fingernail.
"You won't tell on me, will you?" Mom asked in a mischievous, little girl voice.
"Not if you make us another one of these," I waved my empty eggnog glass at her.
"Deal," Mom said, her fingers starting to slip the ribbon toward the edge of the box.
"Drink first, present after," I laid down the rule.
Mom protested but pushed the box toward the tree and got up. The eggnog was made in a flash without the flourish of the first batch. Mom was generous and made enough for two glasses each. When she was done, I added the rum.
"Hey, easy does it. That's enough for two glasses."
Mom took her glass and quickly returned to the living room and the tree. She sat on the floor in front of the present.
"After we finish our first glass," I set out another rule before Mom could retrieve the gift.
"Don't gulp," I said a moment later, again reversing our parent-child relationship.
Mom pouted and a strange feeling flushed through me at the sight of the frothy eggnog painting her lips, a little dribble trickling down her chin. That was weird, I thought to myself. When Mom turned to look down at the present, I noticed how her twisted torso emphasized her breasts and narrow waist, and the thrust of her hips and buttock behind her. I couldn't help tracing the length of her outstretched leg and admiring her small and delicate bare foot. I shook my head just as Mom turned back and downed the rest of her drink. I was only half done mine.
Mom looked at me in anticipation, as if waiting for my permission to proceed. I smiled and nodded. Immediately, she turned away and pulled the present onto her lap, folding her outlying leg and twisting around to face me as if to share the discovery of the contents as soon as they were revealed. I leaned back in my chair, eager to know myself. Who could have sent this mystery parcel to Mom, through me, one that my Dad knew nothing about.
The ribbons slid away. Mom found the edge of the paper and ran a finger underneath, deftly breaking its seal. Gently, she pushed the paper away. It was a clothing box, made of thin grey cardboard. Mom glanced up at me, then looked down as she opened the box with the practiced hands of an experienced shopper.
A smile broke over her face as she lifted the expensive, dark green material, pleased by the exceptional quality of whatever it was. It appeared to be a dress, by its bulk, a long evening gown. Mom sighed as she lifted it higher, above her head. It still fell in folds in the box. It was long indeed. Mom stood, lifting the dress with her. Suddenly, her face turned to shock and she gasped.
"Oh, my God," Mom cried.
Her face flushed and she turned to me.
"Are you sure your father knew nothing about this?" she demanded.
"Positive, Mom. He seemed quite surprised, but not particularly interested."
"Hmmmm. Well, he hasn't been interested in anything I do for years now. That's not new." There was a trace of bitterness in Mom's voice that was new to me but it was quickly covered up. "I'll just go up to get his dinner tray."
I examined the dress while Mom was gone but couldn't see anything that would have triggered such a reaction. The dress looked expensive, there was no doubt about that. It was very tasteful and conservative, exactly the kind of thing I could see Mom wearing. It certainly wasn't the kind of thing a secret admirer would send. Yet, she had been suddenly surprised, almost shocked. By what? Did she think someone would send her a conservative dress through her son? No wonder she suspected Dad. But why had she seemed upset?
It was beyond me, so I sipped my eggnog and rum and waited for Mom's return. I didn't have to wait long. Mom was back in less than fifteen minutes carrying Dad's tray.
"You're right. It wasn't your father. Now I'm really stumped."
Mom disappeared into the kitchen. I got up and followed her, picking up her empty glass on the way.
"You're sure you don't know anything about this?"
"Nope," I answered nonchalantly, filling our glasses with the last of the eggnog and adding another healthy dose of rum. "What's the big deal, anyway? It's just dress. A little fancy, but fairly prudish."
"Prudish? It's not prudish."
"Come on, Mom. It stretches across from shoulder to shoulder, and then goes down almost to your ankles. It's not exactly racy."
Mom picked up her glass and took a long sip. "I'll have you know, sir, that your father bought me a dress just like it years ago and he thought it was very sexy. He never let me wear it outside of the house."
"That dress?" I was incredulous.
"One just like it. Exactly, as far as I can tell. That's why I was so surprised. If it isn't from your father, it must be from someone who saw it and it never left the house. Anyway, there couldn't be two dresses like that. It was custom made according to your father's instructions."
"That may be, but that doesn't make it sexy. Nothing could."
"Really?" Mom raised her eyebrows.
She stalked out of the kitchen, stooped to pick up the dress in one hand, and walked upstairs, carrying her drink.
I sat down on the couch and started searching for a good movie. A few minutes later a sound, perhaps a light cough, drew my attention to the stairs in time to catch Mom halfway down, descending precariously in the green gown, stepping carefully so she overstep the short stride permitted by the dress circling just above her ankles even though she was trying to tug it up with a hand on her thigh. Her other hand held an empty glass.
Mom looked awesome in that gown. Although it did cover her from her head almost to her feet, it clung to her figure which I seemed to be seeing for the first time. Despite her age, and despite being my mother, she was a very striking woman, a sexy looking woman. My mouth went dry, and opened.
Mom walked up to me and stopped, reached behind her head and loosened the bun behind her head. With a couple of shakes, her hair shook loose, spilling onto her shoulders. Mom placed her hand on one hip, cocked it, and glared down at me.
"I take it back. It's...awesome. You look stunning."
Mom smiled. "And sexy?"
"Yes," I finally closed my mouth. "Very sexy."
Duh! The full coverage of the dress somehow emphasized rather than hid the soft roundness that couldn't be suppressed under the bodice. It was as if the dress contained its own push up bra. The slight looseness that appeared as the material dipped into her waist disappeared as it stretched tight over her hips and then clung to her legs, making them look longer than they were. The brief expanse of bare calf through a slit on the left side and her feet was quite erotic for some reason. I mean, what showed was mostly ankles. It was a bizarre proof that scarcity does increase value.
Mom held her empty glass out toward me, shaking it. "You owe me a drink."
She turned and walked slowly, necessarily, to the kitchen. The sway of her tightly clad hips accented her buttocks which literally thrust against the dress, one at a time, in an exquisite rolling motion. Mom had an ass!
I leapt out of the chair when she passed through the doorway and threatened to remove that undulating bottom from my sight. Very briefly, she did, but I managed to reach the door in time to catch the last few feet to the counter. Mom stopped and set her glass on the counter, but she didn't turn around. I wondered if she sensed my need to look at her without feeling guilty. Half a minute passed before she spoke.
"Come on. Pour me another one."
I walked haltingly toward her.
"I don't know how to make eggnog."
"We'll just have some rum, with a little water."
I poured the drinks and Mom walked back to the living room. I followed slowly, watching her every move. She stopped in the middle of the room and I did too, several feet behind her so I could easily see her whole body. She turned her head to the side but didn't look back at me. Even so, I knew she was aware of my gaze.
"I don't think I can sit easily in this dress." Mom took a long pull at her drink, though I don't think she actually drank much.
"No, I 'spose not," I replied.
"Your father used to love dancing with me in this dress."
There was a long pause, partly brought on by my attention to Mom's backside as she shifted her weight from one foot to the other.