Frankly, it hasn’t even been Thanksgiving yet.
Christmas morning arrive and both Graham and Oliver are very excited. Oliver tells me stories the night before past Christmas celebration, even before Graham became part of the family. I ask Graham for stories of his previous life, but he stays silent. He brushes off my questions and he helps Annie prepare Christmas stockings for the following morning. Graham still doesn’t answer me when we’re getting ready for bed. He instead lays in his bed and he taps his chest with soft fingers. There’s a calm in the dark room and I can hear the faint sounds of his soft heartbeat.
“Graham, I’m sorry I’m asking you about this.”
He shifts and faces me, but he does not look angry.
“You’re fine. I just don’t want to talk about it. Shit was complicated in my last home.”
He reaches his hand under his bed and he retrieves a plastic shopping bag. Carefully, he throws it at me.
“I’m sorry it’s not wrapped, but I wanted you to have one of your own.”
“You’ve got to open it, dummy.”
I pull the bag open and a simple blue scarf falls out and on to the floor. I pick it up with a gentle grasp and feel the soft fabric on my fingertips. Graham smiles and I smile back at him.
“For the next time you decide to go out.”
“Graham, I cannot feel cold or warm. It wouldn’t make any difference.”
Graham groans and he sighs, but he laughs. “It’s the thought that counts, Aaron. You’re going to get a few different things tomorrow and you can’t just explain why you don’t need them.”
“But I don’t need these things. Also, I have so many things; why do I need more?”
“Because we love you and we want you to feel at home here.”
He glances at the clock and my eyes follow. The time has just changed from eleven fifty-nine to an even midnight. Graham rolls over and wishes me a merry Christmas and a good night. I repeat the sentiments and I watch him pull his comforter further up his body and around his face and the room seems darker. I face the ceiling and behind closed eyelids, I watch the scene from moments before.
The morning comes and I am still watching. Graham wakes up and pulls me out of bed and down the stairs with him. On the way down, he calls for Oliver and Annie and Matthew. He stops at the foot of the stairs and I stop with him. Graham points out the windows at the fresh snow that had fallen during the night and he points into the living room where the Christmas tree is fully lit and decorated and many colorfully wrapped boxes are stacked in piles. He squeezes my shoulder and smiles wider than I’ve seen so far. His eyes reflect the lights around us and he drags me to the couch.
“We’ve gotta wait until everyone is down here and ready to go, but you’re rooming with me, so there was no way you were staying in bed.”
We sit together on the couch and Graham stares at the tree, waiting impatiently to dig into whatever has his name on it; he would do the same to things without his name. Soon enough, the parents and Oliver descend the stairs and the morning begins. Coffee is made and on the television, a fire is played because it’s customary on Christmas morning; there is also no fireplace and fireplaces have not been in houses for years based on the environmental needs.
Gifts are passed out to everyone and finally I am handed a stack of boxes. I remember what Graham says about gifts and I put a smile on my face. The paper is ripped off and boxes are opened and once the floor is covered in garbage, eyes are on me. No one needs to say anything, but they are waiting for me to open my gifts. Clothes, books, and more things to make me feel at home. I thank everyone, but they all, including Graham, have me stand and they hug me one after the other; Graham holds on the longest and he tousles my hair.
After the festivities, we sit around the dining table and a large dinner is served. I watch as everyone laughs and I laugh with them when I can try to fit it in. I don’t eat, but I enjoy my time with them. They all make me feel welcomed in their home and I’m thankful. Once it is time for the family to go to bed, I follow Graham and Oliver up the stairs. Oliver wishes us a good night as we head into separate doors.
Graham says that he’s thankful for the Davises and he’s thankful to have met me. I am thankful to him, but I do not say so. I smile at him and I hug him before he gets into his bed. No words are said by either of us but he gently wraps his arms around me. He crawls into bed and he goes to sleep almost instantly. Tonight, I do not replay the day in my head. Tonight, I try to shut myself down and sleep like a normal person, even if I know that I am not one.