If I’m not full of gumbo, messy and fighting for the remote, I’m not home for the holidays.

November 27, 2011 in The Very Few Times I'll Admit to Having a Soul

Since the holidays are finally underway, I’m ready to share that little rejected ditty I sent to that magazine a few weeks back.

(I know.  I hate that word now, too.)

They wanted an essay of 500 words or less on what Home for the Holidays meant to me.

So, I told’em.  The cold, hard truth.

Here it is.

Untouched.  Totally rejected.

*Home for the Holidays*

That holiday frenzy stuff is getting close.  Seriously close.  Closer than my bank account would like to admit.  But regardless…it’s close.  I can feel it breathing down my neck.

Too bad it’s not a single man.

Until about two years ago, I’d pack up the car with more shoes for me than gifts for the family, and drive for hours.  Hectic and fast-paced, to say the least.

Since the three of us girls live in the same area, the folks decided to play that retirement card, pack 43 years of life together and plant their roots in a neighboring city.  Not too far, but not too close.  

My family tends to fall on the quirky side.  We’re not the norm.  And that’s ok.  It’s what we like, and it’s what makes us who we are.

Even though all three girls are over 30, we believe in Santa.  Dad insists.

Anytime we mention something we’d like or something we’re thinking about buying, his immediate response is, “Talk to Santa about it.”  We used to roll our eyes and think the old man had to be losing it.  Now?  We agree with him.  And it has made us better women for it.  He has taught us Santa isn’t a fat man in a red suit…but a faith in our heart.  He has taught us to continue to believe.

And we each have a package under the tree with a little tag that reads, “Love, Santa.”

Holidays equal traditions, right?  Most moms probably prepare a baked ham or maybe a turkey.  Not mine.  It’s usually a gumbo.  An out-of-this-world-dripping-down-your-chin gumbo.

She’ll hover in the kitchen for hours stirring over that big, heavy pot.  There’s no way I could tell you what she puts in it, and I’m not sure she even knows.  But it’s a bowl of heaven.  Especially when you dump a big plop of her potato salad smack in the middle.

Needless to say, it’s an insult if you even mention the word “calories” at this time.  She swears her gumbo has none.  And after two bowls, I’d like to think it doesn’t either.

We unwrap gifts, we bring up old stories that we all pray will eventually be forgotten, we pull out old pictures we wish would someday disappear, and we argue over the remote.

Then another bowl of gumbo.

Before long, Dad wants to do that dreaded family picture.  Every year it’s the same:  I have a gumbo stain on my shirt, the middle sister has bed-head because she dozed off after gifts, the baby sister is holding the remote.

We stand there.  Together.  In front of the fireplace.  Dad sets the camera and runs into place.  We smile.  And someone says, “How much longer?”

Then SNAP.  It’s done.

One of us has her eyes closed.  One of us has her mouth half open.  One of us is looking down.  And the folks are standing there.  Smiling.  Ridiculously proud of their quirky little family.

Then another bowl of gumbo.

I know it's not a Christmas picture. I know because there is no gumbo on my shirt. But it'll have to do. Mom, Dad, us three girls and the two nieces. One big quirky family. Full of love.

There you go.  That’s it.

That’s my take on what the holidays are like for us.

What about you?  What are the holidays like for you?

Joan @chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate November 27, 2011 at 12:35 pm

Haha Carrie, if there are no stains on the clothes after eating, the meal wasn’t worth it to begin with!

And as for Santa, everyone in my house believes, Santa doesn’t bring presents for those who don’t. And I’m known for giving new socks and underwear to the kids every year, LOL
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Carrie November 27, 2011 at 12:42 pm

Ain’t that the truth!?! If there’s no stains on the shirt, it wasn’t any good!

We have no choice but to believe. Dad won’t even discuss it.

Sandy Nesom November 27, 2011 at 12:40 pm

if i had a magazine I would print this……… (but the “all over 30, is a little far fetching,,,, lol
Happy Holidays!!

Carrie November 27, 2011 at 12:43 pm

And it’s hard to believe we are. Hell, I have a hard time believing I’m over 18.

Mentally, anyway.

Chrissy November 27, 2011 at 1:08 pm

Poor decosion on their part!!
Great job sweetie, be grateful that your family is together for the holidays.

That’s a wonderful family photo…

Carrie November 27, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Thanks, deary!

They are JUST right. Not too far, but not too close!!


jennyonthespot November 27, 2011 at 1:24 pm

Ah… gumbo. Family. The obligatory picture… PERFECT holiday 🙂 And that story was choose-worthy. That’s my 2 cents. 😉 xoxo
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Carrie November 27, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Aww…thank you, darlin’!!

I’m kinda starting to think if I would have just submitted some of mom’s gumbo WITH the submission…they would have thought twice.

Margaret November 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm

I can’t believe they rejected this. Keep sending them in and they may get tired of your perseverance and just decide to print one….and then you’re off to another great career!!!
Love you and all your quirky family.

Carrie November 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm

THAT’S what I ought to do! Just wear’em down to the bone!

God knows I do that with so many others…why not them, too?!?

Thanks so much for the nice words. I really, really appreciate it!

Maren November 27, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Love your writing! I laughed out loud at “Too bad it’s not a single man.”. Best thing I’ve heard all day! Hell, even all week 😀
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Carrie November 27, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Girl…I just call it like I see it.


Jessica November 27, 2011 at 8:22 pm

In a very short description: The best and worst of my memories for the past 17 years. And I continue to beat out the “worst”. I think I’m winning.
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Carrie November 27, 2011 at 8:26 pm

Wow…well, when you make me think of it like that, I am definitely way out ahead of the past years.

Nice thought there.

Maggie S. November 28, 2011 at 5:45 am

The holidays are lonely for us. Mickey’s parents are both gone and his steps have gone on with their lives. My mom is mentally ill and my dad has a new family and told me he doesn’t need a relationship with me (his dad did the same thing). We call it good family time, but it’s a lot like any Tuesday night.

Carrie November 28, 2011 at 6:06 am

So sorry to hear that, Maggie. If we lived closer, ya’ll would certainly be welcome for gumbo!

Since we’ve all moved about 5 hours from where we all lived for 20+ years, it’s just my immediate family here. Mom, Dad and us girls. Much smaller group than the extended family back home.

Jennifer November 28, 2011 at 6:59 pm

You can come be with my family. And just think. One day those three babies will have babies and you will have more family than you could have ever hoped for.
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mark November 28, 2011 at 1:02 pm

That was excellent! Personal, from the heart and a genuine glimpse of what Home for the Holidays means to you. Their loss! I’m glad you shared it with us. 🙂
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Carrie November 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Aww…thanks! It ain’t a holiday if I leave with a clean shirt.

Jennifer November 28, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I think your family sounds absolutely perfect. We do Christmas Eve with David’s dad and sister (if she isn’t mad at me). Then we do Christmas day with my mom and brother’s family (if he isn’t working). We also have some evening with my stepmom and all of her family.
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Carrie November 28, 2011 at 7:04 pm

That’s lots of love there. Lots of it. And that’s good.

I have jacked up a lot of crap in my life. A lot. Ok. More than a lot.

And there are very few things in my life I’m proud of…but my family tops the list. There is something so calming at the end of the day knowing, that if the rest of the world kicks me in the teeth, my family will be there.

Laughing and pointing. Cause my teeth would be jacked. But regardless…they’d be there.

Krystyn (Krizzy Designs) November 28, 2011 at 9:46 pm

What’s not to love about this? Stupid magazine jerks!

Are you supposed to talk about rainbows and unicorns?
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Carrie November 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm

Well, I read the winning article.

And I will NEVER bash or say something negative about anyone’s writing, because we all know I’m about as rough as it gets. You know, making up my own words and crap.

It was a nice article. But very, well…holidayish. Very serene, kinda soft and a little on the timid side.

Which is fine. Very lovely. Which I’m not. So, if THAT’S what they wanted, that’s what they got.

And I’m totally happy with that.

Felicia November 28, 2011 at 10:06 pm

The holidays are all about my family, whether immediate, extended or gathered over the years. Lots of food (and booze, because that’s what keeps everyone merry). And lots of laughs (again, booze helps). After my birthday, this is my favorite time of year.
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Carrie November 29, 2011 at 9:27 am

Booze is the main ingrediant with any function with my fam.

To think I used to get grounded for sneaking a beer…and now I hear myself saying, “No mom…I don’t want any more wine!”

Karyn November 29, 2011 at 3:21 am

I’m ‘gonna take a big breath and say this ‘real quick because I suspect your ‘gonna have a conniption. I’ve never tasted gumbo. Never. And I lived in Texas for nearly 2 years.

I don’t suppose it would post ‘real well either, so I’ll have to take your word that it’s as awesome as 3 bowls in one day sounds. I love your kwirky-sounding Christmas.

Ours used to involve guns, liquor, insults and death threats – but then we left my husbands family behind and now it just involves a whole lot of plum pudding and brandy custard.
(Which sounds gross to you Americans, I know. ) My husband balked at it the first time.

Then after we had 4 grown men hold him down, while I shoved the pudding in, and my sister poured the custard and brandy down his throat, he claims its the best dessert he’s ever had at Christmas.

Of course, that could have something to do with the 4 men still ready to pounce (should the need arise), but I prefer to think it doesn’t.
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Carrie November 29, 2011 at 9:31 am


And God…we’ve never physically met and you know I throw conniptions!! We are so connected somehow!

Poor guy. Living in Australia with brandy custard. How DOES he do it?!?

(kidding, of course. i think he’s got it pretty damn good. and i bet he thinks so, too!)

Christy @ cat fur to make kitten britches November 29, 2011 at 1:16 pm

Well, you know, Norman Rockwell holidays *do* have their appeal. Though I have yet to ever personally experience one! Yours? So much more real! And gumbo? So much better than turkey or ham any day. I think it’s a great non-traditional tradition!

Carrie November 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm

I gotta say…my momma can knock out a mean gumbo.

So, if there’s not gumbo on the stove when I drag up the driveway looking to see what ‘Santa’ left…it ain’t a holiday.

We tend to be a rather non-traditionally family when it comes to grub. =)

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