There are no guests today, so I thought I’d fill up the slot with one my Christmas stories, instead.
One of the first stories I wrote was From All of Us to All of You. It’s part of the Boughs of Evergreen anthology from Beaten Track Publishing which is an anthology with a mix of short YA/NA holiday stories.
First, I thought I’d list all the covers and blurbs, but the anthology consists of twenty-two stories – yes, I’m too lazy.
My favourites are Kiss Me at Kwanzaa by LL Bucknor, Always have, Always will by Amelia Mann, Shiny Things by Amy Spector, The Invasion of Tork by Al Stewart and Claire Davis – there are more stories I would recommend (if you read horror (and F/F), Terry Kerr’s A Family Christmas! Love that one LOL) but I’ll move on to sharing an excerpt instead.
Today it’s Lucia. It’s strange that we celebrate an Italian saint in Sweden when the rest of the world doesn’t. But we do. My kids will be dressed up in Lucia gear tomorrow. Normally, we’d start the day going to the school to watch them walk in the dark morning with lit candles while singing Christmas songs, but not this year. They’ll be dressed up, and each class will sing a song that the teacher will film and then share with us – not nearly as atmospheric.
In From All of Us to All of You they’re also celebrating Lucia.
I tried not to think about the other people in church, and what they would think when they saw me. I knew they judged my mother, and pitied me, hell they would even pity Annie, and normally I would hide in the back. But, not today!
Monica actually made it better. Now they wouldn’t think that poor deserted boy. Now they would think, Oh, how nice of her to sit next to him. Okay, maybe that wasn’t better, but still, they wouldn’t think I was alone. People thought that just because you stuck to yourself, you were lonely. I wouldn’t call myself lonely. Okay, I was pretty lonely, but I chose to be. Better to be lonely, than have to explain the whole thing.
One failed stint at the university had taught me everything I needed to know about myself. I’d gotten free therapy through school, but even though my therapist had made some good points, what I’d really learned was that I couldn’t handle the real world. I couldn’t cope with the pressure of having to accomplish something, be someone. So, I’d moved back home to our small southwestern town, and gotten a job as a cashier at the smallest food market that wasn’t a neighborhood corner store. I’d been a cashier there for four years now.
“Natten går tunga fjät…” Oh, here they came. Monica, grumbled something next to me, before turning her attention to the children striding down the aisle. I almost became a little teary-eyed. They were adorable, all of them, and Annie was beautiful. She was concentrating really hard on holding her head straight and her hands palm to palm, while singing along in the Santa Lucia song.
The dark church instantly became brighter when the children took their place in front of the altar. After a few songs, four of the Lucias took a step forward. One by one they each lit one of the four tapers in the large candelabra, and then read a verse.
I saw Annie’s hand shake when she held the match to the wick, but she read her poem flawlessly. It was nerve-racking to read a verse in front of this many people, and she didn’t even stutter. I was so proud.
When the four candles were lit, and the girls had returned to their places among the others, they sang a few more songs before the procession took its leave. First the Lucias, then the handmaidens, then the star boys, and last the gingerbread men, and the brownies.
There was applause, of course. What parent wouldn’t applaud their child after such a performance?
“Lucia bread and glögg in the parish house?” I asked Monica with a smile.
“Yes, of course,” she answered, almost as excited as I was.
Simon is counting the days to Christmas, not because he likes the Holidays – no, he hates them. He dreads every single holiday ever created, but Christmas it the worst. As if his dad’s drunken snores and his mother’s faked Christmas spirit isn’t enough, his sister has decided to celebrate Christmas elsewhere this year.
The stress and anxiety drive Simon crazy. When he is introduced to a work colleague’s son, Hannes, he mistakenly believes he’s been set up on a blind date. Even after Hannes sets him straight in his assumptions, he keeps seeing signs that shouldn’t be there. Is Hannes lying when he says he isn’t interested or has the Christmas stress finally driven Simon mad?