Image Prompt Response 073 – Winter Holidays

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I chose the image of the snow-covered tree for my twenty-minute sprint this time.

Winter Holidays:

Carl shivered as he slid out of bed, pushing his feet into his slippers and making his way to the window.  It had only just begun to snow when they were turning in last night, but now there was a couple feet of the stuff.  The big pine out back was so weighed down with snow that some of the branches were partially buried in the drifts.

It was beautiful, the pristine sparkling whiteness in the early morning light.

It was also a royal pain because he’d have to shovel enough to get the truck out of the driveway and pray that the plows came through sometime before noon so they’d be able to get out of the neighborhood.  He knew they should have left yesterday.

Sighing, Carl headed for the kitchen to get the coffee brewing and breakfast started.  That almost always woke everyone else up, luring them with the scent of caffeine and bacon.

Sam was the first one down, their hair sticking up every which way as they rubbed their eyes and sat down at the table.

Carl had already set out the sugar and cream along with four mugs, so when the coffee was done brewing he brought the pot to the table.  Sam could be trusted to pour coffee without being fully awake, but not to carry it across a room.  They had an agreement about it.  Two broken carafes, two cuts that needed stitches, and one third degree burn had been more than enough.

By the time Sam had finished fixing a mug of coffee for themself as well as Carl, Valerie was wandering in.  Her hair was brushed and gleaming and her pajamas were cute and coordinated.  She was a bit of a fashion diva and Carl still didn’t quite understand why she wanted to live in the middle of nowhere on the top of a mountain, but she was a good roommate, so he wasn’t about to suggest she leave.

Carl was done putting breakfast on plates by the time Kelly came down, scratching the stubble on his head and yawning.

“It looks like getting out might be an issue,” Valerie said as they all sat down at the table together.

“I didn’t look outside,” Kelly said as he fixed his coffee.

“We got two, maybe three feet,” Carl replied.  “I haven’t checked yet.”

“Weather ap said thirty-four inches,” Valerie said.  “But we sometimes get more than where they measure.”

“I’ll check after breakfast,” Carl replied.  They didn’t have a very scientific methodology, since drifting could happen, but they had a pole near the front porch that was marked every inch so they could know how much snow they’d gotten.  Carl had put it in two years ago and just never pulled it back out.  It was in one of the mulched areas, so it wasn’t even in the way when they had to mow the lawn.

“To be perfectly honest, I’m planning to use the snow as an excuse not to go,” Sam said.

“Have they been that bad?” Carl asked.  Sam’s family wasn’t supportive of the non-binary thing, or Sam’s career as an artist, so Carl understood why Sam might not want to go home for the holidays.

“My brother has been in one of his evangelical moods this month,” Sam replied.

“Ouch,” Valerie said, reaching over to pat Sam’s hand.

Sam’s brother was a preacher at a non-denominational church a few hours south near where Sam’s family lived.  It was a huge place and very hellfire and brimstone from what Sam had said.

“It is what it is,” Sam said with a shrug.  “If anyone in the family asks I’ll tell them you left earlier and that’s why only I got trapped.  I know my brother stalks you guys on social media.”

“If we got more than three feet, I’m not sure any of us are going anywhere,” Carl replied.

“My parents are actively encouraging me to stay home,” Valerie said.  “They don’t even want me on a train in this apparently.  It’s been even worse west of us and I haven’t even checked to see if there are train delays.”

Carl nodded.  The original plan had been for Carl to get everyone off the mountain in his truck.  Valerie was taking the train home, Sam had left his car in the Walmart parking lot earlier in the week, and Kelly was catching a ride with a friend in town.

They were quiet during the rest of breakfast, and Kelly was actually the first one to get up, taking his coffee with him as he went into the front room.  They could all hear the door opening.

Carl shivered just thinking about how cold it must have been standing in the doorway with just the storm door for insulation.

“Well, I think we’re staying home,” Kelly said before shutting the door.  “The pole’s actually in a bit of a dip and it reads forty-two inches.”

“Damn,” Carl said.  That was a lot of snow to get in a single night.

“I like you lot better than my family anyway,” Sam said, toasting them with his coffee mug.

“I can do a video chat with my parents on Yule,” Valerie said.  “It’ll be fine.”

“No worries,” Kelly said, patting Carl on the shoulder.  “You did tell us we should have made arrangements to get off the mountain yesterday.”

“It’ll be nice to spend the holidays at home,” Carl said.  He loved his family, but they were a lot.  He was only going to have made the last few days of Hanukkah anyway.  Now he could share traditions with his roommates.  Valerie and her parents were pagan and celebrated Yule, Carl still wasn’t sure how devout Kelly was but he did celebrate Christmas, Carl was Jewish, and Sam gave everyone gifts that they called Winter Wishes, since they wanted to celebrate and share the joy of holidays with everyone but didn’t actually have a winter holiday to celebrate.  It would be neat to have so many different traditions all happening in the same house.

Happy Holidays

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For those celebrating today, Merry Christmas.  To those who celebrate other December holidays I hope you’ve had (or will have) a wonderful one.

It’s been a truly remarkable year in a great many ways, so I’m taking today to be nostalgic and post some happy memories from holidays (December and otherwise) in the past.  I hope you enjoy my slightly eccentric collection of holiday photos.

Happy BirthdaHalloChristmaWeen! 😎

Image Prompt Response 067 – Giving Thanks

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I chose the image of the pumpkin pies and recyclable cans for my twenty-minute sprint today.  We’re a little ahead of season for fall squash pies, but oh well.

Giving Thanks:

Cary finished washing the last of the dishes from making the pies and set everything on the towel on the counter to dry.  They’d already filled the drying rack and Cary hadn’t had time to dry anything yet.

“Pies in the oven?” Kelly asked, peeking in through the window in the over door.

“The pumpkin ones anyway,” Cary replied.  “I promised Mom I’d make a pecan too.”

“Ooh,” Kelly said, her eyes bright and wide as she looked over at Cary.  “The normal or the chocolate one?”

“Probably both since I know you like the chocolate better,” Cary replied, laughing.  His little sister loved sweets of all kinds, but especially anything chocolate.

“You love me,” she said, throwing her arms around his neck and kissing his cheek.  “I’ll help if you want,” she added as she let go.  “I can be a dish troll or help measure things or whatever will allow me to be supportive and not throw off your flow.”

“Let’s start with drying dishes,” Cary said.  “I’m running out of room and I’ll need some of this for the other pies.”

“Yes, sir, ma’am, sir,” Kelly said, actually snapping her heels together and saluting him before grabbing the dish towel from its hook over the sink.  “You’ll have to help me remember where you put all this stuff, but I can at least get it all dry for you.”

“Just stack it all on that counter,” Cary said, waving to the one furthest from the stove.  “I’ll need some of it left out anyway.”

“So when is David getting home?” Kelly asked.

“Hopefully in time for dinner,” Cary replied.

“Is it a deadline again?” Kelly asked softly.  “Or something else?”

Cary’s husband David worked for their local newspaper.  It was the kind of small town paper that still put out editions on holidays and on the day after, so David very rarely got an entire holiday off.

“He volunteered this year,” Cary said.  “So his counterpart could drive up to see her parents.  It’s a fourteen-hour trip, and she only asks every other year.”

“Aren’t there other people that can be acting editors during holidays?” Kelly asked.

“There are,” Cary replied.  “But they’re all more senior than David, and not as nice.”  Secretly, Cary thought the Editor in Chief always asked David first knowing that David would volunteer and then he could take advantage.  He didn’t think it was because David was gay, just that David had family that was local and didn’t appear to mind missing big chunks of the holiday time.

“Does he mind?” Kelly asked.  “I mean really?  I know he doesn’t let his boss know if he does.”

“I don’t think he does,” Cary replied.  “He liked being helpful, and letting others have the time and space to visit with family.  It probably doesn’t hurt that he doesn’t see his family, so this gives me some alone time with you all, and keeps him out of the way while I’m cooking.”

Kelly laughed.  “Yeah, one person invading your kitchen is plenty, right?”

“You aren’t invading,” he said, giving her a one armed hug as he passed her on his way to the pantry to start gathering ingredients for the next set of pies.

“It helps that we can come down for the whole week too, huh?” Kelly asked.  “So we still get to see a lot of him even if he’s working half days most of the week.”

“I’m glad you can take so much time,” he said.  There had been a few years when she hadn’t been able to get any time off at the holidays, but now she was a senior designer at the firm and she could take time whenever she wanted as long as her projects stayed on time.  She was amazing and efficient, so it gave her a lot more flexibility.

“I’m glad you’re in a job that lets you now too,” she said.  “I was worried you were going to stay in retail forever.”

“Yeah, no,” Cary replied.  He’d started working at the local bookstore when he was in high school, and kept with it through college and after.  He’d been the store manager, second in authority only to the owner by the time he’d finally found something he liked better.  He’d loved the owner, and he still loved the bookstore, but the stress and rush at the holidays was excruciating.

Now he was the executive assistant to the vice president of human resources at a staffing firm.  He worked from home 75% of the time, because when she wasn’t in the office, she didn’t need him to be.  She took at least a week off for each holiday, and as long as he kept her schedule up to date for the week after and had all her expenses turned in on time, she encouraged him to take extra time at the holidays too.

“Look who I found?” their mom said as she breezed into the kitchen.

She had their cat Oliver in her arms and David trailing behind her.

“You got out early,” Cary said with a smile.

“Three of the staff writers insisted on staying late to help finish the layout and editing so I could,” David said.

“You’ll have to take them goodies in thanks,” Cary replied, stepping over to give his mom and the cat a quick hug and then kiss his husband.  “You’re all welcome to stay as long as you park yourselves at the bar and stay out of my cooking space,” he said with a broad smile.

David laughed, and slid onto his favorite barstool.  He rested his chin in his hand with a smile.  He’s spent half of their dates the first year watching Cary cook dinner.

Holiday Adventures

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I had every intention of doing a year in review post and looking back and how my habit tracking went, how much writing I’ve gotten accomplished, and what I have planned for the new year.  And then my holiday trip got a bit complicated, so the time to work on this post was devoted to other things.

My family lives about three hours away (in two directions, but we meet up at my sister’s place since my parents are only about an hour from her).  My partner’s family lives a little less than two hours further south from my sister’s.  So we visit both of them during the holiday season.  This year we also have a pair of friends getting married (tomorrow), so we had to be back home by Thursday night since my partner is the best man and thus has to be at the rehearsal today.

We had this all planned out.  One day of travel, two days at my sisters, one day of travel, two days at his parents, and then a day to travel home.  We were going to be relaxed and not stress the timing on travel days to make sure we didn’t exhaust ourselves.

And then our car wouldn’t start the day we were supposed to leave my sisters on Monday.  My brother-in-law changed our alternator and helped make sure we had a good battery.  Still wouldn’t start.  So we spent another night at my sister’s.  Thankfully she has extra guest rooms since brother-in-law’s parents had arrived that day. Continue reading

Happy Holidays: May Your Season Be Bright

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Regardless what holidays you celebrate (or don’t) in December, I wanted to wish everyone a bright and happy holiday season.  It can be a stressful time of year with travel, family, and financial obligations.  In the currently tense US political climate it can be even more difficult than usual to get through the holidays without a family argument.  I hope you all manage to avoid such issues and enjoy your time together. Continue reading

The Meaning Behind My Holidays

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The holidays are upon us, and I hope in the midst of all the retail pressure that comes with them you’ve found some time to reflect on what the holiday season is truly about (regardless of which one you celebrate).

I grew up in the Episcopal church, which is the same church both of my parents grew up in.  My father is agnostic, so he doesn’t join my mother, my sister, and me when we attend services or programs, but he would always come with mom to see us sing in the children’s choir at Christmas.  Christmas was also one of the few days he always had to spend with us.  When I was younger, he worked in food service and hotel management, so he was most often working on holidays, evenings, and weekends.  This made Christmas even more special to me, because it was a day I knew my dad would be there.

As I grew older, I learned more about what Christmas really meant, as well as more about other December holidays celebrated in my own country and around the world.  I also learned where many of our Christmas traditions came from. Continue reading

Happy Halloween!

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Greetings! And Happy Halloween!

Halloween is by far my favorite holiday of the year. There may not be gifts, and I don’t get much in the way of free candy at my age, but it will always be my very favorite holiday.

Why?

Because on Halloween you can dress up as whatever you want to be, and act like that character, and no one will think less of you for it. It’s an entire day devoted to being someone or something else. A shy book worm can transform into a brash pirate or a sexy vampire, or maybe that mousy bookworm from their very favorite book. Continue reading