There is no such thing as Santa Claus. I'm sorry to break it to you all but the presents under the tree every year are put their by your parents. Of course most of us knew that already, I learned it when I was 6 and a very mean spirited Jewish boy told the whole class the truth and my parents verified it. Still having just recently started believing in curses again, I thought maybe I could get some help from the North Pole for the Maltos family Christmas. No such luck.
Fortunately there wasn't a huge family gathering planned. After the debacle at Thanksgiving the Mother In Law was quite content to visit other relatives for Christmas and talk about me behind my back. Still, the holidays are stressful enough when youre planning them for people that you love but I had to do it for people I've known for a few months.
It helped that the real Gabrielle emailed me a list of what to get everyone, and that Dustin gave me a dedicated credit card to use for the Holidays with a pretty nice limit. Still, locating the stuff and dealing with the traffic and crowds to get it was still a pain. If I were smart I would have gotten it all online, but I didn't think that far ahead.
Lacey came along with me to help, just because its good for us to have time alone together where we don't have to pretend as much. She told me all she wanted was cash, since being a teenager robbed her of much of her financial independence. I told her we were getting stuff for the real Wesley to enjoy when he got back, so she might want to take up PSP.
Anyway, I got all the gifts and hid them in the secret closet that I don't think the kids know about until the 24th. That was when fueled by a late afternoon nap and a pot of coffee, me and Dustin stayed up until 2am wrapping presents. It was actually one of the better times I've had with him. Having an activity to focus on kept me from tensing up and let the conversation flow freely. I wasn't acting like someone pretending to be his wife, just the person who was helping him wrap presents. After everything was done we were so exhausted that after we collapsed in bed I didn't even bother moving his arm off of me, I figured why add drama to a nice evening.
I actually enjoyed Christmas morning, even though I was way to sleepy to want to wake up that early. Still, watching Isabella open her presents and shriek with joy whenever she opened a gift made me a happy knowing I got it for her, even though her real mother picked it out and her father paid for it. Lacey did a good job looking excited at the various teenage boy clothes, dvds, and video games that she got. I actually got to react in surprise to my gifts, since Dustin had bought them beforehand and hid them in a place even the real Gabrielle didn't know about. Still, the gifts were clearly for her and not for me. But I managed to smile at the Lifetime series DVDs, candles and bath salts, and clothes. Wow did I get a lot of clothes. I guess they're nice, they're from good labels. At some point I'm probably going to have to wear them.
After a low key family dinner that was centered around a ham (MUCH easier to cook than turkey) I went into Lacey's room with her and locked the door behind me. I pulled out a tiny box containing a pair of sapphire earrings and said "Merry Christmas, Lacey"
She put her hands on her mouth in shock and then laughed a little. "How do you think Dustin would react if I went downstairs wearing these?"
"Similar to how he's going to react if he saw them on the credit card bill, but I can hide that and I got a good deal. I just wanted to give you something, and not stuff for you body. Something from me to you, as boyfriend and girlfriend."
She hugged me tight and I kissed her on the forehead. Only a few more months to go and apparently that inn begins taking reservations really soon.