Having completed NaNoWriMo AND publishing my first book in November I’ve decided to celebrate other writers (and take a break 😀 ). I’ve asked friends and family for 24 Christmas stories – some fact, some fiction; which I will post, one each day from today until Christmas Eve.
I’m delighted to welcome a host of different people to the blog for the month of December. There’ll be everyone from published authors to people who are just starting out, seasoned bloggers to some who do not write very often but wanted to share a story. We’ll have Canadians, Irish, Americans , Australians… and you! If you’d like to contribute, you’d be welcome to. But hurry up – I have a few spaces left and I want all the stories up on the blog ready to ‘appear’ each day, by December 15th.
As a little incentive… all contributors’ names will go into a hat and someone will get a signed paperback copy of ‘The Long & The Short of it’ 🙂
So, the first story is our advent calendar of Christmas Stories is by Tara Sparling. I’ve just got to know Tara recently. She has a wonderful blog about the writing and publishing. I’m looking forward to reading the novel that I know is in the process of preparation for publication. As well as all that, she is the best craic to hang out with. Love that I’ve gotten to know her.
Here’s here story….
GUESS WHO? by Tara Sparling
My mother would sit on the stairs crying when they went. It’s practically all I remember of the late 1980s. Tommy was the first to go, then PJ. The twins, gone.
The rest of us wondered if they would look the same when we saw them again. Every year on their birthday they would go and get the same haircut so nobody could tell them apart.
“I can always tell them apart,” Mam said once, awful annoyed altogether. “Are you telling me I don’t know my own sons?”
But when Tommy was leaving, she didn’t. Maybe they went to the barber’s that day thinking the family mightn’t miss them as much if we couldn’t tell which one of them had gone.
About an hour before the train, she threw her arms around PJ, crying. “You’ll write,” she said, hugging him tight. “And we’ll get you home for the Christmas, with the help of God.”
“Mam,” said PJ, grinning. “I’m not Tommy.”
She nearly didn’t forgive him for that.
The twins thought it was a great adventure. They only went separately because PJ had to stay at home for six months to finish his apprenticeship. They’d never spent more than three days away from each other before and they had never lived away from home. Mam said at least they would be together again soon, living in their bachelor pad, seeing all the sights from the top floors of the tallest half-built buildings in London.
But they didn’t get home for Christmas. The flights were too expensive, the boats all booked up. That year, she didn’t sit on the stairs. She went crying into the sprouts instead.
“They’ll be fine, Mam,” I said. “Just put a bit of streaky bacon in with them or something and we’ll eat them all up.”
We got used to it in time. The table no longer groaned with the task ahead and there was plenty of elbow room for everyone, so it wasn’t so bad sitting next to Eddie with his stupid left-handed eating anymore. There was more than enough stuffing and no fights over who took the last of the gravy or why Angela always had to have a wing which everybody knew was the worst part of the turkey.
Mam found other things to cry into – the soup, the mince pies and the brandy butter. Once I found her crying upside-down into her new chest freezer. “I’ll never have them home again for it,” she sobbed, scavenging the bottom for frozen breadcrumbs.
After a while Mam stopped mentioning the twins all the time. But that was when they finally came home. There was a rap on the door on Christmas Eve and Mam threw off her apron, her hands fluttering over her heart like nervous little birds when she saw who was standing there. They had brought girls with them. They had come for their dinner and to tell us that they were getting married and moving back home.
After that, we never had a problem with the haircuts. We simply went by which wife was standing beside them at the time. It wasn’t foolproof, but Mam was happy enough with it.
Find out more about Tara Sparling
and her writing at her blog
Tara Sparling Writes
or follow her on Twitter @tarasparling