Momentary mourning peace. Mama pours a glass of mulled wine, lights a scented candle (- "cherries on snow" -) and drinks to ol' Joan.
Passed down with the jewellery box, somewhere in the will, the daughters receive the annual chore of roasting the turkey (delicious!) and the veggies (good job!) and (could you pass the?) breadsauce for their brothers and husbands huddled on a threadbare sofa -- and a younger girl, barely there, staring at a laptop screen.
Mama's not festive - always too tired - barely celebrates, but orchestrates. Years barely there 'cause she's needed in their kitchen and someone's gotta cook can she please get a hand? and one chivalrous male puffs out his chest, takes one for the team, gestures to the girl with no discernible attention span and half-laughs an "ay, one day this'll be you! Best get in there while you're young!"
((A baritone chorus of laughter.))
"You outdid yourself on the turkey." "S'great, ain't it? Pass the potatoes."
Sometimes here, sometimes Spain. We stay over. It's tradition: we're scattered across the country, maid duties are the least she can do. Never our kitchen or living room. Tiny. Messy. Unwelcoming. Come Boxing Day, Mama gives a bear hug goodbye and an "it's good to see you"; Because it is, she thinks. Thank you for inviting me to carry out your labour. I'm just grateful to be needed.
A month of red 'SALE' tapes scouring the clearance shelves; overtime for extra cash scraped to afford the food she cooks you; paying half for gifts she'd brainstormed while Dad buys partial credit on the gift tag. We leave your house.
happy holidays! if you rub your eyes, it semi-looks like a christmas tree.