Short Story Sunday: A Ray of Hope (a Thanksgiving Story)

Thanksgiving is in Tahoe this year. My husband Justin’s family has a large beach front cabin. It is a 5,000 square foot cabin and two other smaller A frames within walking distance. Yes, they’re insanely rich, at least to me. They’re also incredible loving and giving and have taken me into their family as one of their own.

My mom left when I was five, taking my twin baby brother and sister with her. Dad said she said she was bored with her life. Bored with my dad and bored with me. I only saw her once after that. She’d poisoned the minds of my siblings by telling them that my dad was abusive. Her new husband gladly went along and encouraged it. My brother is now a successful motivational speaker. My sister is a teacher. I don’t talk to them. They don’t want to talk to me, but they like to talk about me, or somebody they say is me. I don’t care anymore.

When I was growing up Thanksgiving were small, like my grandparent’s two bedroom house – Just my dad, Grandpa and Grammy, and Uncle Ray. We’d gather around the kitchen table in Grammy’s kitchen and have a feast on old chairs covered with yellow vinyl. The table would be covered with turkey, green bean casserole, jellied cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes with little marshmallows browned on top. Everything except the turkey came out of a can except the wine. The wine was from a box with ice cubes. It was great.

Uncle Ray lived with Grandpa and Grammy. He believed that at the age of 15 he was abducted by aliens and taken for a blinding fast tour of the universe and Planet X. Ray believed that Jesus was protecting bigfoot, unicorns and other rarely seen creatures so that when mankind finally killed itself off that those were the creatures who would rule the earth. A great gray wolf would lead dwarves and elves out from their underground kingdoms to live in peace. Aliens from space would set up trade routes to earth and help the new found order prosper.

Despite his weirdness Uncle Ray was accepted into UC Berkley and managed to obtain a degree in Political Science. With his knowledge of politics he began working on his plan for a new world order he’d build along with Jesus and the Bigfoots and elves.

Yes, Uncle Ray was nuts but I adored him. My dad protected him. My grandparents accepted him. The university where he occasionally taught a course tolerated him. He never married so I was the only child there for the holidays.

At night a few hours after pie and watching “Meet Me in St. Louis”, Ray and I would go outside. He’d grab a turkey leg and I’d take a wing. We’d munch on our turkey while Ray pointed out constellations and tell me about his time with the aliens and his love for Jesus.

Ray would always take my hand and solemnly tell me, “Jenna, what I’m telling you is real. I’m not crazy.” Then we’d go inside and have turkey races with some funky wind-up toys my Grandpa got for us. We’d laugh until our sides hurt.

My grandparents and Ray are gone now. Grandpa died in his sleep the year I graduated from college. Grammy had a stroke a few months later while at a prayer group. Three years ago Ray went hiking in Death Valley one spring and vanished. The rangers found his backpack, hiking boots and an empty water bottle. There was a note that said, “Tell Jenna that I love her.”

I still have the note.

Thanksgiving with my family was never fancy or exciting but I knew I was loved.

Right after I graduated away from college my dad remarried. I met my husband Justin and Thanksgiving dishes no longer involved food from cans or vinyl chairs.

This year dad and his wife Gracie went to Montana to visit friends for Thanksgiving. I knew I’d miss them but wished them a good time.

As Justin and I drove up into the mountains I thought about Ray as I looked out the car at the forests. Over the river and through the woods… When I was 16 Ray and I would drive up to the mountains to see the stars. I’d drive. He never learned how. In the cool summer nights we’d stand in a clearing at 8,000 feet and watch the endless show of zillions of stars and watch for shooting stars and satellites. Ray would tell me about the aliens who’d be back to get him. He’d tell me about how the ancient Greeks would navigate ships and come to America to visit. He’d tell me about planets that were inhabited by people so beautiful that our eyes would explode if we looked at them. He’d tell me that he’d been in love with a girl once and kissed her under the stars but she killed herself. He said he’d see her again. The aliens said they had taken her just before her soul was lost. Uncle Ray said to never be sad. He also told me over and over that he wasn’t crazy.

“What are the thinking about?” Justin startled me out of my reverie.

“My Uncle Ray. I miss him.”

Justin put his hand on mine. “I know honey, I know.”

Thanksgiving was spectacular. The food was amazing, the company was wonderful, the day was perfect. I’m blessed to be married into such a great family.

A few hours after dinner, after football and a lot of other fun, I took Justin by the hand and led him to the kitchen. I got myself a smoked turkey wing and gave Justin a leg, then poured two glasses of wine, minus the ice cubes and took him outside to watch the stars.

We talked about what fun we’d had that day. Then we talked about starting our own family, maybe trying to start that week.

A fireball sailed across the sky. I couldn’t figure out what it was. Maybe a meteorite?

Justin held my hand and said, “It’s your Uncle Ray.”

I think it was.

 

~ End

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

 

desert

Yes Virginia – Santa is a Vampire!

All Animals Love Santa

All Animals Love Santa

Winter is here with enough bite to freeze the slow beating heart of almost any Vampire.

My mom used to say to us “Don’t stop your heart or your blood will freeze.”

It is one of those things we have to think about, sometimes. I don’t recall ever telling my own children that, or any other “new” Vampires. 

Funny how one thinks of those sayings.

The first bat of the night is a wish. The next is a kiss. 

Bad blood is only in the soul.

Dance from dusk to dawn then sleep as if there is no sun.

As a mother (in the 1850’s and 60’s) with a rather large brood of young vampires (4 boys and 1 girl) my mom took advantage of the holidays in a big way. It was her time to celebrate and bring out the cheer. She was glad to get rid of the musty old gloom of the old days and embrace the Modern Vampire movement. 

At the same time a young artist named Thomas Nast created the iconic image of the American Santa Clause. Old Saint Nick was pretty awesome, but Santa was one of our own.

Jolly Old Vampire

Jolly Old Vampire

Yes, Santa Clause is a Vampire – that is a fact:

  1. He knows when you are sleeping. He knows when you are awake.
  2. He only comes out at night.
  3. Nobody ever sees him.
  4. He has been around for centuries.
  5. He can see in the dark.
  6. Red is his favorite color.
  7. He is jolly (hey, we’re jolly).
  8. He likes kids.
  9. He is an icon of popular culture.
  10. He knows who has been good and who has been bad.
  11. Despite his size he can get in and out of any building.
  12. He can make animals that normally live on the ground fly.
  13. Dogs and cats like him (all animals like Vampires because we understand them.)
  14. He makes people happy (don’t argue this point. Check my previous posts.)
  15. He rocks the red suit!

An interesting fact that all teens should know (and their parents): Thomas Nast was only 19 when he started to create illustrations for Harper’s Weekly. Let that sink in. He was only 19.  Let that inspire you.

Plus Thomas Nast rocked the facial hair.

Thomas Nast rocking the facial hair

Thomas Nast rocking the facial hair

So if you see that jolly old elf this Christmas season shake his hand and know that it isn’t the weather that is making that hand cold.

 

xoxoxo

Happy Holidays

~ Juliette aka Vampire Maman

Vampire Holiday Traditions with Egg Nog!

We’ve passed down our traditions – from starlight, to firelight to candlelight to gaslight and now to electric light and the glow of my very own computer monitor (or as my husband calls it “your square headed boyfriend”).

Be they new or old we all look forward to traditions. We often take the old and make them new for our modern world.

We take walks in the foggy nights to look at the Christmas lights. We fix food, we have lavish parties with friends, we watch every single version of “A Christmas Carol” ever brought to the screen.

And we sing. We sing to the night and to the hope of peace and magic and believing in all things that are good.

We tell old stories of The Travelers and Davy’s Watch. The elders speak of the glowing comet that was the great Christmas star and when Northern Lights surrounded the entire earth. And we tell stories of our past adventures and romances.

One tradition that I keep is fruit cake and egg nog. Don’t leave me. They’re good. I’ll post the fruit cake recipe later. No I’m not the fruit cake – it is the real thing baked forever then soaked with booze and it keeps for 6 months – or it can but this stuff is so good that it doesn’t keep. Just a hint, don’t put too many Brazil nuts in it. My mom is crazy about Brazil nuts. She’s nuts but then again, I’ve been called a fruit cake (I’m not). But that will come later…But NOW for Egg Nog!

Teddy’s Egg Nog for Six (Vampires or Regular Humans or for 3 Werewolves)

 This is the REAL thing.

  • 3 eggs, separated
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/4 (750 milliliter) bottle bourbon
  • 1/8 (750 milliliter) bottle dark rum
  • 1-1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • A good dash of ground nutmeg
  • Semi sweet chocolate
  1. Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a very large bowl until thick and light-colored. Stir in the bourbon and rum, mixing until sugar has dissolved. 
  2. Next whip the egg whites in a separate bowl until stiff peaks form. Do not use a plastic bowl. And the bowl has to be absolutely CLEAN or the whites won’t peak. Egg whites are pure and like to stay that way (until you add the booze then all bets are off). 
  3. Stir the whipping cream and half and half into the egg yolk mixture until thoroughly blended. Slowly stir in the brandy. Fold in the egg whites, blending evenly. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving. Sprinkle top with nutmeg. You can also grate some semi sweet chocolate over the top (just a bit for just a hint of flavor).
  4. Note: You may add more sugar to this if your system needs more sweet. 

More thoughts on Christmas:

  • Have fun
  • Lots of hugs
  • Lots of kisses
  • Don’t drink and drive
  • Do good deeds
  • And the best blood comes from those who are drinking the good booze!

Vampire Baby