Giftmas 2019

Ho Freakin’ Ho! It’s that time of year when Rhonda Parrish and her merry elves put on a fundraiser for the Edmonton Food Bank. This year’s goal is to raise $1,000, which will feed a lot of hungry people during a very cold time of year. To that end, Rhonda donates time and treasure; a lot of really nice people have put in raffle prizes; and several of us are sharing stories, recipes and other fun stuff. This year I get to share Friday the 13th with two superb writers and All Around Good Folk: Stephanie Loree and Laura VanArendonk Baugh. Please visit their blogs, and be sure to drop into all the sites from the 10th to the 15th.

Points to keep in mind:

  • Money is donated directly through Canada Helps, so people can trust their donations are going where we say they are — to help feed families
  • Donations are in Canadian dollars so some international donors (American and British, especially) can get a lot of bang for their buck
  • Each dollar raised equals 3 meals

Here are links to donate (PLEASE DONATE) and to the raffle (BUY COOL STUFF):

Okay got it? Good. Without further ado, here’s my Holiday Story.

Drift

At first Carol enjoyed her friends’ comments.  “Did you lose weight?  You look different.”  But then they changed.  “Are you feeling okay?  You look… pale.” 

By the Holiday block party, the comments had stopped all together.  Carol found herself in the kitchen of her own home, ignored by her neighbors and trying to convince herself she wasn’t hiding from their snubs.

She thought she understood, one morning, as she looked toward the window and saw her reflection waver in the thin cold light.  “I’m disappearing,” she whispered (when was the last time she’d raised her voice?) “but – why?”

In the kitchen, she sipped her morning decaf while making breakfast.  Their plates were ready (scrambled eggs, toast and coffee for Ron, freezer waffles for Ronny, Egg Beaters for Beth, who was on her fourth different diet that month) when her family blew by in a maelstrom of noise, backpacks and car keys, spurning her food with “I’m late no time!” “We’re hitting McDonald’s on the way” and one simple, surly grunt.

“They didn’t even say good-bye,” Carol mourned, scraping the plates off into the disposal. 

At Sunday dinner Carol found herself competing with two smartphones and the Packers game.  After Ron fell asleep on the coach (Seahawks-Vikings on the West Coast) Carol went to tuck her children in, only to encounter one locked door (Beth) and one video game (Ronny) so violent and noisy she backed out of his room, unseen and slightly afraid.

That night she had trouble seeing herself in the mirror as she brushed her hair. 

The day she was cleaning the den and noticed the vacuum cast a shadow but she didn’t, Carol realized she had to DO something.  She called her doctor’s office twice, but the receptionist only said “Hello?  Hello?” before hanging up, despite Carol’s response.  She went to church, but the priest never noticed her waiting politely in the front pew while he discussed Midnight Mass decorations with the ladies’ auxiliary. 

Carol went back to her clean, quiet home and looked around.  “Is this how ghosts are born?” she wondered.  “Not as spirits of the dead but simply the neglected?”

Well, not her.  Not at Christmas. It was her favorite holiday, even if every year the kids demanded more gifts she had to find.  Even if Ron never even thanked her for all her planning, shopping, decorating, cleaning and cooking to make the Holiday so special.

Even if – more and more – she couldn’t help but feel a little taken for granted.

Fine.  She would MAKE her family sit up and take notice of all she did for them, and then they’d have a wonderful Christmas with love and joy and laughter, just like when the children were small.

That afternoon before Ron got home Carol put her plan into action.  Through the sounds of game explosions and Snapchat giggling, she drifted through the ceiling into the attic (how long had she been able to do that, Carol wondered faintly) and wrapped her hands around the main router cord.  It kept slipping through her fingers but she finally grasped it firmly enough to give a good tug.  When the Wifi stopped Ronny and Beth would call her.  They would need her.  They would SEE her and appreciate her and she’d be back to normal. Christmas would be great.

With a faint blip the router cord disconnected.  There was sudden, blessed silence downstairs.  Sure enough… “MOM!!!!” Ronny yelled from his room.  “The Internet’s out!” 

Carol sighed contentedly as she drifted toward the stairs.  Then she heard her daughter.  “Mom doesn’t know anything,” Beth said, scorn layered into every word.  “We’re going to have to wait until Dad’s home.”

And Carol was gone.

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