Sohinki didn’t see what most Jews found repulsive about the Christmas holiday. While in his family groupchat, Sohinki’s brothers were going off about different ways to mass murder all people who celebrate the holiday, Sohinki was very content with watching Mari comfort Joven after he threw a monopoly game so his four year old nephew could win.
“Sohinki, love me. Since clearly my nephew doesn’t.” Joven threw himself across Sohinki’s lap, turning his head in towards Sohinki’s stomach. Joven’s nephew, Nikolai, was laughing maniacally with all of his not rightfully earned monopoly money.
“Leave Sohinki alone, he doesn’t want to cuddle with losers.” Mari giggled, laying across the arm of the sofa next to Sohinki. She reached down to run her hand threw Joven’s hair and Joven pretended to sob while Nikolai continued to laugh.
It could be entirely possible that Sohinki didn’t mind Christmas because he had two wonderful partners who not only celebrated the holiday, but took almost every other moment to make sure Sohinki was having just as much fun as they were. Nikolai ran over to Joven though, and the four year old whispered in his uncle’s ear something that made the grown man giggle.
“What are you three planning?” Sohinki asked, as Nikolai ran over to whisper the same thing to Mari before running so fast that Joven’s mother had to yell at him to slow down.
“Nothing.” Joven smirked.
Sohinki didn’t have time to question further though because a second later he could hear the four year old running back toward them yelling “Go, now!”
“Wh-” Sohinki’s reaction was cut off by both Mari and Joven pressing their lips against either side of Sohinki’s and then proceeding to pull away with big smiles on their faces. Nikolai pointed, and Sohinki looked up to see the boy sat on Mari’s lap holding a piece of what was definitely leftover spinach from Mrs. Ovenshire’s casserole (not mistletoe).
“Well lucky me, then.” Sohinki said, leaning down to kiss Joven before turning and doing the same to Mari. He didn’t get to enjoy it though, as Mrs. Ovenshire and Lauren (Joven’s sister) were calling Sohinki’s two partners over to help with rally the rest of the family for present time. Within probably less than a millisecond of mentioning the word ‘present’, the whole Ovenshire clan was gathered around the very colorfully decorated Christmas tree that when bare looked a little past it’s prime. Clearly every ornament ever gifted to the family was on that tree, even though Sohinki knew Joven’s sister had gone back after the family had put the ornaments up the night before and rearranged them to look more aesthetically pleasing.
On the front side there was an ever growing list of silver weighted letter ornaments for each member of the growing family. Towards the top were Mrs. and Mr. Ovenshire’s letters ( D for Darlene and C for Clark), and Joven and his siblings letters (J, L, and T for Joven’s brother Thomas). There were miscellaneous cousin’s letters that Sohinki couldn’t recall all the way down to Lauren’s children Nikolai and Aurelia. Other ornaments were ones the Ovenshire children probably made in school or church and one's dedicated to each children’s hobbies (Joven had a very cute controller with his name in white letters on it), but just as meaningful.
“Youngest first.” said Mr. Ovenshire, because even Sohinki knew that Joven’s family was always about traditions. The children opened their gifts from Santa first in order of age, and after all of Santa’s gifts had been opened, everyone opened one gift from one family member until the oldest person had opened a gift, and the cycle repeated. Aurelia, the two month old, was obviously the youngest so she opened her gift from Santa. The two month old had a pretty decent reaction to probably the noisiest toy Sohinki had ever seen in his life. And it didn’t stop there, the presents from Santa were either noisy, probably injury inducing, or unnecessary (or all three).
By the time Santa’s presents were over, three people had bruises, two had headaches, and a partridge in a pear as the song goes, Sohinki mumbled to himself. And then came the time for the big kid gifts. Sohinki couldn’t do much except watch because four Ovenshires (Joven, Lauren, Thomas, and their mother) were fighting over who would go last, and those four were only ones Sohinki was expecting gifts directed toward them at.
Surprisingly enough though, he and Mari had ended up with various gift cards from most of Joven’s cousins. There weren’t many of them there (considering Sohinki remembered that Mr. Ovenshire had a lot of siblings) but when a call about roads starting to close, Sohinki could tell Joven was upset about their reunion getting cut short. And as Joven was saying goodbye Sohinki wrapped his arms around him from behind, and placed a kiss on his cheek. Among the lesser liked relatives, Joven rattled off empty promises of lunch and calling and before they knew it there were far fewer Ovenshire’s in the house.
Both of Joven’s siblings and their families decided to stay, as well Joven’s aunt and her twins, Lia and Leo. Matching names like that was the worst thing to do to a child, in Sohinki’s opinion, but the two were favorites of Joven’s so he kept his opinion quiet. And despite the room being less crowded, Mari was still cuddled up into his side and Joven was still sat in between Sohinki’s feet on the floor. On the floor near Joven were the twins, Nikolai, Mr. Ovenshire and Thomas’ two daughters. Thomas and his wife, who is very much pregnant, were on the couch next to Lauren and her husband, who held baby Aurelia in his arms. Joven’s aunt was on the other end of the couch as Sohinki and Mari, and Mrs. Ovenshire was in the lounge chair.
“Grandma, may I hand my gifts out?” Nikolai said very carefully, as if he had been practising it all day.
“Of course.” The boy ran excitedly around the room with his first stop being his baby sister and his second stop being not his parents, but handing three gifts to Joven. The youtuber raised an eyebrow but the boy simple nodded behind Joven, and Joven smiled handed one to Mari and Sohinki. Sohinki looked over the careful wrapping that was definitely not done by a four year old while Nikolai handed out the rest of his gifts.
“You three at the same time.” Nikolai pointed at them and then, as commanded, they did. Sohinki picked carefully at the tape, knowing that Mrs. Ovenshire would refuse his attempts at cleaning up the scattered wrapping paper later in the night, to see a very fluffy YouTube button key chain in the heap of paper.
“Thank you, Nikolai.” Mari was the only one to say thank you really, Sohinki was just internally crying at how adorable Joven’s nephew was, and Joven was too busy boasting about how adorable his nephew was.
As they neared the end, Sohinki had quite a collection going, including his and Mari’s shared gift cards and their little keychains, he had a Steam gift certificate from Joven’s aunt and her kids, a watch from Thomas’s family and a very nice designer dark purple jacket from Lauren and her husband, and Joven (having also given Sohinki gifts all through Hanukkah earlier in the month) had bought him a new desk chair. Mari and Sohinki had went halfsies on their gifts for everyone, getting Mr. and Mrs. Ovenshire a kitchen set, Thomas and his family gift certificates to a trampoline place in town, and Lauren and her family a gift card for the largest board game shop in California (knowing it was Nikolai’s favorite place to shop).
“Look mom, I’ve got a shirt from Uncle Joshua’s Youtube.” Nikolai shouted, holding up the Smosh games t-shirt that Joven had purchased now that the four year old was big enough to fit in the smallest size they made. And while Sohinki was looking around to see what Joshua had given everyone, a large snort came from the direction of Lauren’s husband, Emmanuel was laughing his ass off.
“Do you like it?” Joven was giggling also, and the man turned to show the gift to everyone. Sohinki didn’t know this until after he left the Ovenshire’s but apparently the year after Emmanuel and Lauren got married, Emmanuel had jokingly gotten Joven a book called “How Not To Be Offensive When Trying To Learn Spanish”, as a joke. And when Emmanuel turned the book around it read “How to be Patient with People Trying to Learn Spanish”.
Most of the rest of Joven’s gifts were either inside family jokes or very sentimental, and when it finally came time for Mrs. Ovenshire (who had won the right to go last) to hand out her gift, all three of her children stood up to help her out. “Will you kids sit down, I’m not glass, you know?”
“Yes mom.” Came a chorus from the Ovenshire kids, and Sohinki almost laughed. She handed her youngest son three gifts as well but this time Joven had to check the names on the wrapping.
“Mari and Matthew last.” Mrs. Ovenshire said, and so that’s what happened. Nikolai insisted that Joven teach him how to play Minecraft, after getting it from his Grandma. Joven’s aunt got a photo cube, and the twins got headphones. Lauren got an old blanket, that had apparently gotten damaged in the fire that Joven told them happened when he was five, restitched. Thomas got an empty baby photo album that said “Grandma’s New Favorite” for his unborn child, and Joven hadn’t even opened his gift and there were already tears.
Sohinki leaned over Joven’s shoulder to look but all he could see was the frame of whatever it was. Joven set it down to hug his mother, tears already welling up in his eyes, and Sohinki reached down to take a look at what it was. An article from a paper called “Rutherford Raiders Report” that’s opening title read “Most Famous Rutherford Alumni” and Joven was there at number 1, with a little bio about Smosh Games and what not. Sohinki had known for a lot of years that Joven was sensitive and sentimental, and it didn’t take long to figure out the whole Ovenshire clan was the same way. He loved it, though, coming from a very independent and kind of emotionless family. Like Sohinki was pretty sure he’d never even seen his oldest brother cry in his whole life.
“Now you guys go.” Joven said, instead of sitting back down on the floor, he leaned on the arm by Matt, and hovered his two partner’s much smaller gifts. Sohinki and Mari unwrapped them at the same time, but Mari reacted first. “It’s an ornament.”
“You can put them on the tree next to Joshua’s.” Mr. Ovenshire was a man of few words and while Sohinki was sure that was the longest sentence the guy had spoken all day to them, he still couldn’t react probably. Should he cry? Joven would want him to cry, right? No, Joven doesn’t want him to do anything he doesn’t want to or feel like doing.
“Thank you very much.” Sohinki whispered while Mari hugged Joven’s mother. With the gift giving over, everyone started to interact with their gifts, so Joven pulled Sohinki aside, noticing his attitude.
“Do you not like it? I hoped it wasn’t too much, considering you don’t celebrate Christmas so there’s no real reason for you to have a Christmas ornament. You don’t have to keep it or put it up or anything, my mom won’t-” Sohinki cut him off with a kiss and before Sohinki could explain why or Joven could keep rambling, Nikolai called from behind them.
“Mommy says you’re not supposed to kiss at Christmas unless there’s mistletoe.” Nikolai chatisized.
Joven shrugged and Sohinki blushed. Joven pulled Sohinki a little closer, and had the tiniest of smiles stretched across his face. “So you like it?”
“Yes.” Sohinki replied, smiling as well, but then he looked concerned and Joven got worried. “Why, did people think I didn’t like it?”
“No.” Joven said, kissing his cheek before scratching the back of his neck. “Actually, you did look a little shell-shocked.”
“How should I tell your mother I really did like it? You know I was just surprised because the ornaments are the big Christmas thing you guys do, and it was just crazy to think that your mom got me one, cause you know I’m Jewish and all, and also not really your husband or anything.” Sohinki started to rub his pointer finger and thumb together on his right hand, anxiously.
“Matt, you’re fine.” Joven wrapped his arms around Sohinki’s waist calmly, pulling him the tiniest bit closer to the taller man, and rubbing small circles in Sohinki’s side through his shirt. “My mother adores you, and just wanted to make you feel included. And then Sohinki and Mari hung their ‘M’ and ‘S’ up next to the ‘J’ on the tree, while Joven had a comforting hand on each of their backs.
Later that night, when Joven and Mari found the little puzzle piece charms Sohinki had left for them underneath the mini tree in their home, Sohinki couldn't have imagined a better way to spend a holiday. And while Christmas still wasn't his thing, it made Mari and Joven very happy for him to be there for them. And as Christmas night slowly came to an end with him in bed next to those two, he thought to himself, yeah he didn’t really mind Christmas at all.