Jim opened the door to the loft and was hit with the strong, but not unpleasant, smell of oranges. He looked around; the dining table was covered with oranges in various stages of decoration. Some had candles stuck in their tops. Some had small red paper ruffs around the candles. Still others had a candle and ruff, plus small cocktail skewers stuck around the candles with small colored marshmallows, gum drops and raisins on the ends of the skewers. It was the most unusual display Jim could remember seeing in their home.
Jim heard voices in the office that used to be Blair's room. "Blair, I'm home," Jim called out.
Blair came out with a young man Jim hadn't met before. "Hey, Jim," Blair said brightly. "You're home early. Must've been a good day." He went up to Jim and gave him a light kiss.
"Yeah, the criminals took the day off--at least the major ones," Jim joked. "I even ran out of paperwork to do." He smiled and held out his hand to the stranger. "Hi, I'm Jim."
"William Pensom," the man answered, with a pronounced British accent, as he shook Jim's hand. "Blair speaks highly of you."
Jim gave William a charming smile. "All of it totally deserved." Jim cocked a thumb at the table. "So, Chief, what's with the fruit?"
Blair grinned. "I'm helping William make Christingles."
"Dare I ask…" Jim led, knowing there was an interesting story behind it.
"It's been a tradition in the Moravian Church for years, sometimes used for Epiphany, but mostly for Christmas and Advent.
"William's cousin, John Pensom, started using them in the UK in order to raise money for the Children's Society in 1968. It's become really popular there and, more recently, here with ex-pats like William."
Jim noticed with amusement William's face turned pink at Blair's gushing. He's so young, Jim thought.
"We're making these for Cascade's Anglican Church fundraiser," Blair concluded. Aren't they cool?"
Jim couldn't help but smile fondly, always amazed at Blair's unwavering enthusiasm. "Very cool. They smell delicious. Oranges always remind me of Christmastime, since it was one of the few fruits around during this time of year when I was a kid."
He sighed, remembering another tradition from his childhood. "Of course, it's not as good as having a chocolate Advent calendar…"
Blair walked up to him, his arms behind his back. He pulled one arm in front of him. "You mean like this?"
Jim's eyes widened. Blair was holding out a Godiva Advent Calendar. He took it gently and smelled the divine fragrance of his favorite brand of chocolate. "Yeah, babe, just like that." He gave Blair a smoldering kiss, eliciting another blush from William. "Let the holiday season begin."