Anchors Aweigh – 6 A Rose for Christmas?

Anchors Aweigh – 6
A Rose for Christmas?

By Jessica C


Two sisters were soon there to greet me saying Mom and Dad had gone out to eat. Shannon had a warm smile as she said, “I see Roberta had a good time. Where did you go?”

I said, “Meredith Hutchins said I’m not Roberta, meaning a girl like Robert. We came up with the name Rose. What do you think of me being Rose when I’m in girl mode?”

Sierra pondered as she was looking back and forth at me and then Shannon and back to me. They both nodded their heads as Sierra broke the silence. “Rose Anderson, it is then. Dort for the Cheer team, Robert as yourself and Rose for family and friends when you’re in girl mode.


The remainder of the week was a welcomed rest as all I had to do was focus on studying and my exams. Most of the cheer team found time to exercise and practice a little along with a few of the others. But it was as time permitted and nothing demanding more of our attention.

My sister Shannon and I talked to our parents about me changing my name to Rose. My mother told me and reminded Shannon, “Your father and I actually had three girl names that we were going to choose from if you were a girl. The names we had dwindled the list down to where: Suzanne, Lynn, and Rose. Rose was the one Shannon and little Sierra liked. Sonja was too young to understand at that time.”

Mom told me, “We’ll take the weekend and maybe until it’s time to go back to school after the holidays before anything will be decided.”

With some feeling, I said, “I want my sisters and me to use Rose when we were alone.”

Dad abruptly said ‘No!’ Which tapped into my stubborn side and I insisted that I would do it anyway.

Mom and my sisters did ask for a few girls gifts suggestions from me. Sierra talked to me alone, once the school exams were through. “You know Robert, it is up to you. But you might want to think of this Christmas as Roberta’s. It will be your only chance, you’ll be back to being Robert next year. Dressing up for Christmas and going out can be a lot of fun for a girl.”

I joked back, “Yeah, how would it be different?”

She said, “You would get to go with us to the salon. You’d be able to get a pretty dress and accessories that aren’t counted as a present. Be it with your girlfriends or us your sisters, you’d have fun times going out.” I guess my face changed expressions, and my sister insisted, “There I can see those ideas amuse you.”

That night I went to my Mom when she was alone. “Mommy, did you send Sierra to talk to me about Christmas as Rose?”

“No, but she told me afterward and said you might be asking me what I thought.” She paused, “Does this mean you’re wondering if it would be okay to do it?”

I shook my head, shyly up and down and then bowed my head. She lifted my chin until I was looking at her. “This is refreshing, Roberta has her shy moments, doesn’t she? …If it is something you’d like to do; choose a day. Start then and plan to be Roberta all the way through when your Grandmother Nobil celebrates Christmas here on the 27th.”

I said, “I don’t know if I want to be Rose day after day.” Today was the fifteenth and I was thinking about starting as early as tomorrow but not doing it continuously.

Mom says, “You could start either Christmas Eve or Christmas day. That wouldn’t be too long.”

“But then, I’d miss out as Rose on all the times with the glimmer of lights and the festivity of the holidays. I want times of having fun with the others, especially the cheerleaders. I’m only going to do it once after all.”

Mom says, “You can start whenever, but you know I’d like if you’re my daughter for Grandmother Nobil. I’m only paying for one salon appointment, and I want it to include a pedicure. You know how she would enjoy seeing you at your best.”

I said, “Why a pedicure?”

Mommy said, “It’s one of the joys of being a woman, young or old. I expect afterward, you’ll be happy that I requested it.”

Then I said, “I’d like to start tomorrow but I’ll do it after church.”

It is then that Sonja poked in her head I was pretty sure someone was listening. “Do it to include church if you start tomorrow. I have a cute pink dress that would be cute for church tomorrow.”

Mom says, “You know, we believe whatever you do, you better be willing to do it before God. So starting tomorrow morning.” She says, “It will be fun to have our newest daughter for Christmas. But Robert, please know we love you for being you.”


I text Anne and Therese. I hear quickly from Anne and then back from Therese Jeters as well. Therese said, “I am glad to hear from you and I’m proud of you.”

I said, “If you’re willing, I’d like to go to church with you and light a candle to celebrate you’re willing to forgive me, come Christmas.”

Anne writes, “The younger Catholics don’t all get into the lighting of candles as you might think, but I’m sure Therese won’t be going over to your church after doing that.”

I said, “Therese, I’ll be more than happy to have our friendship back. It has taken me a while to understand better the extent I hurt you and our friendship. Just as importantly, what it means to hurt a friend. I guess I never thought of things like that.”

Therese texts back, “Would you be willing to go to midnight mass on Christmas Eve with me? I’m sure you’d look cute with a crocheted doily on your head.”

I wasn’t sure what a doily was or what it would look like. I knew whatever it was it would be worth it if it helped the healing of our friendship.

Sierra later told me, “If you’re going to their Midnight Christmas Mass; you’ll need to go to our earlier service. You will look extra precious wearing a doily,”

Sierra said, “If you’re giving some of your friends' gifts, as Roberta or Rose? You may want me to go shopping with you. Girls often get more personal gifts that guys often give. …I know you are better than some, but you might enjoy learning and give from a different perspective.”

The Sunday morning service we often go to begins at 9:30. So I was a little shocked when Sierra wakes me before 7:00 a.m. “What gives; why are you waking me this early?”

“Because I want you to be nice and alert when you get ready. Go take a shower and make sure you use our girl stuff. You don’t want to look like a girl but smell like a boy. Then we’ll eat and you can brush your teeth again. Then we’ll begin getting Rose ready for church.”

Because she of what she told me what to do, I better noticed the differences. By 8:30, I was bright eyed and could sense the difference as I was getting ready and looking in the mirror. That’s to say nothing the sweet fragrance of smelling like a girl. ‘I now kind of wonder, how many times I appeared as Dort or Rose while smelling like a Robert come to the end of a school day.’

‘I can remember many times I wondered why my sisters would come home from somewhere and take a quick shower to freshen up. Now, I’m proud of doing the same and wondering if I will appear different to others.’

The deep rose pink dress that was out for me, looks wonderful. It has a fall skirt and with the clincher, it gives me the start of a figure. Especially as I scooted into 2 ½” heels. I’m more comfortable going to church looking more convincing as a girl.

Mrs. Dunlavy stops us, as we approach the front doors of the church. She says, “Well, I don’t suspect any of us ever expected to see one of our young guys walking into the church looking like a nice young lady. But knowing all the progress you’ve made; I know I am mighty proud of the young woman you make. Congratulations on the progress you’ve made. Please know I am rooting for your turn-around.”

My Mom and I both say thanks. Sonja says, “Thanks, I think Roberta had mixed feelings how she’d be accepted here.”

Mrs. Dunlavy says, “Well, why don’t all of you sit with Trisha, Jason and myself. Trisha has become a fan of your cheering at their basketball games. She’s said you brought more fans to the game to watch you cheer as they play basketball. Since you haven’t fallen flat on your face or at pathetically in your uniform, more fans have discovered they like coming to their games.” My sisters and I look to our Mom, to see if we should sit with them.

We know sitting with the Dunlavys will help me some in being accepted by others in the church. Trisha even wanted Sonja and me to sit next to her. She said, “You know, we miss you not showing up in youth fellowship since all this happened. …I for one give you a lot of credit for showing up this morning as you have.”

Jason is sitting off with some other young people who have come to this worship service. This is the church’s contemporary service. It moves along, even the sermon is a dialogue that moves along. It’s between one of the shepherd’s, Pastor Groves and Mary a Hispanic girl representing being a girl from our high school. The message has to do with who is welcome to see the Christ Child.

There is an invitation to all the worshippers to come forward and to receive prayer and blessing saying, “Joy to the World, for unto you at the Nativity long ago the event was for the peace and goodwill for all people of all times.”

Trisha and a friend Travis made sure I knew I was included. Travis and Mary from the youth group both made it a point to say, “Pastor Groves is glad you came today dressed as Dort.”

Pastor Groves has long known I carry anger towards my parents and my being bullied. He asked me to come by and visit sometime during the week around 10:00 a.m. I didn’t commit myself one way or the other.


Once in the car and away from the church, Mom announces we’re going out to dinner and then going to a special shopping village all decorated for Christmas. Dad and my oldest sister Shannon were to meet us at the restaurant.

The good news is there’s a good chance we won’t see many people we know. The bad news is its cold at the village where we will be walking outside between many of the shops. Mom, my sisters, as well as I, are going to get cold with the cold wind blowing around our legs. The others are used to it but I’m not used to it at all.

The restaurant has a nice buffet, where I generally pig out. Sonja quickly reminds me, ‘You can afford to eat everything you want and not look like a blimp in your cheer outfit.’

Nancy a long time waitress there, remembers us and that our family has three daughters and one son. “Is this young woman a friend or relation?”

Sierra said with a giggle, “She’s related. With Roberta coming along Robert could be here.” Nancy took our drink orders and walked away not sure about asking more.

Mom was the one who broke the news first with Nancy. “I don’t know if you heard but the community we come from had trouble from some of the boys in the school and one of them has to dress as a girl and mascot. That punishment is keeping him from getting suspended from school.”

Nancy takes a series of looks at me and looked around. “Was that what you meant Sierra about Roberta and Rob not being able to be here at the same time? …Rob’s kind of lucky, though I doubt he feels fortunate. Looking this well as a teenage girl should cost him a lot less grief.”

She talks directly to me, “Are you learning anything other than being embarrassed. …It happened to one of my brothers when we were growing up. But he didn’t look this good; nor did he learn anything other than trying harder not to get caught. ”


It is the first time in person that Monna a friend of Grandma’s has seen me. She had seen me over the internet and a smartphone. Monna insists that I sing as one of the Anderson girls next Sunday at Grandma Nobil’s church. It is a small country church that my sisters traditionally have sung at some time during Advent.

The church had been dying and diminishing to numbers for two decades. Monna says, “Finally more people have moved out into the area and some have begun worshipping with us.” The attendance was up to thirty the last time we had been there. Grandma Nobil said, ‘There could be over sixty attending this week. And yes, we still want the Anderson girl’s to sing a special song during the service. You’re also invited to sing with our nine-member choir.’

Shannon said, “I’m glad to see you dressing up little bro’. We’ll need to find you along heavy red skirt for when we sing at Grandma’s church.”


Once we started shopping, I was rarely thinking about how I was dressed.

We did see the Danvers a young family we knew from our community. Cheryl and her mother are shopping with Cheryl’s seven-month-old Holly. Holly is bundled up nice and cozy. This will be Cheryl’s third Christmas being married but her first Christmas as a family. The little I could see with her all bundled up, she looked pretty much like she did when they first moved here.

Everyone took turns holding Holly. I didn’t ask but I ended holding Holly when the rest of them went with Cheryl to look at holiday dresses. They took over half an hour and I had to find a place to sit and give Holly her a bottle of her mother’s milk. Holly had burped and was trying to sleep when they finally came back.

“Oh thank you, Roberta. It is good to know that you’re such a good babysitter.” She had shown my sisters some pretty red skirts dresses that I now needed to see and try on.

One could tell Cheryl’s mother was not warm towards me like the others. She was uncomfortable with me as well as upset that Cheryl entrusted Holly to be with me.

Unfortunately, it had been quite obvious the so-called proud Grandmother was not willing to miss shopping to stay with her granddaughter.


Having parted from them, we continued to look around. We hadn’t forgotten about the red holiday skirts. It was just there were a few stores in between that supposedly we couldn’t miss.

In the past, I had as a little boy bought holiday jewelry for my mother. It was strange to now look at some clothes wondering how it might look on me as Rose. Sierra quietly approached me, “If you would like some, please let me know. What mom’s looking at isn’t necessarily a good choice for you.”

When we finally got to the holiday clothes that they were talking about; my sisters decided it was time for a change. Shannon said, “The long heavy skirts we have are outdated by more than a few years. We need a change. Roberta would you please try on this skirt and if you like it the rest of us plan to change as well.”

Mother says, “And who is going to pay for all of them?”

Shannon said emphatically, “You and Dad owe it to Robert and to all of us. Dad’s precious image in the community should pay for something. We’ve all gone through some grief without much of a thank you. Robert’s being bullied and now this situation went too far without you two speaking up as you should have!”

Mom was about to cry and she looked to her mother. Grandma Nobil remained silent. Mom looked to Shannon, “Why didn’t you say anything when it happened?”

Shannon said, “Mother, I was two states away. The decision was made before I knew anything about it.”

My Mom looked at me; I said, “What did you want me to say, other than what I did? I made a big mistake and hurt two friends. There was no way that I was saying more. Each day seemed to hold new surprises. After the first week I was stuck decided to make it work the best I could.”

“Getting nice holiday skirts isn’t quite where I would have drawn the line. But now, if I’m going to get a chance to sing with them; yes, this skirt and new ones for them as well. They’ll actually give us a better look suited for 2018.”

“Even if I only wear mine once, I want Grandma to be proud of this granddaughter.” I began to giggle as I hug my oldest sister. Mom apologized and asked my sisters to choose skirts that complimented mine.


The next morning I was asked by my Mother for us to visit privately. She first apologized, “I am sorry; I hadn’t realized. Where should we start? Should we stop everything and take all this to court to straighten it all out?”

I said, “Shannon and I visited after I went to bed last night. We’re afraid that if we do that after what I agreed to do this. Well, there is no assurance that a court would believe me now. It probably would be a good thing if I could get a good counselor. I need to work through a lot of things.”

“That might lead us to other steps to take. I have accepted what I’m doing for now. I somehow think I’m learning a lot from looking at things from a girl’s perspective. Like I told Shannon; seeing myself as a girl didn’t start recently. I was in first grade when I first wore some of my sisters’ clothes. It was in fifth grade that I stopped thinking I was a sissy. That liking to girl clothes as well as learning girl things was different from what I thought.”

Mom looked at me, “You feel like a girl right now don’t you?” It was a good hear she recognized that. I smiled at her as we then hugged.

“Mom, I do want to be Roberta during the Christmas break, but not all of the time.” I went to the door, “Shannon, could you please come in here for a moment?”

She came right away as we had agreed. “Mom, Shannon is going to help in learning to speak up for me. We think I’m going to need that. You’ve accepted some responsibility, but we’re not so sure about Dad’s willingness in making the needed changes.”

Mom said, “I talked to your father last night and I told him we need to be making some changes. We’ll need to see what he’s open to.”

Shannon spoke, “He’s the one who will need to see what we’re open too!”

It was different to be out to breakfast with mom, my sisters with me as one of the girls. I was eating thinking nothing of it, when Sierra asked, “Are you intentionally eating like Shannon?”

I told her, “I did when I was younger. I guess that was what I naturally found myself doing as Roberta and Dort. I hope it won’t offend anyone.”

“I suspect it might upset someone like Dane,” she said.

Once back to our suite, Sonja pulled me over to a table. She had three nail polishes that I was to choose from. I said, “I like this unusual red, but what kind of lip-gloss could I wear with it?” Sonja smiled, “Shannon said you’d choose that. The good news I bought the lipstick that matched it.”

I kind of leap up from my seat and remembered my skirt at the same time. “Wow!” said Sierra. “Her legs are already looking more like they belong to a cheerleader. Have any of the boys at school noticed how nice your legs are?”

I said, “Yes, every time I dressed as Dort I got teased for trying to look like a girl. I became agitated when Dane would do it. Any more stupid questions?”

Sierra said, “I wasn’t asking about teasing, but some boy honestly saying you had nice or cute legs? If it hasn’t happened yet. I won’t be surprised if it happens soon. Somebody may even ask you to a dance or to go on a date.”

I look at my legs as I sit there. The skirt is half way up my thigh. If I hadn’t known they were mine; I too would have sworn they were the legs of a girl in a pretty skirt. I am not wanting to become a girl, but tonight I’m comfortable with them belonging to me.

Sonja’s finished painting my nails. I decide to quietly wait for my nails to dry, as I am listening to my sisters talking. It seemed funny to me that many of the things I do as Roberta are a reflection of them...

To be continued…

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