Flash Fiction: The Pile



Courtesy of Alethia Young. 


The Pile

Christmas Eve.

Mouths opened. Lungs expanded. Eyes gleamed.

“Not a word.” Dad leaned in over the table, finger extended, a twinkle in his eye. “Not a word.”

Five mouths clamped shut.

23 sleeps ago.

The Five, armed with saw and wagon, hurried out into Grandma’s fields, hunting just the right tree. In the back pasture they examined tall trees and short, round and skinny. Each child voted yes or no. The tree had to be perfect. It would take the center, Norman Rockwell stage for the whole month. Victorious, they return home over the small hills and dells, scratched but happy. Decorating and off-key singing ensued.

The holly green, the ivy green, the prettiest picture you’ve ever seen…

14 sleeps ago.

Boxes arrived. Big boxes. The Five immediately helped unpack.

“The tree doesn’t look lonely anymore,” the youngest said.

“Everyone keep your fingers to yourselves,” Mom said. “Don’t touch the pile.”

8 Sleeps ago. 

From under the prickly cedar tree, trussed up with lights and handmade decorations, spilled the pile. It spread into the narrow living room, cutting off the path from the kitchen to the bathroom. The Five huddle around it in the dark morning, dreaming of toys and more toys. Waiting. Waiting. The countdown dragged. The older ones swore the pile extended further into the room than any piles had before. Each present had been examined. Each of The Five knew which present was theirs, and the noise it made when shook. The Five had the entire pile mapped out.

1 sleep to go.

Christmas Eve sauntered in. Anticipation reached a breaking point. Tomorrow the paper would be ripped off and the toys would be theirs. Just a few more hours. One more sleep.

“Not a word.” Dad leaned in over the table, finger extended, a twinkle in his eye. “Not a word.”

Five mouths clamped shut.

Dad held out his hand to Mom and the two of them retired from the kitchen table for what The Five prayed would be a short winter’s nap.

Their parents’ bedroom door shut.

Screams of joy erupted.

In a moment of real Christmas magic, The Five gathered the dishes, ran hot soapy water in the sink, wash, dried, cleared, and cleaned the kitchen without a word of disagreement. Not one single squabble arose. No one pushed, pulled, glared, or even joked. Instead, carols erupted from them, swirling about the room on winds of excitement.

…it’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Sunlight streamed into the tiny mobile home as The Five went about their work. It splashed across the pile, the wonderful, huge pile.

Dad, king of his castle, lord of his family, general over the ranks of the Five, had superseded the holiday.

“I have an announcement, but I don’t want to hear a word. Not a single sound,” Dad had declared, as they sat around the table on that now famous Christmas Eve, eating tomato soup and grilled cheese. “Are we agreed?”

The Five shared a glance, then nodded in unison.

“Good.” Dad smiled. “Mom and I are going to take a nap. During the nap I want the table cleared and the dishes done.”

The Five waited. That was normal. Nothing about that part of the announcement would induce anything but sighs.

“After we get up,” Dad took a deep breath, “we’ll open presents.”

Five mouths opened. Lungs expanded. Eyes gleamed.

“Not a word.” Dad leaned in over the table, finger extended, a twinkle in his eye. “Not a word.”

Five mouths clamped shut.

The End

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If you enjoyed this story, please leave a comment! Share your own Christmas adventures.


Christmas Traditions 

The Joneses/Planers have lovely Christmas Traditions that are expected to be followed to the letter. 

The morning starts bright and early with Price and I opening a few gifts we got for each other, then it’s over to Dad and Mom’s for the unwrapping of presents. (Yes. We’re all adults now, but we still love presents.) 

Then! Breakfast! Sausage patties, eggs, cinnamon rolls, coffee, eggnog, and orange juice. It’s a beautiful thing.  

Once that’s all been cleared away, we head out to Glen Rose and spend the rest of the day grazing until we sit down to a dinner of brisket and sides. Somewhere in there we usually open gifts with the girls, go shooting, and loudly vent about politics. (We’re a loud family. )

Late in the evening, we head home, full and happy.

This year, with the Lord’s Day and Christmas coinciding, we won’t make it out to Glen Rose or have breakfast. We’ll all have our own quiet separate mornings and then go to Dad and Mom’s after church for feasting and merry making. Granddad and Wanda will join us along with Aunt Sheila. It will be a busy, wonderful day! 

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Traditions 

The Grandparents Letter. Every year, I make sure I send a nice long letter to my Grammie and Grandpa. They don’t really do email or Facebook, so they don’t really have a way to keep up with every little thing in our lives.  I got this mailed this morning. I was cutting it a little close, but it’s on its way!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Traditions (Part 12)

Christmas dishes are a huge part of my Christmas Cheer. My Mom had very special Christmas dishes when we were growing up, and it is something I’ve continued…being me, none of mine match. 

Every year I try to add a new dish to my collection, especially if I see one with a deer on it.

Several years ago, Potter Barn featured a set of dishes based around the 12 Days of Christmas. I circled, stared, and pointed it out in the catalogue to my extra parents when they asked what I wanted for Christmas. They are my most favorite Christmas dishes! I love unpacking them every year and I hate packing them away! 

I use the big platter with a Partridge in the Pear Tree to hold all my Christmas cards every year. 

They make me sooooo happy!

Merry Christmas!!!

Christmas Traditions (Part 8)

“I’m dreaming of a white Christmas
With every Christmas card I write
May your days be merry and bright
And may all your Christmases be white.”

Once upon a time, we had a magical and, yes, white Christmas Eve. (The story of why the Vincent side of the family celebrates Christmas on Christmas Eve will come later.) The day started with the sad news that Jason wouldn’t make it to the family celebration due to work. Spirits were low. Hearts were sad. We knew the day would come when we wouldn’t all be together for the holiday, but it was hard to realize that time was now.
Then low and behold, like the jolly man himself, Jason appears! A good day turned into a great day! A merry and bright day! A day of magical gifts. For, far more important to us than the gifts is  being together.

But the magic of this particular Christmas Eve wasn’t over.


We all wish for a white Christmas, but who in Texas believes we will ever have one, and yet, like a Christmas movie, snow sifted down from the sky! What joy! Grownups forgot their cares and raced outside like so many small children. Snowball fights ensured. Squeals of delight. White stuff flying!

That Christmas was before too many little ones had joined the family, so many of us spent the night at my parents house in a giant slumber party. We stayed up talking late into the wee hours of Christmas morning. We went out into the snow for a game of Frisbees unable to believe the white on the ground and not wanting to waste it.

It was a magical Christmas that joined others like the Christmas Fire, the Marshmallow Christmas, and Why we Celebrate on Christmas Eve, this was the White Christmas.

Merry Christmas! May yours be Merry and Bright with those you love gathered around!


Christmas Traditions  ( Part 7)

Jolly old Saint Nicholas,
Lean your ear this way,
Don’t you tell a single soul
What I’m going to say.
Christmas Eve will soon be here,
Now you dear old man,
Whisper what you’ll bring to me,
Tell me if you can. 

-Jolly Old Saint Nicholas by Unknown

One of my favorite Christmas movies is Elf! It makes me laugh  and cry. It’s sweet and cute. The music is great and I don’t gag at that one part anymore. lol.

I love to watch it while I decorate or wrap presents. Due to an early December cold, I watched it this year while wrapping presents on the couch under my Christmas quilt .  That was enough for one day, so back to resting.

Merry Christmas! 

Christmas Traditions (Day 6)

While wrapping presents or sending out Christmas cards, I enjoy watching this old version of the Nutcracker Ballet. It originally aired on PBS, but you can now find it on YouTube. It has a charming VHS video quality to it.

The Nutcracker Ballet is one of my favorite pieces of classical music. I love the story being told, the magic, the innocence, and the joy of Christmas. You should check it out!

Merry Christmas!

Christmas Traditions (Part 2)

“The holly green, the ivy green
The prettiest picture you’ve ever seen 
Is Christmas in Killarney
With all of the folks at home
It’s nice you know, to kiss your beau 
while cuddling under the mistletoe 
And Santa Claus, you know of course
Is one of the boys from home

The door is always open

The neighbors pay a call.”

– Christmas in Killarney by Bobby Vinton

Part of the joy of Christmas is all the wonderful food that you wouldn’t eat on a regular basis. One of those special foods in our family is Sausage Balls. Super easy to make, this wonderful tasting delights are a Christmas must have. We usually make a few batches for ourselves, and then one for each side of the family on the actual  holiday.

Three ingredients.

Ready to go in the oven.

Yum yum!!!

This is the recipe. 😊