Family Holiday Pact

My brother calls, and I hear a terrific rattling. On inquiry, I learn he’s tipping up an empty cracker bag and eating the crumbs and salt at the bottom.

The rattling keeps up. I start laughing. He complains about the societal mandate of holiday cheer. My daughter, sitting on a yoga ball nearby, says to tell her uncle Yahtzee is part of our Christmas plans and a movie he introduced her to — I can’t bear to reveal the title — and my brother says that movie is fucking great. The movie is so bad I have a strange kind of affection for it.

Through the phone, I surmise he’s frying pork chops.

We come to our usual pact that, this time, no ER visits and no calls to the police. Mutually, we pledge to games (he and his girlfriend will trounce me in science trivia, I’ll crush them with literature), fresh air, and cooking. Mutually, we pledge not to holiday cheer but to fucking great.

State 14 ran my piece on house hunting. Eric Hodet’s stew on this site is particularly tempting….

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in…
“Days,” by Philip Larkin

By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.


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