Some Other Christmas
Jasmine & Ethan
In a perfect world, Jasmine Bliss would be allowed to have Christmas in America and Italy at the same time. Unfortunately, her parents had turned down her invitation to join them in the Tuscan villa Ethan purchased a year ago. And unfortunately, Jasmine had to have her family Christmas in America a whole week before the actual holiday.
Her parents had been amiable about the scheduling, however. After they were done driving through New England to visit their daughter, they would head south to Florida to spend the rest of the holidays with one of Jasmine’s distant cousins. Distant enough for her to not personally know, but close enough for her to invite to her wedding. (He hadn’t come.)
It was strange opening presents and eating Christmas dinner on December 17th, however. But the Blisses were leaving in two days, and Jasmine and Ethan were due on a Gulfstream the same day. Oh, well, Jasmine was an excellent foster of the Christmas spirit, and had no problems pretending it was Christmas day when she woke up early on the 17th and raced downstairs to see her parents pretending to be Santa beneath the tree.
… It was the most clothing nudist Saul had worn in years. Who knew he made such a good Santa Claus?
The Blisses didn’t have a lot of money, but some of the presents they gave their daughter and son-in-law were much more sentimental than anything money could buy. They did, after all, live in a commune where they learned to be craftier than ever and learn the real power of a heartfelt gift. So while the Coles gave them expensive winter clothing to help them get through the blizzards, Luna Bliss presented her daughter with a handmade photo album of the wedding, complete with personal notes and excerpts from a mother’s journal. Jasmine started crying no fewer than five feet away from the tree.
“Next time,” Luna said from a couch in the den, “I might be able to make you an album featuring a very different subject.” She waggled her eyebrows and toasted her glass to Jasmine’s little bulge in her Christmas dress. “Something you’ve been meaning to tell me, honey?”
Obviously not, if I’m drinking wine with you. Jasmine sipped it in front of her mother, just to make sure Luna got the hint. “Don’t know what you’re talking about.” Great, though. Now Jasmine knew for sure that she had gained weight since Thanksgiving. A cold had kept her away from the gym, and the endless supply of sweet and savory foods between Thanksgiving and New Year’s meant her food baby was a bit bigger than usual. “I’m not pregnant.”
Jasmine had to nip this in the bud right now. “I’m on my period, Mom.” Food baby, bloat baby… whatever.
“You never know!”
“I think I do in this case.”
Luna sat back with a huff. “I thought you said that you two were going to try.”
“We did. Once. It didn’t take.”
“I see.” Luna’s sigh was a mixture of resignation and a mother’s deep understanding. “Tell that husband of yours that a vasectomy is reversible.”
“Mom,” Jasmine said, “it’s not that serious right now. We decided to give it a whirl on our wedding anniversary because it was romantic.” And because Jasmine wasn’t entirely opposed to a little chance in the baby-making department. Ethan’s vasectomy kinda took the fun out of a surprise baby. The only way they could have kids the old-fashioned way was if Ethan checked out some of his icy material from the bank and followed a pamphlet someone gave him. It wasn’t that romantic. Made even less romantic when Jasmine still got her period two weeks later. She and Ethan decided to save on trying again until they really wanted to. He only had so much material at the bank. “Besides,” she then continued, “we’ve talked a lot about adopting one day.”
“I know! And that sounds wonderful.” It would’ve been shocking if Luna and Saul were against their only daughter adopting. They sponsored kids all over the world and often said they wanted to foster if they didn’t live in their commune. “But there’s something deeply special about the experience, honey. I’ve often wished I could’ve experienced it more than once.”
“Maybe one day, Mom. We haven’t ruled it out.”
“It’s fine. You’re still in your twenties.” Barely, but that was neither here nor there. “And you’re still newlyweds, technically. Oh, but don’t you think Ethan would make such a nice father?”
Jasmine needed more wine. “I think about that a lot, honestly.” Jasmine sighed. “But I also know he worries about it more than I do. He didn’t have as good of a childhood as I did.”
“Not with that kind of man for a father.” The Blisses had only met Adam Cole once, and it had been enough for them. “Sometimes that’s the attitude you need, though. It ensures that you’ll do things differently. God knows the man has enough money for the best education and whatever activities your kids may want to do.”
“That’s true.” Jasmine didn’t tell her mother the rest: that Ethan often worried that he wouldn’t be able to relate to his kids because they had a completely different childhood from him. It was so easy for rich kids to become spoiled, and Ethan struggled enough as it was fitting in with his wealthy peers.
“Eventually we might be able to have a big, rambunctious Christmas,” Luna said. “But that will be some other Christmas, huh?”
“Yeah,” Jasmine agreed, “some other Christmas.”
She left her mother to watch a Hallmark movie on TV while she hunted down husband on the other side of the house. Ethan had retreated to his office to get some last minute work done, even though he always looked the sight in his jeans and T-shirt while he conducted billion-dollar business in an office that screamed just as much money.
Still, nothing compared to his high-rise office downtown.
“Hey,” Jasmine said. “Can I hide in here with you?”
“What did your parents do this time?” Ethan didn’t take his eyes off his computer.
“My mom thinks my weight gain is because I’m pregnant.”
“You’ve gained weight?”
“I’m glad you’ve latched onto that and not the other thing.”
Jasmine hopped up on her husband’s desk and played with the ties on her dress. Ethan continued to stare at his monitor while also holding his hand out for her to take.
“Maybe next Christmas.”
Jasmine’s eyes widened. “A baby next Christmas?”
“I meant maybe you won’t gain as much weight next Christmas.”
She smacked his hand away from her. “Your wit is gonna be the end of you, Mr. Cole.”
“No, the end of me will be your father walking around with his bathrobe open.
“Think, Ethan. That could be you around our children-in-law one day.”
“Well, when you put it that way…” He leaned back in his seat and finally graced her with his blue eyes. “Let me invest in a good robe right now.”
“You gonna walk around with it open for me? Because I know you’ve been in the gym more than I have lately.”
“New dress code at the office. What do you think? Adrienne will go nuts for it.”
“She better not.”
Ethan sighed. “You missed out on my nuts joke.”
“I can’t tell when you’re joking half the time!”
They got more terrible jokes out of their system before going back downstairs and joining the Blisses for dinner. There would be other Christmases one day, yes, but right now? Jasmine wanted to enjoy this Christmas and everything it offered, before life continued to change in both wondrous and agonizing ways.