It still shocks the hell out of me that Allie knew all along that I was her father, but it wasn’t nearly as much of a shock that it was to Sookie. She had sat in silence at the kitchen table for a long time, staring at our daughter with her mouth hanging open. At one point, Corbett leaned over to push Sookie’s mouth shut, saying he didn’t want drool on the table. That seemed to snap her out of her catatonic state. After giving her father the death glare, Sookie pulled her cell phone out of her pocket, stomping out of the kitchen to go outside. I don’t know what was said during her conversation with Jesus and Lafayette, but I know it was brief. When she came back in, I tried to ask if she was alright, but she brushed me aside, saying she didn’t want to talk about it.
It’s the week of Christmas; I’ve been at the Stackhouse homestead for little over a month. In that time, I’ve done everything in my power to avoid all things that remind me of Hollywood and the shitstorm I left hanging over me in New Orleans. I’ve avoided the studio, paparazzi, other actors that are friends, and most importantly, that duplicitous bitch that damn near ruined my life forever. Pam is like a black cloud hanging over my head; it follows me everywhere I go, hovering on the horizon, ready to swoop in and destroy whatever happiness I have. I know I can’t avoid it altogether, but I want to enjoy my first Christmas as a father.
I may have gone a trifle overboard when it came to buying presents for my daughter. Sookie had tried to rein in my spending, but I could not be stopped. I had years of missed birthdays, Christmases, and Easters to make up for. Amazon had become my new best friend, allowing me to shop any time and from anywhere. I had no wish to go to the mall or big box stores like Sookie and the women of her family. Even my darling daughter likes to go shopping; this does not bode well for her teenage years. I have a feeling she will spend more time at the mall than in our home.
It’s been a long time since I’ve celebrated the holidays as part of a family. I would send presents back home for Mor, Mormor, and a few others but I never went back to be a part of the festivities. Not that she didn’t try hard to change my mind this year, demanding that I bring her granddaughter home to meet her. That had been an interesting conversation with my mother; she thought I was pulling her leg. It had taken me nearly an hour on the phone to explain everything to her, and it wasn’t until I put Sookie on the phone that Mor finally believed me. Then Mor had talked Sookie’s ear off for an hour before she demanded to speak with Allie. My mother, the strongest woman I had ever known, burst into tears the moment Allie called her ‘Morfar’. Thankfully, Mormor was there and began speaking with Allie while my mother composed herself. Since that day, Mor and Mormor have Skyped or emailed Allie every day. It’s funny to me that Mormor has picked up today’s technology better than Mor. Granted, I think the only reason Mormor knows so much about using computers and the Internet is because she gambles online. Though she did tell Sookie that she had a profile on one of the Swedish dating websites. I’d walked out of the room as soon as I heard that. Mormor dating . . . I don’t need that visual!
We have two days until Christmas. Allie’s excitement increases as the days creep closer to the twenty-fifth. She keeps asking us questions about what she’s getting for Christmas, and of course, we aren’t telling her. Well Sookie isn’t telling her; I might have slipped and told her something I bought for her. I told her it had to be our little secret. You’d think Allie would know how to keep a secret since she knew for several months that I was her father and didn’t tell a soul.
Apparently her secret keeping ability doesn’t extend to Christmas presents.
I ended up in the doghouse with Sookie over that. She was already irritated with me because of the number of presents I’d bought for Allie, but then sharing with our daughter what she was getting was a very big no-no.
The only way I’d gotten out of the doghouse was another trip to Lovers’ Lane. My mouth got me into trouble, but luckily it also got me out of it.
I’ve learned that Christmas with the Stackhouses is a huge undertaking. They have no neighbors near them, but that didn’t stop Corbett from decorating the outside of the house like it was something Clark Griswold would approve of. There were lights strung along every inch of the house and porch. He’d even strung lights along the shed with a sign to say Santa’s workshop. Corbett took the decorations all the way out to Hummingbird Lane, alternating wreaths and ribbons along the trees that lined the driveway leading to the Stackhouse home. I’d asked Sookie if this is something he did because of Allie. She’d laughed at me and told me that Corbett had done this for as long as she could remember. She said it had started as a friendly competition between her dad and his best friend Thomas Compton. The Compton home was across the cemetery. Each year they’d try to outdo the other when it came to Halloween and Christmas decorations. People came from all over the parish to see the decorations of the two houses according to Sookie. It was a tradition that Corbett carries on to this day even though Thomas Compton had passed away from a massive heart attack five years ago. The Compton home has sat vacant for nearly three years. Sookie said Thomas Compton’s wife had passed away while she was in high school; killed by a drunk driver who ran a red light. When the elder Compton had passed away, his only son Bill had kept up with the house for the first two years, but then his wife decided she didn’t want to spend time in a mosquito-infested cotton field. Sookie had used air quotations around that phrase and rolled her eyes. I’d learned that Bill Compton’s wife was from Seattle and was under the impression that life in Louisiana was like that depicted in Gone with the Wind. Hearing Sookie talk about the Compton house had given me an idea of what to get her as a gift for Christmas, well her second Christmas gift. I already had the first gift.
Despite the craziness of the outside decorations, the inside of the home was very tastefully decorated. The Stackhouse women, including my daughter, had decorated the inside very tastefully. The live Christmas tree in the living room was nearly seven feet tall and was decorated in family heirlooms. There are ornaments on the tree from five generations of Stackhouses ranging from Adele’s parents down to Allie. The tree isn’t something you’d find in Pier 1 or any interior design magazine, but there is a story behind nearly every ornament hung on the tree and I’d had a great time listening to the memories. My favorite ornament on the tree is a family of three snow people and says ‘Our First Christmas’ with me, Sookie, and Allie on it.
Today the house smells like a bakery. Sookie and Michelle have been in the kitchen baking since before sunrise. Pumpkin pies, cherry cobbler, apple pies, dozens of cookies, and bread are just some of the delicious treats that cover the kitchen table. My mouth has salivatd all day and my stomach has gurgled nonstop. I’d tried to swipe a cookie to appease my stomach, but Michelle had smacked my hand with a rubber spatula.
I still have the outline of the spatula’s head on my hand. Michelle hits hard!
I can’t understand why they need so much food. For Christmas dinner, it will be the five us, Adele, Jason, and his pregnant wife Holly. Sookie took pity on me when she saw my dejected look, and snuck me two cookies though she laughed at me. She explained that some of the food would go as gifts to friends of the family but a lot of it will be donated to their church to be served during the Christmas meal for the less fortunate. It’s something her family has done for years, though they are able to give more now than in years past.
It amazes me how humble Sookie and her family are despite the level of success she has obtained. A lot of people who come from meager beginnings let fame and success go to their head, often spending their money frivolously. I admit I was guilty of it in the beginning, spending money on designer everything and fast cars. I made sure Mor and Mormor were taken care of, but I gave little thought to my expenses when I first made it big. Now I am more conservative with my money. I’ve learned to diversify my wealth and plan for the future because I highly doubt I will always be able to command the salary that I do now. Plus, I have a family to think about. I know Sookie has set money aside for Allie’s future, but what about any other children we may have? And I know I want more children with Sookie. I missed out on so much with Allie. It would be nice to have another child or two so I can experience everything. Sookie and I haven’t discussed our future together; we’ve been wrapped up in our little bubble with Allie. After Christmas, she and I need to have a serious discussion about how we are going to make all of this work.
But I don’t want to think about that now. Instead I need to find a way to steal another cookie because those chocolate covered coconut macaroons are the best thing I’ve ever tasted. I want more!
The doorbell rings as I sneak my coveted cookie off the cooling rack. Michelle glares at me, but can do nothing since she is literally up to her elbows in dough.
“Make yourself useful and answer the door. Don’t think I won’t get you later for stealing that cookie,” Michelle barks at me. I haven’t been on the receiving end of Michelle’s temper yet; she seems to be the most even-keel of all the Stackhouses. That means she’ll probably be the one to put a horse’s head in my bed while I sleep.
I’ll need to sleep with one eye open tonight.
The doorbell rings a second time and I hurry as fast as I can to get it. It’s probably for me anyway. The UPS and FedEx delivery people have gotten to know me pretty well in the last few weeks; they been here nearly every day, sometimes twice a day delivering the items I’ve ordered while shopping online. I’m waiting on one more package, a last-minute gift I found for Sookie that I thought would be a perfect gift for Allie to give to her. It’s a platinum necklace with an infinity symbol and on either side of the infinity symbol is my birthstone and Allie’s birth stone. It’s to show that we love her forever and without end.
The doorbell rings again and I call out, “Hold on! I’m coming!” I shove the cookie in my mouth so my hands are free since I’m sure I’ll have to sign for the package. I ordered the necklace from Tiffany’s; I’ve never not had to sign for the pretty blue box. I wrench the door open and stop in shock.
Mor and Mormor are on the porch with smiles brighter than the sun.
“Surprise!” Several different voices shout the word and I’m completely befuddled. How did Mor and Mormor get here?
Mor’s happy smile fades to a scowl. “Were you raised by wolves? Didn’t I teach you better manners than to open the door with food hanging out of your mouth? Honestly, what if I’d been a photographer? I can only imagine the caption that photo would have garnered,” Mor says as she makes a move to grab the cookie from my mouth. I stole this cookie fair and square; no way in hell is my mother taking it from me. I shove the entire cookie in my mouth, making Mor sigh in exasperation.
Mormor nudges my mother to the side. “Leave the boy alone.” Mormor pats my cheek affectionately, but brushes past me. “It’s good to see you Eric but where is min lilla ängel? I’m not getting any younger,” she says as she looks around the house with curiosity. She turns towards the kitchen where Sookie and Allie are standing at the entrance. Allie is clinging to Sookie’s leg, smiling bashfully at Mormor and Mor.
“Herregud! Eric hon är vacker!” Mormor says as she stares at Allie with an awed smile.
“Allie,” Sookie says gently as she tugs at our daughter. “Morfar and Mormorsmor came an awfully long way to see you. Go over and say hello to them.”
Allie does as Sookie says and walks over to her great-grandmother and grandmother since my mother has moved beside her. My daughter, who I just realized is wearing a dress, something she only does when she wants to dress up, curtsied to my family members and says slowly, “Tack för att ni kom. Jag är glad att träffa dig.”
Mor and Mormor tear up hearing my daughter speak to them in Swedish. Her accent is terrible and she stumbles with some of the words, but it means more than anything to hear her try to speak my native language. When Allie rises from her curtsey, Mor picks her up and squeezes her tight. My heart is overflowing with happiness to see the four most important women in my life all in the same room.
Sookie’s eyes glisten with tears as she makes her way over to me. She wraps her arms around my waist. “God Jul Eric,” she whispers in my ear before pressing her lips to mine.
It’s going to be a very Merry Christmas indeed.
I can’t believe Sookie surprised me by having my mother and grandmother fly in for the Christmas holiday. It’s the best present I have ever received; replacing the original Nintendo gaming system that I thought was the absolute best present of all time when I was a kid. I want the chance to show the woman I love how much I appreciate her thoughtfulness but with two extra people in the house, we are running out of places where everyone can sleep, not to mention bathrooms. Having the people in the world that mean the most to me all under one roof is an incredible feeling, but damn it, I want some alone time to make proper love to Sookie! Our stolen moments aren’t taking the edge off our sexual frustration; it’s only making the craving to be with her worse. With Christmas upon us, there is absolutely no way she and I will be able to get away for a night. Another item to add to the list of things I need to take care of as soon as Christmas is over. Make it the top priority on my to do list!
Dinner the first evening that Mor and Mormor are here is a great time. Adele came over to join us and she and Mormor hit it off immediately. They were thick as thieves as they proceeded to drink an entire bottle of Chianti at dinner followed by several glasses of sherry. It was quite funny to see them interacting with each other because Adele’s accent became more pronounced and Mormor forgot how to speak English. However they carried on just fine and helped each other to bed fairly early. When Michelle went to check on them, she found them sprawled on Adele’s bed in different states of undress. Mormor had lost a shoe somewhere along the way and Adele had on her flannel cotton nightgown but still had her denim skirt on underneath. Michelle and Mor had gotten the elder women situated as best they could, and closed the door behind them so they could sleep it off. I remember the first time I had a hangover as a teenager; Mormor made me pay for my overindulgence. She had banged every pot in the kitchen and cooked the most disgusting fish stew for dinner. The smell had permeated nearly every surface of the house. There was no escaping it and I suffered from the dry heaves all day. I wasn’t allowed to leave the house because Mor and Far had grounded me for sneaking out and coming home drunk. I look forward to being able to return the favor in the morning.
Sookie and I watch with amusement as Allie and Mor interact with each other. Mor is spoiling her first grandchild and there is nothing Sookie can say or do that is going to stop her. Sookie looks at me helplessly and I remind her that I had warned her my mother would be worse than me. The difference between my mother and I though is that I am spoiling Allie with toys and Mor is spoiling her with clothes fit for a princess. One elaborate dress after another comes out of Mor’s oversized suitcase, complete with all the necessary matching accessories. Michelle and Corbett had chuckled at Sookie’s reaction and reminded her to keep quiet the next time she got huffy with them for giving Allie a little trinket. Mor looks at Sookie and says with absolute seriousness that it is a grandparent’s sworn duty to spoil their grandchildren; it’s in the handbook.
Did my mother mean the book How to Bullshit Convincingly or Being a Grandparent: The Chance to Get Back at Your Kids for All the Shit They Put You Through? Either way, Sookie is screwed when it comes to keeping us from spoiling Allie. I have to reassure her several times that it will not always be like this. The first year will be the worst because Mor and I feel like we missed out on so much.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!