Rings Rings

Romantic Marriage Stories

Story 10
Christmas Warmth

by Bill Quinn

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Never a Christmas morn,
Never an old year ends,
But someone thinks of someone,
Old days, old times, old friends.

We had just celebrated Thanksgiving, and Christmas was looming ever closer. Today Laurie had hauled out all of our Christmas decorations, and I had come home with a Christmas tree. Tonight we planned to decorate it.

Laurie and I always put up a real tree, not one of those ubiquitous imitations on the market today. My parents always had a real tree when I was growing up, and Christmas would not be Christmas without one. I tend to be nostalgic, especially at this time of the year, and a real Christmas tree was a family tradition I definitely wanted to maintain.

After we had finished dinner and taken the dogs for a walk, it was time to start. Laurie was looking really cute tonight. She was dressed in black leggings and an adorable red sweater. The sweater was a baggy turtleneck with one of those over-sized, loose-fitting necks, and it had a gigantic white snowflake on the front. She had pushed the sleeves halfway up her forearms, and her short hair was quite windblown from walking the dogs. She had run her fingers through it, but that was all. Laurie no doubt would have thought she was quite unpresentable, but to quote a familiar phrase, I thought she was as pretty as a picture.

It had started snowing lightly earlier in the evening, and now it was coming down a bit harder. I thought of the familiar Christmas song:

Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!

Indeed, the fire was crackling softly in the fireplace, and the warmth of a wood fire filled the room. My first job was to set the tree in our tree stand and fill it with water. The Christmas-tree fragrance delightfully permeated the room and brought back many memories of childhood. I remembered that special kind of excitement that Christmas brought during those years. Odd, it seems so difficult to recapture it...

My mind, however, returned to the present as Laurie came into the living room with our stepping stool. The decoration ritual was about to begin.

The lights went on first, and that too was my job. Climbing up the step stool, I put Angie the Angel, at the top of the tree. Angie was another link to my childhood Christmases. She had been at the top of our trees as far back as I can remember. My parents had given her to Laurie and me for our first Christmas after we were married.

After Angie was in place, I began the painstaking process of attaching the lights in various places, around and around the tree, lower and lower, string after string. Depending on how full the tree is, we usually end up with about 200 lights. The key to putting lights on a Christmas tree is to run the wires in a way that makes them practically invisible to the casual glance. That takes some time and thought.

Once the lights were up, Laurie took over.

She stepped up on the stool and began hanging the ornaments. We use only the traditional, glass ornaments of various shapes, sizes, and colors. To reach the top of the tree, Laurie had to climb to the top wrung of the stool. I walked over to steady her by reaching up and holding her by her hips. Soon she stepped down a wrung, and her position was much less precarious. However, I really liked this part of my job, for obvious reasons, and kept holding her.

I studied how her leggings softly hugged her figure. Then I began moving my hands lightly over her hips and bottom and began gently squeezing those intoxicating curves. As I was beginning to enjoy this activity more and more, my mind momentarily flashed back to those old Charmin tissue commercials and Mr. Whimple. I smiled as a thought struck me: the analogy was really quite accurate. One squeezed the Charmin because it was "so squeezably soft." Need I draw the analogy any clearer?

However, the leggings revealed something else. It was a special thrill just to wrap my hands around those tantalizing panty lines that cradled her derriere from below. This whole delightful panorama was pretty much at my eye level and only a short distance away. I could feel the desire for more growing.

Laurie immediately realized that I was exceeding the requirements of guarding her safety. With that knowing little smile of hers, she turned her head and looked down at me.

I imagine some wives might have been annoyed at my antics while they were trying to decorate the tree, and perhaps they would have responded accordingly. But Laurie never did that. When a husband tries to be a little playful with his attractive wife, he can easily be hurt. Laurie seems to have a sixth sense that understands this and helps her respond in a way that boosts my self-esteem while at the same time accomplishes exactly what she wants.

"Are you trying to turn me on?" Laurie asked, her voice trailing upward with a hint of invitation. She continued to watch me with that knowledgeable expression on her face.

"Well," I stammered, "you just look so cute and sexy, I can't keep my hands off you!"

With that, I put my one arm around her back and the other under her knees and swept her off the stool. Laurie began to giggle as I carried her a few feet from the tree. She put her arm around my shoulder as I stood there holding her in my arms. Then somewhat to my surprise, she leaned her head forward and pulled mine toward hers. Our lips met, and we had a rather passionate kiss. But then she backed her head away, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.

When she opened her eyes, she said, "Now this is not going to work." Then, smiling sweetly and running her fingers through my hair, she added, "We keep this up, and I might have to drag you off to the bedroom right now. But we've got this tree to decorate. Besides, we don't even have the mistletoe up yet."

I could not think of anything clever to say, so Laurie continued in the same sweet tone: "I know I'm a little doll, but can you control your passions long enough to let me finish the tree?"

I smiled and let her feet drop to the ground, with my one arm still around her waist. "'Long enough'?" I asked. "You mean we can make mad, passionate love later tonight?"

Laurie reached up and touched my face as she back away. "Well, you just never know about these things..." She let her voice trail off provocatively.

Laurie returned to the tree and eventually finished the ornaments. The last phase, unfortunately for me, was rather time-consuming. Laurie is very meticulous in putting tinsel on the tree. She carefully places each thin, glittering, metallic strip in place so that both sides hang freely, reflecting the different colored lights at random angles for a sparkling effect. And she puts a lot of it on!

Eventually, however, Laurie finished. She stood back a few steps to look at the tree, and I moved to the other end of the room to do the same.

Laurie turned around and with a bright smile on her face and asked, "Do you like it?"

"'Another triumph, my dear,'" I said, quoting a line from our favorite movie version of Dickens' A Christmas Carol.

Then, incredible as it may seem, Laurie actually sprinted toward me and jumped into my arms, wrapping her arms and legs around me--just like you see sometimes in the movies. I caught her and held her close. She gave me one quick kiss.

"There's still no mistletoe," I pointed out.

"Who needs mistletoe?" she answered in a bubbly tone. Then she added, "Well, is there any passion still left? Or are we just going to stand here?"

With that, Laurie released her legs and resumed a standing position. She was still giggling a little as I took her hand and led her into our bedroom.

Yes, we both were in a very passionate mood indeed. The wait had an effect on both of us.

I have read somewhere that after making love, some husbands like to roll over, well on their own side of the bed, and go immediately to sleep. To me, that is missing out on something very tender and satisfying, and from what I've read, many wives agree. The "after-glow"--the affectionate snuggling--is important to both Laurie and me. Tonight as we crawled in under the covers, Laurie faced away but snuggled very close to me in a fetal position. I faced her, brought me knees up so that my legs pressed against hers, and put my arm on her shoulder. While gently caressing her, I took real pleasure just in touching her and holding her this close. Soon we fell asleep.

It seemed like the days just flew by. Soon it was Christmas Eve. Laurie and I had been invited to dinner at the home of some friends. It was not to be a formal affair, but we were going to wear our normal Sunday closes.

Watching Laurie dress is always exciting for me. Everyone realizes that in general men are visually stimulated, whereas for the most part women tend not to be--at least not in the same way. I am sure watching me dress does very little for Laurie. However, when I watch her dress, there just always is a certain intimacy, a certain sexual aura, that is present. It is simply inherent in the scene that unfolds before me--that sequence of stimulating images beginning with the donning of intimate apparel and climaxing in a fully-clothed and beautiful female. If this latent sexual atmosphere ever dies for a man, something in the marriage dies with it.

I do not mean to imply that sex is the only important aspect of marriage or that it is the only thing I ever think about. And I certainly do not mean to imply that sexual attraction is the only aspect of Laurie that draws me to her. She is the love of my life, and we are each other's best friends. In each other, we have everything that sustains us and fulfills us. But that notwithstanding, if a man can watch his wife dress or undress without some awareness of her sexuality and his desire for her, something has died.

Tonight I found those scenes now unfolding before me particularly exciting indeed, and I appreciated with renewed wonder what we share physically in our marriage.

The actual details often hold me spellbound. The process of a woman dressing is an elaborate one, and tonight was no exception. After taking a shower, Laurie put on a white bra and white panties. Now the accepted wisdom of the current culture is that black and red are the sexiest of colors. But there are always cycles that necessarily develop with regard to what is sexy. What was once very sexy by its daring departure from the norm must eventually become commonplace and lose some of its power as time goes on. Then what had been the older tradition can once again become intensely sexual. I now find myself thinking that pure, old-fashioned white is really the sexiest color of all.

Laurie had put on a feather-light, microfiber bra and panty set newly purchased from the OneHanesPlace catalog. The low-cut bra hugged and shaped each breast. The skin-tight, full-cut panties accentuated the way her narrow waist flowed into the exquisitely feminine curve of her hips and the gentle swell of her belly. The leg bands traced the curve of her bottom and then drew the eye inescapably toward that small triangle that culminates at the focal point of desire. The white color had a satiny sheen that simply radiated sexuality.

For a moment, Laurie truly had every fiber of my sexual being focused on her.

I always anticipate the next step in this process with much eagerness. What would she wear tonight? Thigh-high nylons? Pantyhose? Perhaps a garter belt with traditional nylons? The moment of revelation arrived: Laurie took a pair of sheer pantyhose from the dresser drawer and slipped into them.

There is really no disappointment on my part in any of those options. I love them all! With pantyhose, not only her legs, but her entire figure from waist down now glistened in smooth, sensuous nylon, tightly hugging and yet conforming to her every curve. Her panties were still clearly and tantalizingly visible through her sheer pantyhose.

As she walked to the closet for her skirt, I again gazed with thankful heart and stirred emotions at the vision before me.

The skirt she selected had a stunning contrast between an outer, eyelet fabric of black and an inner cotton lining. Both materials were soft and sensuous in their flow as she walked. The hem of the skirt stopped about an inch or two above her knees.

We were now at the final stage of the process--the point at which the last article of intimate apparel would disappear and a fully-clothed female would emerge. Laurie was standing there at the closet door looking over a selection of blouses. Above the waist, she still had on only her bra. I admired the curve of her breasts, accented and separated by the bra. On an impulse, I walked over to her and gently ran my fingers from her waist to the soft material of her bra, which had attracted my hand like a magnet, enjoying its silky, smooth feel on her back.

Again, there was latent sexuality in my caress, but it was now wrapped simply in tender affection. Laurie turned and inclined her head in my direction. She smiled and her eyes dropped to my lips. We exchanged a short, sweet kiss.

Of course, it does not take much to encourage the male mind.

"Hmmm, that was nice," I whispered. "Maybe you're in the mood for more?"

Laurie smiled sympathetically. "No, not now. I know I'm irresistible, but we don't have enough time before we've got to leave."

I shook my head, feigning despair. "I man's lot in life is difficult," I teased.

Laurie flashed one of her cute scowls. "Yeah, right!" she added with that special tone of disbelief. Then she turned back to the closet and pulled out a blouse.

The blouse she put on was white, had three-quarter length sleeves, front and back darts for shaping, and a shirttail hem. It hung several inches below her waist.

She turned to me when finished and asked, "How do I look?"

I have often wished I could find the words that would really express my emotions after an experience like this: watching her dress and then seeing the beautiful creature now standing before me. I try, but I never seem to capture the true depth of my emotions.

"Laurie, you look incredibly pretty, just stunning!"

I also thought of that romantic line Rocky had said to Adrian when for the first time she had been inspired to make herself pretty: "Oh, you're a real heart-breaker." But it was too late to get it out.

Laurie reached up and patted me on the face. "You really know how to make a girl feel great."

Well, maybe I did not do so badly after all.

There were several couples that had been invited for dinner with our friends that evening. Unknown to us before we arrived, the hosts had something very special planned for after dinner. They had printed off the words to a number of traditional Christmas Carols. Upon distributing them to us, they announced that we were all going to walk around the block and go caroling!

Caroling!

I had not done that since I had gone with a church group as a child. But it was really great fun. Laurie and I had gloves and sometimes wore them, but the weather was really not bitterly cold--a good thing, too, for all the women were wearing skirts or dresses. When we did not need the gloves, Laurie and I walked along holding hands, just like a couple of teenagers on a date.

Laurie and I still enjoy holding hands. I make an effort to be conscious of her little hand in mine, sometimes gently moving my fingers just to feel the sensation of touching her skin.

It is a curious thing about holding hands: it is usually the first physical contact with a new girl you are beginning to date. Before that first time, you are really nervous. You want to hold her hand, but you are not sure she wants you to do it. So the thrill is very intense the first time you touch her, and by holding hands, you both are saying that you feel some affection for each other. Now I do not claim that after a number of years of marriage holding hands brings the same intensity of excitement that it did the first couple of times you did it. However, if you make up your mind that you are going to enjoy this small yet significant display of physical affection--well, you do enjoy it!

All in all, the evening, and especially the caroling, was a truly memorable experience.

Laurie and I got home somewhat late and were a bit worn out from the caroling. I literally plopped down on the sofa. Laurie came over and sat down but instead of snuggling up next to me, she stretched out on the sofa with her head in my lap. I began to gently stoke her face.

The ride home had put me in a pensive mood. I looked over at our Christmas tree. The base was surrounded by that traditional white cottony material with glittering metallic flakes. On it we had placed our presents. They were very pretty in their brightly colored wrapping paper. I began thinking again about the Christmases of my childhood, and all of a sudden the house seemed very still, even empty, devoid of what I desperately wanted to see and feel. A wave of depression was beginning to roll over me.

"You know, Laurie, tonight was really a great, old fashioned Christmas Eve. But you know what I've noticed over the years?" I paused, thinking. "Every year as Christmas draws near, I really look forward to it. I enjoy putting up our decorations, I enjoy looking at decorations as we drive around, I enjoy Christmas shopping, all the hustle and bustle and seeing all the pretty Christmas decorations that the stores put up, and I enjoy hearing all the Christmas Carols on the radio. I just can't wait for Christmas to arrive. But then when it does, there is always some vague sense in which I'm disappointed. I remember the excitement of those Christmases when I was growing up: the tingling anticipation when I went to sleep on Christmas Eve and the thrill of getting up on Christmas morning and seeing the presents under the tree. Such great presents too. Over the years I got my Gilbert Erector Set, a chemistry set, and a microscope. But, of course, the real highlight was always electric trains."

I paused again. "You know, we used to call them 'electric trains,' not 'model trains' or 'model railroads' as they're called today. But then, too, today they're just for adults. Kids aren't given electric trains any more. When I was real young, we used to set the train up around the tree, and every year we would see elaborate layouts on display in the various department stores.

"But I can remember one year in particular--well, I don't remember the actual date, but I remember the event. HO trains were just beginning to take over the market from the old Lionel and American Flier trains. I really wanted an HO train. The tracks looked so much more realistic. I had great hopes for getting one that year. Now that was real excitement--when I got up and unwrapped this one present--there it was! My first HO train set.

"Then the next two or three Christmases, I remember getting more HO equipment, additional accessories that I needed to expand my setup: new engines, new cars, switches, trestle sets, stations, buildings--all kinds of things. You know there was something else, too, that just made the atmosphere of Christmas crackle with excitement. For the several weeks or so before Christmas, there would be a sudden explosion of 'for sale' ads in the papers for used HO equipment. I'd buy the Sun-Times and the Trib and literally pour over those ads every day. We used to call up the people who had placed the ads, travel all over Chicago to see what they had, and often buy some. I remember one time I ran across a special sale at this store--can't even remember now where it was--but they were selling boxes of snap track at half price, I think. We rushed over there and bought a lot of it! Both kinds: curved track and straight track.

"Somewhere around that time I noticed the words to 'Silver Bells:'"

City sidewalks, busy sidewalks,
Dressed in holiday style;
In the air there's a feelingof Christmas.

Children laughing,
People passing,
Meeting smile after smile;
And on ev'ry street corner you'll hear:

Silver bells, silver bells,
It's Christmas time in the city.
Ring-a-ling, hear them sing,
Soon it will be Christmas day.

Strings of street lights,
Even stop lights,
Blink a bright red and green,
As the shoppers rush home with their treasures...

"Somehow, this song seemed to captured my emotions, the excitement that surrounded Christmas. Yes, buying presents for my parents, running around to different homes for used HO equipment, getting new equipment under the tree, heading straight for the basement to add these new things to my layout--and then playing with the trains! Later on Christmas day, we'd all go to one of the relatives for a huge Christmas dinner, but I couldn't wait to get home again and play with my new toys some more. I think I spent most of my time at those parties thinking about what was waiting for me back home.

"The joy and the excitement of those Christmases is still very vivid in my memory. A lot of the details have slipped away, but the excitement--yes, I remember that vividly.

"So what about now? You and I decorate a tree, and we drive around looking at all the beautiful outdoor decorations others have put up. We give each other presents too. But what is strange--what I've noticed--is that no matter how hard I try, no matter how hard I wish, I can't seem to feel that old excitement. Christmas morning seems to be an anticlimax, a letdown, a disappointment. I just can't get those old feelings back. I can't feel them again."

Laurie had said nothing during this entire monologue. At some point I had stopped caressing her face, and she had taken my hand in hers. But now she let go of my hand and swung her legs around to sit up. She turned to face me and put her hand tenderly on my shoulder.

"Our Christmases are happy," she said, "our Christmases are exciting. But just in a different way. You're an adult now, Terry. I don't think an adult can really feel that same kind of excitement a child feels. And there's another factor involved: when I was growing up, I don't think I felt the same intensity of excitement that you did. You were an only-child; I wasn't. By design, your parents made Christmas revolve almost entirely around you. I'm not making a criticism, I'm just saying--well, how else could it be when your parents wanted to make Christmas very special for their only child?

"But those conditions don't exist anymore," Laurie continued. "I think maybe it's unrealistic to expect to have those same feelings now that you had back then. Yes, remember those feelings, treasure them, but also enjoy Christmas now in a new and different way."

I smiled at Laurie. The house seemed a little warmer, a little cozier, as I began running my fingers gently through her soft hair.

"And here's something else we need to remember," she added. "There's more to Christmas than children can really appreciate. We need to remember what it really signifies. It's not just the joy of giving and the excitement of receiving. Sure, that's part of it. But Christmas ultimately is a time to remember the Gift of the Savior that God gave us."

When Laurie said that, two of my favorite Christmas carols came to mind. We had just sung them earlier in the evening while caroling.

O little town of Bethlehem,
How still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep,
The silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark street shineth
The everlasting Light--
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

Silent night! Holy night!
All is calm, all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child:
Holy Infant, so tender and mild--
Sleep in heavenly peace,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

"Do you know the background to 'Silent Night'?" I suddenly asked Laurie. "It's Austrian, you know. The real title is 'Stille Nacht! Heilige Nacht!' My mother used to sing it to me in German. Well, in 1818 there was a church in a small village near Salzburg in the Austrian Alps. Its organ had broken down. About a week before Christmas, the pastor of the church, a priest named Father Mohr, attended a Nativity play nearby. On his way home he walked up a foothill overlooking his village. The night was still and clear. He had been so moved by the play that his mind began forming the lines of a poem that would eventually become one of the world's favorite Christmas Carols. When he reached home that night, he wrote the poem out on paper. The next day he took it to the church organist, another priest, and asked if he would set it to music, which he did.

"Well, Christmas Eve came around, and the organ was still not repaired. So during the service that night the two priests sang the new song to the accompaniment of a guitar. It happened that the organ mechanic was there. He was so moved by the song that he memorized the words and tune. When he got back to Salzburg, he gave it to two sisters who were well-known itinerant concert singers. They added the song to their repertoire, and that's how the song spread. If the organ in that small Austrian village had not broken down, we might never have heard of 'Silent Night.'"

"You never cease to amaze me!" Laurie said, suitably impressed.

But then, just as abruptly as she had sat up a few minutes earlier, Laurie again swung her legs up on the sofa and laid her head on my lap. I could tell by the somewhat impish look on her face that something cute was going to happen.

In a casual and relaxed move, Laurie raised one knee up to plant her foot squarely on the sofa but first crossed over the other leg before doing so. The result was simple physics--gravity, actually. Her skirt slowly slid up her leg over the smooth, almost frictionless pantyhose.

"I can understand how you look back and remember all those toys that got you so excited as a child," she said matter-of-factly. "But now you have me to play with."

How does she think of these things to say? And they always seem to be just what I need at the moment. Almost immediately, my mind began to refocus on...well, on the obvious subject stimulated by the heart-stopping view before me. Yes, my spirits began to soar.

I reached out and touched her exposed inner thigh, pulling my fingers lightly along her leg until I felt--and saw--her panties through the sheer hose. Then I gently cradled the side of her face in my hand as her eyes looked up to watch me.

"You're my best Christmas present ever, Laurie."

She smiled brightly, swung around again and stood up. She took my hand and led me over to where some mistletoe was hanging. Odd--I had not even noticed it. When did she put that up?

Under the mistletoe, she reached up and put her arms affectionately around me. Then while her loving eyes held mine, she whispered, "I love you."

We kissed, more with real tenderness than overt passion--but passion was not far beneath the surface. For a few moments I held her tight, the feel of her body against mine flooding me with joy.

I took her hand in mine, and we walked into the bedroom. I led her over to the bed and helped her lie down. Then, wrapping my hands softly around her face I said, "Merry Christmas, Laurie."

Then beginning at her ankle, I cupped my hands around her leg and ran them slowly and gently upward, pushing her skirt up as I went. The smooth, silky feel of her pantyhose sparked fire in my heart. I watched her skirt move higher and higher as my desire built exponentially.

"Let me help you off with these," I said, as Laurie smiled and looked deeply into me eyes.

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