A Christmas Story

My offering for Al Forbe’s Sunday Photo Fiction Prompt is a bit of a cheat. Long in the tooth (by fifty words or more), half-memory and half-fiction (let’s call it fictoir), and not exactly inspired by the prompt–since I’d planned to write it anyway. Today I’m remembering my dear Grandma Mary and the Aunt Patsy I never knew.

Sunday Photo Fiction prompt

Sunday Photo Fiction prompt

When Patsy died, the nativity scene had gone to the back of the attic in an unmarked box. But it wasn’t like she’d forget what was in there, or forget what had happened six years ago:

Christmas.

Hospice.

Losing her only daughter to a wicked and racing cancer.

Losing her faith.

“How come you don’t have a Christmas tree, Grandma?”

“We don’t celebrate Christmas here, child.”

“Mama and Daddy do. We have a tree, and stockings for everyone, and lights, and a Santa doll that dances and sings a song.” In an instant, the girl was demonstrating—waggling her hips from side to side to the tune of Jingle Bell Rock.

Patsy was the same way about holidays, always diving headfirst into the festivities, not wasting a moment. Back in better days, she’d hand-painted the nativity scene in the attic. “You’ll have this when I’m grown and gone, Ma,” she’d said. Each year she’d lovingly arranged the pieces, up until the last. She would have been twenty-six now, with children of her own. Like Jimmy’s daughter, the dear little thing, her with her endless appetite for sweets and answers.

“You should celebrate Grandma. It makes you feel good. Don’t you want to feel good?”

And she realized then, she did. She stood. “I’ve got something in the attic. A special thing to share with you. Stay right here and I’ll bring it back.”

“Are we going to celebrate?”

And for the first time since Patsy died, the answer was yes.

Vintage chalkware nativity set

Vintage chalkware nativity set

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7 Comments

  1. That was a sweet story. When there’s a death in the family, holidays can always be painful and awkward. It was nice to see some healing and joy. Thanks for sharing this.

    1. Thanks so much, I’m glad you liked it.

  2. Excellent voice, Karen. One of the most wonderful thing about kids is their ability to encourage joy in others.

  3. Good grief, there is so much goodwill here I can hardly stand it!
    Well crafted story, Karen.

  4. Lovely story. I’m glad the little one was able to bring some joy back into her life.

  5. A lovely story about healing following sadness.

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