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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Christmas Cooking/Baking (not recipes) (10/16/08)

TITLE: A Bittersweet Sugar Cookie Christmas
By Sara Harricharan
10/20/08


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The red glow of Christmas lights flickered by my bedroom window. Pulsating. On. Off. On. Off.

I hated them.

Lucia made dad put them up.

Mom never cared for lights outside because she knew dad. He could fall off everything. This year’s escapade included a sprained wrist, a broken finger and a sprained ankle among other minor injuries.

Lucia kept blabbering about how pretty it looked and what a great job Dad did.

I’d appreciate it if her Christmas traditions were more than showing off to the neighbors. Like her annual dinner party for tonight. Dad doesn’t care what she does. Even though he doesn’t like to deal with all the fuss. Yet another horrible evening in a showy party dress where I am forced to listen and smile at everyone’s gossip.

I don’t think I could bear it for the fifth year in a row. I’m sick of what she makes Christmas into. It’s not about money, or giving and keeping. It’s about family, God and even more than that. I told her so.

She didn’t like that. Which would explain why the hired a maid cleaned my room along with the rest of the house.

I wanted to hurt her.

My room doesn’t need cleaning. It’s a museum to Mom, because Lucia can’t stand to see any of her things around the house. I keep it very clean. Always.

Now my room feels as foreign and cold as a dungeon.

She married dad for the money.

He thinks she loves him.

I can’t bear to tell him of the things she says when she thinks I’m not listening. Dad is always moody this time of year. I know he misses Mom. For that reason, I forgive him for siding with Lucia.

She hates me. Dad yelled at me for yelling at her. So now I, 17-yearold Tessa Reynolds, am stuck in my room. Lucia can’t do anything, but send me to my room. And she knows I won’t stay there unless I want to.

I don’t want to.

These lights are driving me crazy. There has to be somewhere else I can go. Something else I can do. I cannot stand to be in this room for another second.

I wandered through the kitchen, checking all the cupboards. They are half-empty, half-full. When Mom was alive, Christmas meant lots of food and stories until midnight.

It hurts to remember. I haven’t had a real sugar cookie in so long.

My mind clicked into gear and I pulled ingredients from different shelves.

Flour, sugar, eggs and holiday sprinkles. Mom’s special rose mixing bowl. Rubber spatula. Mom’s wadded up old apron from the back of the junk drawer.

My hands remembered the familiar rituals to create a simple, holiday comfort. I was mixing, folding and kneading within in the hour.

A strange sadness hung over me as I worked. I kept seeing Mom’s face everywhere. Feeling her hands on mine as I stirred. Smelling her perfume mixed with cinnamon and nutmeg.

It seems like forever, before I was spreading frosting on the sugar cookies. While they baked, I had cleaned the kitchen and loaded the dishwasher.

Now the fun part was ahead. I carefully scattered the sprinkles, trying to make sure the colors were evenly balanced. My masterpieces were arranged on plates, destined for division between the cookie jar and my stomach.

Silence captured the moment as I choose the first cookie. It was halfway to my mouth when I heard him.

“Tessa?” Dad’s voice is a whisper.

The cookie fell to the table as I turned to stare at him.

He is standing in the doorway, eyes brimming with tears, as if there is something he ought to say, wanted to say, but could not bear to. “Tessa?” He said again.

This time his arms opened.

I rushed into them. “Daddy.”

“Tessa.” He murmured. “Maelyn.”

A tear splashed onto my forehead. At the sound of Mom’s name, I hugged him tighter. “Merry Christmas, Daddy.”

“She’d be real proud of you. Real proud.” He stretched one hand towards the cookies and hesitated. “May I?”

“Of course.” I pulled away to offer him the freshest plate. “Try these.”

His eyes closed in bliss on the first taste. From the look on his face, I knew he would now spend the night in his Quiet Room, to think. He paused in the doorway and his mouth twitched. “Don’t worry about Lucia’s party. You don’t have to go.”

Copyright 2008


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This article has been read 706 times
Member Comments
Member Date
LauraLee Shaw10/23/08
Oh my, now you've made me cry! What a wonderful storyline, and I love this character you've created. Well done wrapping her around the topic!
Seema Bagai 10/27/08
Excellent. The MC's voice is perfect for the story and I liked how you blended in the cookie baking with her emotions.
Kristen Hester10/28/08
I love the voice of your MC. This story kept me interested throughout. Your opening sentence was very strong. Nicely done!
Verna Cole Mitchell 10/28/08
I could so feel the sadness and loneliness of your mc. I'm glad Dad got a good cookie and sympatized with her plight concerning the party. Well written.
Joshua Janoski10/28/08
You drew me right into this girl's world, and you didn't let go. Wow. I felt the anger, the hurt, the sadness, and the joy of bringing back a Christmas that had been forgotten with the death of her mother. Kudos to you for writing such an emotional and well-written piece.
Celeste Ammirata10/28/08
This is wonderful. I felt Tess's sadness and anger. I love how she baked the cookies as a way of holding on to memories of Christmas past. You grabbed me with the first line and had me hooked. Great job!
Beth LaBuff 10/28/08
Bittersweet is a perfect description. I imagine that knowing that she has her father's love, she could endure a lot now. Poor girl. Your writing is so good with this! I was captivated!
Yvonne Blake 10/29/08
Ahhh....'tears'... so sad and sweet! It's so beautiful and full of all kinds of emotions. Great job!
Joanne Sher 10/29/08
Excellent characterization, and an absolutely beautiful story. Tessa's emotions seem SO realistic. Very, VERY nicely done, dear.
Angela M. Baker-Bridge10/29/08
I'm glad Tessa came out the victor. You did an excellent job of drawing the reader into the MC's conflict.
Laury Hubrich 10/29/08
I loved this. Very nice work. There were some very minor typos, though, but it didn't detract much from the story. Great job:)
Karlene Jacobsen 10/29/08
Your title fits perfectly with the story. Well done in the telling. I found myself standing next to Tessa as she prepared the cookies.
Leah Nichols 10/30/08
Very realistic - I was able to identify perfectly with your MC. Excellent writing - I loved how the story turned out - this is a top-notch piece!