Family Stories







The Package

by    

S. E. Schlosser 

     The package was sitting on the porch when she got home from class, even though she had repeatedly told Aunt Katy not to send it this year.      

     "But it is a Clark family tradition," Aunt Katy had protested into the phone.

     "I don't care." Kara had put a space between each word to emphasize her point.  Then she had hung up on Aunt Katy.      

    Kara eyed the box with dislike.  It sat on the blue "Welcome to Our Country Home" doormat that her mother had placed before the door.  Kara nudged it to the side.  

    June 1st, like clock‑work, the traditional package would arrive from Aunt Katy.

      I am not going to deal with it this year, Kara thought fiercely. She stuck her key into the lock and opened the "forest green with a hint of gold" front door.  The color of the front door changed every year as her mother embraced the newest country fad. As a child, Kara had hated it.  Now, she tolerated it.  It was a part of living home she had to accept if she wanted to stay here while she pursued her Masters full‑time.      

     Kara flung her backpack on the sofa, reupholstered in ivy, and got a soda from the refrigerator, which mercifully remained the same from year to year.  Well, if you discounted the magnets.  Pieces of her conversation with Aunt Katy filtered through her mind as she pulled out  the ice cube tray and dumped three heart shaped cubes into her glass.

     "You are the eldest granddaughter, just like me," she said. 

    "So an accident of birth requires me to fulfill this tradition?" Kara restored.

    "Kara, it's a privilege!" Aunt Katy had protested.   

     But Kara had turned away from her aunt without replying. 

     It's more like a punishment, Kara thought now, grabbing her backpack in her free hand and knocking over the butter churn in the rush to her room. All that sewing, just for the sake of tradition!

     She opened her plain, white door and entered her black and white bedroom.  She smiled at the black and white abstract painting of..well, she thought it might be a dog, which was the only thing adorning her wall.      

    "Hey, Fido," she called to it, and began unloading her books on her black marble desktop.      Her mother never came into this room if she could avoid it. She called Kara a changeling, and finally stopped giving her country style knickknacks for Christmas because Kara always rewrapped them and gave them back to her for Mothers Day.

    Kara began her accounting homework, thrusting the package and her Aunt Katy out of her mind with an effort.  It was stupid to feel guilty about it.  Let her mother or her country loving sister Liz do it.  Start a new tradition.      

    "Kara, the package is here," her mother called from the hallway.      

    "I know, Mom," she called back wearily.

    "Well, aren't you going to open it?"      

      "I told you.  Not this year."  Kara pushed away from the desk to glare at the door.  "I have too much work to do.  Give it to Lizzie."      

     "Now Kara, you know the tradition," her mother said, coming to look at her eldest daughter through the open door. 

     "Please, Mother.  I'm studying."      

      Kara's mother sighed and turned away. 

       Kara returned back to her studying.  One more week until finals. She sighed.  She was fed up with accounting right now.      

    "I should have gone back to school for basket weaving," she muttered; then shuddered.  That remark sounded positively country.      

      Kara thought about the box again.  For six generations this tradition had been going on.  Kara closed her accounting book and picked up the dictionary.  She looked up the word tradition.  Webster's said: "The handing down of opinions, stories etc. from father to son".  Or  granddaughter to granddaughter.  Kara stared at the definition for a long time.      

     "This tradition must come under the etc.," Kara said at last.  She went out into the hall.  Her mother had placed the box beside her door.  She picked it up, went to the dining room and put it down on the "pink under lace" tablecloth.  Then she got a knife to open it.

      "Oh good," said her mother, following her into the dining room.  "I wonder which pattern you get this year?"      

      Kara cut the tape, opened the top of the box, and handed her mother the pattern for this year's quilt block.  It was a square-in-a-square.  "My favorite," her mother said with a smile as Kara began pulling fabric out of the box. 

      Kara grinned wryly. "It's certainly traditional," she said. "And that's what it's all about!" 

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