For this week's Mosaic Monday, I'm posting the third, and final part of a little piece of fiction I wrote. There are links to the previous parts below.
This is the conclusion of a three-part story. You can find Part One
here, and Part Two
The days of December ticked by. Every few days her family
had something special for her to do – a bubble bath with candles mid-week or a new
magazine to read. Although it was difficult in the beginning, Alicia worked at letting go and each day became easier and
easier. She began to realize that it wasn't the results that were so important; it was the relationships built into the process. For so many years she was the one who led the charge for Christmas, ensuring that what was done fit her expectations. Moving to the sidelines allowed her to cheer on her family, even when their efforts weren't quite as she would have chosen.
The children decided to bake just three kinds of cookies, their
are best in pairs.
Sometimes Alicia knit in
the living room, listening to her family work together in the kitchen. At other times she sat at the table to watch them, taking part in the lighthearted banter, laughing at the flour flying through the
kitchen, and giving the occasional piece of advice when asked. She blocked from her
mind what would happen on Christmas Day when the extended family appeared.
“We’ve got it all under control, Mom,” they said. There were a few squabbles,
but the common goals they had decided upon soon had them resolved.
overheard phone conversations about Christmas dinner and blocked them from her
ears. Groceries appeared and filled the freezer.
One evening Kevin
brought home a Christmas tree and strung the lights before the family decorated
it together. Ben made apple cider and arranged a plate of cookies for them to
enjoy in the softness of the tree lights – a family tradition. Alicia sensed fatigue and tension draining away, leaving a curiously pleasant floating sensation in their place.
her a book from the library. “I asked the librarian for some feel good
stories,” she told Alicia, “and this is one she recommended.” For several
nights Alicia read the story by Richard Paul Evans, then returned it, and asked the librarian for another. The novels were short and
predictable, but with a sweetness that Alicia enjoyed as change from her
regular literary taste of mystery and intense drama.
co-workers talked about how busy they were and asked how her preparations were
going. Alicia smiled and said little. When asked, she simply said that things
were different this year. It wasn't as though she did nothing; in the late afternoon she would prepare dinner for
her family, and took the time to make the meals they enjoyed. Her evenings were
hers to spend as she liked.
she listened intently to the Advent sermons and read each day’s selection at
home, journaling her thoughts as she sat and pondered the meaning of
Christmas, and of this Christmas in particular. When her brain filled with nagging thoughts that she should really feel more compulsion to step in and help her family, she banished them from her mind. Kevin actually seemed to be having a good time organizing things and ticking them off his extensive lists. She had to admit; things were getting done, and she herself was more fun to be with.
consulted her about gifts for the children, and they talked together about what
each one would appreciate, but Kevin insisted on purchasing them himself. One
evening when the teens were out with friends, he brought out the gifts,
along with wrapping paper and tape, and together Alicia and Kevin wrapped the
Alicia didn’t have to think about anyone else’s gift, she thought long and hard
about what Kevin needed and appreciated. She wondered if he had unspoken dreams
as she had and what they might be. Alicia realized that although they'd spent a couple of decades together, they were still finding out new things about each other.
December days marched by as smartly as tin soldiers and Alicia felt the sharp
edges of her spirit smoothing out. Prickles of discomfort eased and she laughed
more than she had for a long time. She fed her spirit with the laughter of her
children and husband, with time to contemplate and read, the tea time with her
sister and a friend, and the knowledge that she was not just loved, but
before Christmas Kevin took her to The Nutcracker ballet. She’d always wanted
to attend a live performance, but other things seemed to get in the way. Now
she sat relaxed and happy watching the dancers twirl and leap about the stage. As they exited
the theatre into the cold starry night, Alicia stopped on the sidewalk and turned to Kevin. All she could managed was a choked “Thank you,” before she simply hugged him tightly.
Eve, as they drove to church, a few snowflakes splatted against the windshield. Alicia sat in the pew with her family and thought of how the past few weeks had been so different, yet completely lovely. "How much of her dread of the season was due to her own expectations, or those of society?" she wondered. "And how much was due to simply trying to do too much?" As the notes of the Glorias in the carol that Alicia loved swelled throughout the church, Alicia's heart swelled with love and gratitude for her family, and for the gift they had given her.
After the service they emerged into a wild swirling mass of flakes that had the
wipers going furiously as Kevin drove home slowly. By the time they arrived
home the lawn and driveway were white, and the landscape beginning to soften
that her heart could hold no more joy than it did then. The hopelessness and
frustration she felt at the beginning of December had transformed into softness
towards her family and a renewed sense of faith and hope. Letting go of what she
had imagined she needed to do returned to her the lost promises of Christmas. Alicia realized that the thing she thought she’d lost had returned in a most
Thank you for reading my story. I had fun writing it. May your Christmas be filled with the love, joy, peace, and hope promised by the coming of Christ.
Linking to Mosaic Monday, hosted by Angie of Letting Go of the Bay Leaf.