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Traditions are a big part of the holiday season. We all have them, those little observances that we participate in each year, many of which bring fond memories of Christmases past. For some it’s all about the tree. Where its placed, the ornaments hung, what gets the top spot and when and who gets to place that one. For others it’s songs, the carols we all learned as children and continue to sing as adults, getting just as many of the words wrong as we did as a child.

Movies are a popular holiday tradition; Jimmy Stewart is part of many people’s Christmas every year. As times go by, I’m sure the old black and white holiday favorites are losing their appeal and being replaced by more contemporary tales. I don’t know which newer holiday movies are becoming the standard for Xmas observations these days, but I pull out “The Long Goodbye” every year for my holiday movie viewing tradition. Its a great Xmas movie, it has everything: Santa, snow, Xmas carols, car chases, explosions . . . and Gina Davis makes one of the baddest ass heroes Hollywood has ever seen. Tom Cruise would be so lucky. But then Gina’s balls are twice the size of Tom’s anyway.

It seemed appropriate for my blog to have a holiday traditional post, but I blew my wad back in July. Four years ago. No problemo. A bit of updating to remove the Xmas in July references, and I’m re-posting a Noom story today. I hope you enjoyed it before and will enjoy it again. And will enjoy it as much next year when I post it for the sixth time. (But for those of you who only drool over the pictures of hot guys anyway, I’m updating and adding new pix too. So enjoy.)

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One of the gay genes I missed out on was the shopping thing. I don’t care for show tunes either. So it’s a happy trade off. Wandering aimlessly through a mall is just not my idea of a good time. If there is something I need, I make a direct beeline for the most appropriate store, buy whatever it is I’m after, and get the hell out of Dodge. If I find a pair of pants or a shirt I like that fits well, I tend to buy a dozen or so in assorted colors. That avoids the need for future shopping excursions.

But the Xmas holiday shopping season is a bit different. I like the hustle and bustle of the crowds that time of the year. The air is crisp and everyone is rushing about to find the perfect present for their loved ones. It’s the perfect time for me to perfect my skills at the Asian cultural technique of sidewalk stopping. You know, where you come to an abrupt halt and just stand there blocking the sidewalk for no apparent reason. It’s most effective just inside a doorway or at the foot of an escalator. Knowing most Americans never make it to Asia and miss out on this experience, at Xmastime I give them a demonstration. My little holiday gift to my countrymen. When the grumbling turns to cussing or to cries of anguish, I move off on my annual shopping spree. I find the gifts I need, stock up on supplies, and discover the latest consumer trends. The stuff everyone else knew about in March.

During the rest of the year when I’m forced into a store I invariably find small items that I know Noom, my bar boy friend and current love of my life, would enjoy. Small stuff, $5 to $20 items. And I always end up buying them. Each trip I make to Thailand I have a handful of small gifts for him. Passing them on has become routine. I pile them up on the table of my hotel room and on our first night together he makes a quick perusal of his gifts, nods a few times, and then we get down to the important stuff: sex.

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Thais don’t get all gooey about gift getting. The other side of the coin, gift giving, is a foreign idea to them. When you give a gift to a Thai, unless they are familiar with western custom, they rarely say thanks and prefer unwrapping their present later in private. It’s that face thing. If your gift sucks, they don’t have to act like they are thrilled with it. So it’s more about your face than theirs.

When I hop into the shower, Noom takes more time to go through the stuff I’ve brought. He makes no comment, but clothing that’s a hit gets carefully hung, ready for wear the next day. If I picked out a dud, I’ll know: it gets a new spot at the bottom of the pile.

The first time I met Noom, after spending a few days together, on my last night in town he hauled me through the streets of Patpong on the hunt for a specific vendor. If he’d told me what he was looking for I could have led him to the right stall. But instead we missed that one and he settled for second best. We ended up at a booth selling incense, gift boxed with a few other smelly items. He bought two. One for me, one for my mom. An incredibly sweet gesture. And the first gift giving occasion in our relationship. So it’s his fault. He started it.

Since then, I always have given Noom a Christmas present. And a birthday present too – his ‘Thai’ birthday is December 4th. So he gets a two-fer when I get into town. Thais don’t really get the Xmas thing. Especially since it is so close to New Year’s. New Year’s they understand; they celebrate several each year. And the Chinese version involves gift getting, so you can understand their confusion when we pack the familiar, New Year’s, in with the unfamiliar, Xmas, all within the same week. Noom goes with what is more familiar to him and always has a New Year card for me. He spends time picking one out each year, and carefully signs it: Love Noom. That’s the only time of the year either of us uses the L word to each other. A great way to start the new year. Even if it is at Christmas.

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So Xmas was coming and I’d decided even though my annual year end trip means I don’t get into Bangkok until a few days after the event, I wanted to give Noom a Xmas stocking. I like doing Xmas stockings. Adults rarely get them. A tradition for me in the past, friends, family, roommates, and lovers have always enjoyed getting a stocking filled with goodies on Christmas morning. It brings the child out in them. So then later, they are easy to abuse.

If the Xmas thing is a foreign idea to Thais, the whole stocking part of the holiday is even more iffy. Just when they kinda got a grasp on the dead guy on a cross birthday thing, you throw in the big fat guy in red. No wonder they are confused about our traditions. And think we are strange. So a few months in advance, I started prepping Noom for the idea of a Xmas stocking. I asked him if he knew about the tradition. Of course he nodded in the affirmative; a Thai will never admit they don’t know something. But I’ve become adept at reading his nods. This was the ‘yes, I don’t know’ nod. So I spelled it out for him. He kept nodding – the ‘I understand what you are saying, but you don’t make a lot of sense’ nod – as I told him about Santa, his sleigh and reindeer, shimmying down the chimney, good stocking/bad stocking, nice gifts or coal. He patiently listened to my story, undoubtedly thinking I’d had a bit too much to drink. A fat farang sneaking into your house in the middle of the night to fill your socks with stuff . . . I got the ‘I love you but farangs are very weird’ nod.

Come Xmas that year, on our first night together Noom’s pile of goodies was a bit slimmer than usual; I’d hoarded the good stuff for his stocking. Before we slipped into bed for sleep – that’d be our second slipping into bed of the evening – I got out the empty Xmas stocking I’d brought. It had his name on it in gold glitter. He was curious, a bit confused, slightly remembered my telling him about the tradition, but liked seeing his name. Especially since it was in shiny gold caps. I explained the Santa thing to him again, and made him hang the stocking up. Noom has a thing about positioning. So he had to try a few spots out before settling on using a cupboard knob above the microwave oven. Not quite a chimney, but it was in the ballpark.

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The next morning. I snuck out of bed early and filled his stocking with all the stuff I’d brought. Lots of chocolates and holiday candy, a pair of sexy underwear, candles, hand lotions, and bath stuff cuz he likes smelly things, and useful but boring things like socks and batteries. And toys. Lots of toys. My version of a Xmas stocking is that you start with the biggest stocking you can find, and then cram it full of goodies. Overflow hangs precariously from the top and if necessary you can pile up more stuff below. Crass commercialism is what the Christmas holiday is all about.

Mission accomplished, and vowing to start a diet before the new year in fear that I was starting to look a bit too much like the guy in red, I quietly slipped back into bed. An hour or two later we officially woke up. Noom rolled over, pulling the sheet down to display what Santa had brought me. This is an act Noom performs regularly, stretching out and then laying there naked with his hard member exposed, the perfect start to any day. Of course his stiffy is not because he is glad to see me, but rather that he’s in need of a piss. So on this non-Christmas Christmas morning, he got up to stumble into the bathroom as usual, and then made quick work of his business having eyed his stocking brimming with gifts.

My gift was the huge smile on his face as he returned to bed, naked, hugging the stocking to his chest. It’s a clear, crisp mental picture that makes me smile every time I summons it. Which is often. That morning, I played dumb, “Oh? Santa was here?”

Not fooled, he emphatically replied, “Noooo. You.”

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I could have worked on the Santa angle a bit longer, but the sight of him as he hopped onto the bed, naked, legs crossed with the stocking resting in between left me dumb struck. Hard. And a bit giddy. I no longer have any other memory of Christmas mornings past.

He began pulling each item out of his stocking, making a careful inspection and then assigning it to one of a number of piles he’d started across the bed. (That positioning thing of his again.) What was not easily recognizable he’d hold out to me for an explanation. The chocolates, wrapped in colorful foil in Xmas and winter shapes, he’d identify before setting into the candy pile. That he knew ‘snowman’ surprised me. That I had to tell him ‘penguin’ did not, but then an arctic bird is a bit of a stretch even for Christmas. The smelly stuff got carefully sniffed, placed in their pile, and then often pulled back and sniffed again. After the third scented personal grooming item, the ‘smelly’ pile got subdivided: ‘loom’ smelly stuff in one, grooming scents in another. The gifts still in the stocking had to wait until the division was made.

He had to stop, get off the bed, and run one of the toy cars across the floor; the socks and batteries got the same degree of disinterest as they would’ve when I was a child. And I thanked the gods the underwear got placed into their proper pile instead of being tried on. I’d included several small items with an Om on them, a symbol Noom is particularly taken with. Those required careful alignment on the desk across the room. Watching his gorgeous ass make that trip each time reminding me to make sure I had more Om items in years to come. I’m not sure which of us enjoyed his stocking more. But the hit, his favorite, was a shaggy, blue stuffed animal, which he properly named, “Dawg” before crushing it to his chest. It was love at first sight.

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On that trip we went to Chiang Mai for a few days and Phuket for a week. He packed his dawg in his suitcase and it made the trip with us. Nightly, he’d cuddle it to his chest, cradling it under his chin as he drifted off to sleep, a smile infused with love on his face. Nightly, my heart would sigh at the cute sight of Noom and his dawg curled up together in bed, Noom naked, the dawg in its red Santa hat.

The next year, a few months before my year end trip, I asked Noom if he still had his stocking. I got an ‘yes, how fucking stupid do you think I am’ nod in reply, and then it slipped my mind. I brought a new one with me in December, just in case. But on our first night together he unpacked his original stocking, carefully unwrapping it from the tissue paper he’d stored it in. Noom is big on tradition. So I was a bit surprised that night when instead of the annual New Year card, I got a birthday card instead (mine’s at the end of December). A different holiday, a different celebration, a different card, but the same carefully inscribed, ‘Love Noom.’

A different hotel this time too, and another difficult decision in finding the perfect place to hang his stocking. When he woke the next morning, he pulled back the sheet, showing himself off as usual. But I noticed his eyes immediately went to where his stocking hung, once again overflowing with small gifts that’d bring me a huge amount of enjoyment. He was in no hurry, content to lay there next to me. But his eyes kept circling back. Thinking that maybe he needed an invitation, I nodded in the stocking’s direction. Instead of scurrying over to where it hung, mimicking my nod toward the stocking he said, “No. You.”

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Fetch? WTF? I looked at him, a bit higher up than I’d normally be staring at this time of our morning together. But then thought, what the hell. Delivering the stocking wasn’t going to be nearly as much fun as watching him retrieve it in the nude, but I needed to pee anyway. So I slipped out of bed , a twofold purpose to my trip. Finished with the more important task, I went to grab his stocking and came to an abrupt stop. Hanging next to it was a small stocking, baby-sized, with my name carefully glittered in gold. All four S’s, his preferred spelling. And from the other side of the room I heard, a bit smug and a lot satisfied, “Oh? Santa here?”

My stocking had two cards in it, carefully rolled to fit. A New Year card and a Christmas card. Both signed, Love Noom. There was a small, framed picture of the two of us together taken the year before in Chiang Mai. And a ring. Made of ivory (don’t go there).

I could have cried. I should have cried. But Noom came running, gave me a quick kiss, made an attempt at saying Merry Christmas, and grabbing his stocking headed back to bed, the sight of that gorgeous ass quickly bringing me back to my normal emotional state. In lust.

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I don’t wear jewelry, especially not rings. But I slipped his gift on my finger, or tried to find one it’d fit. Noom pulled it off, thumped my chest and proclaimed, “Good design.” I make jewelry for a living, necklaces and amulets of stone using silver I buy in Thailand. His ‘good design’ was him telling me that that was the purpose of the ring. My next trip, as soon as he saw me he checked to see if I was wearing it and what design I’d come up with. It met with his approval, and I got a ‘Good Job, Yup, that’s what I had in mind’ nod.

Traditions are a major part of our Christmas holiday celebrations, and I now have a new one. And so does Noom. There are a lot of cherished memories from Christmases of my youth, many more of Christmases I’ve spent with the family I’ve made of friends and lovers. But few of them measure up to the warm fuzzies I get remembering the holidays I’ve spent with Noom. Finally, Santa brought me what I really wanted for Christmas.