Home for the Holidays

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
See what's in store for college freshmen during their winter break in this fun short story!

Submitted: May 05, 2014

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Submitted: May 05, 2014

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Home for the Holidays

Written by Samantha Day

Chapter 1: New York Bound

It was the best holiday of the year.  Nothing seemed quite as awesome.  I mean, I also enjoyed Easter, Halloween, and Thanksgiving.  Christmas, however, was amazing.  I absolutely loved coming home for an entire month in the winter.  A month well deserved, mind you.  My first month at Bennington College in upstate New York as an 18-year-old freshman could have gone smoother…a lot smoother.

“KATE!  KATE!” my boisterous roommate squawked angrily.  She had just woken up from a night of binge drinking.  The consumption of alcohol in her system was sickening.  “What the hell is wrong with you?” she groggily moaned.  “What?” I asked as I was in the middle of reading the December issue of Marie Claire magazine.  I twirled around my long brown hair and lifted my eyes.  She looked like she was ready to hurl…and she did.  What a lovely present to wake up to on a beautiful and sunny Sunday morning.

I was sick of Allie acting on the same behavior over and over again.  Partying was fine, but she was just overindulgent.  It was simply baffling how she managed to pull adequate grades in high school to attend such a prestigious educational institution.  In addition, she would always invite her equally idiotic boyfriend, Kyle Larkin, to hang around the place.  “You must be goin’ to hell because it is a sin to look that good!” Kyle announced proudly, strolling into our mess of a room.

UGH.  I rolled my eyes in disgust.  It was a miracle how I pulled myself through finals the next week.  My major is Psychology.  Only then, once I complete my four-year bachelor’s degree, will I finally understand the world.

I packed up my dorm supplies, brining the essentials back home.  My parents helped me move my suitcase to the car.  We drove back to Manhattan in about 2 hours.  A break from all this chaos was just what I needed…until I arrived back in my apartment. 

Cars whizzed by, the loud honking of city traffic was insane, and I felt a terrible headache coming on.  “Well, you’re finally here!  We missed you so much,” my mother, Linda, motioned to plant a kiss on my cheek. 

It was the Wednesday before Christmas and I needed to do some serious shopping.  I can candidly say that it had been a long semester.

 “Kate, sit down.  We’re having dinner now,” my Dad, Stephen, said, placing a bowl of spaghetti with Vodka sauce on the table.  He was watching Jeopardy in the kitchen: another round of America’s favorite game show, starring Alex Trebek at 7 o’clock each evening.  At least Ken Jennings was no longer the winner every stinkin’ night.  It got old quick…very old.  “Alex Trebek…he’s still alive?” my brother, Marc, still in high school, asked.  “Yeah,” my Dad looked puzzled.

I couldn’t stand this.  The stupidity level had reached its maximum.  After dinner, I went to my bedroom and picked up my cell.  I dialed Gabby’s number right away.  Gabby is my best friend.  We’ve been inseparable since grade school.  She now attends Dayton University here in New York.  It had been since last August that I had last seen her.  Thanksgiving was jam-packed so we didn’t get the chance to chill. 

“How’ve you been?!” her voice was happy and enthusiastic.  I gave her the lowdown.  Gabby learned of every tidbit, every social encounter, every pothead, every drunken party, that roommate situation, and my treadmill runs on weekend mornings.  “Sounds like you’re pretty busy,” she said.  “How about you?” I asked.

“Good.  Good.  I haven’t told you yet, but I have a boyfriend now.  His name is Dave,” Gabby sounded overjoyed.  “Oh..that’s, eh…great,” I feigned excitement.  I had never had a boyfriend before.  Besides a date with the most infamous player on campus, Tyler Kabossey, I was single.  Tyler wasn’t for me at all.  He was known to be heavily into weed and getting wasted with tons of slutty girls.  That, however, was before I really got to see his true colors.

“Anyway, I met him at my college.  He’s into the Red Hot Chili Peppers and bands like Weezer.  And as you know, I am totally into ‘Pork and Beans.’  We have a lot in common,” she mentioned.  I stuck my finger in my mouth and pretended to wretch on the other line.  It grew silent for a good 5 minutes.  “You there?” she asked.  “Yeah,” I replied, “I’m here.”

“How about we go to Rockefeller Center and see the tree all lit up tomorrow?” Gabby invited me.  “Sure,” I answered.  “I would love to see you,” I added.  We concluded our half hour phone conversation with our game plan and that was it.

My Dad knocked on my door in perfect timing.  “Kate, can I come in?” he asked.  I positioned myself carefully on my bed and put my blanket over my feet.  “Mhmm,” I mumbled. 

“Hey!  How’ve you been?” he asked harmlessly.  “I’m alright,” I replied, “Finals weren’t too bad.  I checked my grades online today and I got a 3.5 GPA.” 

“That’s great,” he announced, smiling widely.  Now, listen, I love my Dad, but I just felt like being alone.  “So the family is planning to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with us.  I’m not sure if Mom told you or not,” he informed me abruptly.  I was totally caught off guard.

“The family?  The family?  What do you mean the family?” I asked with an arched eyebrow.  “Well, Uncle Jeff and Aunt Pam and your cousins from my side of the family,” he responded, “And Aunt Jennifer from Mom’s side.”

Seriously?!  WTF?  These people drive me absolutely crazy.  They live in California so we rarely ever see them.  Cousins Ryan and Nathan were complete brats.  My uncle and aunt were rude and blunt.  And as for Aunt Jennifer (really my great-aunt considering she was my Mom’s aunt) was about 90 years old at this point and barely knew who she was or what was going on in her life.

“It should be nice, you know.  Since we didn’t see them on Thanksgiving, I thought it would be kind on our behalf,” he said.  I didn’t make it into a big deal or anything.  I just awkwardly gave him a glance and said, “Yeah…sounds great.”  Dad went over to me, “Good to have you home, honey.”  We hugged and then he left the room.

About an hour later, I went to the kitchen to feast on a wide array of sugar cookies topped with green and red icing.  I poured a glass of milk and happened to walk past Marc’s room.

I heard obscene language and a shrill Cartman voice coming from the television.  South Park: what an absolute crude show.  Chock full of pop culture references and spoofs, this series, dating back to 1997, was everything a 16-year-old male could ask for.  The characters resembled cardboard cut-outs and the dialogue was somewhat raunchy. I walked in to say a quick hello.

“Howdy ho!” Mr. Hankey jumped on the screen and winked at the audience.  To follow was the infamous “Woodland Critter Christmas.”  How mature.  The “Mr. Hankey the Christmas Poo” episode was all about the insanity of offensive holiday symbolism.  The TV then switched to a GEICO car insurance commercial.

“Hey Kate, what’s up?” Marc asked as I slinked into his room.  “Not much.  I’m just glad the semester is over,” I said.

“Yeah, it’s relaxing to have to no school for me too,” he stated happily.  “So…” he eyed me, “Have a boyfriend yet?”  He looked at me in a taunting manner.  He knew I had been with nobody and I mean nobody my whole life thus far.  “No.  I guess I’ll grow up alone with 27 cats,” I sorrowfully retorted. 

“Listen, I have a potential suitor to satisfy your needs,” he said.  “My boy Nick would be perfect for you!”

“Oh, really?” I raised an eyebrow.  “Yes, definitely,” he nodded, “He’s quite the lady killer.”

“How come I’ve never heard of this Nick before?” I asked skeptically.  “He just moved to town this year.  He’s 17 so not much younger than you,” Marc replied.

“Alright, I’ll meet the kid, but I’m seriously not expecting anything,” I sighed.  “Don’t think so negatively.  You never know,” he flashed a corny smile, “I’ll introduce you tomorrow night.”

“Okay, thanks,” I squeaked uneasily, closed the door behind me, and left the room.

Chapter 2: A Date with Destiny

And so, the next afternoon…

Gabby met up with me at Rockefeller Center.  It was beautiful.  Thousands of people crowded around the area as poised ice skaters propelled themselves in the soft breeze.  “This is Dave,” Gabby introduced her new beau.  “It’s nice to meet you,” I said, shaking his hand.  “Likewise,” he replied with a sincere grin. 

“A date with some random guy?” Gabby wondered aloud how safe this all was.  I had texted her earlier so she got the news before our meeting.  I was mortified.  Dave barely knew who I was and this was the first thing he learned about me.  JEEZ. 

“His name is Nick,” I said.  “Well, do you know anything about this guy?” Dave asked.  “No idea.  He should be decent though considering Marc is a really nice person.”  Although Marc was not graced with polite social skills, he usually hung around clean men. 

For the remainder of the day, Gabby, Dave, and I walked around the city.  It was so cold and icy from the last snowfall that we bundled up in our warmest coats.  The three of us then decided to go to the Big Toys “R” Us in Times Square.  It was amazing.  I had been inside before, but this was awesome.  More stock, more games, more excitement, and that Ferris Wheel featured so many fictional characters.

A whole horde of eager bargain hunters were on a quest to get their hands on the latest action figure: Mega-Man.  He came with batteries included as an additional bonus.  This was the absolute perfect gift to get a 5-year-old boy.

“Single file line people!  Single file line!  AHHHH!” a store employee screamed for his life.  The crowd ran right over him.  This time of year could be very dangerous, that is, if you had a job in retail.  It was like Black Friday all over again!  

The sky began to grow dark at 4 PM.  December 21st, usually the shortest day of the year, was the day I arrived home for break.  “Alright, Kate, see ya soon!” Gabby said.  “Yeah, it was great hanging out.  We should meet up before school starts again,” Dave said.

I nodded and went into my apartment building.  I took the elevator to the 7th floor and walked into the living room.

My eyes then beheld a ghastly sight.  There was a boy with a disheveled head of hair and dull eyes.  “Hey, I’m Nick,” the guy introduced.  His appearance was so un-kept.  “Uh, I’m Kate,” I shyly stated, extending my hand to shake his. 

Marc had ordered a pizza for us.  “Don’t mind if I do,” Nick exclaimed, sticking his greasy hands into the box.  YUCK.  Nick seemed…alright, at best.  I’m not one to usually judge, but he left a lot to be desired.  He picked at the pimples on his face.  This was pitiful. 

“So…you go to Marc’s high school?” I asked.  Nick totally ignored me.  “Helloooo?” I said.  Nick had his iPod ear-buds in, listening to the song “Memories” by David Guetta.  I could tell by the loud blaring techno music, as it was set on the highest volume. 

The next day, Nick wanted to spend time with me.  Much to my displeasure, we went out for a few hours.  We went through a few misadventures worth not going into. 

“Bad day, huh?” Marc asked bashfully the minute I walked in the door.  “Jeez!  Ya think?!” I angrily retorted.

Chapter 3: Meet the Family

Finally, at last, the next day was Christmas Eve.  Time for food and presents and whatnot…happy times awaited me, if you don’t count those obnoxious relatives on their way.

Dad’s eyes shifted to the clock on the kitchen wall.  Aunt Jennifer was due to arrival in a few minutes.  Her husband, Uncle Ernie, had died 10 years prior.  I felt a lot of sympathy for her, despite her delusional belief that it was still the year 1955.  Her plight and journey across country was totally unnecessary.

“Aunt Jennifer?  That old bag?  You do know that she still thinks President Eisenhower is in office, right?  She’s a few decades too late,” Marc said.  “Marc…shut up,” Mom scolded.  “Shutting up,” Marc pretending to zip up his mouth…

The loud knock was heard on the other end of the door.  “I’ll get it,” my mother said, twisting the handle.  Aunt Jennifer had big wide eyes, curly poofy gray hair, and rotting yellow teeth.

“Hello!  Oh my gosh…Matt and Katherine.  You two are so big now,” she gushed.  “My name’s Marc,” Marc protested.  She rustled his hair.  “Right.  Thanks for correcting me, Mike.”  This woman was long gone.

My Mom took her coat and we all sat down to the dining room table.  Mom then walked to the kitchen.  She and Dad were still in the middle of preparing the meal.  So Marc and I had to keep Mother Time company…for a long time…too much time.

The doorbell rang again.  “I’ll get it,” I said.  “Hello, nice to…” I couldn’t finish my sentence as I was shoved behind the door and completely knocked in the head hard.  “LINDA!  You look fabulous, honey,” Aunt Pam gushed.  “Uh, thanks,” my Mom awkwardly responded.

“Where the hell is the food?  I’m starvin’,” Uncle Jeff bellowed.  Nathan played on his iPhone while Ryan whined.  “Dad, I want Mega-Man.  That fat ass in the red suit better deliver or else I’m gonna through a fit,” Ryan yelled, thrashing his arms.  Jeez!  These children really were spoiled brats.  It was just the way I remembered them to be when they were younger and even more “innocent.”

“What a beautiful tree.  It looks completely fake though,” Pam dryly stated, looking at our nicely lit Christmas tree in the living room. 

We all finally sat down to a turkey dinner.  “Aunt Jennifer, would you do the honor of saying grace?” my Dad suggested.  “Grace?  She died 30 years ago,” Jennifer said, confused.  “They want you to say grace,” Uncle Jeff responded.  The blessing!  Jennifer muttered an inaudible church prayer and left it at that.  All of a sudden, a small Yorkie popped out of her bag and ran across the table, gobbling up half of the turkey meat.  “Down Millie!  Down girl!” Jennifer yelled.

“What the…” my Dad cried out in hysteria.  “It took hours and hours for me to cook,” he moaned.  He then shot Jennifer the death stare.

Aunt Pam bitched about everything.  My Mom’s attire, the food, the atmosphere…it was ridiculous.  Go to a freakin’ restaurant, woman, if you’re going to pick on my parents.  What a horror show: disastrous family gatherings were the worst.

Later that night, the relatives went to a nearby Marriott to spend the evening.  Thank goodness they weren’t staying over our house.

“Look, I know tonight was terrible,” Dad said.  “UGH.  I could do without her insults.  I don’t understand.  They were so nice the last time I saw them,” Mom said.  “People change and sometimes not for the better,” I responded.  “Christmas will be better,” Dad said with a glimmer of optimism.  “That bitch was like the female version of Scrooge,” Marc said.  “More like the Grinch,” I rolled my eyes. 

At last, the next morning was Christmas!  I awoke to many presents.  One such present was a new jewelry box.  I was so happy!  I really needed one for my dorm to keep track of my necklaces. 

There was suddenly a knock on the door.  “Merry Christmas!” Gabby exclaimed.  Dave was by her side.  “GUYS!  It’s great to see you!” I exclaimed, throwing my arms around Gabby.

 “After you told me about your horrible relatives, I figured I would spend the holiday with you.  Well, if it’s okay with your parents…” Gabby said.  I looked towards Mom and Dad.  “Sure, your friends are welcome anytime,” Mom said.

We had a special meal: Chinese takeout.  Ha Ha!  Better than nothing I supposed.  So what if it was unorthodox?  Christmas was awesome!  I was really enjoying the holiday with my buddies and family by my side.  What’s next?  I guess New Year’s, right? 

Chapter 4: A Fresh Start

A little less than a week later, it was New Year’s Eve.  I was on my way to Gabby’s place until Marc stopped me as I headed towards the doorway.

“Kate,” Marc began, “I’m sorry for setting you up with Nick.  I know he isn’t the most polite or attractive guy.  I just wanted you to be happy.”  I looked towards him, “It’s alright.  I know you meant well, but he just wasn’t the guy for me.”  Marc’s voice grew soft, “Don’t worry, Kate.  You’ll find somebody.” 

A few hours later, Gabby, Dave, one of Gabby’s college friends, and I huddled around the television set.  We all had loud noise makers.  Our bubbly Champaign filled the top of our wine glasses.  Aaron was new to our group, but he seemed like a cool guy.  And not only did he appear approachable and friendly, but he was cute, too.

You can’t judge someone on appearance though.  I had done this with Nick, who could have been a loveable goofball at heart, if I had spent more time with him.

A new year…time to start fresh.  I was so relieved.  The past few days may have been a nightmare, but it was time to move on. 

Dick Clark has been the host of New Year’s Rockin’ Even since 1972 on ABC.  Ryan Seacrest joined in as well.  Finally, it was time.  “5…4…3…2…1!” the countdown went down until…HAPPY NEW YEAR!  All the couples kissed and it was the start of a new beginning. 

Aaron looked over at me and smiled.  Hey, you never know.  Don’t worry…I’m usually not this corny and clichéd.

My resolution, I think, is to think more positively and keep an open mind.  I may have the worst roommate, I may not have a boyfriend, and my family may be crazy, but despite all of this, I still have amazing people in my life.  My parents are always so supportive and kind…and Gabby, she’s one of the best people I’ve met so far in my life.  And even though Marc gets me into bizarre situations…AHEM, Exhibit A, Nick for example, I feel I am very lucky.  Alright, I’m not going to over-do it, but I am grateful.  I still have my whole life to look forward to…and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds.

Love always,

Kate

Copyright © 2011 SJD-Inc.

Edited and Revised in January 2012


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