Me, Keaton, Mrs. LaSalle and Joyce’s fucktard brother Jim had Christmas dinner at Joyce’s this year. Dinner was awesome, and, before we had our coffee and pie, we took a break to digest and open presents.
I like to think I’m a good Christian, and I think I know what the meaning of Christmas is (and our pastor certainly reminded us of it in her Christmas sermon), but presents are still cool. I already got something great from back home, but I hope it doesn’t make me sound greedy if I said I was dang curious to see what Joyce got me.
That was the first present we opened when we took our break after the turkey, and Joyce hit a home run. She got me a pair of blue silk pajamas with my initials on the pocket, like I’d admired in some of those old movies we watch on TCM. Actually she got me a pair and a half: she got two bottoms, and she made sure that Jim heard her when she said that she liked how I looked just in pajama bottoms lol.
There was more, too, since there was a stocking with my name hanging over the fireplace. (I was the only person who got a stocking, although MooMoo and Numnums had stockings next to mine.) There was a bunch of stuff inside that: a bag of Hershey’s kisses with almonds (she knows I like them), a little Whitman’s Sampler box, a Reese’s tree, a pack of baseball cards (no Dodgers at all inside when I opened it), a couple of those pears they were selling at Trader Joe’s in gift boxes and which I told Joyce I was curious about, a goofyass pen that spins around and ‘answers questions’ when you click it, a tube of shaving cream from the place I got Meemaw’s present at, and, like last year, a $10 Baskin Robbins gift card, since Joyce said it was the only way to get ice cream into my stocking.
There was one more thing in there, too: a small box, wrapped amazingly like Joyce always wraps gifts, containing a light blue Tiffany & Co. box. Inside was a silver keychain. Just a simple tag, on which Joyce had just had engraved ‘to H from J’. I burst out laughing when I saw it…I’ll explain why in a minute.
In the meantime, Jim had to make a retardedass comment:
“What does it say? ‘Mad about the boy’?”
The only person in the room who didn’t get it was Keaton, since TCM is way too gayass for him. But me and Joyce had seen Sunset Boulevard only the week before and it wasn’t the first time I’d seen it, either. Mrs. LaSalle clearly knew the movie, and was visibly shocked that anyone could make so nasty a crack. There was a big awkward silence during which part of me was seriously ready to take a swing at Jim…only the part of me that got all embarrassed won, and I blushed instead. (In case y’all are like Keaton and TCM is too gayass for you, in the movie, a silent movie star gives her younger boyfriend a gold cigarette case that says ‘mad about the boy’ on it…and ends up shooting him at the end. It was pretty much saying that Joyce was an over-the-hill movie star and I was a kept boy. Y’all who know me should know that’s not what our relationship is about. And Luke told me that, if I did want to be a kept boy, Justen has a friend who told him he’d buy me a Lamborghini if I hooked up with him. Luke keeps telling me to go for it lol: “it’s a fuckin Lambo, dude”.)
I could tell Joyce was seriously embarrassed, pissed off and hurt – all at the same time. She’s no good at hiding her emotions. And when I saw that Jim had upset her that bad, I really did want to haul his fucktard ass outside and beat the crap out of it. As it was, she practically threw her present she’d gotten for him at him. It was a cool Tommy Bahama shirt I wouldn’t mind having for myself. Instead:
“Why’d you buy me this?”
“It’ll look great in Hawaii,” I said, seeing that Joyce was about to answer something a lot less nice that she might come to regret. Family is still family…and you can’t forget that.
Keaton was up next. He’d already given Joyce her present – like last year, he made us some super hot Texas chili so we wouldn’t have to have leftover turkey every night this week. The casserole was part of the gift too, and was just like the one Joyce had been so pissed at herself for having broken a couple weeks ago. So Joyce was doubly appreciative. Keaton’s gift for me was real thoughtful too: he’s always giving me shit for not carrying a penknife, and he sure makes the one he has look useful. So he got me one. A Swiss Army model, but not just any Swiss Army model: this was their limited edition baseball knife. How cool is that? It’s white with red ‘stitching’ and I was amazed how many tools the thing has for something so small: two blades, a bottle opener, a can opener, 2 screwdrivers (large and small), a phillips screwdriver (!), a toothpick…and even tweezers. Pretty dang awesome.
Keaton’s hard to shop for, but I think I did well by him this Christmas. El Tigre has us working in 12 oz gloves, which are pretty standard for guys who are starting out. But I could tell Keaton was interested in what the pros wear, so I got him a pair of 16 oz gloves he could use on the bag in his apartment. (I sure as fuck ain’t lettin him practice on me in 16s lol.)
Joyce made him a couple ornaments for his Christmas tree. She knew his tree was all animals, so she decided to make him animals he’d never find at Pier 1: a platypus in a Santa hat and a kangaroo with Christmas lights for a collar. He was real pleased. He never likes to show emotion, but he kept picking up the platypus and smiling.
Joyce made it clear that she didn’t expect the people who barely knew each other to have to exchange gifts and buy each other shit they didn’t want or like. So that left Keaton and Mrs. LaSalle off the hook with each other…and everyone but Joyce off the hook with Jim.
Mrs. LaSalle got Joyce a secret present she told her she shouldn’t open in front of everyone else. “It’s between us girls,” Mrs. LaSalle explained, adding, looking at me, “but you’ll find out what it is soon enough.” I found out the night after Jim left for Hawaii: it was a really hot black and white nightgown that would have looked great in a 1930s movie. (Joyce said it was “bias-cut”, if that means anything to y’all. I just know she looked super glamorous and hot in it.) Mrs. LaSalle had a great gift for me too, which she’d taken from the collection of Dodger’s memorabilia she and her husband had acquired during their 35 years of season ticket holding. It was a ball, autographed not only by Kershaw, but by A.J. Ellis too. Ellis was Kershaw’s best friend on the team, but he got traded shortly after I started following los Doyers.
“Wow,” I said. “This is really too nice to be giving away,” I said, although I remembered Meemaw’s rule about not telling someone they shouldn’t have done something after they did it.
“Oh nonsense,” Mrs. LaSalle said. “Mr. LaSalle and I collected so much memorabilia over the years that I have no idea what to do with it all. None of my kids cares about the team, and they probably can’t wait to get it all stored in the attic so they can replace it with their own crap in the house. It should go to someone who can appreciate it. It’s a shame you never got to see Ellis play. He wasn’t much of a hitter, but he and Kershaw had a chemistry you could see. Don’t get the wrong idea, Hunter,” she added with a big smile, “they’re both straight. I hope you realize that there are catchers who break your rule about all catchers being gay.” She laughed. We heard a lot of Mrs. LaSalle’s laugh all day. It’s one of those very catching laughs.
Me and Joyce got together and got Mrs. LaSalle a present from the two of us. It’s hard shopping for someone over 80 who probably has had everything she’s ever wanted in life: jewels, furs, fancy cars, trips all over the world (and around the world too: one of the last trips she made with Mr. LaSalle, when he was already starting to show his age, was a ‘round the world cruise that sounds like it was totally awesome.) When we were over at Mrs. LaSalle’s condo, we saw that she had a lot of frames with pictures of her family. So we decided to get her another frame, or, rather, make her another frame. I built it out of some wood I had leftover from Joyce’s crafting room and Joyce took care of the decoration. It came out real, real nice, and didn’t look like something lameass your friends made you and that you only take out when they’re coming over. Mrs. LaSalle looked real pleased when she opened the box, and was even happier when she found out that it wasn’t something we bought.
Oh – in case y’all are wondering how Joyce was able to do that when her crafting room was under construction, she did her Christmas crafting work in the dining room. We had to take most of her supplies out of the crafting room so I could do the shelves and it wasn’t until a week before Christmas that I moved the supplies back to where I thought they belonged. Joyce did get a little grumpy with me at not being able to use the dining room for, well, dining, but at least I had the room cleared in time for her to start getting things ready for Christmas dinner.
That brings us to the biggest present of the day: my gift to Joyce, the crafting room. To make sure that Joyce didn’t get a peek at what I was doing, I actually installed a lock on the door and kept it locked, even when I was in the room working when Joyce was in another part of the house. I wanted her to be excited about the big reveal, even though I’ll admit I took a lot longer to finish than I said I would. (The small-gauge drill Dad gave me for my birthday let me get more ambitious with dividers in the drawers I built, otherwise I would have been done before Thanksgiving.) The funny coincidence is that I got Joyce the same silver key chain she got me at Tiffany & Co. – I know it’s from a fancyass jewelry store but it didn’t cost all that much, even with the engraving. I was pretty much tapped out financially from all the stuff I needed for the crafting room, but I wanted to do it right, and have something I could put under the tree, since I couldn’t exactly fit the room down there.
For the engraving, I put: ‘H2J with love’. I knew that would make her happy, just like I think she knew it would just make me feel awkward and embarrassed if she had put it on the keychain she gave me. So she opened the box, laughed at the coincidence and got a little teary when she read the inscription. Then we all went off to where the crafting room is at the back of the house. The finishing touch I put on the room was a gold ribbon and a big bow on the door. I could tell Joyce was all nervous, partly because she didn’t want to find out that I’d fucked her house up, and partly because she wanted to make sure she looked pleased, no matter what I’d done.
I was pretty sure she was gonna love it, so I wasn’t nervous. Keaton is the only other person who’s seen what the room looks like, and he agreed that she was gonna be thrilled.
So she unlocked the door and opened it, gasped, looked around some…and burst into tears. I know what Joyce’s happy tears look like, and these were that kind of tears. So I got her in my arms for a few seconds, then she pulled back and started looking more closely at everything, opening all the drawers and cabinets.
“Did I get everything in the right place?,” I asked as she looked at the ‘gluegun rack’ I’d invented for her.
“Close enough,” she said. “My God, Hunter…nobody’s ever done anything like this for me. It’s…it’s…incredible. Thanks. And thanks to you too,” she added to Keaton.
“It was mostly bubba’s work,” he said. “I just lent an extra strong back and pair of hands when he needed them.”
That was pretty modest of Keaton; he helped a lot more than that, although he didn’t mess with my design. He could probably build you a house if you asked him…so it was pretty cool that he kept his ideas to himself and was willing to be a workman and leave me to be the boss.
“You did all this by yourselves?,” Mrs. LaSalle asked. “You two should set up a carpentry business. Did you ever work in construction? How did you learn to build things like this?”
“My Dad,” me and Keaton answered together. “And he learned from my Papaw,” we then added, still at the same time. That got big laughs all around.
“Papaw is granddaddy,” Keaton explained.
“I figured,” Mrs. LaSalle said. “Hunter talks often enough about his Meemaw.”
By this time Joyce was back in my arms and crying a little more.
The good part was that Jim kept his mouth shut. Even he was impressed that the pretty boy could handle tools and lumber as well as I can.
Oh yeah, there was Jim’s gift to Joyce. After all those presents that we’d all thought so hard about, he brought with him, all the way from New Hampshire…a Macy’s gift card. He didn’t even put in one of those semi-cool boxes they have for gift cards. He just dropped it into an envelope with a lameass cheapass Christmas card. Told y’all he was a fucktard.
Then it was time to go back to table for pie and coffee. Since Joyce doesn’t bake, she got the pies from Duparrs. She got 3 this year, one pumpkin (for the Yankees lol), one apple (my favorite, remember), and then, since it was such a hit last year, a lemon meringue. You want something light after a big meal like we had, so, even if lemon meringue isn’t traditional at Christmas, there was only 1 slice left when we were done. It was a good lemon meringue pie too, nice and puckery (as Meemaw likes to say.)
Then the real drama started