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Christmas Fiction Holiday

I have done everything I can think of to make the house look festive, including a centerpiece for the dining room table. However, the mood is somber when Laura asks, “Sara, please pass the gravy.”

Sara looks at her with contempt in her eyes. “You can reach it.”

Laura glares back at her. “We were raised to pass the food and not reach across the table.”

Sara nearly spills the gravy as she grabs the boat and shoves it toward David.

I certainly didn’t expect such animosity to spread across my Christmas table after I married Sara’s father a month ago.

***

George and I were happily married and our two children, Ben and Laura were happy until George was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Things went from bad to worse after his surgery, during his chemo treatments, and then as he slowly wasted away. It was terrible! I know the children suffered as much as I did. I lost my husband and best friend and they lost their father and best friend.

Laura was eleven, Ben was nine, when George died. Their lives have not been the same since then, even with their uncles trying to fill their father’s shoes. We all miss him very much.

The children seemed happy for me when I met Bill, they could see he made me happy. The mood in our house changed and we were beginning to laugh again. 

Bill has two children from a previous marriage. Sara is a year older than Laura and David is the same age as Ben. 

As our relationship progressed we decided to introduce our children to one another.

Whenever the children were together they seemed to get along so Bill and I were optimistic that we could all live together under the same roof. Laura and Ben seemed happy when I told them Bill had proposed to me and I had accepted. 

***

Here we are a “blended family” spending Christmas together in my house (because it's bigger than Bill’s house). 

Last night we had a sock supper, a tradition George brought into our family. I made sandwiches which I wrapped individually in foil and put in a sock. Then I added some potato chips, celery sticks, baby carrots, and a chocolate chip cookie (each wrapped in foil).

Everyone sat on the floor and ate from their socks. Although skeptical at first, Bill and his children seemed to enjoy the new tradition.

After we finished eating, Bill stood up. “Okay everyone, get in the car.”

“Where are we going?” Laura asked.

Bill had one arm in a sleeve of his coat. “It’s a surprise.”

There was a little grumbling about who got to sit where, but finally we all were in the car and ready to go.

Bill drove around town so we could see all the Christmas lights. George used to drive us around town on Christmas Eve, too.

The first problem arose last night when we got home from our drive. Sara and David wanted to open their presents. “We always open our presents Christmas Eve,” Sara pouted.

“We always open our presents Christmas morning,” Laura replied.

After the bantering quieted down, I said, “Why don’t you open half of your presents tonight and the other half tomorrow morning? 

Sara raced to the Christmas tree and started sorting through her presents. David was right behind her and into his pile of presents before Laura and Ben realized what was happening. I caught their eyes and nodded my head so they knew this was not the time to protest.

After the children opened their presents Bill sat down at the piano and started playing. George loved to play the piano and every Christmas Eve we would gathered around the piano and sing Christmas carols.

As I walked by Laura and Ben I signaled to them to join me. I watched Bill glance over at Sara and David before they got up and joined us, too. Soon the house was filled with Christmas music. 

Unfortunately Christmas morning arrives with more whining and complaining from Sara and David. They want to tear into their presents the moment they get up, but that’s not the way George and I did it with our children. I guess Bill and I should have discussed all our different traditions before today. George and I let the children open their stockings when they first got up; but then we would have breakfast, consisting of my homemade cinnamon rolls and freshly squeezed orange juice, before we gathered in the living room and took turns opening our gifts. 

After breakfast, Sara is the first one in the living room and starts to pass out the presents. I see Laura glaring at Sara but before she can open her mouth I walk by and quietly place a finger over my lips to signal her to be quiet. 

Bill and I sit together on the couch while Ben and Laura sit on the floor and watch Sara and David put a pile of presents in front of each of us. Then we all take turns opening and oohing and aahing over our gifts. 

After dinner and seeing the friction between Laura and Sara, I look at Laura. “Laura, please come help me with the dishes.” I’m sure she is wondering why I don’t ask Sara to help, but she quietly follows me into the kitchen. When we are alone I hand her a towel. “Laura, I have something to tell you.” I put a squirt of dish soap in the water before continuing. “Sara and David’s mother left them when Sara was only five years old. She told their father she didn’t want to be a mother and didn’t want to be a housewife anymore. Bill has been raising his children by himself, for the past nine years. It hasn’t been easy for him and he admits that he has spoiled them some, trying to compensate for the loss of their mother and the feelings they have of being abandoned.” I put another plate on the dish rack. “Please try to understand what David and Sara have been through and how much of an adjustment this is for them.” I turned toward Laura and gave her a hug. “Be kind to them, Laura.”

“I’m sorry, Mother.” 

I turned back to the dish water with tears in my eyes.

Bill walks into the kitchen as the last of the dish water goes down the drain. “How would you like to go for a drive?”

I look at Laura and wink. “We’d love to!” I smile as I walk over and give Bill a hug.

All six of us pile into Bill’s car. This time Bill heads out of town and down a gravel road. There’s a light dusting of snow on the countryside which fell last night, making it a white Christmas. I turn on the radio and find a station with Christmas music. Soon we are singing and harmonizing again. 

I smile as I think about our voices blending in harmony and pray we will also blend as a family.

November 26, 2020 23:51

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7 comments

Conrad Chia
00:32 Dec 04, 2020

I love the fact the story actually reflects reality with a lot of effort put into small details. Felt good knowing the eye gestures and lip quieting gesture helped diffuse unnecessary tensions. I have to learn those.

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Elizabeth Rogge
03:47 Dec 04, 2020

Thank you for your comments.

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02:21 Dec 03, 2020

Hi Elizabeth, Emmanuelle here from the critique circle! This was such a heartwarming story! Great use of the prompt. I was hooked right from the beginning. Wish I could see what happens to this blended family next, but I think you ended it wonderfully. Happy writing :)

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Elizabeth Rogge
03:08 Dec 03, 2020

Thank you for your compliment. I was ready to submit a story for this week, but just discovered the prompt was from last week :( What do I do with my 1013 word short story now?

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15:02 Dec 03, 2020

Oh no :( Hopefully there's a new prompt that arises where you can change that story a bit and still submit it!

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Elizabeth Rogge
16:36 Dec 03, 2020

👍

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Nancy Tuttle
16:05 Dec 01, 2020

Well written and nice ending.

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