The tradition of story telling is stronger at Christmas time than almost any other time of the year. Whether stories are read aloud to family and friends, or alone by the fire with a hot cup of cocoa, it’s an activity all cherish during the holidays. In the spirit of sharing, enjoy these stories written by Pique writers for you.
from all of us to all of you.
A perfect Christmas
By Leslie Anthony
It had taken Andy 25 years to learn the difference between linen and cotton but he'd finally figured it out. Linen was heavier, more durable, and more expensive; basically, better. And this tablecloth — with its hospital-crisp folds, thick hems and tiny, embroidered poinsettias constellating the edges — was definitely linen. A fitting template for the display-case's worth of bone china, crystal glassware and spit-polished silver laid out at ten place settings, encircling a table that hadn't been expanded with the two large table-leaves gathering dust behind the dining-room curtains for as long as he could remember.
Mom was clearly going all out.
This, he knew, had less to do with the fact that the entire McClintock clan — mom, dad, his younger sisters Candice and Caroline, and baby brother Aaron — had all gathered, as they periodically did, at home in Prince George for Christmas, than with the expanded guest roster: from Montreal, where he now taught pre-med students, Andy had brought his fiancé Justine, a pure laine Quebecker who'd never been west of Winnipeg; Candice, six-months pregnant, had journeyed from Calgary with husband William, who they'd all first met last February at the couple's Mexican wedding; Caroline dragged along Evan, latest in a string of "I-hope-this-one-works-out" boyfriends culled from the stock-trader ranks encountered daily at her analyst job in Toronto's financial district; and Aaron, a famous textile artist currently mounting an exhibit at London's Tate Modern, had arrived from the U.K. with his "friend" Tim, a feat of inclusivity not thought possible only a few years ago.
Andy's father, Frank, had mellowed since that explosive Christmas five years ago when Aaron first came out to the family, a fractious scene that ended with negotiations over allowing him to stay for dinner. By the time of Candice's wedding, however, Aaron and Frank were on an even keel, the latter even conducting himself politely with Tim. And now here was log-builder Frank, engaged in animate conversation with both Tim and Evan about the properties and uses of various types of wood — his passion. Justine, Andy could tell from her machine-gun laughter, was in the library with the rest of the female contingent. Aaron, he surmised, was still thrashing around the mudroom having just returned from walking the dogs — his parents' ancient mutt Joe, and Caroline's two massive ridgebacks, Atticus and Caesar — through a skein of paw-deep snow. It was all very domestic and cordial. Placid even.
Maybe too placid. Standing alone in the dining room, Andy took a long sip from the latest in a day-long series of rum-spiked, homemade eggnog, the only kind he liked (the rest of the fam preferred the saccharine-sweet store-bought variety), and listened for a minute.