20-Nov-2020

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20-Nov-2020

Welcome to today’s Holiday Flash Fiction!

I pretty much hate Salli, who put Aspic salad on her list of Christmas foods. I can’t unsee it, and I can’t get the horrible, imagined taste of it out of my mouth.

Scroll to the end for a picture…

Traditions are basically torture from dead people.

Today’s Flash Fiction Friday is brought to you by:
Picking out a Christmas Tree
An Old Nutcracker
and
Aspic Salad

“Trista, bring the nutcracker over here!”

I flinched at my dad’s over-enthusiastic tone, and the way it carried through the entire Christmas tree lot.

“Yeah, Trista, bring the nutcracker over here,” my sister, Erin said in a high-pitched voice.

“At least I’m not wearing that ridiculous scarf.”

Erin glared at me with her green eyes and started to shove the scarf into her coat.

“Dad!” I shouted.

“Stop,” Erin hissed. I took a great deal of smug satisfaction as she pulled the hand-knitted, bright red and green complete with sequin snowflakes and four inch fringe hanging off the ends scarf back out. Even from here I could smell the old on it.

“This thing belongs in a museum,” Erin muttered as she wrinkled her nose.

“So does this.” I held up the nutcracker. It resembled a soldier with a red coat, black hat, and what had once been white fuzzy hair. The colors had faded in its hundred-year existence, and most of the hair had fallen out or clumped together.

“Trista?” That was our mom’s voice. She sounded almost as excited as dad.

“Come on,” I said. “They’re going to keep yelling until we find a tree.” I pushed past Erin, along with a couple who had a trail of little kids behind them, and went toward our parent’s voices.

“I’m still not clear how this scarf and that nutcracker are supposed to help us find the perfect tree,” Erin said.

“You and me both.”

A gasp sounded, and I stopped. The frozen ground crunched beneath my boots, and my breath made clouds of white before me. The gasp had sounded familiar. I turned my head to the side and glared through the row of Christmas trees.

Of course Melinda would be here, along with her pack of mean girls. Her bright eyes sparkled, and her perfect lips curled into a cruel smile. “Nice nutcracker, Trista,” Melinda said with a sneer in her voice.

Before I could decide between a nonchalant response and a sarcastic retort, Erin walked into my, throwing me off balance and onto the ground. My hands flew out to catch me, and the nutcracker hit the dirt with a crunch.

What new torture would our parents unleash on us if it was broken? I scooped it up and jumped to my feet.

Melinda was laughing.

Erin shrugged. “Sorry.”

My hands shook from anger and embarrassment. “Watch where you’re going.” Without looking at Melinda, her minions, or my sister, I turned and started again for our parents. A quick inspection of the nutcracker showed a chip taken out of the base. Nothing a little putty and paint couldn’t handle. I wrapped my fingers around the spot to conceal it and gritted my teeth as Erin ran to catch up.

She said nothing.

I said nothing.

If our parents caught us fighting they’d make us say ten nice things about one another. I’d run out of sincere things to say on Thanksgiving. December was going to be a long month.

“There you are!” My dad threw his arms out in welcome when we turned onto the row where he waited.

“Why didn’t we burn that coat last year?” Erin asked.

“Put it on the list this year,” I said. The over-sized Santa coat had seen almost as many years as the nutcracker. At least it didn’t smell as bad as the scarf.

Mom stood next to dad, a knowing smile on her face.

What were they up to?

“I think we found it.” Dad pointed at tall blue spruce. “Test it.” His smile got wider.

Did he love doing this every year, or was he just out to get me?

“Test it, test it,” mom chanted.

Other people gave us a wide berth. I pulled the collar of my coat up higher and held the nutcracker out. If I ever had kids, I would not force them to do this. I tilted the nutcracker to the side, then back, as if he were judging the tree’s worthiness.

“Well?” Mom asked.

I really wanted to say, “It’s good.” However, if I did that we’d be here all night. So I used the lever behind the nutcracker to move his mouth. “It is good and straight and true. The color is blue. It is the right tree for you.”

Erin snorted.

My dad beamed as if I’d just learned to ride a bike and clapped his hands together. Then he pointed at Erin. “Anoint the tree!”

She rolled her eyes, but quickly removed the scarf from her neck and wrapped it around the tree. Like me, she looked as if she would rather be finished, but also like me, she played along. “We anoint this tree to be our Christmas tree. May it bring pine scent, many needles, and perhaps a squirrel into our home.”

Mom clapped this time.

“We go!” Dad cried as he picked up the tree and started to haul it toward the cashier. “Tonight as we entrench this tree into our home, we will feast up on the Aspic salad!”

Erin moved up next to me. “What’s Aspic salad?”

“Googling now,” I said. After two tries—how did you spell Aspic—I brought up a picture.

“Why?” Erin asked.

I gagged.

“Is that tomato jello? Is that what mom was making earlier?”

“And shrimp,” I said.

“Our parents hate us.”

I glanced ahead. They were talking to one another. Ignoring us. I looked at Erin. “Apparently. Ideas for getting out of this?”

“That don’t involve getting in trouble for fighting?”

I nodded.

“No. You?”

I shook my head and steeled myself against the Christmas cheer to come.

***

This is tomato and shrimp aspic salad…no, just no…
Google if you want more gag reflex inducing images.

Holiday Flash Fiction Categories!

Tradition:

  1. Decorating cookies
  2. Picking out a Christmas Tree
  3. Driving around looking at lights
  4. Staying up until midnight to hear the church bells ring
  5. Going into the woods to cut down your own tree
  6. Watching favorite holiday films
  7. Taking one of the men playing around with the deep fryer (while trying to cook an additional “better” turkey) to the ER for 2nd and 3rd degree burn
  8. PJ pictures on or near the stairs of all the kids Christmas morning
  9. The family sleeping around the Christmas tree the Friday before Christmas
  10. Christmas stockings made by grandma

Object:

  1. A Rabid Snowman
  2. Reindeer
  3. An old nutcracker
  4. Grandma’s crotched snowflakes
  5. Advent Calendar
  6. Krampus’ switch
  7. The heirloom tatted ornament that has been dunked in sugar water, starched, , and modge podged so many times it’s hard to tell what it originally was…(resembles an oblong Easter egg that’s been scrambled) but it’s been out for every Christmas since the oldest family member remembers, it’s tradition
  8. Wooden Christmas signs bought at Ensign
  9. Christmas village on the fireplace
  10. Death Star tree-topper

Food:

  1. Gluten Free Gingerbread
  2. Fruitcake
  3. Cranberry Jell-o Salad
  4. Homemade divinity
  5. Christmas crack chocolate
  6. Christmas Kibble (a cookie that looks like kibble)
  7. Aspic Salad
  8. Wild Rice
  9. Raspberry cream cheese desert
  10. Christmas sugar cookies


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