"Hey," Blair greeted Jim as he walked in the loft's door. "I thought you'd be done with court sooner."
"I was, but I had to run a couple of errands," Jim answered, putting down two large bags and closing the door.
Blair looked up from his laptop. "Anything you want to share?"
Blair shut the lid and took off his glasses. "You've got my attention."
Jim took a breath. "You know I've been trying to find a tradition I can feel good starting…"
Blair nodded. "We tried handwritten Christmas cards. Oh, and speaking of that, how'd it go with you dad?"
"Pretty good. He said the secret is to start early enough. He addresses all the envelopes and writes most of each card throughout October, leaving some space to add last minute thoughts. After Thanksgiving, he finishes each one and mails them off."
"Wow, pretty efficient."
"Yeah and prevents writer's cramp. So, I might give that a go next year."
"I like that method myself. I'll have to thank him." Blair smiled. "Then we did the gingerbread house last week with Becky. That was a lot of fun."
"It was," Jim said. "But kids change so much, I'm not sure she's going to want to do that again next year, much less long enough to call it a tradition."
"So, I've been doing some research. December is chock-full of holidays that have all kinds of traditions. There's at least three or four things people celebrate somewhere in the world every single day of the year. For instance, did you know there's a National Cupcake Day? Or a National Sangria Day? Or an International Human Solidarity Day?" Blair shook his head at each question. "And those are just in December. But I found one that I've actually heard about, so I bought us these."
With that, he pulled two sweaters out of one of the bags. Two of the most god-awful sweaters Blair had ever seen. "Um, Jim, what are these?"
Jim grinned. "Candidates for the best ugly sweaters, since tomorrow is Ugly Christmas Sweater Day! Go ahead, babe, try it on. I hear there's a contest at the Main Library--It's a fund-raiser. You pay a fee to enter and it goes to the Friends of the Public Library."
Jim looked at Blair with such hopeful eyes, that Blair bit back the words he was planning to say and pulled the sweater over his head. "How do I look?" he asked, looking down at himself doubtfully.
Jim burst out laughing. "Ridiculous. But I love you for trying it on." He opened up the other bag. "I was just kidding about the contest. This is what I really wanted to show you." With that, he pulled out the most beautifully decorated Yule log Blair had ever seen.
"Jim, it's gorgeous. Where did you find it?"
"I made it," he said, with more than a hint of pride, as he set it on the table. "Wendy at Astara House helped me pick out everything and explained the symbolism of the decorations. She said it's better if you gather the materials yourself, during the year. I thought, maybe, we could find things when we go on our camping trips?" Blair smiled and nodded. "It's oak, for strength and wisdom."
"It's amazing, Jim. What made you decide to do this?"
"Well, you celebrate the Winter Solstice. I thought this would be a way that I could celebrate it with you. What do you think?"
Blair swallowed the lump in his throat. "I think you're wonderful for wanting to celebrate Solstice with me and I think this will be an awesome tradition. As we gather things for the next log, it will remind us to keep the spirit of Solstice in our lives throughout the year." He fingered the ivy, acorns, holly berries and other decorations, lightly touching the burlap ribbon, imagining how it felt and smelled to Jim. "Where are we going to burn it? In the fireplace?"
"We could, but tomorrow is supposed to be clear and mild. If the weather holds, we could do it on the beach. Build a big bonfire and throw this in at the proper time. Maybe bring some soup to keep us warm?"
"Mm-hmm, and maybe something stronger." Blair went to the desk and pulled out two small pieces of paper. "Here," he said, handing one to Jim. "Write a wish and tuck it between the decorations. When it burns the wish goes out to the universe." They both wrote, not needing to ask each other's wishes, pretty sure they knew what their partner was writing.
"Now," Blair said, "How about a shower, dinner and an early evening. If we're going to be up all night tomorrow, we'll need to get some rest."
"Rest?" Jim asked, with just a hint of disappointment.
Blair grinned. "Sheesh, Jim, I hope you know me better than that! We can rest when we're eighty. I'm taking you to bed to show you just how much I like your surprise, and I don't mean that obnoxious sweater. I hope you got a receipt, so we can return those things."
"Sorry, babe, they were bargain basement. But we could burn them tomorrow night."
Blair laughed. "Great idea, or give them to someone who's colorblind. Now let's get this show on the road." With that, he pulled Jim in for a quick kiss, which quickly turned into something more passionate. When they broke, Blair pushed Jim towards the bathroom and he went to the kitchen.
Deciding a stir-fry would be quick and easy, as well as light on the stomach, he prepared to start a pre-Solstice tradition that would not include ugly sweaters, or any clothes at all.