The heavy blanket of darkness surrounded me as I tiptoed in bare feet across the frigid tile, not for fear of getting caught, but to ensure tomorrow’s homemade sticky rolls continued their savory rise to deliciousness.
My only guide was the ingrained memory of traveling this path a million times before.
I ignored the heavenly scents of that day’s baking – the smell of nutmeg and cinnamon lingering in the air – and continued, carefully dropping my foot down the single step I knew existed.
I raised my right arm to the wall, finding my target unerringly in the blackness.
I flipped on the light switch as my eyes adjusted to the sudden brightness of the reds, blues, greens, yellows, and pinks that chased the darkness away.
Our Christmas tree, tucked into what was Dad’s Corner the other 344 days of the year – his reddish brown leather recliner transplanted three feet closer to the family room’s entrance, his usual piles of magazines temporarily exiled.
The tree was old, the branches held up by strategically placed light strands and the shiny presents peppered beneath. It was so thin you could easily see through to the corner wall background. Its claim to fame was my mother’s decorating job: lights wrapped around the interior pole, the middle, and the outside. Every inch had a light to show off. Once thought to be a giant among trees when it reached scant inches from the ceiling in our old house, at the new one it suffered from height envy as the twelve foot ceiling loomed above it, the centered ceiling fan nowhere near the crooked angel on the top.
A single cold, tiled step and warm carpet greeted my feet, the dull light brown turned cheerful by the glow of the Christmas tree. I dodged the large couch placed beneath the ceiling fan. Older than I was, its 1970’s mix of white, gold, and brown was hideous to anyone who had not performed flips and somersaults onto the softness of the cushions. The matching loveseat pressed against the wall to my immediate right, as I tread the path between the two, headed towards the front of the room.
In the middle, a white marble hearth formed a perfect mini-table for snack-resting – a plate of waiting Christmas cookies and the fireplace tools the only items currently in place. Glass doors trimmed in gold covered the dry blocks of wood ready for the next morning, blocking the whistling wind that slammed the chimney high above. Above the hearth, a cherry wood mantle – normally Where the Photos Sit – now decorated with Christmas greenery threaded with darkened lights.
I quickly moved to the left of the fireplace and plugged in the cord that slept there, the mantle lights springing to life.
I stepped back and sat on the couch, taking in the giant built in shelves on both sides of the fireplace. Created from the same wood as the mantle, they began at the bottom as a single level of cupboards, transforming to shelves that hit the ceiling. On the far left, a square opening cradled our television, built specifically for this TV without an inch to spare.
Four stockings hung from their holders on top of the mangle, shouting the various names: Dad, Mom, Kelly, and Kim.
To my left, in front of the TV, was the Wall of Windows. Hidden because of the late hour by the beige slats of ten foot long blinds – the windows were The Light during the day, bringing warmth. Comfort.
Two seventies-styled chairs sat in front of the window, a glass end table with lamp between them. The chair closest to the television was The Chair to Be Fought Over While TV Watching – hosting many battles with my younger sister.
I rose, leaving any non-Christmas light source dark, and completed my rotation around the couch – stopping at the tree in the corner.
I dropped to the ground and rolled onto my back. Slowly, I scooted across the rough wool carpet until my head rested between the legs of the tree stand.
I gazed up, my eyes nearly blinded by so many lights as I stared from among the gifts – all the way to the top of the tree – the unique perspective my favorite.
I stared until my eyelids grew heavy, the smell of wrapping paper surrounding me – the glow visible even through my eyelids.
This was the family room. The Christmas room.
My favorite room.
This was a Red Dress Club Writing Prompt
Think of a room from your past. It can be any type of room at all.
Take a mental picture of that room.
What happened there? What is it like? What is the atmosphere there? What are the smells, the sounds, the sights? How does it feel?
Now reveal that snapshot to your reader.
Take us to that room.
And try to do it in 750 words or less.