The pouring of snowflakes elicited a shiver of optimism for Thalia, as she braved the cold to top up the food stock for her parents’ traditional dinner. She couldn’t help but think of all the wonderful treats that would be made. A glorious smell ingrained in the visuals of her mind: crispy roasted potatoes, a sweet array of steamed or candied vegetables and succulent helpings of old friends and an appreciated sacrifice, destined for centre stage. Just a mere few minutes of gratitude before gratification.
Thalia called her siblings several times to orchestrate every detail of the preparation, until almost perfection. Her eldest brother wouldn’t be able to make the journey in, with the weather conditions progressively becoming as ferocious as it was enchanting. Darren was the first born and highly favoured, his word meant exactly what it implied and most could count on him to make it through the trials of living. His conviction in discourse brought harmony wherever he ventured so the first holiday without him fostered opportunity for visions of turmoil and worse case scenarios within Thalia. Inside her chest hope marched on and she was determined to make the holidays a good time despite, her brothers absence. She was in charge now and Thalia wanted everyone to remember the occasion so she spent much time tirelessly fussing. She created a schedule and a specially dressed backdrop. The new carpet in the hallway cost her several pennies more than she expected it would but Thalia reasoned that she would put it to good use with the photographs she planned to take.
It wasn’t long before the sacred day arrived and Thalia was roused by a barrage of calls: Marley her cousin would be accompanied by the children of his latest lady of interest but offered no particular numbers for an estimate, Sandra her another cousin would be bringing a friend, Uncle Gary would be arriving before cousin Gayle and her Husband who he threatened last year and shunned just to see the other man squirm, Aunt Myra requested some more meat free options to go alongside the expected roasted vegetables but would not be cooking herself as she was unwell heaving and wheezing for emphasis, Martin her little brother was now too busy for working but would bring a cake for afters and her younger sister Jamilah would try her best to get her family ready early enough to support Thalia in the kitchen but asked for a pardon if her five girls slowed her down with a sudden list of misplaced items. Grand Aunt Rita was the only relative besides for her brother Darren to offer season greetings for the day ahead.
Uncle Gary and Gayle’s husband argued over the remote, Aunt Myra complained about the texture of Thalia’s improvised tofu stew and stuffed mushrooms, Marley’s little friends ate more than any of the adult guests and even rummaged through cupboards and the fridge to satisfy themselves. Aunt Myra complained about the children’s ‘bottomless pits’ of a stomach in concern for the dwindling tofu stew and stuffed mushrooms that she hoped to take home with her. Thalia turned the television in the den on for Gayle’s husband who allowed Jamilah’s girls to break her brother Darren’s exasperatingly expensive music equipment. Jamilah fell asleep before dinner and woke up during dessert to throw up on the carpet on the newly laid hallway carpet. When Martin finally arrived he complained that all the food was gone and became so engrossed in the game on the screen that he forgot the apple pies that he bought. The fury of the fire alarm indicated that dessert would no longer be in their best interest,as Thalia overheard Darren’s impulsive response of heated horror upon hearing the ruin of his music investments.
Thalia was exhausted as she washed up with her eyes firmly fixed on the night before her. As she peered outside the window she thought of how disappointed her parents must be. She had failed to bring their family together despite, her best intentions. Thalia’s frustrations were caught in her throat before she softly wept so not to be heard…the clickety clack of Aunt Rita’s favourite black suede kitten heels jolted her out of her pity party for one. Thalia wiped her hands on the nearest kitchen towel and turned towards the sound, meeting the warm eyes of her Aunt Rita. Aunt Rita thanked Thalia for a wonderful evening but said that she would be leaving Thalia asked her to stay awhile longer for some family pictures but Aunt Rita must of misheard her as she kissed her goodbye, thanked her for the meal and uttered:
‘you mustn’t worry yourself so much.’
Not long after Aunt Rita left, out poured Thalia’s other relatives. Martin mentioned a trip to a takeaway, Uncle Gary suggested not inviting Gayle’s husband as an improvement for next year, Aunt Myra beamed once loaded with Thalia’s new tupperware full of mixed leftovers. Marley sauntered out trying his best to avoid eye contact with Thalia, clearly aware that she sought an explanation for his three shadows. The musketeers attempted to make off with her laptop but Thalia swapped her prized possession with canned food in concern and sent Jamilah and her girls home in a cab.
The house was silent again and finally clean…well decent. Thalia made note of the stains that she would certainly have to tackle tomorrow, as a silent friend began to call to her. The charm of slumber in the sanctuary of her room, triggered Thalia’s first genuine smile of the day and the setting grew more beautiful in the wait of her night routine. Sinking into her new soft sheets, Thalia felt grateful for her impulsive purchases even if she would be the only one to appreciate her efforts. The contentment of this thought caused Thalia to smile ruefully as she recounted the chaos of the day. It was at this moment that she absentmindedly played with the new camera on her beside table. Thalia instantly felt a wave of energy that rendered her speechless…as she scrolled through picture after picture of poses, incidents and faces including several of her own. Despite, the day not unfolding exactly how she expected it to go the day had unexpectedly gone to plan.
Copyright Teherah Wheeler (©) 2016
(Featured pic from Apartment Therapy)