Christmas Friendship

I stared at the door to my closet, anxiety eating its way into my throat as I gathered my courage to go face my new family.

β€œOakley!” My mother calls. β€œCome out of your room!”

I take a deep breath and emerge from my closet.

The crisp winter light seeps through my window as the sun sets. It's only four in the afternoon, but still, we are going to be completely dark by four-thirty.

I look down at what I am wearing, a nice red dress that Mom and I went shopping for. It’s a little bit dirty from my time in the closet, but that’s good.

I have been dreading this dinner all week. I don’t want to emerge from the safe haven of my room.

My step brother Mason barges into my room. β€œOak! It’s time for dinner. Come on!”

β€œMason, don’t just charge into my room! I could have been naked! You never know!”

β€œHaha, nice try, hermana. Don’t try to change the subject. Β‘Vamonos!”

Mason walks out of the room before checking to make sure I’m behind him. He probably makes it all the way to the living room before he notices I’m not there.

β€œOak!” He shouts.

β€œFine.” I say, and walk out of my bedroom.

Our house has been decorated for Christmas so much it looks like the North Pole, Santa, Mrs. Claus, and all the reindeer barfed all over our house. Our Christmas tree looks so weighed down it might fall over. It’s covered with not only all of my homemade ornaments that Mom has insisted on saving, but all of Mason’s, too.

Wreaths and garland are tacked to the walls in random spots. Stockings hang on the mantel, and an orange fire crackles in the fireplace. I just want to sit in front of the fireplace all night with a cup of cocoa, but alas, the task is harder for tonight.

I find myself staring at the fireplace, and Mason’s voice shakes me out of it. β€œHermana! Oak!”

β€œFine. I’m coming. I’m coming.”

I make my way to the table and see everyone is already seated. But there are no chairs left.

Mason sees the look on my face, then figures out what’s wrong.

β€œHere,” He says. β€œYou take my seat.” He races off to find another chair.

I sit uncomfortably. This is our first Christmas with the Rodriguezs. My mom married Mason’s dad last June. I still haven’t fully forgiven her for it. My biological father died in November of last year, and bam, she’s already remarried. I protested coming to this dinner, because on Christmas I usually work over at the soup kitchen, giving food to the less fortunate. But Mom insisted that I have dinner here this year, because it was important that I spend our first Christmas β€œas a family” with our new family.

Mason returns with a blue patio chair and I snort. He looks at me and says, β€œYou got a better idea, hermana?”

β€œNo, hermano.”

I have no problem acknowledging Mason as my brother, because even if we’re not biological, we are spiritual twins. We are the same age, same height, we have the same dark hair, same brown eyes, and even same wide thumbs.Β 

We all serve ourselves healthy helpings of mashed potatoes, ham, stuffing, green bean casserole, bacalao, and pozole. I am about to dig in when Travis, my step father, says, β€œLet us do our prayer.”

I am trying hard not to roll my eyes. I am an atheist, and Mom never makes us do prayer when Travis isn’t around. I don’t know what to do.Β Fake the prayer? Actually try to do it?

I glance at Mason for help, and he sends the message with his eyes. Just fake it.

So I clasp my hands in prayer and close my eyes. Travis says the prayer, and we all say amen.

I dig in, starting with the bacalao. Bacalao is a Mexican dish that consists of salted dried cod fish, bell peppers, tomato sauce, and garlic. I really like it, and Travis uses a recipe that was carried down in his family for generations.

I eat my ham and bean green casserole next. Then I try a new dish.

Pozole is a kind of stew made from hominy, pork, chile peppers, and all kinds of yummy seasonings. I take a bite, and it’s so good, I go, β€œMmmmmm.”

β€œIt’s good, huh?” Mason asks.

β€œYes. So good.” I reply.

β€œThat’s a traditional family recipe,” Travis says. β€œI’m glad you like it, Oakley.”

I nod, and then continue to stuff my face.Β 

Mason nudges my arm. β€œSlow down, hermana. You’ll choke.”

β€œIt’ll be worth it if I do!” I exclaim before shoving another spoonful of pozole.Β 

Eventually, all our plates are clear, and we sit and wait for all our food to digest a little bit before Travis brings out desert.

But oh, my. Dessert. Plates of flan. Concha. And of course, our family’s tradition.

Every Christmas, no matter what, Dad would pull out his slow cooker and pour eggnog in it, then spice it and add all sorts of different flavors. Luckily, he taught me how to do it before he passed. So I made it this year.

After the concha and flan are passed around, I serve everyone a warm mug of eggnog.

Mason testily put his lips to the brim of the cup and took a small sip.

β€œHermana! How could you keep this from us! This is the best drink I’ve ever tasted!”

β€œThanks, hermano. It’s a family recipe.”

β€œWow, Mason isn’t lying.” Travis says as he drinks. β€œThis is great, Oak!”

β€œThanks, Dad.” The word bears heavily on my chest. I never thought I’d say that word to anyone again, other than, I’m sorry, my dad can’t come to family night. He passed away recently. But as I say it to Travis, I feel in my heart that it's true. Travis is my father, if not biologically. He’s there for me. That’s what a father is.

My mom gasps, and a tear rolls down her cheek. Mason just smiles.

Travis walks over and gives me a hug, and I feel all the pain melt away under his happiness and warmth.

November 22, 2020 05:34

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Yay! Story 2! Hooray! Again, all these prompts were so hard! But it makes it a challenge to write to, and challenges are fun! (At least, most of them are...) Thanks for reading! -Carolina


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Felicity Anne
16:13 Nov 23, 2020

Hey there, Carolina! Thanks for the follow! I looked at your bio and I have also read The Book Theif! I actually just finished it two days ago. I cried my eyes out it was so saaaad!! I will be sure to give your stories a thorough review later today/tomorrow! Again, thanks for the follow! - Felicity


Of course! Thanks for following me back! I did not like the ending of the Book Thief. I also cried my eyes out. Ruuuuddddyyyyy!


Felicity Anne
16:43 Nov 23, 2020

Neither did I!! I know not Ruuuuudy!! How could he?? :)


Felicity Anne
17:26 Nov 23, 2020

*plotting the death of Markus Zusak from Wisconsin* lol


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K. Antonio
19:15 Nov 30, 2020

I liked a lot how the story began, you gave us such nice details and really made us imagine the environment, but those details kind of dissolved throughout the rest of the story. The way the story begins and the way it finishes to me has a different pace. The beginning is slow, informative, salty and the ending lacks detail, seems a bit stiff and overall very sweet (but very sudden). I personally think that their could have been more of a struggle, your main characters seems so snarky, a bit unforgiving, a bit twisted and unresolved ...


Thank you! I really appreciate it! I am new publishing short stories so I will consider this in my next stories! Thank you so much for leaving a comment! I'll be sure to check out your submission!


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