The story continues!
Ebony and Brian’s Gift to you!
Part One- The Meeting- December 23rd- Brian
Part Two- Christmas Eve- December 24th- Ebony
Part Three- Christmas Eve- December 24th- Brian
Part Four- Christmas Day- December 25th- Ebony
Christmas Day- December 25th
“Merry Christmas, Brian!” my sisters sang as I entered the kitchen.
The room was filled with the aromas of Christmas dinner and sound of my sisters singing Christmas carols off key.
Andrea and Lisa assisted my mother as she finished making dinner. Caroline sat at the kitchen table, bottle feeding her newborn son. Bridget danced around everyone doing absolutely nothing, as usual, except use the wooden spoon as a microphone. In the middle of it all was my fiancée and her mother. Mrs. Campbell sat at the kitchen table nursing a cup of coffee, bewildered and amused. Ebony seemed to enjoy every minute of it.
I walked among the group and kissed them each on the cheek. To my surprise, Ebony’s mother allowed me to give her one as well. After her standoffish greeting at the airport, we had yet to have a one-on-one conversation.
Maybe her husband’s talk with me the day before won her over. Either way, I would take whatever she wanted to give.
“It smells good in here,” I said. As tempting as it was to sneak a taste of the dishes lining the kitchen island, I knew better.
“Thank you,” my mother responded.
“Do you guys mind if I borrow Ebony for a moment?”
“No,” my sisters sang.
Ebony followed me out of the kitchen and into the dining room. My mother’s fine china, used only for special occasions, sat on the table along with other decorative items used for family gatherings.
The minute we were out of sight of my nosey family, I pulled her in my arms and kissed her. “Want to sneak back outside tonight?”
Her arms went around my neck as she laughed. “I don’t know. I had a hard time sleeping last night. It was a combination of wanting more and guilt.”
I chuckled. “Hey, you’re the one who started it. I’d rather think the wanting is what kept you up. Did you make the call?”
She nodded. “Yes, and everything has been worked out. Now we just have to make the announcement.” She inhaled deeply. “I’m not sure how they’re going to take it.”
“Neither am I, but it’s our decision.” I pulled back to so our eyes met. “You and me?”
She smiled. “Me and you.”
With dinner time nearing, everyone was either in the living room, kitchen, or my father’s man cave watching television. I snuck out on the back porch for a few minutes of silence. The last few days of being with my family was inspiring. My mind was in creative mode, toying with rhythms and notes to recreate the melody in my head.
Brian, can I talk to you for a minute?”
I turned to find Mrs. Campbell standing behind me
“Sure. It’s a bit chilly out here. Do you want to go inside?”
“No, here is fine.”
I waked over to the patio set and pulled out a chair for her.
“Thank you.” She sat down, tugging the edges of the shawl she wore around her shoulders a little tighter. “I can’t believe how much warmer it is here than it is back home. It’s still chilly, but at least you can walk outside without turning into a Popsicle. Weather like this will make you want to stay in California.”
“Yes, ma’am, it will. Are you enjoying your visit?”
Her attention turned to me. “Yes, I am. It’s been more than I expected.”
Not sure how to take the comment, I remained silent.
“Let me rephrase that,” she inclined her head. “You’re more than I expected.”
I thought back to conversations held with Ebony when we started dating. She told me her mother made a habit of pointing men who were ‘talk, dark, and handsome’ in her direction, playing matchmaker from afar. If anyone was thrown off by her decision to be with me, it was her mother.
“Brian, do you really love my daughter?”
I looked her in the eye. “Yes, ma’am, I do.”
“Then forgive me for asking this question, but I must. Ebony mentioned you were in a relationship with a black woman before. So I get it, this isn’t new for you, but it is for Ebony. She says she’s ready to tackle anything life throws at you, and I believe her. But I can’t help but wonder…what happened to the last woman?”
Momentarily caught off guard, I kept my mouth shut. My first instinct was to tell her it was none of her business. What happened with my previous girlfriend had nothing to do with my relationship with Ebony.
I sat back in my chair. “You think I’m trying to replace my ex with another black woman?”
Mrs. Campbell tilted her head as if studying my body language. “Are you?”
I sat forward in my chair, rested my elbows on the table, and linked my fingers. I kept my eyes trained on hers. “My feelings for Ebony have nothing to do with any woman from my past. The night we met, I wasn’t looking for any one. She caught my attention as a beautiful woman I wanted to know. Skin color, race…none of that stuff mattered. I fell in love with the woman she is. Period.
“Mrs. Campbell, I don’t take relationships lightly, nor do I play with anyone’s emotions. If you’re worried I’ll get tired of her and leave…believe me that will never happen. I’m in love with your daughter. I don’t know what else to say. And to be honest, my job is to make sure Ebony is satisfied with what we have. Outside opinions don’t matter. Not yours, your husband’s, and not my parents. I hope you can understand where I’m coming from. I mean no disrespect.”
Both of Mrs. Campbell’s eyebrows rose as she sat back in her seat, her lips pursed. A part of me wanted to apologize, but I hadn’t said anything to offend her. If anything, her question had offended me.
After years of watching my brother-in-law’s deal with my mother, I learned one thing; as the husband, there were times your foot had to be put down in order to gain the respect of your wife’s mother. Since I wasn’t the one Mrs. Campbell selected for her daughter, I had to make her see me for who I really am: the man who loves her daughter and the father of her future grandkids.
“I know my daughter, Brian; it takes a lot to win her heart, especially if she’s got her mind set on reaching a goal. She would have moved back home a long time ago if it weren’t for the job opportunities in front of her. Can you promise me that you will continue to make her happy and support her, not just financially, but emotionally?”
“Until the day I die.”
She nodded slowly. “Then there’s only one thing I can say,” she rose from her seat, walked over to where I sat, and opened her arms wide. “Welcome to the family. And you can call me Mom.”
“I am stuffed!” Ebony pushed back from the table, both hands on her belly.
I looked over at her plate; there was food left. “Are you going to eat that?” I pointed to the stuffing and cranberry sauce.
“Have at it.” She pushed her plate over and I devoured the remains. There was nothing like my mother’s homemade stuffing.
“Where on earth do you put all of that food? If I ate like you do, my hips would spread.”
I swallowed, then followed it up with the soda sitting in front of me. It was the only thing that had not received a re-fill since dinner was served. “I burn it off. And don’t worry, if it goes to your hips, I’ll help you get rid of the calories.” I winked; she laughed.
“It seems like everyone is nearly done. Are you ready?” she asked.
I held up a finger and ate the last of the dressing.
As I chewed, my gaze went around the table. Nearly everyone was here. My parents, her parents, my sisters and their husbands, and my grandparents, which was a blessing. All six of the grandkids were seated at the table in the kitchen.
I wiped my mouth on a napkin, then picked up my glass and tapped the side with my fork. “Excuse me everyone, can I have your attention?” I stood as everyone quieted down.
Ebony stood, too.
“First of all, I’d like to say thank you to the wonderful hands that prepared this evenings meal,” I rubbed my belly as everyone murmured their appreciation. “And to anyone who is unable to finish their plates, I have containers with my name on them in the kitchen. No doggie bags will be allowed to leave the premises.” Laughter erupted; I waited for it to die down.
When it did, I reached for Ebony’s hand and kissed it. “This year, we have had the pleasure of having new guest join us. Mr. and Mrs. Campbell, and my beautiful fiancée, Ebony.”
“Thank you for having us,” Mrs. Campbell said.
My parents raised their cups and saluted them.
“I appreciate you guys welcoming my soon-to-be in-laws into our family. I know every Christmas won’t be celebrated this way, but this was a great start to our future. I can’t tell you how much Ebony and I appreciate your continued support. With that said, we have an announcement.”
I turned to Ebony, but didn’t miss the anticipation on the faces of every woman in the room.
“For the past three days, Brian and I have received advice about love and marriage, even kids,” Ebony laughed; I chuckled. “Between our parents, that over sixty years of experience. We love you for it.”
Around us, my sisters and their spouses’ clapped in agreement.
“And with that said, we’ve decided on a date for the wedding. April 5th!”
More clapping and cheering.
“And…,” she gripped my hand for reassurance as the din called down, “we’ve decided on a location. Mom,” she looked at my mother, “and Mom,” she addressed her mother, holding her gaze. “We talked about the locations you suggested, but have decided to do this our way. Our wedding will be held at the Phillips Family Inn. They have several beautiful rooms that will be perfect for the ceremony and reception. There’s also a spacious garden that will be perfect for pictures. We chose this location because it is significant to us. We built memories there and want to add one more; our wedding day. We hope you guys understand and respect our decision.”
There was a moment of silence as our mothers looked at each other across the table.
“If this is what you want, Ebony, then I’m happy. I’ll buy our tickets for the flight out as soon as we get home,” her mother said.
“I agree. Whatever you need, let me know. I’m sure Anita and I can coordinate over the phone or Skype, or whatever! Isn’t that what technology is for?” my mom added.
Both of our mothers got up from the table to hug us.
“Dad’s, I could use some help footing the bill,” I said and received hearty laughs from both men.
My niece, Hannah, tugged on my arm. “Hey, Uncle Brian, can you play us a song?”
“That would be great!” Ebony said. “I’d love for my parents to hear you play.”
“Well, it is tradition for us to sit down after dinner and sing a few Christmas carols. Let me get my guitar.”
Before long, everyone was squeezed into the living room. The children were on the floor, while the adults sat in every available seat, including chairs brought out of the dining room.
I took my customary place in front of the fire place while Ebony sat with her parents. I played a few carols we loved to sing, laughing at the off key notes sang by my sisters, some of it done intentionally. All the while, the notes that had been playing around in my head since before dinner came to mind.
“I’ve got one last song to play. It’s my Christmas gift to all of you.” I announced. “It’s a bit different and there are no lyrics, because honestly, I just made this up. It was inspired by my crazy, loving, and sometimes annoying family. I wouldn’t trade you guys for a thing. And this is also for you, my new family.” Across the room, Ebony and her parents smiled.
I closed my eyes and let the notes flow from me to the strings, humming the melody as I remembered Christmases past and revisited the conversations had with my future family.
Most of all, I thought of the love I had for Ebony and the un-known future lying ahead of us.
When the song ended, the room was silent. I opened my eyes to see my mother wiping tears while my father smiled, full of pride. Ebony’s mother had a hand over her mouth, while beside her, her husband nodded in appreciation.
Ebony walked towards me. “Brian, that has to be the most beautiful song I’ve ever heard you play. Thank you.” She threw her arms around my neck and kissed me.
Around us, our family clapped.
“Merry Christmas, baby,” Ebony whispered.
“Merry Christmas, to you, too.”
Thank you for taking this journey with Ebony and Brian, I hope you enjoyed this brief peek back into their lives as much as I did writing it!
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