A crockpot simmers on the kitchen counter, its lid rattling under the built up pressure of steam, filling the room with the rich aroma of apples, cinnamon and oranges. Mulled cider being the drink of choice while packing Christmas decorations to go back into the attic.

Stacks of opaque plastic bins stand at attention in the front foyer waiting their turn for the trip north. Inside, gently wrapped in well-used and wrinkled tissue paper, are family heirlooms dating back decades.

Jamie’s papier mâché handprint lies nestled among other childhood treasures. Made in kindergarten, a tiny palm pressed into gooey plaster and painted the requisite red and green of the season. Perhaps a poinsettia, the actual image a long-lost memory. Her name and date crudely etched into the back in her gangly handwriting.

A popsicle stick snowflake, its silver glitter bravely holding fast after years of twinkling brightly among pine tree boughs, is tucked into its own compartment. Kieran’s familiar K, unchanged over the years, scrawled in crayon during a Cub Scout meeting forever ago.

As each ornament is packed, another memory, another smile.

Outside, two large, black garbage bags wait to be hauled away by men in steel grey work clothes, tossed into sluggish green trucks. Stuffed with wrapping paper hastily ripped from packages, bows unravel in enthusiastic fervor, and styrofoam peanuts scattered haphazardly on the floor. Leftovers from a whirlwind of holiday excitement.

Mother’s cutting disapproval of the waste creeps into my subconscious. Over the river and through the woods at her house, holiday paper is folded neatly into piles, ready to be reused. Bows, wilted and lacking the ability to stick to packages, are stored for yet another day.

This rubbish holds no value, no heartfelt sentiments. Not like the menagerie of ornaments and trimmings created uniquely with loving hands and hearts. Not leftovers, not transient trappings. These cherished gifts tell a story, passed from child to parent back to child.

This week’s Trifecta prompt is: Cutting [adj \ˈkə-tiŋ|\] 3: inclined or likely to wound the feelings of others especially because of a ruthless incisiveness

Story Dam

For Story Dam, an online writing community offering weekly and monthly writing prompts. This week’s theme is: Leftovers

15 thoughts on “Leftovers

  1. Lovely. 16yo J actually does his best not to rip wrapping paper…he’s never been asked to do that but still he takes his time (almost slow enough to drive his mother crazy).


  2. Thanks for submitting, Tara. Looking through the comments above, it’s pretty clear that everyone else is as impressed with this story as we were. It’s a great take on this week’s word and beautifully crafted. I really love that last line. Looking forward to next week.


  3. Very nice, Tara! You did great!

    We have the same sort of boxes containing an eclectic lot of ornaments from schools, a new ornament for each of each year (of whatever taste we decide) and more. I like them. The main tree isn’t a planned and systematically decorated shrine to Christmas.

    And the folded and saved paper… I actually learned when I was a child (bear in mind we didn’t save our wrapping paper then) how to wrap a present crisply and neatly, still only using one or two pieces of tape. It’s a skill I will likely never use, but stories of my grandmothers and great-grandmothers having to reuse paper never left me.

    Neat piece, Tara. Thanks for linking up!


  4. I packed away the Christmas stuff on Friday. Some of the more fragile stuff–the paper angel my youngest made in Sunday School–was set aside and left for last. I can’t wait for Christmas again next year.


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