Brynn sat in the dining room of her small house with loads of fall-colored construction paper littering the length of the table with only a tiny space to do the crafts. Lilith, her friend's daughter, was supposed to be joining her soon while her mom went out on one of her monthly flings.
A few moments later the doorbell rang and she hurried to answer the door. Cressida was already driving off, leaving them to stand alone on the dark porch. “Come in,” she welcomed and led Lilith into the dining room.
“You’ve been busy,” Lilith laughed and sat across from Brynn.
“Tell me about it,” Brynn smiled at Lilith’s rare laugh. “So what do you want to do first? Pumpkins are fun!” Lilith nodded, grabbing a sheet of orange construction paper and waited for instructions.
“It’s really easy,” Brynn did the same. “Just fold it hamburger style and cut out slices like an orange then glue one side and connect them like this,” she demonstrated. “Then you’ll glue the brown pipe cleaner to the back and continue the second half of it and tada! You can also twist a green pipe cleaner for a leaf if you want.”
A few minor mess-ups later, Lilith held up her pumpkin proudly. “Like this?” Brynn nodded with a smile and used those few moments to observe her friend's daughter, who she thought of as a niece.
Lilith had long brown hair, the dining room light gleamed off of it like a mirror. Her blue eyes were sunken and shadowed with grief. Lilith’s father had died two months prior from a bombing in Afghanistan, and she still suffered from the loss with no surprise.
“Sunflower next?” They both grabbed yellow construction paper and cut leaf-like shapes out of them, folded them in half, and began gluing. They overlapped the flowers for a 3-D look and cut a circle out of a brown piece of paper for the middle and used a green pipe liner for the stem.
“Remember when you, mom, and I would make thanksgiving turkeys and write what we’re thankful for?” Lilith asked when they were done.
“Yes of course,” she replied warmly. It was good that Lilith was thinking of good memories.
“Can we do something like that?” Brynn thought for a moment while grabbing different color pipe cleaner and connecting them to make a circle.
“We can do that and make a wreath out of them. Ten hand-shaped turkeys should do the trick,” Brynn winked as they began working. Orange, brown, red, and yellow shaped hands made a pattern as they glued them to the pipe cleaners. Each with grateful notes, Lilith mostly wrote things about her dad while Brynn wrote about her family, friends, and books.
“There is this trick I learned from an old friend, it’s called fall streamers.” Brynn demonstrated by taking a brown piece of paper and cut it in half vertically before gluing the two ends together. Lilith chose different colored paper and did the same but before she glued them she began creasing the paper so it became bouncy and glued these to the brown cylinder paper.
“We need to be able to hang them,” Lilith grabbed some twine and glued the two ends to the top of the brown paper.
“Smart idea!” Brynn stood up and looked at Lilith’s already glowing form. Getting out of the house, always did people good. “Hot chocolate? Maybe some popcorn?” She sang.
“Yea!” Lilith grinned and followed Brynn into the kitchen where she began making the hot chocolate and put a bag of popcorn in the microwave. “Can we put some candies in the popcorn?”
“Only if I buy some peppermint for the hot chocolate,” Brynn laughed.
“Yay!” Lilith bounced up and down, her hair bouncing along with her. “Can we go now?”
“It’s not safe to leave the stove on while we go out silly, we will go in a few minutes.” Brynn reprimanded kindly.
Five minutes later the hot Chocolate was made and poured into a thermos to keep it hot, and the popcorn was in a bowl covered by a paper towel.
“We’re going on a trip in our favorite rocket ship,” Lilith quietly sang as she skipped down the street alongside Brynn. Dollar general was only down the road, the neighbors' houses were decorated with Halloween stuff and even the store was all decked out. A jack o lantern blow up sang in the front, its eyes and mouth glowed with yellow led lights.
“So cool,” Lilith said in awe before her attention turned fully onto finding the candy aisle within the store. Before Brynn could reach the aisle itself, the ten-year-old girl ran up to her with a bag of peppermints, m&m’s, and Reese pieces.
“Good selection,” Brynn ruffled her hair before checking out and making their way back to the small brick house that was Brynn’s home. Her porch had pumpkins, fake spider webs, and fall leaves all over the place. It wasn’t the most organized out of all of her neighbors by a long shot, but she made do with it.
Twenty minutes later they had watched an episode of Julie and the Phantoms and finished their snack. “What next?” Lilith asked excitedly.
“Do you know how to make a garland?” Brynn began skipping at the white construction paper as she waited for Lilith’s answer.
“Yea!” She grabbed the black construction paper and followed Brynn’s lead. They made ghosts, cats, spiders, and bat garlands before starting on the next project, cards for their family. Lilith made a 3-d spooky tree card for her mom while Brynn made simple cards for her parents and siblings.
“Wow that looks amazing,” Brynn awed over Lilith’s creation. “Where did you learn to do that?”
“Dad showed me last October. We did a bunch of stuff like going to the pumpkin patch and...” Lilith rambled. Surprisingly she didn’t get sad over the fond memories with her dad.
An hour later Cressida strode into the dining room, without so much as a knock.
“Mom!” Lilith squealed and ran to throw her arms around Cressida’s waist. “Look at everything we made! Oh, and I made you a card!” Brynn’s and Cressida’s eyes met with love and gratitude. The holidays were great for the soul.