The boys love spending time at Grandpa’s farm in the summer: they splash in the river, climb trees and barely even glance at a screen. But we’ve never been in the winter. The farmhouse is huge but won’t contain the boys’ pre-Christmas energy.
Grandpa cut a tree and dressed it with candles. It looks amazing and probably won’t burn the place down or ignite anyone’s polyester pajamas. I’m told they did it when Dave was young, so it’s like when the kids play in the river in summer, I just have to believe.
“Shut up, Dad, your end is dropping!” My brother’s in the middle: convinced he’s the strongest of us. He’s put me at the front, in charge of steering. At the back, Dad provides the ‘motivational soundtrack’.
“Bearing tree, we travel so far…”
“Dad! Are you listening? I feel like I’m carrying this whole damn thing!”
“Something mountain, into the fountain…”
“I’m pretty sure that’s not how it goes.”
“It will if you don’t stop poking me in the eye with the branches. I can’t see where we’re going.”
Christmases In The Rear View Mirror May Appear Further Away
“It’ll be an adventure,” she says, “We don’t need to be home; we’re together.”
The kids stare and nod. They’re too young to be sure what things were like before. Didn’t Christmas always mean magic, crackers and LFTs?
Weeks ago, she’d packed the essentials to bring Santa wherever they were and hidden it at the bottom of the case. Last night, she’d covered it with laundry and souvenirs, relieved to go home.
But home won’t let them in with a positive test. So Christmas will be an adventure, with as much magic as Mama can conjure from a secret bag.
How much explanation this one needs might depend whether you’ve done any pandemic travelling and/or have small children. It started at almost 200 words with a bit more explanation, but I hope it still makes sense in its FF form. If not, here’s the background.
The last few weeks we’ve been in the UK and Finland, visiting Santa at his home and then loved ones at what was once ours. The plan was always to be back at our current home for Christmas.
But it was touch and go. Travel involves a raft of covid tests and we knew at any point that there was a non-zero possibility of exposure, of a positive test, and of an emergency change of plan. So our back-ups included a bag of stockings and presents in the bottom of the case, just in case (pun intended) we had to recreate the magic in isolation somewhere other than home. The kids might have accepted that family presents were back at the house, but we couldn’t exactly say Santa didn’t know where we were … especially if we ended up quarantined in his backyard!
I’m typing this on the plane home. We still have more tests to do, but any isolation now will be in our house with our gifts already wrapped, food in the freezer and tree standing ready for decoration. This story, however, could just as easily have been us.
I’m not sure about this week’s story. I wrote a 200 word version and have edited and reworked it so many times, I can’t tell if it loses the point. I’d love to hear your feedback, good and bad. And apologies in advance for using the C word when it’s barely even October!
The Christmas After
That first Christmas after Mom left, Shannon knew things wouldn’t be the same. Last year, she’d got a big doll’s house with only a small tear in the wallpaper. Her one-legged Ken carried Barbie across the threshold and Dad had made little furniture out of cardboard boxes.
There was no big gift this year, but Dad appeared at the door holding a folded square of paper. “Christmas a little lean this year, Bubblegum” he said.
In Dad’s shaky handwriting, the note said “IOU: One afternoon window shopping”.
“Thanks!” she said, trying to mean it. “I only got you a hug.”
Those who pop by every other Thursday for submission suggestions might be disappointed to see another InMon post. Eventually, I’ll get back into the swing of things but at the moment, I seem to have more brain power for writing than researching, and since my blog is the only place I’m writing at the moment, I enjoy the extra chance to exercise creativity. I hope you’ll bear with me for a while longer
Talking of research…
Too Clever For His Own Good
“What does Santa have for dinner?” asked Joshua, pushing his peas around the plate in attempt to make them disappear.
“Peas,” said his father, unable to hide his frustration. “And so should you.”
“How do you know?”
Ian sighed. He should have known better than to put one over on his son. At six years old, Joshua already had his mother’s sharp eye for when he was being fobbed off.
“Dad’s hotline,” he tried.
There was a hint of an eye roll from Joshua. “I’m going to ask him in my letter. I bet he has nice things, like ice cream and turkish delight and sausages.”
“All on one plate?”
It was more pronounced this time. “Not all on one plate!” For a second Ian thought he was going to get angry; then the boy caught his eye and giggled. “Although… he is magical, so maybe he would have them all together and magically make it taste good!”
Ian felt the laughter run across his heart and found himself joining in. “Well, be that as it may, my research clearly indicates that Santa eats peas. And Rudolph – carrots too.”
Joshua picked up a forkful of peas. It approached his mouth, but came to a halt between his open lips. Joshua laid the fork back on his plate and ran to the kitchen. He returned with a clean plate and two carrots. He quickly shovelled the peas onto the plate.
“What are you doing, Josh?”
“We’ll leave these for Santa tonight. Instead of sherry and mince pies.”
It’s December 23rd, so this will be my last post before the Big Day, which is why I want to start by saying thank you for stopping by my blog, keeping my stats page looking cheery and especially for your comments over the last few months. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, whether you celebrate it as a festival or just enjoy it as a quiet Sunday, and I look forward to seeign you here again soon.
I’m still looking for more ideas for my 12 Days Of Christmas posts, so please stop by here: http://wp.me/p1PeVl-1Z and leave me your suggestions. I’d love to have all twelve from readers’ comments (if you have multiple ideas, that’s cool too) but if not I’ve got a few thoughts up my sleeve!
Friday Fiction fans, I’m afraid we’re taking a break this week (what can I do? Madison has spoken!) but we’ll be back on the case next Friday, so drop by then!
And as a final note, twelve words for you:
Christmas. Unto us a child is born. And a commercial extravaganza too.