Dec 19, 2012

Holiday Spirit Blogfest

Here comes Christmas! I've always loved this time of year, the tacky decorations, lights in yards and the glorious food. But, the last few years I started to lose my Christmas spirit. Started to seem the last few occasions had me running around madly the day before, looking for the perfect present for my kids. And each year our gifts would get more and more expensive, trying to outdo the year before. We'd spend thousands. Don't even get me started on the trend we had for a while buying a pet each year! Got me down.

I'm a big one for challenges. I sign up for them online, but I also try to implement them at home. We have family meetings and someone will suggest a new challenge. We've had fun with no electricity days, spend nothing days and no tv month. But my Christmas challenges were shot down this year. I started with the 'no presents' idea. Ha. Then I tried the 'handmade gifts' idea. Raspberries. But, I am happy to say we settled on a limit. The kids could spend up to $50 of their own money on each other and we would choose gifts for them up to $100 each.

The kids'll still get their sack filled by Santa, but at least now I feel Christmas has become more about our family gathering than the gifts. Looking forward to the Turkey, ham, plum pudding and hosting family and friends.
The Holiday Spirit Blogfest at romanticfridaywriters prompted me to do up a flash fiction piece. I guess that longing for Christmas to be about family and not money influenced me:

Home for Christmas
Jade poked at the dirt with a stick. Midday sun scorched her dark skin and burned her scalp even through her thick curls. Her cotton shirt stuck damp to her back, sweat pooled under her chin and ran into her cleavage. She swatted away blowflies and took another swig from her water bottle. The water was warm and did not satisfy her.
‘We’ll head back soon, I’m nearly done here.’ Her father emerged from his one man quarry. ‘I’ve found some good stones today aye luv. Gonna get a good bob for these.’
No he wouldn’t Jade thought. He never did. Always the same. Go out to the lot, fossick for stones, opals being the prized goal. He’d get them home and those promising flashes of colour would turn bland under the kitchen light. He’d talk up the find. ‘Gonna get a hundred quid for this one, easy.’ Most were worth just a few dollars. He’d return, a burger and fries for Jade and a heart-full of shame. He’d drink and cry and promise to move back to the city. Get a job.
At first Jade believed him. She’d secretly pray for his findings to be short,  so they could leave. A few times she even packed. Back to the city, back to school and Janine and Tracy and all her friends. Back to see her mother and her grandmother. He’d go back out for one more find, just enough money for the trip. He’d get all excited about another useless rock. 
She stopped packing. She’d go back to the city, soon, without him. But for now, he needed someone to share his shame with. Someone to pick up the empties and pretend to believe him when the next rock was dragged up from the ground. 
Next week was Christmas, he’d need her to get through that. After Christmas she’d go. Or maybe after New Year.

24 comments:

  1. Lovely...this fiction has typical Australian flavors. The scorching Sun,hot weather, Opel...and the name of the protagonist, Jade!
    A real wowzer post! Very beautifully penned...loved it!

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  2. Interesting story. I felt sorry for both Jade and her father.
    I don't know if I could leave without TV for a month. I'd go into withdrawal for Law and Order reruns.

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  3. Enjoyed your story. So sad. I tried toning down Christmas presents with my family. Didn't work. But, I'm trying not to get too frenzied with the shopping and giving more of my love than my money.

    Have a Merry Christmas.

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  4. That christmas tree is amazing! So innovative! I love the way you've changed what christmas is about in your household; when I was young, christmas was only about the presents, it was only when I got older I appreciated the full value. Merry christmas!

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  5. Ah, Lightning Ridge! Coober Pedy! I was right there with Jade and her father. I love the father/daughter relationship that you've created. Somehow I don't see Jade leaving even after New Year. I do hope Dad finds that precious opal!

    I also love how you love a challenge or two. A great spirit you have there Charmaine. I love your bookish tree.

    Gifts are always problematic. None of us really needs anything, but there's just something about ripping open the paper and seeing what someone beloved person has seen fit to gift you with.

    Have a great Christmas! I'm sure the gifts will be awesome. Enjoy your family and friends, coz we'll all be back into it before we know it!

    Denise x

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  6. 'Some beloved person...' More haste, less speed, Denise!

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  7. I live in Florida, so it can be warm for Christmas, but not like your warmth.

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  8. Wow Charmaine; you really know how to pack a flash full of story. Excellent character, voice, sentiment. My heart went out to both of them; and I really felt their situation.

    The presents thing is what stopped me from buying Christmas any more. It never seems enough; and the kids were bored with the electronic gifts within a few weeks. Right now I only buy for my 14 year old left at home. He doesn't get money (I pay a monthly bill for his cell phone, internet and Xbox live) so doesn't have the opportunity to buy for others, or himself. All the other kids are grown up with incomes of their own.

    Someday when I drag myself out of this debt hole I may do Christmas again :)

    I hope you have a stress free Holiday Charmaine. Keep your spirits high. And thanks for participating in RFW :

    ........dhole

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  9. For such a short story, you've got a wonderful amount of detail in there!

    I like your approach to Christmas now. Buying a pet each year? Eeeep! :)

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  10. I'm going around to all of the wonderful blogs I follow to wish you a Merry Christmas. Have a safe and happy holiday, Charmaine!

    Peace,
    ML

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  11. Wonderful story--thanks for sharing!

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  12. Lovely story with great description. I like your attitude to Christmas spending!

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  13. Ah, your flash fiction takes me back to Lightning Ridge and opal hunting. The family did it a number of times. We came back with nothing more than chips, but it was loads of fun.

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  14. A real gem of a post Charmaine from a sparkling writer! Love it. And happiest of Christmas times to you and yours no matter how you choose to spend it. Love Dim x

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  15. I remember when my son was in elementary school. We did no TV week once a year, to help promote reading. I think it was always around the time of Dr. Seuss's birthday celebration.

    I hope you and your family have a very Merry Christmas!

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  16. Christmas sounds like lots of fun in your household. Turkey etc Mmmmmm I'm hungry now.

    Intriguing flash fiction, too. Something to mull over.

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  17. Sad story but I loved the relationship you built between father and daughter.

    Thanks for dropping by my blog and leaving a comment :)

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  18. Happy Holidays, Charmaine! And it is good for the kids and the family to get back to the basics; it is more about people and goodwill than gifts. I liked the flash fiction; great story. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Enjoy it!

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  20. Merry Christmas Charmaine...

    I TOTALLY get your view on Christmas. This year I pulled WAY back. MADE EVERYTHING, including the tree! Yes, LOL, you are reading right.

    I hope you had a wonderful and somewhat cool holiday.

    I am in snowy Illinois, about three hours west of Chicago. I had to get away from the city to enjoy the hills, snow, and the beauty of nature.

    I REALLY enjoyed your Flash Fiction. SO sad, yet the love the daughter has for the father is so selfless and beautiful.

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  21. Great story, the hope and belief that everything will come right one day and the love of the father/daughter relationship. Happy New Year to you.

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