The Christmas Bags

by Kimberlee Esselstrom -

Kelley and Tara couldn’t wait to see their Christmas tree! As usual, it would be too tall and scrape the ceiling—every year it was the same. The sisters heard Alvin and the Chipmunks singing “Deck the Halls” before they even reached the house.

“Tara, help me. My foot’s stuck.”

Tara sighed, “Kelly, you need a new pair of boots.”

“But you don’t need a bigger size.”

Tara grunted as she tugged at her sister’s foot. “Just because we’re twins doesn’t mean we’re exactly the same.” Tara tossed the wet boot. “Let’s see the tree!”

The girls wandered through a maze of boxes, bursting with decorations.

“I smell cinnamon,” said Tara.

Mom always baked cookies for tree trimming night.

Dad appeared holding a headless gingerbread man. “We’re putting up every decoration, even if it takes all night.”

The girls giggled. In unison they said, “Dad, you say that every year.”

Kelley’s teacher had asked students to share holiday traditions. She almost mentioned tree-trimming night.  But, although it happened every year, it was not on a specific day. Plus, Mom always tried a different cookie recipe. Maybe it wasn’t a real tradition.

Kelley opened a box. A shock of bright colors met her gaze. Just my luck. The fabric bags that would hold their Christmas gifts: hippy-looking tie-dyed creations.

“There they are,” said her mother excitedly as she gathered the drawstring bags. Kelley watched as the strange looking fabrics went upstairs to be filled with their gifts. Supposedly, the bags were special, but Kelley just thought they were odd.

By the next week, almost every house on their block was decorated for the holidays.

Tara raced down the school steps with her friend Jasmine. “Kelley,” said Tara, “Jasmine’s going to stay with us during Christmas vacation!”

Kelley blurted out, “Why?”

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