Family for the Holiday: A Ebony and Brian Short Story- Part 2

The story continues!

Ebony and Brian’s Gift to you!

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Christmas Eve- December 24th, Part 2

Ebony

My mother-in-law to be led us into the kitchen. “Ebony, Anita, we’re going to have so much fun!”

My mom and I laughed at Mrs. Young’s enthusiasm. We’d spent the day going from store to store, picking up last minute gifts and ingredients for her Christmas breakfast and Christmas dinner dishes.

The Young family’s customs were nothing like my family’s. I watched my mother all day as she stopped herself on several occasions from suggesting where the other woman should place a decorative item or exactly what meals should be on the menu. I had to say…she was a trooper.

This was the first time my mother would not be hosting Christmas dinner at our family home. Every year, no matter where we were, our family dropped everything to be together. Especially since Trevon and I graduated high school and went to college. I’d moved to California while my brother, Trevon, attended college in Atlanta, Georgia. Upon graduation, he made the city his home. My older sister, Lashana, and her husband and daughter were the only ones living near mom and dad.

I snuck a peek at my mom as she accepted the aged recipe from Laura’s family cook book. She scanned the ingredients and plastered on a smile. It wasn’t a dish she was familiar with. When it came to something new, my mother had to be prodded to accept change. I could tell she longed for the dishes she customarily made back home.

I felt a momentary pain of guilt. Once again, my decisions affected those I loved. If I had opened up about what was going on in my life, things would be a lot different now. I would have been home, and Brian would be with me, meeting my entire family. Instead, he had obligations to attend to that kept us in town.

But when I thought about it, things were working out the way they should. Soon, Brian and I would be starting our own family traditions as a married couple. Between my family across county, and his large family in town, deciding where we spent the holiday would be interesting.

Having my parents meet my future in-laws now instead of on our wedding day would make the decisions we made much easier.

“Oh crap, where are my manners?” Laura said. I looked up to see her watching my mother. “We were out all day, so I didn’t ask if there was something you’d like to make for dinner. I’m so sorry.”

My mom smiled. “Oh, it’s not a problem. Everyone does things differently.”

“Yes it is. It’s probably too late to plan a meal. Would you like to make something for dessert?”

My mother’s eyes brightened. “Are you sure you wouldn’t mind?”

“Of course not.” Laura smiled. She walked over to the refrigerator where a mini notepad and pen were stuck on with a magnet. “Write down what you need. Whatever we don’t have, I’ll send Brian to the store to get.”

“Okay, wow, I’m not sure what to make!” My mom put her hands on her hips, deep in thought.

“How about your famous Banana Pudding? I haven’t had it in ages,” I suggested.

“Perfect!” both women said in unison.

My mother jotted down the ingredients from memory.

“Laura, what time is Bridget going to be here?” I asked.

“Bridget?” My mom looked up from her notes.

“She’s one of Brian’s sisters. You’ll love her, she’s a riot.”

“That’s right, I remember you telling me about her. Laura, how many children do you have?” my mom asked.

“Five. Four girls and one boy. Brian is the baby.” Laura selected a pot out of the cabinet, then put her hands on her hips as if reviewing the inventory. “I hear you have twins. How fun was that?” She glanced over her shoulder.

My mother laughed. “Honestly? Not as much fun as you would think during the first few months. Sleep was a commodity not easy to come by. Let’s not talk about potty training and learning how to walk.” She looked at me and shook her head.

“What?”

“Wait until you have your own kids.”

Laura laughed. “Do twins run in your family?”

“Yes, they do,” mom confirmed.

“And that’s why I’m not in a rush to start a family.”

Both women looked at me as if I’d used profanity. Neither woman lacked in the grandkids department. Laura had six and my mother had one. My twin brother and I weren’t in a hurry to add to the Campbell family tree.

“Does Brian feel the same way?” my mom asked.

“Um…yes, we’ve had this conversation.” A feeling of unease hit the pit of my stomach. A quick glance at my mother and seeing the expression on her face didn’t help. “We are both starting out in our careers and want to get stabilized first. I have a few more months until I graduate college, and he’s still making a name for himself at the record label. We’ve got three years until we turn thirty. We’ve got time.”

Both women looked at each other and smirked.

“Baby, I was twenty-one when I gave birth to your sister, and twenty-three by the time you and Trevon came along. I couldn’t imagine doing it when I was older than that.” My mother shook her head. “You have no idea how much energy it took to keep you two out of trouble.”

Laura laughed. “Tell me about it. I started young, too. It seemed like they just kept popping out. Give birth to one, look at Winfred, then I was pregnant again.”

I laughed along with them and ignored the momentary flash back to when there was a chance I carried Brian’s baby. Even then I was sure the Young men were potent. A twinge in my gut made me nauseous.

I pushed the reminder of the decisions of my past aside. There were some things Brian and I chose to keep private.

“When the time comes, I’ll be sure to do a conference call and let you both know at the same time.”

“Let them know what?”

We turned to see Bridget breeze into the kitchen, her arms loaded with groceries, her pixie cut hair tousled.

“Trust me, you don’t want to know,” I warned. One thing I’d learned about Bridget, she was in no rush to be attached to any man, much less have a baby.

She took a moment to study me, looked at the older women, then back at me. “You know…you’re right.” She went to her mother, gave her a hug. “You owe me, Mom. This is the last Christmas Eve where I go shopping. If it weren’t for the fact that Caroline just had her baby…” She rolled her eyes. “Anyway, I’m being rude. Hi, I’m Bridget.” She extended a hand to my mother.

“This is my mother, Anita,” I said, praying her appearance would speed up the change in subject.

“It’s nice to meet you.” Bridget walked over to the kitchen table and grabbed a bright red apple from the fruit bowl, rinsed it off, took a bite, then chewed. “Where’s Dad?”

“Your father, Clarence, and Brian are in your father’s man cave. When it comes to cooking, Winfred stays away from the kitchen, but if it has to do with grilling, that is his territory,” she advised my mom, who nodded in understanding.

“No surprise there.” Bridget took another bite and chewed. “Well, it’s obvious I’m here in time for cooking. What have I missed? Have we started planning the wedding yet?”

“No, but there’s no time like the present.” My mother’s eyes lit up. I knew exactly where this was about to go. “Ebony, I’ve talked to our pastor back home and he said he’s more than willing to perform the ceremony. All we have to do is notify him of the date and the church will be reserved.”

Laura looked up from the cookbook she’d pulled out. “I thought the wedding was going to be here in L.A. The church we attend is beautiful. There’s plenty of seating and all of my daughters have gotten married there. Well, except for Bridget.”

My future sister-in-law rolled her eyes and continued eating.

All eyes centered on me.

I bit my lip. “Well… with everything that’s been going on, we haven’t set an exact date yet, much less decided where to hold it.”

“Well, that’s a no-brainer. North Carolina is your home. You grew up there and have family and friends who haven’t seen you in years. What’s there to think about?” My mother stated.

“Brian has a lot of family here, too. If you have it in North Carolina, a lot of people won’t be able to attend. Andrea and Lisa have small kids, and Caroline just had the baby…”

Both women started going back and forth, listing the pluses and negatives of each location as if I were no longer in the room.

I was scared to utter a word for fear it would turn into World War III.

“Holy crap, I didn’t mean to start an argument,” Bridget murmured out of the side of her mouth when she joined me at the kitchen island.

Both of us watched our mothers, shocked at how fast the ambiance in the room changed from happy to nearly volatile.

“Have you guys decided what you want to do?” she asked.

I shook my head. “Not yet.”

It was apparent that whatever we decided, neither of our families would be happy.

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Check back tomorrow for Part 3!

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MJ

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Guest Post: Adrienne Thompson – How to Handle a Negative Review

Thanks, MJ, for the opportunity to be a guest on your fabulous blog!

Today, I want to talk about something that’s been on the mind of probably every writer who has ever presented his or her work to the public—negative reviews.

No one wants to receive a negative review. Many of us are very sensitive about our work. We put our heart and soul into every page, paragraph, sentence, and word. We work hard. Our pen bleeds straight from our soul. Our books and stories are like children to us. And no one wants someone criticizing their child.

Seriously, who among us has received a negative review that didn’t bother us at least a little? I remember when I received my first negative review—a 2-star assault on one of my dear babies. First I just sat there—shocked. It was unbelievable to me that someone didn’t like my work. My work? How could someone not like my work? How was that possible?

After I read the review over about ten times, I called a friend and told them about it. Being my friend, of course they thought the reviewer was crazy. She agreed with me—how could someone NOT like my work? Were they insane?

Days passed, more favorable reviews were posted, and the sting of the negative review began to fade away. I went on with my life of writing and had nearly forgotten about the negative review when…bam! Another one. Different book—different reviewer. What in the Sam Hill was going on?! Two people didn’t like my work? What was the world coming to?

I read this review and my heart ached and my head hurt and then as with the first one, time healed that wound as well and I went on with my life. I continued to write and market and publish and checking reviews became like a scene from a best-selling thriller. I would close my eyes and wish for a good review when I saw that another one had been posted.

Okay, don’t get me wrong. My good reviews far outweigh the bad ones. My books average from 4.5-4.8 star ratings. All of my books have been Amazon bestsellers. I get glowing emails and messages all of the time. I’ve been nominated for awards and invited to speaking engagements.  But like most things in life, no matter how much positive feedback you receive, the negative just seems to speak louder.

Then one day I had this huge epiphany. I was reading a book that had come highly recommended to me. It has an average 4.6 stars out of a ton of reviews on Amazon. Reviewers use words like excellent and marvelous when describing it. A friend of mine liked it so much that she bought a copy and gave it to me. That’s how good it is. Or how good it’s supposed to be. Well, guess what? I don’t like it. No, I don’t like it at all. Couldn’t even get through two whole chapters. And that’s when it hit me.

The fact that someone doesn’t like or didn’t enjoy a book takes nothing from the writer.

A bunch of people LOVED that book, but I just didn’t like it at all. I just didn’t.

Does that mean the author is not good? No. Does it mean that the book is not good? No. It just means that I didn’t like it—point blank, period. And the same goes for the people who didn’t like my book. Their dislike is not an indictment against me or my writing. They just didn’t like it—point blank, period. Nothing personal. Nothing malicious. Just subjective criticism.

I can’t tell you how freeing that revelation was for me. Lots of people like my work and some people love it. Some don’t. And what do I do with that knowledge? I write on. And so should you.

bsl2cvrwebsite

A woman, her husband, her ex-lover, and the ties that bind them together…

The drama continues in this eagerly awaited and highly demanded sequel to Been So Long. Married for three years, Mona-Lisa and Corey face normal, everyday marital issues. But with a past like theirs, normal can spiral out of control at any second. Will they be able to hold things together or will Mona revert to her old ways?

Purchase links:

Kindle and paperback      Kobo       Nook     Website

me websiteAbout the Author:

Married at sixteen, a mother twice by seventeen, and thrice a mother and divorced by twenty-four, Adrienne Thompson is no stranger to adversity. Not your typical teenage mother, she went on to complete her college degree and to earn her nursing license. She attributes God’s faithfulness as the catalyst for her success in life. Now, having raised two children as a divorced mother, with a third fast approaching adulthood, she is sharing a long hidden talent and passion with the world. Using the lessons that life has so expertly taught her as a guideline (betrayal, abusive relationships, self-esteem issues, witnessing the deteriorating effects of drug abuse), she has created stories that will both entertain and inspire the reader.

Adrienne currently resides in Arkansas with her daughter. Formerly an RN, she now writes and publishes her stories full time.

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Thank you for stopping by! I love to make new friends. Got questions or comments? Leave a comment, or connect with me online!

MJ

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