Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas Day.

Considering Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday, I've decided to write and share a short Christmas tale leading up to the festive day... which also happens to be the day this story begins. So enjoy and then check back tomorrow for the next installment!

Thursday, December 25

It started on Christmas. Christmas dinner to be exact. Between bites of butternut squash and roasted duck and a glass or two of spiked holiday punch, the conversation turned from Christmas cheer to me - and the fact that I was alone.
Very alone.
Well, not very alone. I mean, the holiday table had been laden with more than a dozen china plates. Our home was always filled to the brim during the holidays with both friends and family, there to take part in the festive feast that could always be found at my house. My family loves the holidays. No, my family lives for the holidays. It’s fairly obvious, if not by the decorations that appear the day after Thanksgiving or the non-stop holiday music or the constant scent of cookies from mom baking at least a batch a day, than it’s apparent by my name. My parents love this time of year so much they named me after them.
Holliday Hudson. The name was like one of those gifts bestowed upon Sleeping Beauty at birth by her fairy godmothers. It came sprinkled with Christmas cheer. Mom said I was the happiest baby ever, more so than my siblings, who, while also given names suggestive of the season, weren’t born between Christmas and New Year’s. So it came as no surprise that mom also said I was a fan of the season from the get-go, my eyes big and awe-filled when I was just an infant gazing at the twinkling lights; my curiosity sparked as a toddler, reaching up towards the ornaments on the tree with chubby little hands and listening intently when Bing crooned about snowfall; an enthusiastic participant in the Christmas play each year as a kid; a believer in all the good things that come with this time of year… right up until adulthood.
That’s when the other fairy – you know, the bad one who was pissed off for not getting invited to Sleeping Beauty’s party because she’s such a downer? – came and swept up all that Christmas cheer and replaced it with cynicism and coal where a holiday heart used to be. December - a month of absolute joy my entire life - turned into figgy pudding gone wrong two years ago when my fiancĂ©, who I’d been certain was the only guy I wanted to stand beneath the mistletoe with, broke not only my heart but my Christmas spirit – three days before the holiday!
Things hadn’t been the same since, and my friends and family knew it. So while I wasn’t alone, I was alone, and at some point the majority of the guests we had over for Christmas dinner had coupled up – they’d become two turtle doves, while I was still a partridge in a pear tree. And apparently, this year, something in the air – or the punch - made the entire table decide that was simply not okay.
“Holli, when are you going to settle down?” This from Aunt Matilda.
“Never. I tried that once, remember? It didn’t work out.”
“Oh come on Holli, he was just a bad egg. You can’t give up!” said my Uncle Beau as he thrust his fork in the air dramatically. “Fight on! Tally ho!”
My cousin Sarah took a bite of cranberry sauce and rolled her eyes at her dad. “Besides you didn’t actually get to settle down – it didn’t get that far,” she reminded me.
“She’s right you know,” my brother Joe (short for Joseph - I'm sure the holiday reference needs no explanation) added. “Settling down gives you the right to turn off the TV in the middle of a football game and pester your husband incessantly about mundane household tasks” he winked at his wife Tanya, who playfully punched him in the arm.
“I shut off the TV once – and you were sitting on a pile of clean laundry!” she retorted. “I’m sure even you could have handled folding a few shirts while watching the game. It doesn’t take that much concentration.”
“The game? Or the laundry?”
He looked at her with a “you’ll never understand the holiness of sports - how deserving they are of my complete attention,” expression, then kissed her on the cheek. “Whatever you say, dear.”
Tanya turned her attention to me. “Anyways, they’re not ALL bad eggs. You’ll find someone.”
“Bad eggs and good eggs look the same from the outside. I can’t tell the difference, and I seem to only find the bad ones.”
“Maybe that’s the problem,” said my sister Beth (a nod to Bethlehem). “Maybe you need someone else to sort them out for you.”
“Um, what?”
 “I know this guy…”
“No way! I’m not being set up!
“Why not?!”
“Now that I think about it,” interrupted my best friend Chloe, “I know a guy, too...”
“Ditto!” our friend Kim added, her mouth full of holiday food.
I’d met both Chloe and Kim at college when they’d moved here to attend. After graduation, they were both offered jobs in the area and this year, their schedules had caused them to stay in the area instead of returning to their respective states – and families – for Christmas.
I shook my head profusely. “No way. Not gonna happen. I have to do this on my own.”
“You have to admit, you’re not doing a very good job at it,” my mom gently noted, “and your holiday cheer has been suffering immensely as a result.” She sighed wistfully, and I was certain she was recalling the days of yore when I pranced around the house like some kind of charmed holiday elf.
“You try having your heart broken three days before Christmas!”
 “You know, it’s really not a bad idea – who knows you better than us?” asked my sister’s friend Kathleen. “I do happen to know someone…” she turned to her husband.
“That friend from work you were talking about – remember?”
Kevin thought for a moment and then nodded. “That’s a great idea!”
“Even Santa has elves, Holli” pushed Beth.
I tried to tell them no. Why would I want to be set up with a bunch of random guys? How could that possibly work in my favor? What was the point anyway? Did they really think they knew me well enough to pick someone out for me? Didn't the odds go against any possibility of it actually working? And besides, what if I liked being the partridge? Guys suck - he broke up with me three days before the holiday for fruitcake's sake! But… it became futile. The entire table was wrapped up like a new present in the idea of finding me a good man to call my own. They were fueled by the heightened emotions I used to be so fond of this time of year. Love and good cheer and the desire to help others be happy caused them to decide then and there that I was their new mission.
             I took back my third glass of holiday punch, and so began my 12 dates of Christmas.

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