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Funny Teens & Young Adult Holiday

There I was. Suitcase in hand. The awkward middle child, again. 

The door opened. Mom's brown eyes greeted me. I had always imagined her warm eyes melting into my smile. 

I stepped inside and plopped down on the couch, waiting for Hannah and Symphony. Sometimes I wondered why our parents named us like that. 

"Where's Jarryd?" I asked.

"I sent him out for cranberry sauce."

"And Dad?"

A booming, jolly voice entered the room, "Hey, Marrie! How are you?" He hugged me, ponch to the side. I remember when I was a little kid and I would sit on his lap. Our breaths would match time, laboriously synchronizing. I could not help it. 

"Good, Dad."

"You don't mind sharing a room with your sisters, do you?" Mom asked.

I wouldn't say so, even if I did.

"Sure!" I quietly chirped. "I guess I will go throw my suitcase up there right now and then come back down."

Once I lugged my way there, I noticed a picture frame on Hannah's desk. Her and Jose had started dating about two months ago. It was a mixed surprise to our family. Some of us had seen it coming more than others. 

Hannah still lived at home, but it wasn't because she was not goal-oriented or any less responsible. That would be far from the truth. Her line of work was admirable. The only reason I wasn't at home was because I moved into a place with a college friend closer to school. 

It was still a bit of a shock that she was 21 and already had a guy. 

I heaved and released my suitcase on my old bed. 

"AAaHhh!!" I yelled. 

A blob wriggled and darted underneath the sheets. I fell backwards and watched a black and white, creature skitter out the door. Piece of patchwork!

Recovering from my shock, I quickly ran downstairs.

"You didn't tell me you got a cat!! And Jarryd is allergic!"

Mom laughed, lowering her drink of water. "I wanted to wait and let you notice." She hacked a couple of coughs, and I thumped her on the back. "Then see your reaction."

Mom was always doing this sort of thing: when the neighbors cut down their trees, when she had me bleach her hair blond, and when she put up new decorations. Usually to Dad, though. Waiting to see if we would notice something was like a rare source of fun for her. 

Just then, heavy footsteps tramped through the livingroom and into the kitchen.

"Hey," my brother memed, hands in his sweatshirt pockets.

"Hi! So the cat doesn't bother you?" 

"Nope." He walked over to a nearby cupboard, probably for a snack. Dad always joked that my brother's no. 1 charting song was "I'm hungry."

"Where are your sisters?" Mom inquired.

"Some Watchmacallit's Closet." 

Then he popped a chip in his mouth. 

Mom rolled her eyes in light frustration. She didn't like people being late to dinner. And thanksgiving is the most important holiday of all to her. 

But the door opened, and the girls came through, in time but laughing. Hannah's laugh was somewhere between a frog and a crow. I know, that sounds awful. She really has a great laugh, though. One of her old teachers joked he could tell we were related that way.

"I got the sparkling cider. Oh!" Hannah turned towards me. "Hi, Marrie!" She came over to give me a hug. Hannah had gotten a lot more affectionate in the past years, but I figured she had even more of that right now.

"Hey, Hannah." She squeezed me tightly. 

"Meoop!" She chirped. That is her signature greeting. I guess it came from when she particularly liked Woodstock.

"Hey, Symphony," I turned to hug my little sister. "You look cute."

Symphony always looked cute. Always smiling, cheeks flushed, light face and warm hair, a quiet angelic look, and a quirky sense of style to match. Don't get me wrong, though. She is the biggest extrovert in our family. No, I would be lying. She is an ambivert. My dad is definitely the extrovert. 

"You know what I have noticed, Mom?" I said. "I feel like Symphony is a bit taller," I mentioned it with slight regret. For the longest time, I had only been above her by half an inch. Dad always said she would be as tall as Aunt Analiese. I remember when I was young, overhearing Mom and Dad have a conversation with Symphony downstairs about how I would probably end up being short. Like it was some big deal. I hated that. But I loved Symphony with 99.9% of my soul. And we were both just stupid kids, then. 

And I here I was. A stupid kid in good company. Let's see how tonight goes...

---

At school, I was always a very different person: taking the pack, quiet but shining, getting my work done. Here at home...

I stepped back quietly. Dad shuffled his slippers past me to the head of the table, carrying the weight of a 20 pound turkey. I was bound to fall through the cracks. Caught right in between.

"Mmm..." Dad hummed. As if trying to bask in the sun. "My people... Let's pray."

I bowed my head reverently, then opened my eyes as soon as I had closed them. I did not believe in doing things simply out of tradition. Unless it was breaking wish bones or jokes between friends. And I did not want to be too fake. I guess that is one reason it makes me so mad when other people "try to help," or pressure me into doing things that I do because I want to, not because I am forced to. It is already hard enough to know yourself in this world, without someone making their mark on you--

"Amen."

We began to dish up and dig in. I looked up, and saw Mom's yam casserole. With crumb topping. It had secretly annoyed me when Grandma wanted marshmallows each thanksgiving. Another benefit to not having our usual gathering. Besides breaking tradition. No. Really, I just wanted to be alone with my closest family. To be close to them. I thought it would be special and a unique to have thanksgiving together, just us. Even though I knew the only reason we weren't having our usual crowd was because the snow was so bad this winter. Our extended family lived a ways out. Closer to farms and such. 

"So what's the cat's name?" I asked.

Mom laughed and pointed her for emphasis. "We haven't named her yet. "So we've just been calling her "you!"" 

I used to be obsessed with names. I still like them, I guess.

"Except for me," Jarryd stated. "I call her Turd."

"Jarryd!" Symphony elbowed. 

"Jarryd," Dad echoed, clicking in disapproval. 

"What??" My brother asked in a high-pitch. "You called her that, too."

"Let's just eat dinner."

"I know. Let's say what we are thankful for," Mom said.

"With our mouths full?" Hannah asked incredulously. 

"Okay, I'll start," Mom began. "I am thankful for my husband and my children, and that we can all be together. And I very glad you got here safe, Marrie. I was freaking out about it."

"I know," I interjected.

"Your turn, John."

Dad spoke. 

"Well, I am also thankful for my beautiful wife and for my children: Jarryd who is growing into quite a young man, Symphony who is always on the same page as me, Marrie who is one-of-a-kind, and Hannah, the general." Dad's voice tightened "And that she found a good young man!" He chuckled.

I looked Hannah's direction, expecting to see her roll her eyes. Instead, she just looked off past my left with the type of expression that says "okay, then" and duck-like lips, her pucker turning into a smile. 

She's in love, I thought. 

Without a jab, she took her turn freely. "Well, I am thankful that we got to be together. That I got some time off. For the new ambulance at the station. And I am thankful for my close friends, including Jose."

Symphony gave me a knowing look.

"What about you, Amara?" Dad asked. 

Not that much had changed around here, but I felt that in order to have get a cat, my family was charting a bit of a new trail. Maybe things were changing...

"I am thankful to have Thanksgiving with you all. Being away from home, living with Holly--it has all made me realize how much I miss and love you all. And I am thankful for new beginnings."

"New beginnings? Anything you have to tell us about?" Dad joked.

"Oh, I don't know. Can I name the cat?"

November 28, 2020 01:41

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21 comments

23:27 Dec 18, 2020

Hi! This was a fun read. If your intention was to capture the feel of a cozy family holiday, I think it was a definite success. There were a few typos, and grammatical errors (she was dating, not her). I also felt it needed a bit more story arc. I didn't understand the name and the phrase "piece of patchwork?" Enlighten me! :) Thanks for sharing your work!

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23:27 Dec 18, 2020

Oh PS- I totally imagined this story in Utah, because those are all such Utah names and spellings, haha! (And I say that with love! I lived in the state for six years. But their names are absurd.)

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Hope Reynolds
23:45 Dec 18, 2020

Hahaha, That is great. I love that feedback on the whole Utah thing. Never lived there, myself. Yeah, Hannah, Amara (Marrie), Symphony, and Jarryd -- Not exactly a theme going there. I guess that is what makes them unique. May I ask you to explain a little bit on the story arc thing? Would definitely fix the punctuation if the story was not already approved/the contest past. I had previously put it under a different prompt. Well, it is a little bit of a secret ;) People usually say "piece of w___" - because the cat is "colorful," it mak...

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00:15 Dec 19, 2020

I like that! Piece of patchwork. Haha! So, this is a nice scene, but I didn't feel like it had the elements to really be called a short story, yet. It needs all the things a story needs, a "problem," a build up, a resolution. This felt like it could be a chapter of a longer book, it didn't feel complete at the end because I wasn't sure what exactly the character was struggling with, or resolving, or changing...does that make sense?

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Hope Reynolds
03:21 Dec 19, 2020

Yeah, definitely. As I mentioned in other comments on this story, I know this story did not really have a complex plot and etc. Perhaps not one of my best works, but hopefully enjoyable for the aspects of getting to know a character, see inside her life, and funny/intriguing family dynamics. Definitely get you. There was not much development around the conflict's resolution and focus on the conflict presented. :) If you were the one writing it, what might have you done with the plot/conflict?

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04:28 Dec 19, 2020

Hmm...good question. After reading this, I really am not totally sure what Amara acts like at school and how it is different from how she acts at home. I know you mention it, but I would really go deep on that. I don't have a strong feel for Amara's personality at all, I would love more info on the family. How old is Jarryd? (I cannot get over that spelling!) And how old is Symphony? Are they both at school? How far away is Amara's college? Did she go far away to get space from the family? How i she different from Hannah, from Jarryd, from S...

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Katariina Ruuska
02:20 Dec 03, 2020

Hi, Hope! Your critique circle match here :) This was a really nice piece that reads very well. It's definitely a character-driven rather than a plot-driven story - which I like -, and I love how you've depicted the family dynamics. The only critique I have is to capitalize "Thanksgiving," but other than that, you did a wonderful job :)

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Hope Reynolds
05:49 Dec 03, 2020

Thanks, Katariina! Yes, I agree. I thought the exact same thing. It is not so much about plot and conflict resolution as much as knowing the person and their world. I am very glad you think so. Hopefully you found it enjoyable! Thanks for the feedback :)

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Anna Mosqueda
17:59 Dec 02, 2020

Aw! This is such a cute story! I've been waiting for you to put out a new one so I'm glad I checked your page:) Awesome job! ~Anna

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Hope Reynolds
18:16 Dec 02, 2020

Aw, thanks! I feel like it focused more on family dynamics and getting to know a character and their life versus a complex plot, conflict, and conclusion. Which can be interesting, too. :) Will be on the lookout for your stories, too.

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Anna Mosqueda
12:46 Dec 03, 2020

Yeah, you did a great job with that! It was interesting:) Alright, I'm working on one now for this week:)

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Hope Reynolds
19:26 Dec 03, 2020

Yay!! This week has awesome prompts, but I don't know if I would get one in this late. :(

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Anna Mosqueda
21:58 Dec 03, 2020

It does, no pressure though! I definitely see what you mean. When writing with a time limit, the week goes by fast!

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Hope Reynolds
21:59 Dec 03, 2020

Yeah :)

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07:03 Dec 17, 2020

Hope, I finally made it to your page! This was a very chill strory, there was no drama, no sad endings, It was just about a family celebrating thanksgiving together. Which is why I really liked it. The scene you created with your words and the way you described her thoughts really mixed in together to create an amazing story! Great job Hope!

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Hope Reynolds
19:17 Dec 17, 2020

Thank you very much, Ugochi!! I hoped it did not come out cheesy or such, as I know family-based stories can. Thanks for noticing those details ;) . Some of her thoughts were meshed together with concrete reality, so they worked out in multiple senses. May I ask if there was a particular scene/description that stood out to you most?

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21:28 Dec 17, 2020

Of course! No no it was perfect!! My favorite line or the one that stood up to me was this one ; "At school, I was always a very different person: taking the pack, quiet but shining, getting my work done. Here at home..." it just kind of described how I was at school at a certain time in my life, and it was just surprising seeing it in this story because I thought I was the only one who seems to do that! So it was just cool!

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Hope Reynolds
22:24 Dec 17, 2020

That is good to hear!! Yeah, does not necessarily equate popularity, but I can relate. When I go to school, I want to get my work done and do what I do well, especially in group projects. I can be or feel a bit more of a leader than I normally am.

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23:29 Dec 17, 2020

Oh normally I hate group projects and I do not like being the leader😂 but I feel like there are little parts that I do in projects that help me shine more? I don't know if that makes sense. But I do like to feel like a leader at times but I can't deal with the pressure sometimes

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Hope Reynolds
00:32 Dec 18, 2020

Yeah, that makes sense. I can understand why the story was relatable :)

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