Tuesday 11 November 2014


I have decided to start a series of short stories, to flex my creative writing muscles. This is the first one, 100% fictional. No family members were harmed by writing this story. :-)


"Move in a bit closer!"
"Take your phone out of the picture."
"Nooo Dave, you are not supposed to drink yet, all the glasses have to be full or it looks stupid!"

Suzy was annoyed. How hard was it to simply pose for a few minutes? How did other families do it? She was damned if she would let all her hard work of decorating go to waste. Her family better pull it together! Was it too much too ask for them to honour all her hard work by giving her some photo opps she could post online?

"Okay guys, let's do this!", she called out. "The sooner we have the photos, the sooner we can get started on dinner. Well, we'll have to snap a few quick shots of the food ..."
Her husband Ron interrupted her. "Suzy, do we have to do this? Can we not just be together as a family, enjoying Thanksgiving?" He gave her a loaded look. Suzy knew that look. She hated that look. It was judging, imploring, and full of disappointment, intermixed with some irritation.
As soon as she saw it, she reacted in full-on attack mode, even though she knew, deep down, that it was unfair.
"Ron, don't even start", she snarled. "I've spent all week getting ready for today, cleaning, decorating, buying the ingredients, spending all day in the kitchen to cook a decent dinner for all of you - why can't I share it with my friends? Why?? Don't I deserve a little bit of appreciation after all this fucking work?"
As soon as the words were out, she slapped her hand over her mouth, startled. What had she just said?
Her family was looking at her wide-eyed, silent.

Damn it. Now she looked like a fool.
"I mean", she fumbled, "I just wanted to take some pictures for all of you later..." - she trailed off.
Everybody looked at her. Her older sister Lynn, who was always critical of her; Lynn's daughter Britt, 15 years old, and son Luke, 11; her brother-in-law Dave; her parents; her friends Sonya and George; and Ron.
Suzy felt ashamed at first, but the outrage overtook her. She rounded on Lynn, who was the safest target, since she was her life-long verbal sparring partner: "Don't look at me like that! You just posted a recipe on Pinterest last month, and I know it took you 5 tries to get the recipe right, and even more to get decent pictures. You spent an entire week just on one lousy recipe, remember? But all your mommy friends and everybody at work complimented you on it, so in the end it was worth it, right? This here is no different. So stop judging me!"

Lynn, as expected, wasn't taking any heat form her younger sister. "Don't be ridiculous!", she snapped. "That was totally different. I didn't ruin my whole family's Thanksgiving for the need to be the center of attention. Do you have to be so narcissistic?"
The sisters continued their bickering, with the rest of the family looking on.
Their parents had matching expressions of long suffering on their faces, well used to their daughters' fights.
Britt and Luke were rolling their eyes at each other, and Britt muttered something about how embarrassing middle-aged women were.
Sonya and George looked like they would rather be anywhere else than here, and Dave drained his glass in one, long gulp and reached for the wine bottle for a refill.

Finally, Ron had enough. "Stop it, you two!" he bellowed. "You both act like teenagers, it's absurd. All this drama for a picture to put on the internet? Are you even listening to yourself? It's laughable! Isn't it more important to appreciate this day for what it's supposed to mean? Being thankful for having food on the table, for our family and friends, and for being healthy. You should both be ashamed of yourself!"

Suzy broke out in tears. She knew that her husband was right, and she hated it when he got mad at her. Particularly in front of their family and friends, how mortifying!
"I'm sorry", she sobbed. "I just wanted it all to be perfect, and I worked so hard to make it look nice, and now I've ruined it all, and you all think I'm crazy."
"No, that's alright, you are just stressed." "You didn't ruin anything!" "It all looks wonderful!" they rushed to say. "You are crazy", Lynn grumbled, but she did so quietly.

Ron hugged his emotional wife. "Why don't you wash your face sweetie? And then please, for the love of God, let's eat. I'm starving!" Suzy smiled through her tears, relieved that he wasn't angry any more. She looked up at him, a few tears clinging prettily onto her long lashes, and asked quietly: "Could I maybe just take one last picture?"
"Sure", Ron complied, as she knew he would.

Suzy grabbed her camera, checked that everything on the table looked perfect, and then commanded: "Raise your glasses, and clink! Right over the center piece, please!"

Later that night, she posted that shot on Facebook with the caption: "We had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Love my family and friends so much! #blessed"

She received 68 likes and 10 comments, one of them stating: "You are so lucky! I wish our family gatherings were as peaceful."
To which Suzy replied: "I am the luckiest girl in the world!"

I often look at the perfect looking pictures people post online, and wonder what really happened. Was the scene surrounding that image really as idyllic as it looks? Somehow I doubt it. Call me a cynic, but we all know that families are flawed. After years of talking to friends and acquaintances, I have learned that the Hallmark-card looking family celebration is a myth. As great as family gatherings are, they will always involve arguments, tempers flaring, and disappointments. That's part of it, and every family experiences it. Why pretend otherwise? 

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  1. This is brilliant. And quite honestly I think that bloggers in particular are going to appreciate this more than others. I know exactly how that goes - it's such a struggle to get a good picture while not making it too obvious or disrupting an event/outing. If only we had cameras simply built into our eyes, ready to take a picture at a moment's notice without disrupting anything! I think you're a great writer and I love the idea of doing short stories on a blog. I can't wait to read more!
    PS: I'm with Dave...just keep the wine coming ;)
    ~ Samantha

  2. haha this is so awesome!! That's a great picture to draw this all from... it's so true to with all the perfect instagram/blog photos... what happens behind the scenes?! I nominated your blog for the Lovely Blog award!

  3. This is so timely!! The holidays totally bring out these emotions. Let's all look perfect for the camera - then we can go back to ripping each other's hair out or saying petty things.

    I'm looking forward to more short stories! Love it.


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