Writers' Post #27
Nothing says Merry Christmas like knowing that you will be doing something you have always done to celebrate or get ready for the big day. It may be a life long tradition or something you have only recently begun and wish to do from here on. What matters is that you enjoy the feeling it gives you. Traditions are reminders of something. Days gone by can be brought to the forefront of your mind by doing something that takes you back to a simpler time or a time when someone who is not with you now, was with you. Those who are alone might have a different kind of traditions. Adriana might have her own.
As the snow fell so violently and the wind blew with such a howl as to chill her bones, Adriana remembered the Christmases of long, long past. She didn't want to remember them, but this blizzard made her mind drift there. She could clearly see the family, such as it was, sitting around the big old table in Grandmother's dining room. The cavernous room where all family dinners were served and conversations were controlled and polite. You see, not one person seated at that table wanted to be there. They attended because they had to attend. It was mandatory. The Grandmother was the matriarch and she sent "invitations" to the family for command gatherings. She would have her meal at precisely 2 PM and no one would be late. No one would arrive early either because that would mean socializing and this family did NOT spend time with each other if there was a way to avoid it. The Grandmother dinners were one exception with funerals and weddings being the others.
The family was a group of people who were related by blood or marriage and nothing else. They had each pulled away in their own time, by their own circumstances but all leading back to something Grandmother had done or said that each deemed, on their own, to be unforgivable. Yet, her command would still be obeyed by all. It is still unclear to Adriana why they all jumped to change their other plans to meet her demands every single time. Adriana was intrigued by the power she held, though she gave nothing back, leave the grandiose meal she prepared with her own hands. Her culinary skills were immense. The woman could put forth a veritable banquet with what appeared to be little effort and what in fact was with no affection for any of those attending. Grandmother, herself, ate only insignificant amounts of anything and forbade all from bringing anything from their homes to share at her meals. She felt a good hostess would provide a meal and anything else offered was an insult. The family had long since stopped trying to 'help'.
Although Adriana was not technically a part of this family, she was there with her foster parents who were related to this brood. She was glad she didn't share this strange DNA that allowed such a showing of familial ties with none of the affection she had always hoped to find. Her foster parents were kind and said loving things to each other and even on occasion, to her, there was little hugging, no kissing and just a touch of laughter. It was the laughter that held her attention. She never saw anything funny about what they seemed to find hysterical. The old woman they spoke of was the Grandmother and she had figured that out after the first dinner they were summoned to attend. They made fun of her house, her clothes, her fake smile and how she always acted like she was glad to see them, though they knew she didn't even like them. That was funny, laughter inducing funny to them. How odd, she always thought. For her, it was beyond sad. She mourned for the Grandmother's loss. She had lost all of her offspring in a literal way and yet they all lived nearby and all attended each dinner out of some weird and unbreakable bond. Adriana had thought Grandmother equaled love, but certainly she was wrong about that. Though she always thought she wanted one, she did not anymore.
The tradition of the Christmas dinner was something she tried never to recall. But this storm was just throwing it right up to the front of her brain, damn it. Now it was sitting there and replaying like on a strange loop. The food is on the table, the perfectly set table and everyone is truly enjoying the food. There is very little talk and what there is, isn't personal. It about the weather, the food, a bit of politics and then more silence. Grandmother does ask a few questions concerning each persons employment. She likes to know where everyone works, they say so she can procure discounts, should the need arise to do business with any of her family members. Otherwise, the meal comes to a conclusion and the table is cleared. Grandmother insists no one touch a dirty dish, once the table has been cleared and the tablecloths have been sent to the laundry area. She has nothing but time and enjoys the clean up as much as the cooking. There is no argument. Each family thanks her for such a delicious meal and begins to make their exit. Grandmother makes no move to entice them to stay on. She is finished now and bids them all farewell and God Speed. Adriana has no idea what that means, but she always says it as each family leaves. Another Christmas dinner with family at Grandmother's and not one hug, not one kiss and not one "I love you" to be heard. That's the tradition.
Adriana does not miss these people.
She now remembers her 18th birthday. A beautiful card is handed to her by her fosters and it holds $3000 inside. There is a very personal message hand written on the left inside flap. It reads, "Happy Birthday, Adriana and welcome to adulthood. You have graduated high school and have no desire to attend college, therefore, we have enclosed enough cash for you to make a down payment on your own apartment. As you go off into the big wide world know that we will always remember you with fondness. The Andrews"
Yep, that was the end of her "family life". She was once again alone. She had not seen or heard from them or their family since she packed her bags 2 days after her 18th birthday and moved into her first apartment. Although she had lived just 5 miles from them, neither had made the effort to maintain contact. They had no need or desire to interact with each other. For the Andrews, it was the life they were taught. For Adriana, it was all she had.
Every adult in her life, up to age 18, had deserted her in one way or another. Her birth parents had abandoned her at a hospital when she was a mere hours old. They were never found. She had been in numerous foster homes and returned each time to the group home because she either wasn't quite the child that family wanted or they had one of their own and didn't need this extra one anymore, yes, that happened. All of the adults left her. The people who ran the group home were employees. They came and went. None were lifelines. Adriana never had a chance to learn what really makes a family something one would want to be part of in a forever way.
Her Christmas traditions now were her own. Every year she decorated her 4 foot artificial tree with blue bulbs in the light sockets and blue Christmas balls and silver tinsel. The topper was an angel she had purchased her first Christmas alone. She had arms outspread and welcoming. She had blonde hair, blue eyes and very red lips. She stood on one toe and appeared to be jumping into your arms as you gazed upon her beauty. Her dress was off-white and lacy covering a cone which held her securely on the tree top. The 8 inch tall angel was Adriana's favorite "thing" ever. She represented the love that Adriana would spend years making happen, in her head. She would always imagine and believe it would happen for her and in her mind, she knew exactly how it would feel.
Her other tradition was a simple prayer she prayed after the tree looked perfect to her and the quiet of the moment settled in her heart. She would kneel almost under her tree and assuming the praying position she would say, "My dear Heavenly Father, I am thy humble sinner living each day falling short of all I could be. I thank you for all the blessings I have in my life including my ability to work and support myself while I plod along this unknown path you have set for me. I pray for the strength and the wisdom to know thy will and see it done. Amen". She called this her prayer of Christmas and it was always exactly the same. It would change only if she had something else to add to her blessings list. So far, she had added nothing.
Those memories from long ago were vanished from her mind as she locked eyes with her angel of hope. Her favorite tradition was to imagine that this would be her last year alone with the angel.
And the new imaginary friends enter and the party in her mind begins.
Merry Christmas, Adriana.