Spot 022: Home / Not Home for the Holidays

 

CHRISTMAS PUNCH
by Sandra Davies

“Baby’s First Christmas” is proclaimed by a handful of over-sentimental cards. Competing grandmothers have invested far too much expectation of entertainment from a six-month old girl child who sleeps for much of the day, and whose comprehension of the day’s significance is nil. A dwarfing, bad-taste teddy bear earns my silent condemnation, while the welcome gift of ‘Beggar’s Banquet’ provides an apt but far too muted soundtrack, which at least partially rescues the day from total apathy for our respective, bored witless younger brothers – their first Christmas as uncles.

The Christmas punch, of dodgy home-made wine enlivened by dregs of various unwise holiday-purchased liquors (although not, I’m fairly sure, the Angolan whisky which we’d used to clean the drains) is most enthusiastically received by respective mothers-in-law; its kitchen conversation tongue-loosening effect on them ought to have been more educational:

“I don’t know why but he never seems interested these days.”

“You’re lucky – I wish I could say the same.”

See Authors page for Sandra’s bio.

 

 

WAILING AT THE END OF A CHAIN
by Bill Lapham

December 23rd and we couldn’t reach the pier. We couldn’t go forward or back. We were at anchor in the harbor, stuck in a fog so thick you couldn’t see either end of the boat from the middle, blasting the ship’s whistle at random intervals not to exceed two minutes in accordance with the rules of the road.

You could press your ear against the pressure hull of a nuclear-powered submarine making steam and you would hear nothing of the operations and conversations going on inside. A nuclear reactor making pressurized water more than two and a half times hotter than you can make in an open pot on your stove, flashing pure water into superheated steam, spinning giant turbines to make electricity enough to power Des Moines, running air compressors to blow through the whistle, illuminating hundreds of lights for humans to see in a hermetic tube, making food for the anxious men of the crew, all wondering if Santa Claus will get laid before they do.

Home for the holidays? We were home, all right. And we weren’t. We had been at sea for months, and now were so close to the pier I could hit a golf ball from the missile deck to the bollard standing erect to receive our mooring line, but we couldn’t narrow the gap safely.

The whistle was loud, one-hundred pound air releasing through a metal venturi. Over eight thousand times we heard it. Two days of wailing at the end of a chain.

See Authors page for Bill’s bio.

 

 

KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
by Paul de Denus

Man, this midnight Mass is a pain. It’s way too hot in here… like serving in Hell. I can see Father Malinfant at the head of the procession, arms bent, hands up as if describing ‘the big one that got away on his fishing trip’… he’s reading a passage from the big missal Pierre is holding… I wish he’d hurry it up ‘cause this crummy candle with the drippy wax is as heavy as a cross and my arms are about to drop.

Gordy Cannon is wiggling something awful. He told me before mass he’d had apple pie at dinner and now I can tell he’s fighting the crabapple quicksteps… Jesus, he just oinked an F Major through his cassock… throats are clearing and there are quivering shoulders in front of me… God if they laugh out loud… oh shit, it’s my demented sister sticking her big head out into the aisle looking back with her big moon face… man if she says anything, I’ll pound her… please Jesus, start the goddamn music… wait… the lines moving forward again.

God, I want to get home, get out of this heavy red robe and surplice and into pajamas and light off to bed. Santa’s on his way… man I’m so excited! I’ve been pretty good this year. I bet Santa can’t wait to get home either after all that crazy traveling. I wonder if he has to go to Mass? God will give him a pass. What a lucky guy.

author note: Altar boys were known as Knights of the Altar. See Authors page for Paul’s bio.

 

 

HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
by Michael D. Brown

I am tortured by the idea of belonging at home with family. Meant to desire this above all, for traveling salesmen, soldiers stationed overseas, students in schools far away from where they were raised, returning to a safe harbor provides reassurance of love and security, an anchor outside the world of disappointments and failure. On the other hand, coming back to be reminded of the same occurring growing up amidst a dysfunctional family comprising disparate personalities that have succumbed to dependence on untrustworthy support can be as disorienting as being adrift in a country of strangers.
When I died, I had undergone a sixty-forty sagacity of release to freedom mixed with wrenching separation from the only sense of reality any of us have heretofore been able to relate. On the living side were the feeling of always having been a disappointment to my parents who only had enough room in their hearts for each other, the exhausting pain of the cancer eating me up from inside, and the guilt of abandoning my emotionally unstable younger sister to the vicissitudes of a life she had forever appeared unable to deal with. Beyond the threshold lay promises of never again having to strive for approval, deliverance from agonizing torment, and belief that left to develop inner strength, Emily would thrive and prosper.
But she did not, she calls me back most desperately at the end of each year, and I am unable to find peace in the void or among the survivors.

See Authors page for Michael’s bio.

 


 

NO, THANKS.
by Gita M. Smith

We were invited to five parties last year. The Nethertons were hosting an open house wassailing party to which one would arrive, drink copious whisky-nogs, laugh at George’s bad jokes, and leave. The Olssens’ buffet offered the same horrors every year, the least of them being a kim-chee-smelling fish paste. Barney and Arnie, across the hall played two Elvis Christmas CDs all night long in rotation and their egg nog was so sweet that it made your pancreas scream for mercy. You sister’s party left you in a sweat because she invited your previous two husbands and their wives just for bonhomie, to show she had no hard feelings. And your college roommate’s bash, which fell on one of the holy days – Michaelmas of Thomas-mas – was a sorority reunion complete with vicious in-the-kitchen gossip.

This year, my darling, you are gone, and I have not even found the energy to open Christmas cards. They are still lying on the floor inside the front door where they slid from the postman’s hand.

The phone has been ringing. I hear the messages on the machine inviting me to parties. But I refuse to budge.

If ever a man could say he’s glad of one thing after becoming a widower, I can say that at long last, in this season of peace on Earth, I’ll finally get some.

See Authors page for Gita’s bio.

 


 

Christmas decorations for Spot 022 supplied by Michael D. Brown.

 

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6 Comments to “Spot 022: Home / Not Home for the Holidays”

  1. Interesting the ‘negative/sad/longing’ vibe to this set- My best memories of Christmas are from an earlier time, when innocence prevailed. I hope to get back to that sense one day.

  2. Excellent work, guys and gal!

  3. Is it too late to add one? Please email me if I can.
    G

  4. Having just returned from an excellent, thoroughly warm and fulfilling christmas with daughter and youngest son, these strike harshly … but I know such family occasions can all too often be times of screwing one’s tolerance to the limit.

  5. Gita – excellent indeed – love the tone of this

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