Edited by my friend, Allison Minnick, I have a Christmas short I wrote to share with you all this year. Enjoy and happy holidays!
She sat on the ground of her garage doused in wine and stared at the shards of glass sprinkled around her. The aromas of oaky merlot and sweet pinot grigio danced through the stale air as it seeped into her clothes.
Bobbi closed her eyes and tried to imagine her two perfect children asleep above her in their rooms with the comfort and excitement of Santa’s visit. They were pleased to have been informed at the mall the day prior that they had made the Nice List, and that their tree will have all of the toys on their wish list. That’s all that is supposed to matter, right?
With a deep breath, Bobbi moved the large pieces of glass and set them in a pile. She lifted herself up as wine dripped from her shirt and tip-toed back to the door. Her husband, Marc, opened it as soon as she touched the door knob and gasped as he saw her stained pajamas.
“The wine broke. Well, I tripped and then fell, and then the wine broke.”
“Are you hurt?”
“No, but we have no presents for the adults now.”
Marc ushered her inside to take a shower, which did very little to wash away her panic.
Marc waited for her in the living room with a glass of red wine when she returned from the shower. “There was one survivor,” he said with a smirk as he handed her the glass.
“We’re going to be the only ones without anything to give tomorrow.”
“It’s okay. We’re hosting; isn’t that enough?”
“It’s Christmas! We have to give something.” She took a sip of wine and looked around at the tree and all of the kids’ presents under it. Each bow was tied in a neat knot around every box. The wrapping paper glimmered from the Christmas lights strung along each branch. The snowman and Santa gift bags were ready for the kids to tear the paper as they squealed with joy. An empty section under the tree glared at Bobbi as she wrestled with what would take the place of the wine bottles.
She set her glass on the coffee table and shot up from the couch. Her mind raced with ideas for presents–anything to offer to her guests. She marched down the hallway to their bedroom and dug through their closet. Marc walked in behind her. She turned around with a bag from the mall.
She held up a shirt and wrinkled her eyebrows. “This could fit your sister, right?”
“You didn’t buy that for my sister.”
“It could fit her. She can have this.” Bobbi threw it on the bed and walked past Marc to the bathroom. “I just bought some nice soap and some eye shadow!”
“Honey–what, you’re going to just give away stuff you bought for yourself?”
Bobbi popped her head out of the bathroom with a case of makeup. “What else am I supposed to do? Everywhere is closed. This is good makeup, right? I think Monica would wear this.”
Marc walked over to Bobbi as she rummaged through their bathroom drawers and spun her around. He squeezed her shoulders and made her look at him. “Babe, I am telling you, don’t worry about it. You are cooking a lot tomorrow and everyone is going to love it. That’s your gift.”
Bobbi sighed and gazed at the tile floor. She shook her head and shrugged off her husband’s arms. Thoughts of accepting gifts from her family without anything to offer in return gave her chills. “There’s got to be somewhere open. Maybe I’m wrong.”
“It’s already midnight and—” Marc stopped short as Bobbi backed out of the bathroom and opened the hallway closet. As she slid on her jacket and grabbed her keys, she assured him that she won’t be long, and walked out of the door.
The only store she knew of that had a chance to be open was the drug store next door. She stomped through the snow and prayed that there could be some good magazines or candy or…some other things she could justify offering as a Christmas gift. Bobbi walked down every isle and after some tough deliberation, she decided on a couple bags of chocolate. Who doesn’t like chocolate?
Marc sat on the couch in the living room when Bobbi returned. She grabbed her leftover wine and sat next to him and revealed her bag of chocolate. “That’s nice” he said.
“Who doesn’t like chocolate, right?”
“I mean, I think everybody does. I am sure they will appreciate it.” He sipped his wine and squeezed Bobbi’s arm in reassurance.
Bobbi drank more and thought about all of the gifts her family gave them in the past: gift cards and house decor and jewelry and…wine. She can’t just exchange some chocolate for a new wreath or necklace or bottle of merlot. This wasn’t acceptable. She needed to do more.
Her laptop sat on the coffee table. The clock on the wall struck 1:00. She still had time.
“Are you coming to bed soon?” Marc asked.
“Nope, I’m not finished yet.”
“My gifts.” She stared at the laptop. Marc stared at her. “I am going to write.”
“You’re going to write?”
“Yup. I can whip up something by tomorrow. That will be nice, wouldn’t it?”
“You may want to replace that wine with some coffee, though,” Marc said with a smile and kissed his wife goodnight.
With a steaming cup of coffee in one hand, Bobbi flipped her laptop open and blinked at the white screen. Ideas bounced through her mind. She begged for her muse to assist just this once.
Her fingers tapped on the keyboard. The words flowed across the screen. The clock ticked to 2:00 and she poured herself another cup of coffee. Caffeine burst through her as she completed the first draft. Nothing could stop her now.
Bobbi felt her toddler poke her forehead and she blinked her eyes open to find his nose an inch from hers. “Mommy, why you sleep here?”
Bobbi jumped awake and sat up. Her laptop lay on the floor open to her story by her son’s feet. He picked it up and jabbed his finger to the screen. “Careful, honey, this is Mommy’s work,” she said and placed the laptop on the couch. “Now go get dressed so you can see what Santa got you!” He clapped his hands and ran back to his bedroom. She picked up the laptop and started to read her story. It was going to have to be done. Chills crept through her body.
“Did Santa come?!” her other toddler squealed from the hallway. He skidded to a halt in his Christmas onesie in front of the tree and smacked his hands to his cheeks. “Mommy, Santa!” He jumped up and down, and then knelt to the floor and picked up a box. Marc walked into the living room and snuck up behind his son, lifted him in the air, twirled around, and placed him on the ground. He instructed the giddy boy to get dressed. He walked into the kitchen and came out with a pot of coffee.
“Need a refill?”
Bobbi looked at her mug from her late night with remnants of coffee stuck to the bottom. “Why not?” she laughed at herself.
“Did you write?”
“Somehow. But I’m gonna need you to make breakfast.”
Marc nodded and she rushed to her office. She read over her story, made some quick edits, and printed ten copies. She punched holes in the papers and grabbed a spool of twine from the closet. After breakfast, she tied the copies of her story together while the boys tore open all of their gifts. By the time they completed opening all of their gifts, each story was bound with her twine in a neat pile. While the boys played with their new toys and Marc graciously cleaned up from breakfast, she packed her stories and chocolate in little red and blue gift bags. She lined them on the office carpet and sighed. Was this enough still?
Maybe the story sucked. Would anyone care about it? Wine would have been perfect. But maybe they’ll like her story. “Too late now,” she mumbled through a sigh.
After the next several hours filled with cleaning and cooking and baking, her family started to arrive. Cousins and uncles and grandparents entered her house. They shared a delicious dinner and an even better dessert. With drinks in hand, everyone was chatting and laughing. Nothing could have ruined the night. Except if Bobbi’s anxiety proved her right. Marc’s mother began the gift exchange and the room filled with more laughter and hugs and the grandchildren squealed.
With a red bag in hand, Bobbi approached her sister-in-law, Monica. They opened each other’s gift. As soon as Bobbi tore all of the wrapping paper off, her sister-in-law put a hand on Bobbi’s arm. “I had these blankets for everyone initially, but the puppy got into them yesterday and…I couldn’t give them away. He is still getting house trained…” Curly red and green ribbons were wrapped around the lid of a jar filled with decorated cookies; she always made the best cookies.
She made it through several more family members, and stood back to watch everyone flip through the pages. Some nodded their heads with a smile while they read. Others concentrated with a stern expression, but finished the last page with a grin and offered their compliments. Bobbi took a deep breath and relief flowed over her as her Christmas fears subsided. Wine wouldn’t have felt the same. Maybe they were meant to break.
She handed the last bag to her cousin when her Aunt Sue walked up behind her and turned her around. The stench of whiskey emitted off of her. “Now, young lady, my famous Bobbi!” she bellowed. “You’re a published…author! That is JUST wonderful!”
“Well, not published yet. I just wrote this at home this morn–”
“I AM SO PROUD OF YOU,” she roared and kissed Bobbi’s head. Everyone looked over at them. Her aunt held up the story in one hand and gripped her whiskey in the other. “We must have a live reading, Bobbi!! Everyone, attention!”
“Oh, no, that’s okay–”
Bobbie winced and looked around at her family staring. “I think most people have already read–”
“Oh honey, but it’s not the same!” her aunt sang, adding a strong vibrato to the end of her words. “If you won’t, I will do the honors!”
Aunt Sue cleared her throat and juggled her glass to flip to the first page, drops of whiskey landing on her snowman sweater. Bobbi tried to stop her but she began: “She sat on the ground of her garage doused in wine…”