18 comments

Fiction Funny Holiday

In the year of COVID-19, what is there to be thankful for?ย The young college student alone in his temporary โ€œisolation dormโ€ gloomily pondered that question. It was Thanksgiving, and Mark Hamels was in quarantine after testing positive with a mild case of COVID-19.ย Quarantine sucks,ย he thought.ย 

The original plan had been for him to make the four-and-a-half-hour drive from the University of Washington in Seattle to Spokane, where his family lived, and spend a couple of days with them. That plan had been derailed when he came down with cold symptoms the week before and then got the call he was positive with the China-originated Coronavirus.

In September, Mark had returned to UW (Go Huskies!) to begin his final year of college before graduating with a bachelorโ€™s degree in communications. Once he graduated, he was hoping to go into the field of broadcast journalism. At the moment, however, his future career was the last thing on his mind. For the first time in his life, he was alone for Thanksgiving.ย 

For Mark, Thanksgiving had always been a family holiday and one of the highlights of the year. Usually, they traveled to their grandparentโ€™s house in Southern California and spent the day watching football, playing touch in the street, and eating a magnificent turkey dinner around a large table filled with cousins, uncles, aunts, and a few randoms that tagged along with a family member. This year, there would be no such dinner.

How long do I microwave this thing?ย Mark thought as he tore open the box to his dinner: a Stoufferโ€™s frozen roast turkey meal. He popped the tray in the microwave and pushed โ€œstartโ€ just as his iPhone rang. In lieu of seeing each other for the holiday, the Hamels had decided to eat Thanksgiving dinner over FaceTime.ย 

โ€œHey, mom and dad,โ€ Mark said when he had answered the call.

โ€œHey, Mark, happy Thanksgiving!โ€ His mom said. Her greeting was echoed by Markโ€™s father and his two sisters in the background.ย 

โ€œHappy Thanksgiving, guys.โ€

โ€œHow is it over there?โ€ She asked.

โ€œDefinitely not the same,โ€ he said, then laughed. โ€œI canโ€™t believe Iโ€™m eating a Stoufferโ€™s on Thanksgiving.โ€

One of his sisters laughed in the background. โ€œThatโ€™s so sad, Mark.โ€

After a few more minutes of chit-chat, they all sat down to eat dinner. Mark grabbed a Pepsi to drink and a few of his textbooks to prop up his phone. The local Christmas station was quietly piping in holiday jingles.ย This isโ€ฆdifferent,ย he thought.

As they ate, they talked about school, the pandemic, and the election that had happened earlier that month. The delay caused by the video call made conversation challenging at times, and the call dropped once due to bad WiFi, but they got through it; and about halfway through dinner, Markโ€™s dad asked them the question that had been asked around their Thanksgiving table every year for as long as any of them could remember: โ€œname one thing youโ€™re grateful for this year, that you werenโ€™t grateful for last year.โ€

Patricia, the oldest of the two sisters, started: โ€œNoice-cancelling headphones. Iโ€™ve certainly needed them this year.โ€ They all laughed again.ย 

As his family talked two-hundred miles away, Markโ€™s mind began to drift to one of his fondest Thanksgiving memories. He was five, and the table had been crowded as usual.

โ€œIโ€™m thankful for my Audible subscription,โ€ Kate, the youngest of the three kids, said. โ€œSometimes, you just really need a good audiobook to get your mind off the things around you.โ€

That year, his grandma had accidentally used sugar instead of salt in the mashed potatoes, and no one would touch them.ย 

โ€œI am so very grateful for you all,โ€ Markโ€™s mom said.ย 

Instantly, the daughters protested: โ€œyou said that last year.โ€

When five-year-old Mark tried the sugar-mashed potatoes, he nearly gagged. โ€œThese are disgusting!โ€ He had shouted out, much to the dismay of his parents. But that was just the beginningโ€ฆ

โ€œI am thankful for FaceTime. Without it, we wouldnโ€™t be able to talk to Mark,โ€ Markโ€™s dad said. The family looked into the camera. โ€œItโ€™s your turn, Mark.โ€

Instead of answering right away, Mark said, โ€œremember the Thanksgiving when I was five?โ€

โ€œThe sugar-mashed potatoes,โ€ Patricia answered instantly.ย 

The whole table laughed as Markโ€™s mom shook her head, โ€œDonโ€™t remind me.โ€

โ€œYeah, and remember what happened after I called them โ€˜disgustingโ€™?โ€ย 

They all continued laughing at the memory. Mark, the stupid five-year-old kid he was, flung a spoonful of mashed potatoes at his grandmother, who responded in kind. Of course, the uncles jumped in, and within seconds Thanksgiving dinner had turned into a war zone.ย 

Sitting alone in his dorm, Mark picked up a spoonful of his Stoufferโ€™s mashed potatoes, took aim, and flung it directly at the front-facing camera of his iPhone. โ€œFood fight!โ€ He yelled.

Then he stopped.ย Did I just fling mashed potatoes at my iPhone?ย 

But his family took the bait. He watched and laughed as his family tossed turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, and dinner rolls at each other over the dining room table. Mark then took the rest of his Stoufferโ€™s and dumped it on his iPhone. โ€œTake that!โ€ He said with mock anger.

In response, the rest of his family turned their artillery on their iPad, covering it with a volley of Thanksgiving food.

The whole family was bent over, crying and laughing at what they had just done. โ€œDid we just have a food fight over FaceTime?โ€ Kate asked through laughter. โ€œI think we can safely say that this was the first time that has ever happened.โ€

Even if they couldnโ€™t be physically together, they could still be together in spirit. They were a family, and no virus, government, or politician could ever take that away from them.ย 

โ€œSo Mark, you never said what you were thankful for,โ€ Markโ€™s mom said, laughing and beginning to clean up the colossal mess they had just created.

โ€œIโ€™m thankful for waterproof phone cases.โ€ย And family,ย Mark thought, them too.

November 27, 2020 21:25

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.

18 comments

Hello! Since I LOVED the last story, I was so happy you made another one! I really enjoyed this story too! I can't pick which one I liked better! Such a great job! (Plus, I loved this one so much I liked all your other stories!!) Again, have a great weekend! :)

Reply

Thanks so much for your kind words! Iโ€™ll be sure to check out a few of your stories.

Reply

Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Splinter Magus
23:32 Nov 29, 2020

This one took me a bit. I'm gonna be honest here, the first half of this story didn't hook me at all. I couldn't quite find the conflict, and I didn't know what to expect. I'm a big believer in the power of the three Ps (promise, progress, and payoff), and that first half didn't have a promise at all. So, as a reader, I lost interest and stopped reading. But as a fellow writer, I was going to leave a comment giving you this feedback. And that's when I found Jim's comment, and he described what was my sentiment exactly. But Jim also said the ...

Reply

Thanks for the comment. Itโ€™s so much easier writing an opening in the thriller genre where you can open up the story with a gun firing, explosion, etc. For future stories more in this vain, Iโ€™ll have to really work on the beginning. Thanks!

Reply

Splinter Magus
01:04 Nov 30, 2020

Yeah, the prompts of this week were really tough. I didn't write a story for any of them. I couldn't connect to the theme.

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply

Let me know what you think. This isn't something I would normally write, so it was an interesting and fun project to tackle. Honestly, it feels kind of corny, but ๐Ÿคท๐Ÿปโ€โ™‚๏ธ. Lmk. Thanks!

Reply

Show 0 replies
9 P๐ŸŽˆ
14:56 Jun 27, 2021

Beautiful piece.....because it features......(imaginative but) a family, and the way you created it relating with the pandemic........awesome. And yes the title is really something very interesting. Super good work๐Ÿ‘ Would you like to read my stories? :)

Reply

Show 0 replies
Tom .
12:38 Dec 02, 2020

I thought this was by far the hardest prompt for this weeks selection, I have been impressed by everyone who chose it. I think it terrified me because it is a story about someone watching a screen. No possibility for movement, very static. But static stories are doing very well at the moment. So I gave it a go for my latest 'man bites dog'. I agree with Ray, this is your best story so far. I think it is because it feels more authentic. There is a truth somewhere inside it. It is not perfect but a lot of that is down to the constraints of pr...

Reply

Show 1 reply
Ray Dyer
03:21 Dec 02, 2020

Hey, Antonio! The best out of three, in my opinion. Best out of three by far. Absolutely love this one. Heartwarming, detailed, and the way Mark's thoughts start trailing while his family members are talking about their own memories feels so accurate. Powerful memories don't wait their turn. Great job - I'm so glad you shared it!

Reply

Show 1 reply
Jim Snyder
04:22 Nov 29, 2020

The first four paragraphs donโ€™t quite work for me. I feel like you could have gotten us into the story right from the gate with the COVID-19 diagnosis. It seems a bit weird to be like, โ€œSo, yeah, this year and COVID sucks, rightโ€ฆโ€ Exposition. โ€œBy the way, Iโ€™ve got it.โ€ Iโ€™d probably have combined that all into a great opening line where heโ€™s like, โ€œThe pandemic made me wonder what there would be to be thankful for at Thanksgiving, and now that Iโ€™ve got the virus, Iโ€™m at a complete loss.โ€ Then talk about him being alone in his isolation dorm. ...

Reply

Thanks. Iโ€™d never really written anything like this so it was a bit slow going in the beginning but I think it turned out okay. And thanks for all of your commentary/suggestions. I really look forward to it every week.

Reply

Jim Snyder
01:05 Nov 30, 2020

Oh, it definitely turned out okay! Without a doubt!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply
Coco Longstaff
04:12 Jan 03, 2021

Omg this story was just hilarious! I honestly loved it! Itโ€™s really heartwarming and cute. Nice job! The ending.....You nailed the ending! It was spectacular! Great job!

Reply

Coco Longstaff
06:30 Jan 03, 2021

Of course!

Reply

Show 0 replies
Show 1 reply
Show 1 reply