December 3: Flash Fiction Challenge

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at CarrotRanch.com. She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

December 3, 2020

Beans may not be a part of everyone’s family tradition, but they were in mine. We greeted company with a pot of beans, a pan of enchiladas, and a bowl of green salad. At various times, my kids have requested the recipe for their own households. As far back as I know, our pinto bean recipes went back to the vaquero ranch cooks in my family at least five generations. Today, the memory lingers while the tradition has changed.

The Hub can’t eat beans well. His family has an old-time recipe for baked beans at Christmas. I never mastered baking beans, and he was okay with that. We tried to replicate the taffy pulls he and his cousins did as kids, but I never mastered that either. Eventually, we created our own family traditions around food and activities.

Between now and the New Year, we will watch A Christmas Story. Writers might relate to this scene from the movie when Ralph daydreams about the accolades he anticipates receiving for a paper he wrote:

On or after Christmas Day, we will play The Lord of the Rings board game and have a marathon going with all three movies in the trilogy. We even load up Christmas stocking with favorite snacks (like smoked oysters and summer sausage with sweet hot mustard) in anticipation of a day filled with playing games and Tolkein battles replacing Christmas music.

Ah. Christmas music. Trans Siberian Orchestra is a family favorite.

Imagine the intensity with which the Mills family decked their halls to TSO. I have every album they’ve made and one year, the Hub and I went to one of their electrified concerts in St. Paul. Another tradition from when the kids were still kids and all under one roof, we would eat Christmas Eve dinner by candle light and the lights of the tree. We’d clean up, put on our pajamas, fill baggies with homemade fudge and cookies, and go for a drive to look at Christmas lights. It was fun to be in our PJs. We would sing carols and listen to our favorite comedian, Bill Engvall.

Those were the days that make me smile. I’d like to sat family traditions remain static, but they change as we do. This year, I think a lot of families are facing the realities of COVID-19 interfering with the holidays.

But it’s not all that bad. It’s a chance to refresh, to try something new, to set aside the beans. I’ve downloaded some new music.

I’ve talked to extended family about playing Bingo on Zoom Christmas week. I have friends who are hosting dance parties and cacao ceremonies. Zoom, Facetime, and Skype are digital ways to extend the fun of playing games. YouTube, Amazon Prime, and Netflix let you set up watch parties for holiday movies or even The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Think of the disruption to family traditions as a chance to make new ones. Some people might be grateful to shake lose of the old ways and reconnect differently, with more thought and meaning. Learn about the traditions of your friends and neighbors. Deepen your own faith. Take time for solitude and quiet if that is what you need.

We are going to kick off December with a nod to family traditions. Feel free to share or break them.

December 3, 2020, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story that includes family traditions. It can be related to any holiday or situation. How does the tradition impact the story or change the character? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by December 8, 2020. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

New Traditions by Charli Mills

That night, the sheepherder made room for two wayward cowboys. The snowstorm blinded their passage back to the Two Bar Ranch and their horses found refuge in the small enclave of Basque who herded sheep in the Sierras every summer. All herds hunkered down in the valley to survive winter. Jess and Roy knew they’d miss beans and card games for Christmas, but the smell of mutton stew raised hopes not all was lost. After tasting saffron bread for the first time, and learning new carols to a tabor pipe, the cowboys adapted their cattle family traditions to sheepherders.

????????????

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149 Comments

  1. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Those wayward cowboys in your flash will never forget that particular Christmas; and they’re safe and trying new things. Hmmm. Let’s all hunker down and be safe this holiday season.
    I look forward to the responses, to reading about other traditions and celebrations.

    • Charli Mills

      I think I might work on that particular Christmas for the 5 at the Mic reading. A fun diversion. I’m looking forward to these responses, too!

  2. floridaborne

    Ah, the memories.

    • Charli Mills

      They seep through at the sound of a song or scent of vanilla. 😉

      • floridaborne

        Mom used to cook duck for Christmas, with oyster dressing. She liked the lack of leftovers. 🙂 She’d go to the Royal Castle bakery and buy a lemon meringue pie (the best!)

        Isn’t it amazing the little things we remember about our childhood?

      • Charli Mills

        Yes, it’s in those little details that big connections reside for each of us. What a combination of flavors. I’ve always wanted to try oyster stuffing, having seen recipes for it.

    • Doug Jacquier

      Pricelessly true 😉

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. 🙂

        When you’re 10, you don’t understand how hard it was for your mom to paint a bicycle like a pro so it wouldn’t look like your sister’s old bike. She wasn’t so good a fixing dents. The same bike that I rejected is now a collectors item.

    • Charli Mills

      At ten you don’t understand. It’s so hard to be fair when money is tight.

    • Norah

      I feel for the 10 year old you and your Mum. So difficult.

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. ????

        Mom was a product of the Great Depression, a time where people were happy simply to have a roof over their heads and enough food to eat.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      I think it’s as true today as it’s ever been. But I love how your mum tried to give you both the best Christmas instead of there being no gifts at all.

      • floridaborne

        She tried hard, but I didn’t appreciate her efforts until I had children of my own. 🙂

  3. Becky Ross Michael

    Fun peek into your family traditions, Charli!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Becky. I think I simply wanted to have fun. It’s such a pressure cooker time of year, so full of emotions and expectations. We found that simple traditions made us all happiest.

  4. suespitulnik

    I’m glad you had a good break Charli. While you were relaxing I was stressing because my routine was upended. I don’t know if others noticed, but the weekly challenge has given me a consistent objective and carried me through this isolation “crap.” So a BIG THANK YOU for giving me something to look forward to each week and then accomplish. Your North Star is my gift.
    Your traditions sound wonderful. Back later with some of my own.

    • Charli Mills

      Sue, I have felt like you are in the zone each week with your characters as their stories unfold to you. It’s what first drafts (novels) are all about. I’m glad you have something to look forward to each week here! Yeah, I’m weary as all get out over extensive isolation. I miss hugs. Friend hugs. See you later hugs. Get better hugs. Laughing so hard you have to hold onto each other hugs. Hmm, maybe a future prompt! Thank you for being here.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I think I’d be quite unravelled if not for Carrot Ranch remaining consistent throughout all the stuff that’s going on out there.

      • Charli Mills

        Together, we’ve done our best to keep the Ranch safe space! Who knew that would become necessary in the bigger world.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Isn’t it great to see that the Carrot Ranch has helped so many people during these uncertain times? We may not be able to socialise with other people in person, but we can still do it online. I can’t imagine what it would have been like for people during the Spanish flu pandemic 100 years ago.

      • Charli Mills

        We are fortunate to gather like this with regularity. It helps us all help each other through these uncertain days.

  5. Doug Jacquier

    Sorry to go dark but you said go where the prompt leads you.

    Christmas family tradition
    Dad would start drinking with the invited neighbours from around 11 a.m. Around 1pm we’d do the presents. His would never be satisfactory and his petty envy of the presents of others would not be disguised. When time for lunch came, as a matter of what little pride he had left, he would ceremoniously carve the roast. My brother and I would write our bets on when the explosion would happen on slips of paper we passed to each surreptitiously. And every year, like clockwork, some imagined slight would set off a stream of invective that would kill Christmas.

    • floridaborne

      Sometimes, it’s better to raise a child with one parent instead of 2. My dad had a father who was a mean drunk, too. Some of his stories were horrifying.

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        I too have many Christmas memories like this. I’m sending hugs and much understanding of what you went through. My Dad and step-mother… I won’t go there, but one year, there was no Christmas. I went back to school and pretended that everything was fine. I never understood their issues. They were in the fifties raising an almost teen then. I’m just now starting to let those old hurts go… it took many years.

      • floridaborne

        Thank you for sharing a part of your life. I understand what it’s like having parents in their 50’s when you’re a teen. My mom turned 37 the year I was born, and my father was 40 — they were 50 and 53 when I turned 13.

        It’s hard on a child when parents are having issues. As an adult they may gain understanding as to why, but the child inside never forgets how it affected them.

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        Yes, my parents were 36 when I was born. My mom passed when I was 3, so that created another set of problems. I had grandparents so that helped. Depression area parents were very different and hard on their kids. I get all that now, but growing up it was difficult. Thanks for your kind comments. ??

      • floridaborne

        Mine were depression era, too. I know what that’s like.

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        My stepmother never had her own children and didn’t like them. At 16 they gave me up to the State of Wisconsin and I became a Ward of the State. At 18, I graduated and joined the Air Force. I even went to college! LOL! I’ve always said I’m self made. I don’t define myself by my childhood. We always have to keep moving forward. <3

      • floridaborne

        That is an amazing way to look at it. ?

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        Thank you. We’re survivors. ????

      • Charli Mills

        I appreciate that you both can use creative writing to express parts of the experience in ways that readers can relate to and you can find cathartic. Hugs to you both.

      • floridaborne

        Thanks. ????

      • denmaniacs4

        Some powerful real life stories here. I don’t think I have made it a secret that for much of my career I was a child protection social worker. For more than a quarter of a century, in varying positions but always on the front lines, I was intimately involved in the lives of children and families whose worlds were exploding, imploding, occasionally coalescing, revising. Often bits and pieces of others lives find their way into my writing. My first (and only) novel so far tries to pay homage to some of those youth, parents, the system even with its warts and other extraneous growths, policy shifts, staffing shortages, red tape that often strangled what might have been good planning…anyways, I appreciate and honour the stories, here, wherever they appear…

      • floridaborne

        That is the beauty of writing: It is the best therapy. It helps to look at problems from the vantage points of your characters and sometimes there is an epiphany.

    • Charli Mills

      Another writer once wrote that we either write light, or we write dark so the light can be found. Your flash is dark but raw and real. I’m glad you went where the prompt led.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Oof, that holiday element. Yours sounds predictable, clockwork. Landmines are scary too, the ones that just go off and you didn’t see it coming, though you knew it was around.
      Here’s a song your flash made me think of:

      • Charli Mills

        Mary Gauthier has lived in the trenches and sings it true.

      • Doug Jacquier

        That’s Da Very one 😉 And those land mines sound a lot like one of my adopted US terms, gunnysackin’.

      • Charli Mills

        I had to look up gunnysacking, Doug. I learned a new US term from my Australian friend!

    • Norah

      Too true for too many.

      • Charli Mills

        This is one of those traditions to break.

      • Norah

        That’s for sure.

    • Jules

      Doug, my (childhood) family was similar. Holidays always had adult friends over so the adults could drink. I usually made a disappearing act to my room. But once I heard some family information that would not have been ‘spilled’ if it were not for a ‘drunk tongue’.

      • Doug Jacquier

        Ah, some morsels of advantage then. 😉

    • Ruchira Khanna

      Cheers to a new beginning!

    • Charli Mills

      Cheers to making new traditions!

    • Norah

      New traditions can work well.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Heartbreaking, but new beginnings and traditions await. This was such a heartwarming ending for a piece of flash fiction.

  6. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Roots Crop

    “Purty sure we’re gonna have a Yule log this year.”
    “Why’s thet, Kid? Thet ain’t our terdition.”
    “Gonna be a holiday season like no other Pal.”
    “Why’s thet, Kid?”
    “Gonna be masked up.”
    “Why’s thet, Kid? We’re fictional; exempt from all thet.”
    “An’ we gotta snuff yer candles Pal.”
    “Why’s thet, Kid? That’s my fav’rite terdition fer this time a year.”
    “Thought ‘stead a roast beast we’d have baked beans.”
    “Baked beans??? LeGume!”
    “Yep, Pepe’s gonna join us.”
    “Thet Pepe LeGume’s a rootin’ tootin’ ranch hand.”
    “Yep. So we wear masks. No open flames.”
    “Hmmf.”
    “Be the light, Pal.”

    ###

    “LeGume hangin’ out with us stinks, Kid. I ain’t likin’ it.”
    “Pepe needs a place ta go.”
    “Thet was last week’s prompt. Ain’t LeGume got his own folks?”
    “Pepe is estranged from his wife.”
    “He’s a-strange alright. Answer’s ‘No’.”
    “Hate ta burst yer bubble, Pal. I already invited him.”
    “An’ I said oui, merci. Pal, Keed, I weel keep my deestance.”
    “Mmm… Thet date nut bread yer bakin’?”
    “Dere was not so much available, so I am improvising.”
    “Never thought I’d say this to ya, but thet smells good.”
    “Eet’s all good, Pal. Ees sweet bread from raw carrots.”

    • Charli Mills

      It’s a grumpy time when change descends, but if we open our fires to let others in, Kid’ll adjust. Pepe’s bread sounds good!

    • Norah

      I like the tradition of Kid and Pal stories at the Ranch. Its one that keeps the mood light and shows that everyone is welcome, regardless of their individual pecularities.

      • Charli Mills

        I like this tradition, too, Norah!

      • Norah

        🙂

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Thank you Norah.I’m pretty sure we are stuck with them so it’s good to know they are appreciated. (Thinkin’ it was Aussie got ’em goin’.)

      • Norah

        Really? How did that happen?

    • Jules

      Sharing holidays with those who don’t have anyplace else to go – that’ll earn ya carrot points! Good for Kid and Pal and Pepe too!

    • Charli Mills

      Tense times, Reena!

    • Norah

      It’s difficult to make someone take sides.

      • Reena Saxena

        Do they take sides? ????????

      • Norah

        It’s a difficult position to navigate.

      • Charli Mills

        Ha! Interesting idea, Reena. But the spouse in the middle has to tread carefully between opposing traditions and clashing women.

    • Jules

      In arguments with my Hubby I let him get the last words… and they are;
      “Yes, Dear!” Thankfully though we don’t have to many arguments – when I was growing up my folks had enough to last several life times that I knew it wasn’t how I wanted to communicate.

      • Reena Saxena

        We often go one way or another on seeing the equations between our parents. I saw my mother as subservient, and decided to be strong and more independent.

      • Jules

        I always had to be independent, the strength came later. But I wasn’t going to be the one who always had to be right or had to have things my way. Compromise and respect does wonders – over forty years now with my hubby. And rarely ever had a shouting match that seemed nightly with my folks.

      • Reena Saxena

        Great ??????

  7. denmaniacs4

    This may not be an uplifting flash tale Charli but one has to, needs to go where the prompt leads…as Doug said as well..(and yours was certainly was uplifting and so worthy)

    Christmasque Treevia

    One year, it appeared.

    An artificial tree.

    I can visualize my parents buying it, thinking, hell, the kids are gone, we don’t want to be traipsing out into the tulies to chop down some innocent sapling.

    Gone: one of our few traditions.

    Over the next fifteen, twenty years, I made it home pretty much every second Christmas.

    Sometimes every third.

    That fake tree took such a beating. On each visit, it had fewer plastic needles.

    Somehow, its escalating emaciation didn’t matter.

    For me, it encapsulated a simple withering truth about my family and how time had forever changed us.

    http://www.engleson.ca

    • Doug Jacquier

      Watched the same thing happen, with the same thoughts. Great piece of writing; loved ‘escalating emaciation’.

    • Ruchira Khanna

      Now, that got me emotional.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      The tree. So much can be said about the tree. And the tree says so much, even the plastic one. Especially this plastic one.

    • Norah

      That’s so sad.

    • Charli Mills

      When we go where the prompt leads, we round out the collection with a variety of possibilities, tones, and stories. Not all can be uplifting. I appreciate the depressing truth found between your lines of a thinning fake tree and dissipating grown children.

    • Hugh W. Roberts

      Such wonderful writing of how all traditions slowly fade away. It reminds me of visiting my childhood home at Christmas time and being able to see and hear the sounds of Christmases that have passed. They may have gone, but somehow it’s comforting that they remain with me.

    • Colleen M. Chesebro

      The tree… such an integral part of Christmas. You know, after my kids grew up Christmas was never the same. Maybe your folks felt that too, I don’t know. Nice that you came home that often. That says a lot to me. <3

    • Doug Jacquier

      Beautiful reminder of what a gift actually is.

      • Ritu

        Thanks ????

    • Charli Mills

      Hi Ritu! Thanks for the sweet story!

      • Ritu

        No worries, Charli ????

    • Colleen M. Chesebro

      I’m glad Nalini got a gift. Baby brothers are a nuisance. LOL! Loved this story, Sis. <3

      • Ritu

        Got one… I totally get her frustration… But then, he turned into a pretty great human being! ????

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        Those darn boys get everything! ????

      • Ritu

        ????????????

  8. Jules

    Charli,

    I had different traditions when I was growing up, then with my own family and now that we are ’empty nesters’. Traditions evolve and sometimes dissolve or maybe never were to begin with. All we can do most of the time is adapt 😀
    …Which is how I incorporated this prompt in with my story:

    (47) Damned Family (Jesse No Solid Bases, Yet)

    traditions hold limited
    value when lacking
    emotional attachments

    Jesse thought about some of her family traditions. Like the one she had totally blown off this year. The mini-family reunion down by the shore. Which this year was cut short by finding the dead body of a man who she thought was her ex-husband in her rental unit. Usually she wasn’t big on any holiday traditions. With her family, someone was always out of town or working. She had hoped to start something new with Norman, but the divorce had ended that. Would this year be any different for her?

    ©JP/dh

    • Charli Mills

      The first three lines sum up the worth of traditions well, Jules. Funny how adaptation seems to be a common tradition! But Jesse’s situation is more extreme. I wouldn’t want to start a tradition of collecting dead ex-husbands!

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      I like how you end this piece, and I guess we’ll wait and see.

  9. Ruchira Khanna

    I agree given the pandemic. It’s up to us to keep this virus at bay. Traditions can continue but with caution. My family did a virtual turkey trot but I made sure to cook the same as all the years…

    https://abracabadra.blogspot.com/2020/12/virtual-turkey-trot.html

    • Charli Mills

      Like you, Ruchira, I felt the need to cook some favorite Thanksgiving dishes. This month, though, I’m shaking up the menu! I love the idea of a virtual turkey trot.

  10. D. Avery @shiftnshake

    Hunting Spot

    Nothing, not women, jobs, not even a move, had ever interfered with their tradition. No matter what, he and his brother took the first week of deer season and spent it at camp, just the two of them. He was determined to see the whole week through this year too.
    Now he paused instinctively. The large buck he’d been tracking stepped into view. He raised his rifle, took aim. Then he lowered the rifle, leaned it against a tree.
    “It wasn’t really about the hunting was it?” he said aloud. The buck bounded away. He scattered his brother’s ashes.

    • Norah

      This is a sad story, the end of a tradition.

    • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

      Aw, this is EXCELLENT. Did not see that coming!!! Brings tears to my eyes. PERFECTLY captures the poignancy. (Apologies for shouting!)

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        Shh. We’re in the woods. Inside voices outside. But if my writing makes you shout, run deer, run. Thanks.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m clapping as Anne shouts. The ending nailed me with the emotion of all those years that added up to a tradition of togetherness. Now scattered. Ah, well done, D.

    • suespitulnik

      This brought a story to both mine and my husband’s eyes. My mother died on the first day of dear season 50 years ago. Dear hunting was a big deal in our house. I did shoot my first and only buck the following weekend. And we never hosted Thanksgiving at my folks’ house again with the head cook gone.

      • D. Avery @shiftnshake

        I’m glad to have deer season recognized as a tradition/holiday. Had I more than 99 words this would have incorporated Thanksgiving. (We always ate after sunset, to let us hunters have the day) More words would have given you the snow fall and the surviving brother’s reluctance to get out into the woods. But maybe 99 was enough.

      • suespitulnik

        Our hunters only had Thanksgiving morning, but the non hunters anticipated a deer hanging in the back tree and speculating who bagged it.

    • Colleen M. Chesebro

      What an excellent story! I love the poignant ending and it hit me right in the heart! A total surprise. <3

  11. Norah

    Thanks for sharing your Christmas traditions, Charli, and for the video links. I wasn’t familiar with any of them, but totally love the Lindsay Stirling clip. I think it might be a new favourite. I think it’s a great idea to see this year’s Christmas as a disrupter and a way to begin new traditions. I guess our traditions have changed over the years as our family has grown and changed, and my grandchildren have requested that this year’s Christmas be like last year’s so I think they may be initiating a new tradition for our family too. I hope so. It’s fun.
    Imagine cowboys Christmassing with shepherders. Who would have thought? You! Well done.

    • Norah

      I back with my story, a tradition that I think many children may like to initiate. https://norahcolvin.com/2020/12/08/traditions-yours-and-mine-flashfiction/

      Out with the Old. In with the New.

      Lizzie pressed her lips together and shook her head.
      “Come on,” said Mum. “Just a little bit.”
      “No!”
      “Try it. You’ll like it.”
      “I won’t.”
      “You can’t have dessert, until you eat your veg.”
      “Dessert first. Then veg.”
      “We don’t do it that way, Lizzie. Veg first, then dessert.”
      “No! Dessert first!”
      “If you have dessert first, you won’t eat your veg.”
      “Will so.”
      “Promise?”
      “Promise.”
      Lizzie ate her dessert. Then she ate her veg. A promise is a promise.
      Now, when Lizzie’s children’s friends ask why they always eat dessert first, they shrug. “Dunno. Always have,” they say.

      • Jules

        You reminded me of a good memory – Dad made us cake for breakfast. Claimed it had everything we needed, eggs, flour, milk…

      • Norah

        Cake or pancakes. Why not? Clever Dad.

    • Charli Mills

      My daughter introduced me to Lindsay Stirling and she also has a great western-themed video she made. She brings her instrument to life! I like that your grandchildren are requesting Christmas outcomes. It’s like seeing a new tradition born.

      I like the battle Lizzie fought and won. The ending works well because it’s ironic! The kids don’t have to fight for that tradition.

      • Norah

        That is a great description of the way Lindsay plays, Charli.
        Yes, I like seeing the birth of a new tradition. It is even more special when the children invent it.
        Thanks for noticing the irony in my story. Perhaps I should turn it into a picture book. 🙂 It reminds me of a book I used in my teaching years ago, called ‘Neat and Scruffy’. The parents both had neat hair and wanted their child to be the same, but no matter how they tried, the child’s hair was always scruffy. When the child grew up, his partner also had scruffy hair and they wanted a child with scruffy hair, but no matter what they did, it was always neat. 🙂 A neat story, eh?

  12. Jennie

    Beautiful traditions in the Mills family!

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Jennie!

      • Jennie

        You’re welcome, Charli.

  13. Hugh W. Roberts

    What wonderful clips of videos and music in this post, Charli. I truly loved the different types of Christmas music you introduced us too.
    I love how Christmas traditions are so different all over the world. From when gifts are opened to what we eat and drink, it’s lovely to see a lot of diversity when it comes to Christmas.
    Christmas seems to be the one time of the year when memories not only come alive, but they linger through the holiday season and often fade away as the Christmas lights do in January.
    For many of us, this Christmas is going to be very different. But we should all see this change as a positive thing and grab the chance to try out new things.

    • Charli Mills

      I’m glad you enjoyed the music, Hugh. You can get in some serious cookie baking to Trans Siberian Orchestra. Yes, Christmas does seem to be full of memories. I like your analogy of them fading in January with Christmas lights. I hope we can all embrace new traditions this year with hope and grace.

    • Charli Mills

      Beans on toast! The alternative to avocado toast. 😉 May you enjoy this season of resting gardens and beautiful choral music. At last — a quiet Christmas season!

      • Anne Goodwin (Annecdotist)

        Beans on toast (from a tin in sweet tomato sauce) is standard in the UK. Tends to be only vegetarians and vegans who eat a variety of ‘proper’ beans.

  14. TanGental

    Here’s how Logan got to be Logan…
    Festive Traditions

    ‘What did you do for Christmas, Logan?’
    ‘?’
    ‘You must have some family traditions?’
    ‘What? Like waking up with Santa dribbling into the hall carpet because he fell asleep there when he came back from the pub, having to be quiet all morning, watching the Queen and wondering what she was talking about, waiting for my gran’s bowels to move so we could eat lunch at 4pm and then having to eat sprouts – Devil’s turds btw – and mum’s stuffing that I’m sure was shredded underlay… that sort of thing?’
    ‘I’m so sorry.’
    ‘Hell, I loved it.’
    ‘Explains a lot…’

    • Colleen M. Chesebro

      LOL! You’re such a realist, Geoff! 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Logan has had interesting influences and mixed feelings for Santa, certainly. Funny how nostalgia can give us a fond glimpse back.

  15. H.R.R. Gorman

    I’d have to try and think about my family traditions. We don’t have much that isn’t excruciatingly normal! The enchiladas and baked beans you have is unique, and that’s what makes for good stories. 😉

    • Charli Mills

      I’m going to make them before the month is out. Excrutiately normal can be a comfort, H.!

  16. Liz H

    There are those that believe there’s magic to be found under the Northern Lights….hearken to a tradition from long early days, and wish the couple well!

    Fertile Northern Lights

    The stewpot was emptied of root vegetables, venison gratefully given, and thick brown gravy sweetened with brunost. Crumbs of spilled flatbread caught the flicker of resting embers, and a half-dozen children snored under heavy woolen blankets. The littlest, wrapped in rabbit’s fur, lay in his mother’s arms.

    “Leave him. He’ll sleep well enough under the Northern Lights.”

    She nodded, tucking him next to the oldest girl, and said a prayer for the children departed.

    “The Lights shimmer tonight; propitious for calling another soul to our family,” he hefted their sleeping fur.

    She followed her husband into the snowy night.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Because a half dozen isn’t enough? Still, you make it all so cozy.

      • Liz H

        Infant mortality very high in these family-based settlers. So, you do what you can, when you can. And still miss the ones that didn’t make it past infancy… 🙁

    • Charli Mills

      Tonight is a good night to catch the magic under the Northern Lights in the northern US, Liz. I like the tenderness in this family, considering hope over loss. May the lights shimmer.

      • Liz H

        I’m with ya on that.

  17. suespitulnik

    Hi Charli,

    Your family had/has so many more and well-defined traditions than mine did as a youngster and as an adult. Thanks for sharing them, and the music.

    New Family Traditions

    The Monday after Thanksgiving Michael and Tessa received a beautiful Christmas arrangement from Tessa’s mother. They each raised their eyebrows, skeptical of Jenny’s intentions.
    Inside the thank you card she had written, “I had no idea cooking for two days for other people could be gratifying. I hated eating leftovers on Thanksgiving, but gathering our family together with Michael’s on Saturday was the best celebration of thanks I have ever attended. Let this be our new tradition. Love, Mom.”
    A tear ran down Tessa’s cheek. “She’s coming around isn’t she?”
    Michael’s eyes watered. “Wait till I show my parents.”

    Note: “cooking for two days for other people” refers to last week’s flash that mentioned the band members’ families preparing the dinner served at the No Thanks.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      The beat goes on. I’m so glad these characters found you to write their story!

    • Charli Mills

      Sue, I think the traditions we define also fade until the next one makes itself known, just as your story exemplifies. If there is meaning in our traditions or memory, they feel all the more worthwhile. Jenny is coming around.

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      99 words! A true story, your story, is a story worth telling.

      • willowdot21

        Thank you, I enjoyed writing it and all the magic came back . Thank you for reading ????

    • Charli Mills

      Every fiction is truth, Willow. And in fiction, BOTS means based on a true story. All are welcome. Thanks!

      • willowdot21

        Thank you you too ????

    • Charli Mills

      Welcome to Carrot Ranch, Myrna! That’s a clever way to transform an occurrence into a story. Fun ending!

  18. Colleen M. Chesebro

    Whew! I made it:

    “Family Traditions”

    “Grandma, hurry up or we’ll miss the first song.” Kallie impatiently tugged at Grandma’s sleeve.

    “I’m coming. Don’t rush me!” Grandma chided.

    The church was packed. Typical for the Christmas Eve service.

    “Kallie, I saved you seats,” whispered a voice. A few titters of laughter rumbled through the back row of pews.

    “Thank you, James,” Grandma murmured as she heaved her body into the seat. Kallie blushed crimson.

    James grinned. He only had eyes for Kallie. “Of course. Christmas Eve wouldn’t be the same without you both.”

    The trio joined the congregation as they sang, “Silent Night, Holy Night.”

    • D. Avery @shiftnshake

      Good old James. Is it a tradition for Grandma to run late? I felt Kallie’s stress entering a packed house late.

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        It made sense to have Grandma run late. I felt like Kallie wanted to get to the church on time to see James. As a kid, I sang in a choir so I tried to get that tradition of singing in there. Nowadays, I celebrate Yule. It’s much quieter now. LOL! 😀

    • Charli Mills

      Sometimes the tradition is all about who gathers. And the singing. Your story feels in the moment, Colleen. Merry Yule!

      • Colleen M. Chesebro

        Thanks, Charli. It’s that sense of community, isn’t it? Happy Yule! ??

    • Charli Mills

      Always good to see you, Sascha! I love beans and they are indeed so versatile as a protein source. Thank you, I’m glad to share hope.

  19. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Douryeh!

  20. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Miss Judy! Welcome to Carrot Ranch!

  21. Charli Mills

    Thanks, Donna! I needed an excuse to get up and dance. 😉

  22. Charli Mills

    A sweet tradition, Frank!

  23. Charli Mills

    Thanks for the cookies, LRose!

  24. Colleen M. Chesebro

    Loved these memories! Thank you so much. <3

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