Write a scene that features:
a red, silk handkerchief
a matchbox car
someone slicing cheese in a kitchen
the number 4
The ten foot tree stands perfectly in the living room of their forty five hundred square foot mansion. Edward and Jacqueline sit across from each other on matching white chenille sofas. The unscented artificial tree sparkles with tiny white lights, German glass ornaments and the family's twenty year old Swarovski crystal star. The lower half of the tree is covered with an obscene amount of silver tinsel added by four year old Adam and two year old Casey. Through the large bay window behind the tree, Edward sees the first snowfall and feels the warmth from the crackling fire. Edward sips his martini while Jackie and the children enjoy warm apple cider. Gretchen enters the room from the kitchen where she finished slicing cheddar cheese and poached apples for them to nibble on before Christmas dinner.
The doorbell rings and Adam jumps up and picks up his entire collection of matchbox cars in his new NASCAR carrying case and rushes to answer the door. Grandma Rose is standing there with a huge smile wearing her mink coat and holding bags filled with beautifully wrapped gifts. She drops her packages in the foyer and bends down to receive hugs and kisses from her only grandson. She scoops Casey up from the Oriental rug into her arms as she throws her arms around her neck giggling and laughing the entire time. Jackie retrieves Casey and exchanges forced pleasantries with Edward's mother. Rose asks when her oldest son, Thomas, and only daughter, Rachel, are due to arrive. Edward says they are running late as usual and should flurry in just about the time the family is sitting down for dinner.
Edward fixes himself a second martini as Gretchen offers Rose some cider. The children beg their Grandmother for their gifts. Rose happily reaches into the Nordstrom bag and pulls out one silver box decorated with a simple silver ribbon for Casey and another box with no wrapping paper for Adam. The children slowly open the boxes and tear through the tissue paper to find new cashmere scarves, gloves, and hats. Pink for Casey and hunter green for Adam. They seem disappointed as they ask for another gift. Rose smirks at Jackie and looks at the remaining gifts to find the ones the children really want to open. Casey happily reveals her new American Girl doll whose face looks exactly like her own and wears the exact same dress Casey is wearing today. Adam chases his new remote control helicopter into the dining room.
Edward walks over to the back of the tree, reaches through the branches to the center and pulls out a small gift simply wrapped in red paper and a white bow. He walks up behind Jackie, taps her on the shoulder and hands her the box. She giggles with excitement. She wondered when Edward was going to give her the only gift she was waiting for. She stands with her back to him and rips off the wrapping paper and top of the little white box. She frees the inner velvet box, snaps it open and gasps with joy. Nestled perfectly inside the black velvet box is the sparkling and flawless five carat diamond ring set in platinum. She takes the ring from box, places it on her right ring finger, and lifts her right hand up in the air staring at the sparkling beauty and smiles. She never thanks Edward for the gift. Rose never asks to admire the new jewel. Edward again thinks to himself that the purchase was a stupid one and reminds himself of all the practical expenses the hundred grand could have been put toward.
Everyone hears a ruckus at the front door as Rachel makes her grand entrance. She's wearing a black leather mini skirt, knee high black leather boots, a skin tight white spandex camisole, and a red silk handkerchief tied around her neck. The camisole perfectly matches her complexion and the scarf is the same tone as her caked-on lipstick. She loudly calls out for the children and her brother as she stumbles into the foyer. Gretchen rushes to Rachel's side to escort her into the living room where the family is gathered. Rose is not surprised by Rachel's appearance but still wants to crawl under a rock. Rachel hugs her mother and Rose nearly falls over from the stench of booze. Rachel stumbles to the children and hands each of them a coloring book and a box of used crayons. Jackie rushes to her daughter's side to retrieve the crayons from her and hides them in the drawer of the coffee table. Edward grabs Rachel's arm and pushes her into the kitchen to lecture her and try his best to sober her up before dinner.
Thomas and his partner, Scott, arrive shortly afterwards. Thomas is walking on his own today as Scott wheels the oxygen tank closely behind Thomas so the mask on his face is not disturbed. Rose walks over to her son and hugs him gently, but tightly. He smiles and kisses her on the cheek. His spirits remain high as he battles the side effects of the experimental drugs treating his AIDS. Jackie says hello to Thomas and Scott but never approaches either of them. Edward and Rachel emerge from the kitchen and Thomas recognizes the signs of the scene from past holidays. Rachel rushes to Thomas's side to hug him with hopes that he will not preach about the wrongs of her life and just let her continue to get sloshed. Again, everyone hears loud banging at the front door and Edward rushes to see who it is. He looks through the peep hole just as the guy on the other side swings the door into Edward's face. Edward shouts the guy and pushes him back outside. He quickly determines this has to be Rachel's latest bad decision. The guy is screaming Rachel's name and demanding she come with him. She rushes out the door, knocks over the topiary and falls down the front stairs, landing at the guy's feet. Edward forbids her to go with him, but she tells Edward she's sick of his "holier than thou" attitude and gets in the car. Edward shakes his head back and forth as he watches them leaving.
He walks back into the house with his head hanging low and says nothing to the family. No one asks what happened to Rachel. Gretchen announces that dinner is ready and asks everyone to take a sit in the dining room. Edward recites grace out loud and the family speaks 'Amen' in unison. Quietly Edward adds an extra thank you.
Jenny A. Williams
As I open the front door I can hear laughing some where deep in the house. The smell of freshly baked gingerbread cookies fills my nose as I step into the front hall. “CLAIRE!” My mother rushs at me from the kitchen. Her warm embrace always brings tears to my eyes. I never let myself feel how much I miss her until I am back in her arms. This is always the best part of the holidays, the coming home. Being away at college has given me so much independence and yet I still miss that physical part of my family – a daily hug, the reassuring squeeze of my hand, or a kiss goodbye.
My mother takes my hand and leads me into the kitchen where I see my older sister at the counter slicing cheese getting ready for our annual soup and sandwich tree trimming night. Her four-year-old son on the floor behind her completely unaware of my presence. Now it is my turn to give out hugs, “COLLIN!” I yell. My nephew drops his matchbox car and runs full speed past the kitchen table and right into my midsection. “Auntie C!” He squeals as I grab him by the waist and lift him upside down and swing him over my shoulder and then slowly lower him back down to his feet. “Can I have a hug?” I ask - there is nothing quite like these toddler hugs. Collin flings his arms around my neck and squeezes with all of his might. I have to swallow back the tears – this is home, this is what I have been missing so much. Trish makes her way over to us and says, “OK Collin, let go of the Auntie C – it’s my turn.” Collin giggles as he squeezes one more time and then lets go and is gone as quickly as he appeared. I stand up and my sister grabs both of my shoulders to hold me at arms length to look me up and down. “It is SO good to see you – I have missed you so much!” I hear a waver in her voice as she pulls me to her. Man, have I missed her! Ever since she got married and had a child I feel like I only have my sister half time. Her holidays are now split with her in laws and not having her and her family around for Thanksgiving just made me feel so empty, so quiet. I realized then how much they are a part of who I am. The emptiness of Thanksgiving is completely erased as Collin comes marching in to the room waving a red silk handkerchief. This is the handkerchief I had bought mom for Christmas. How on earth did he find that?
“Look what I found!” He screams and runs a lap around the table wanting me to chase him and who can resist? I take off after him as he darts out of the kitchen and down the hall towards the front door. I see my duffle bag is unzipped, upside down and my clothes are all over the floor. I am glad I sent Collin’s gift ahead so my mom could hide it. I reach out and tackle him and throw him on top of my clothes. “What were you looking for in my bag, Collin?” I start tickling his ribs. His laugh is so infectious. “TELL ME! What did you think you would find in there? A dump truck?” I tickle him some more until he is gasping “Please, Auntie C – stop! I will pick up all of your clothes, I promise.” I let him go and together we scoop up my clothes and stuff them back into the bag.
“Help, me bring my bag upstairs Collin.” He grabs the back end and together we hoist the bag up to the second floor turn the corner and go in to my room. He has already dropped his end and is on the bed before I can object. Where does he get this energy? “Your bed is the bounciest, Aunti C!” Again, that little giggle and again how can I resist him? I climb up on the bed with him and start jumping. Now, I remember why this was so fun – just like when Trish and I were young, flopping on each other, pushing off each other to get up and start it all over again. It’s just the two of us – here together. “Touch, the ceiling Auntie C. You can do it!” And I do. And my childhood flashes in front of me. Trish and I used to do this very same thing – reaching and reaching for the ceiling and laughing and hiccupping. I love that Collin, Trish’s son helps me remember how much I loved being with Trish, growing up with her, wanting to be just like her. I look at Collin and wonder if he has any idea how much I love him, how much I love his mother.
Collin bounces down on his bottom and falls down on his back. “STOP! STOP! I can’t jump anymore.” Is he finally tired? We lay next to each other staring at ceiling. “He pants, “That was really fun. Mommy never lets me do that. I love you, Auntie C.” These are the little things that make coming home so great.