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Fiction Funny Holiday

The kitchen smelled of beans, rice, and left-over enchiladas and tamales. It was around 6:30 pm. Dinner was almost ready. The Sanchez family hosted a small cadre of family and friends. The tree was still up and beautifully decorated & lit brightly. The fire place exuded heat. The wind was chilly, and the air was frigid. 

“Oh, boy… look at poor Danny,” said Clarita Sanchez. 

“What’s his problem? He’s been sitting on the kitchen counter moping and pounding his fists for at least an hour…” Said Anise Sanchez, their cousin. 

“He’s still reeling about the fact that Santa doesn’t exist,” said Ronny Sanchez. 

“You’re the one who told him, jackass,” said Clarita.

“I didn’t mean to,” said Ronny. 

“Well, you practically yelled it out loud like a rabid beast when you, dad, and grandpa drank three bottles of that boozy eggnog,” said Clarita. 

“He was going to find out sooner or later… Every little kid goes through that stage. I turned out fine… he will too,” said Ronny, taking a sip of the “boozy eggnog.” His comment prompted looks from Anise and Clarita. 

Danny pounded louder and tears filled his reddening eyes. He looked up at the roof and shouted, “But why! But how? Dad or grandpa can’t fit through the chimney! Only Santa can! They’ve never even been to the North Pole!” He pounded once more, and then fell silent and pondered angrily. “I’m going to write Santa a letter and demand he explain himself! Wait… how can I write to someone that doesn’t exist!” 

“If he has mental issues in the future, I’m blaming you,” said Clarita. 

“Relax. He’s just – processing…” said Ronny. 

“Mijo! Enough.” Declared Mata, the mother of Danny, Clarita, and Ronny. “Here’s your hot chocolate.” 

Danny sniffled but started to smell the tantalizingly sweet and steamy scent of the chocolaty air, and took a sip. He set the glass down and looked up at his mom with a teary disposition, and said, “Is this even real chocolate?”

“Yes, mijo, now relax and drink. Santa does exist… just, just, in your heart. You will learn of more things that are gathered in your heart as you grow up to be a big, strong, man! After you finish your hot chocolate, help me set up the table.” 

It was actually synthetic… But he doesn’t need to know that.  

The doorbell rang. Clarita looked down at her phone and saw that she had missed a few texts. 

“here… where r u?... at the door.”

“Shut up! Everybody shut up!” Demanded Clarita to no one in particular. Anise and Ronny rolled their eyes. Mata went along setting up the kitchen as nothing had happened. But Danny stood there for a moment perplexed. “Mom… why is sissy weird when squeaky comes over?”

“Another thing you’ll learn when you’re older, mijo… Women are loca! But in a good way,” said Mata with a sly smile hanging over her lips. 

“No one said anything,” said Ronny. 

“I’m just preempting you – especially,” said Clarita. 

“Just go get Mickey Mouse,” said Ronny, which made everyone giggle silently. Clarita was not amused. 

“Why do you even call him that?” Said Clarita, who was storming over to the door.

“His big ass ears, and his voice squeaks when he gets all excited,” said Ronny. 

“He does not – ugh! Just keep your jokes to yourself, today, ok?” Said Clarita. 

She fixed her hair in the mirror before opening the door.

“H-hey babe!” said Jeremy. 

“Babe the pig? You calling my sister a pig?” Snapped Ronny from the loveseat.

“N-n-n—no! Not at all Clarita… I would never say that! And if you were a pig, you would be a beautiful pig…” Said Jeremey realizing shutting his mouth was better than continuing. 

“It’s ok, boo… I know what you meant. Ronny’s just being stupid,” said Clarita.  

“Boo? Now you’re scaring her?”

“Dammit Ronny! Shut up!” Shouted Clarita.

“Clarita! Watch your words!” Shouted Mata. “And Ronny, shut it! Leave squ— Jeremy alone. He’s a sweet boy. Nice to see you again, honey.”

“You too, Mrs. Sanchez,” said Jeremy. He then whispered in Clarita’s ear, “Was she going to call me ‘squeaky’?” 

“No! She was just talking to Danny and he was having a fit, and she probably just mixed two conversations into one…” Said Clarita, hoping he would believe her justification. He brushed it off, and tried to pay it no mind. He knew what they called him. The Sanchez family weren’t a subtle bunch.  

Jeremy was first to arrive. The other guests were making their way over, and would arrive any minute: Nino Ray & Nina Maria (mother & father of Anise), Abuela Josephine (A.K.A. JoJo) & Abeulo Martin, and last (in so many ways) Nina Sophia, Mata’s sister.  

“Do you think grandpa and dad will get into it again?” Said Ronny. 

“Probably… Five bucks on it?” said Anise.

“You’re on,” said Ronny. 

“You guys are terrible,” said Clarita.

“I’m in,” said Jeremy, relishing in the prospect of a bet, which prompted Clarita to punch him on the shoulder. 

“What? I like the over/under on this one… A for sure winner,” said Jeremy. 

“Don’t encourage these two savages,” said Clarita. 

“You bet?” Said Ronny.

“Damn right!” said Jeremy proudly, seeing an avenue to fit in with Clarita’s hard-to-impress hermano. 

“Fantasy?” 

“You know it!” 

“I hate gambling,” said Ronny dryly. 

“I-I didn’t mean like I love it, but, but,” rambled Jeremy. 

“Relax dude, I’m fucking with you,” said Ronny getting up to pour another “boozy eggnog.”

Jeremy was in for a long night. Along with Clarita, whom, besides being annoyed, would be pensive as the night gathered speed. Was Squeaky going to be a long-term thing… or just another story of two high school sweethearts divorcing themselves of a future together? Who knows? 

Where is dad? 

“You think opening a new location is the right choice, son?” 

“Yes,” said an exacerbated Anthony. 

“But what about the loans? You took so much!” 

“No, I didn’t; we’re profitable. I just needed money for the campaign…” 

“Son…”

“It’s fine. We have enough money to cover the loan and can pay it back before the interest kicks in. Business is good, and Mata’s got ahold of the day-to-day. We’re fine; we’re fine.”  

Anthony’s dad stood silently, but made a look he had seen many times before. 

“Are we? I don’t know. Oh god, am I making the right decision?” 

Someone knocked on the office door. 

“Tony, who are you talking to?” Said Mata.

“No one…”

“Henry…?”

“Yes… I – I”

“Maybe you shouldn’t run this term? And get help?”

“Help? I’m not a mental case?”

“You know that’s not what I meant. It’s ok, you’ve accomplished so much for the community.”

“I can’t just walk away; you know that…” 

“Maybe you can take a few years off and then run for higher office like you’ve always wanted.” 

“I’ll be forgotten. And a new triad will come in and change the dynamics.” 

“You are loved by many. They will never forget you.”

“How do you know?”

“I don’t, but you never thought you could be on the council, and now, you’re Mayor!”

“You’re right, and the new location…” 

“Yes… And a third thing.” 

“You think it’s a bad idea?”

“No. We built this business from the ground up, and our roots are too strong to collapse. Have faith. Your father never stopped believing in it. It is why he and your mom invested so much money, time, blood, sweat & tears into it,” said Mata putting her hand on his shoulders. He put a hand over his right shoulder, covering hers. “Let’s go eat.” 

Anthony got up, and they hugged and kissed and held each other close. There is nothing like holding a loved one. It is warmer than any sun, and cozier than silk & lavender. 

“Wait, what was that third thing? You never said it?”

“I’ll tell you at midnight… and if you don’t fight with my dad tonight about Trump.” 

“That’s not fair! And why is that part of the deal? I’m a politician; it’s my job to tell airheaded citizens why they’re wrong? Among other things to inflate our egos.”

“I may, or may not, have five dollars on it.”

“What?”

“The kids bet that you would ‘get into it’ with my dad before 10.”

“Did you at least bet against them?”

“Yeah, of course, baby,” Mata said, kissing him on the cheek. 

Dinner was fantastic. The best Mexican food in town! Their chain is called, The Cinco. It isn’t Tex Mex. It is Southern Californian. 

Mata’s family had restaurants back in Mexico. But sold it off to start anew in America and moved to Escondido. Their restaurant wasn’t as successful as it was in Mexico, but garnered loyal customers. Mata learned to cook there, and also helped her mother conduct business with vendors and handled budgeting and accounting.  

Anthony’s father was an immigration lawyer, and his mother helped operate the firm. She was a paralegal, and they met while working at the first firm they ever worked at. 

Henry committed suicide one afternoon. No one knew why. He never left a note. Only a Will. They guessed he thought it would speak for itself. The mother passed away from grief not long after. This was six years ago. 

“Can I talk to you about something, Anise…” Said Clarita. They were in her room upstairs. 

“Sure. But don’t expect me to offer advice that’s any good. Especially relationship advice.”

“Can you just shut it for a second,” Clarita snapped. 

“If you’re gonna be a bitch, then I’ll just go,” said Anise beginning to stand up.

“Ok, ok, I’m sorry…” said Clarita reaching for Anise’s arm to hold her down. “I’m just stressed out about going to New York, my future, and … Jeremy.”

“Wow, I have a lot to look forward to in four years …” Said Anise sitting back down, crisscross apple sauce. “Look, it’s obvious your stressed out about the future, and that’s cool, but what about Jeremy? If I were a betting girl, which I am, that’s what you’re tripping about… Am right?”

“Yes, it is… He’s not going to college, and is going to be a police officer, which isn’t bad… but I’ll be in New York for a long time… And it would be foolish for him to start out in New York; build a career, and then have to do it all over again in L.A? Or Washington… I don’t know. Maybe I’ll find a job overlooking the city through big glass windows. Or maybe…” 

“Sounds like you got it all planned out,” said Anise.

“To the tee.” 

“Listen, you’ll be cool. You’ll decide what’s right. Only you can. And it’s just the future; where your life is one step from being over – but that’s all.”

“I appreciate your gothic advice.”

“Anytime, Slime.”

“I think I’m going to break up with him.”

“How did you come to that conclusion?”

“I don’t know. It just feels right… I think.”

“Well, if the shoe fits… Either way, you have to tell me about dorm life. It may, or may not determine where I go.” 

The doorbell rang. It was Sophia. She missed dinner, but right on time for cocktails leading up to the dropping of the Balls. 

“Hello! Matty you’re beautiful as ever!” said Sophia giving Mata kisses on both of her cheeks. “This is Sharice!”

Sharice put her hand out for a handshake. “What’s going on?” 

Mata shook her hand with a smile. 

“Sharice and me… are getting married!”

All that were gathered near the fireplace, kitchen, and hallway froze and collectively sat in shock & awe. They looked nervously onto a reddening abuelo Martin. 

“Yup! Two months from now – in Vegas! You’re all invited!”

“Who needs a drink?” Said Ronny. 

Everyone in the room. But sadly, the underagers had to settle for Apple Cider. 

Grandpa argued with Sophia for a very long time outside. He ended up leaving… However, he never argued with dad, and Ronny and Mata had bet they would argue before 10. It was now 11:50, and the count of the ball drop was happening soon. Standard Eastern Time, not Western Time… or, is it the other way around? Just know it was near midnight somewhere. Use your imagination. 

“Looks like I lost the bet…” Said Ronny to Anise.

“Pay up, biotch!” Said Anise. “I’ll collect from Aunt Mata later…”

“That’d be a good idea,” said Ronny, slapping a fiver in her hand. 

Mata and Sophia were talking outside on the front porch. It was cold, so they bundled in their coats. 

“You couldn’t have waited to tell him privately? Did you have to shout it out like that and make a scene?” Said Mata. 

“He would have reacted that way no matter what. He’s the only one who cares. Mom has known for weeks.”

“But now he left. On New Year’s Eve!”

“So, what! Now we can enjoy ourselves.”

“Give him a break.”

“Why? He’s only gotten worse since that asshole’s been elected.”

“I know, but you don’t have to make it worse.”

“By being me!”

“No! By pushing his buttons in front of everybody. Why don’t you ever talk to him about it? Its always in this dramatic way in front of a crowd.”

“You think I don’t try? He never listens. He never has!”

“I could talk to him for you.”

“We’re not little girls anymore. I can do it myself.”

“But you don’t? When will you? When he’s on his deathbed?”

“Soon!” Said Sophia turning away. 

“Look, Soph… I just want to help. We all love you. And accept who you are.”

“I’m fine. But… thank you, Matty. I’ll talk to him soon. I promise. Who knows, maybe we’ll be forced to be stuck in a room together!”

They both laughed. And then hugged.

It was now 30 seconds before the Ball dropped. Sophia and Mata joined the crowd gathered around the TV over the fireplace. Mata went up and hugged and held Anthony. People felt anxious from Grandpa’s outbursts before leaving, but spirits and the thought of renewal casted a comfortable cloak of happiness over their shoulders. 

“Tony, I’m pregnant,” whispered Mata. 

Anthony froze as the crowd counted down: 

10! 9! 8! 7! 

Jeremy and Clarita kissed in the back of the crowd as the New Year rang off. 

“I love you,” said Jeremy. 

6! 5! 4!

“I-I think we should break up…”

3! 2! 1!

“Bring it on 2020…” said Anthony before giving Mata a kiss. 

HAPPY NEW YEAR! 



January 01, 2022 02:13

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2 comments

Eileen Wilkin
18:24 Jan 06, 2022

You have a lot of fun things and characters in this story. I like the sense of place - the scene, senses, etc., and the whole family/friends group shouting "Happy New Year!" together despite some of the messiness of lives and relationships - very real! Maybe weave some of the sentences in your first paragraph together in a way that still gives the setting but in a way that feels less like a list. The many names got confusing for me, as well as some of the abrupt scene changes. I feel like you have enough material here for a book. Hard to squ...

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Troy Chavez
18:46 Jan 06, 2022

Thank you for the analysis. I agree, but the whole combination of characters are meant to set up the horror that is coming. They are going from 2019 to 2020, when the pandemic rages full force. The new location, going to college, the drinking problems, and pregnancy are a set up for the new year and the challenges they will most likely face. It was a pandemic story without mentioning it.

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