Christmas day finally arrives! I am so excited! My mom tells me that she is keeping the tradition of our Christmas Potluck alive by inviting Grandma, grandpa, Aunt Viola and Uncle Rick. The only thing that makes me slightly nervous, is when my mom informs me that Abby and Mrs. Clawson will be stopping by as well. I find that odd, judging by everything that has happened between us, but I don’t question it. I am so over the moon that I push that aside and focus on the excitement of the day.
After opening presents with Judy, I spend most of the morning playing video games with her, until she gets bored and leaves me. I can see why people get glued to them. They can be really addictive! I didn’t even get a chance to type anything new for my story because of it.
Soon it is late in the evening, and I whip on my clothes for the Christmas Potluck. I cannot wait to see grandma and grandpa. I haven’t seen them since graduation!
Little by little, the guests start to arrive, including Abby and her mother. I spot my grandmother standing in the dining room and hurry over.
“Grandma!” I say, embracing her tightly.
“Elizabeth dear! My goodness, you’ve grown! You are growing into a very beautiful woman.”
“Grandma,” I say blushing slightly. “You don’t have to always say that.”
“Oh, but it is true dear. You have every bit of your mother’s beauty. It runs in my side of the family.” I laugh and hug her once more. It is so nice to talk to her again.
Part of our Christmas Potluck, is a gift exchange. Taking a few of my wrapped gifts, I place them in the room center. The pile then looks a little larger than before. I am excited to see the things people purchased. The gifts have to be less than sixty dollars and I am interested to see what other people came up with.
“All right, everyone gather round,” my mom calls. Everyone at the party then walks into the family room and starts taking their seats. The gift exchange then begins. My uncle Rick is up first. He opens up his gift and gets guitar strings and a guitar pick for his guitar.
“Awesome!” he says, and sits back down. He is the baby of my mom’s side of the family. My mother was born first and he was born fifteen years after. He and I are ten years apart.
My mom is then up next. She gets the new book from her favorite author Mark Rolillo, “Just In Time.” She also gets a little sign that reads “Best Teacher/Mother In The World.” Mom glances in my direction and I grin sheepishly. I happened to see her eyeing that book in the library for the past week, so I made sure to go back and get it. It was definitely worth it.
Aunt Viola is next. She gets some athletic gear of weights and barbells. She also gets a week free of yoga classes. She looks up and eyes everyone suspiciously.
“All right, whose joke was this?” She asks, and I see my dad snicker. He and Aunt Viola love playing jokes on each other like this. My dad is really into computers while Viola is extremely athletic. They like to tease each other about it. My dad and Viola are twins, but they are so different from each other.
“I thought that they might come in handy,” my dad says when she eyes him.
“You just wait until next year,” she says, “I’ll get you real good.”
After grandma and grandpa get their gifts of baking and camping supplies (they like to camp once every summer), it’s Judy’s turn. She squeals when she opens her present and sees a cell phone lying inside.
My mom frowns. “Hey! Someone broke the sixty dollar limit rule!”
“Oh big deal,” Mrs. Clawson snaps. “It was only by twenty bucks. Besides, look how happy she is!”
I can tell my mother is annoyed but she doesn’t say anything. There seems to be tension between her and Mrs. Clawson tonight, which again makes me wonder why she and Abby were even invited.
Soon it is my turn to go. I saunter through them and find the gift with my name on it. I then slowly unwrap the paper and lift the lid open. Inside, is a “how to write your own novel,” book, along with a couple pens and a notebook. There is also a Skateboarding video game. I glance around until my eyes rest on Judy. She grins.
“I thought you could use your own. I know you have been the one hogging the game.”
I laugh and give her a hug. “Thanks.”
Abby is the last one to go. She goes after her mother, who received a rhinestone cell phone cover from my mom. Abby slowly walks up to the present pile and picks up the last gift. She then opens it and gasps. Inside, is a sketchpad and watercolor paint. There are also drawing utensils and parchment paper. Abby looks around for a clue as to who gave her the gift, but she doesn’t get her answer. Little does she know, it was me. I know that Abby was getting into fashion design when we graduated from high school, and I also happen to know she still practices drawing at home. But I was not going to admit. I actually don’t know why I bought it for her. I guess I did it subconsciously before I remembered we weren’t really friends anymore. Oh well. At least Abby will have something useful. I can only hope it makes her into a better person.
After we are done opening gifts, people start to head out and some over to the table to eat. I take the time to catch up with Auntie Viola.
“It has been way too long my dear niece,” she says, smiling. “How is college going? Keeping those grades up?”
“Yup. I got a 4.0 this quarter.”
“Did you get the dean’s list?”
“What do you think?”
“That’s my girl!” Viola slaps me a high five. “I am so proud of you. Keep it up!”
As I am talking to Viola, I look over and see Abby answering a phone call.
“I’m glad you got there safely, I just wish you had called me earlier. I was worried.” Abby sighs. “I love you too, I just wish you were able to stay longer. I feel like we never get to really hang out anymore.”
Abby tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “Okay, well keep me posted. I’ll talk to you soon. I love you.” She then hangs up her phone.
It’s funny, I was a bit surprised when Abby and her mother showed up without Brad. Tommy, I had heard was sick, but what had happened to Brad? I knew I had seen him standing on the porch several days ago. Where was he now?
“Hey Abby,” I say walking up to her.
“Hey Lizzie. Thanks for inviting my mom and I to the potluck. I know, it probably wasn’t easy…”
“It was fine. I’m glad you came.” We stand in silence for a while until I come up with something to ask. “So where is your mom?” I say, looking around the room.
“Oh, probably talking to your mom. She seems to want to tell anyone who will listen about Brad.”
“Speaking of Brad, where is he? I thought I saw him arrive at your house a few days ago.”
“Oh that,” Abby rubs the back of her neck. “Well, he had a family emergency, so he had to leave.”
“Oh, so how long did he stay?”
“Well he left on the same day he came…”
“Really? That’s weird.”
“Yah, but it was a family emergency.”
“Wow, you are taking it well.”
“I don’t really have a choice. Still, it is getting a bit irritating. We seem to be missing each other a lot lately. Me visiting and him not being there or him cancelling on plans. It seems like he is always busy doing something. I am really starting to miss him.”
Warning bells are going off in my head. “Um, Abby? I don’t mean to be negative, but do you think it’s possible he might be…”
“Might be what?”
“Cheating on you?”
Abby’s eyes widen. “What? Why would you think that?”
“You just said that you hardly see each other, and that he is always busy all of sudden. It could definitely be a possibility. He is an Alpha Annya after all, and they are known for doing things like that.”
I expect Abby to agree with me, but instead she rolls her eyes.
“Look, I get that you are still mad about what happened at that party and I can’t blame you. But that is not fair for you to make up stories about my boyfriend.”
“What?” I look at her shocked. “I am not making up-”
“I know your boyfriend dumped you, but that doesn’t mean I have to be single too.”
That stops me. How did she even know about Kendal? Oh right, mom.
“You know what? Forget I said anything,” I say, and then slip on my jacket and head outside.
Snow has flooded the ground and I track through it happily. In just a while I will be back at school and have to wait months before coming back .
Smiling, I pick up a round pack of snow and start packing. When it gets big enough, I start rolling it across the floor. I keep rolling until it becomes the bottom of a snowman. I continue this until I have added a middle and top. I then put in some coal eyes, raisins for a mouth and a large carrot for a nose. Last of all, I top the head with a top hat. This brings back so many memories. Time sure has changed. And I didn’t think it was going to stop any time soon.