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

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I believe all good fiction includes an element of truth, and all good photography includes an element of fantasy. In this journal I hope to give voice to the stories swirling around in my head, and to capture the images I see through my camera’s lens.

15 thoughts on “Leftovers

  1. What a gorgeous piece. I have to admit I’ve saved those wilted bows a time or two myself. They’re too pretty in the moment to simply toss out in the trash.


  2. I will reuse paper if I can, but … not the way the wee ones open presents 😉 And honestly, I generally don’t remember to reuse it anyway. At least I recycle the boxes things come in, right? I love this, although it’s another sort of downer Christmas. I’m so amazed every day by how many people I know who are just not into Christmas this year. Or maybe anymore. They’re so burned out on it. It really makes me sad because it is the love and the memories that make it a treasure.


  3. I feel so guilty about the wrapping paper being tossed. I’d love to just do gift bags but what is Christmas without that joy of ripping paper to shreds and revealing your special gift?

    I do keep the tissue paper though 🙂

    Lovely, as usual


  4. My Nana used to do that, too. 🙂 And to be honest, I do it as well (depends on the paper though). I often recycle wrapping paper. I love the description of the ornaments. My mother has boxes just like that in the basement. I love unpacking them at Christmas when I visit and help decorating.


  5. My Grandmother used to do that with wrapping paper – you had to be SO careful so as not to rip the paper when unwrapping a present. To this day, it feels great (but a bit unnatural) to just rip open a present.


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