By Jocelyn Olivia
It was a snowy afternoon in the middle of December, in the small, lonely town of Cherry Grove, Oregon. Cherry Grove was just short of an hour outside Portland. It was one of those towns where everyone knew everyone. Everyone who lived there shared the same love for Christmas and thrived around the Christmas season. Two of the few kids who lived in the town, Rosie and Phillip, lived on a very popular Christmas tree farm. So popular, in fact, that visitors from great distances would come to their town specifically for the Christmas trees their parents sold; the trees were popular for citizens all over Oregon. Since the people of the town weren’t used to so many people crowding the streets throughout the year, they would host a small festival every Christmas time.
As their tree farm became more popular each year, the people of Cherry Grove decided to take it the next step up and host a Christmas Festival every year, like a pumpkin patch. Different families from the town would all be in charge of their own things like food, decorations, and games. It soon became a popular spot for people all over Oregon to spend the night having fun with their families.
Rosie and Phillip started growing up and each year had less and less time to be able to help their parents run the tree business and enjoy the town’s festival, but still made an effort to do what they could. Time passed, and right before Rosie’s high school graduation, her and Phillip got into a horrible fight. She left for college early, and refused to speak to Phillip again. The following year, Phillip had graduated high school and chose to attend a school in Washington, a few hours away from home, but just close enough to be able to go back as often as he’d like. They had both kept up the grudge for the next 12 years, and did not contact each other at all.
Rosie was now a nurse living in London, with a dog she had adopted 6 years before, and engaged. Phillip was married with two kids, living in Oregon, in the house right next to the one he grew up in. The Christmas festival was still going strong every year, and he was the head organizer for it.
On the way back from a road trip their parents decided to take, just before the holidays, they got in an awful car accident, causing them to die on impact. It was awful for Phillip to get that phone call; he then had the responsibility for planning and paying for the funeral, which would have the attendance of everyone in the town he grew up with. Everyone but his sister Rosie. He had been completely set on leaving his sister in the dark, as she did with him. This did not go to plan well, as his wife went behind his back and sent her a letter in regards to what happened and with information on the funeral.
Rosie was in shock and devastated to hear what happened, and knowing her parents wouldn’t be able to attend her upcoming wedding. She was conflicted on whether to attend the funeral, nervous to see all the people from her childhood she hadn’t seen in over a decade, and her brother who had held up the grudge just as well as she had. After lots of convincing from her husband, she decided to go.
The Christmas festival was postponed until after the funeral. Rosie and her fiancé showed up just in time for the wake right before the funeral. They were greeted and comforted by all of her old neighbors and other family members. As she was walking to the bathroom, she crashed into a man she didn’t see, who turned out to be her brother. It was an awkward reunion, but they got to catching up, letting go of the shunning they put for each other. They met each other’s new families and spent the rest of the few days in mourning.
The day the festival started was a day they had the biggest nostalgia flood. They spent the night doing all of the activities they had loved to do together as kids, but without the presence of their parents. It was the most bitter sweet experience they had ever had, but realized they shouldn’t continue their lives the way they were before once Rosie had to leave; their parents wouldn’t have wanted that. That night, they decided never to get off of speaking terms, and to stick together as family again. It was the first of many Christmases they would spend together again.