It was less than a week before Christmas and we only just got started on decorating our house for the season. The scent of fresh baked sugar cookies and homemade bread filled the kitchen and spread throughout the house. My favourite scent! I loved baking during the holidays. It was the one time of year where people didn’t care about diets or calorie counting. So many Christmas parties were coming up so I wanted to get a head start on the dishes I would inevitably be called on to bring for the feasts.

Michael also loved the season too but solely for the decorations. As a child, he and his mother couldn’t afford to do much at Christmas time since money was tight. Some years he was lucky to get a Christmas gift at all. Now that he can afford to, he goes all out. He decorates every common room of our home with the most seasonal ornaments, garlands, and wreaths.

This year he even got a huge Christmas tree to put on our front lawn along with some other outdoor decorations. A real Christmas tree, almost as tall as our house stood in the middle of the desert and was certainly a sight to see. He had it imported all the way from Granite Falls. I thought he went overboard before but this year took the cake.

I prefer more neutral tones for Christmas décor for both inside and outside. Give me clear icicle lights with silver and light gold trimmings and ornaments any year. While I didn’t mind his choices for inside so much, his outside choices were more on the tacky side. I mean, this year he managed to find snowmen who looked more like sandmen with scarves to put in our front yard.

Along with a surfing Santa Claus complete with swim trunks and flip-flops. He probably bought it online or something. When we went shopping for decorations a few weeks ago I didn’t see anything like that in the store otherwise I would have vetoed it right away.

That’s the extent of how far he goes. He nearly maxed out the credit card buying ornaments, ribbons, and lights. Oh, the lights! There’s so many of them everywhere I just know our electricity bill will be crazy high next month.

Our opinions clashed in a big way during our first Christmas together. He had just moved in so we were still learning about each other’s tastes and habits. I wanted a white artificial tree over his choice of a real one. Real trees shed pine leaves everywhere. As good as they smell it’s not worth it to have to vacuum the living room every day. We had a huge fight!

But then we made up. We spent the whole evening and most of the next morning making up.

And came to a compromise. He can have a real tree but only in the living room. Any other Christmas trees around the house must be artificial. Plus he can have whatever decorations he wants so long as he packs them away himself. It seemed fair and I figured I should let him get it out of his system. He would have a couple Christmases where he would go crazy and then the excitement of it would blow over. But its two decades later and it’s only gotten worse.

“So what do you think?”

“I like the snowflakes but…did you really have to plaster so many on every wall?” I prayed those things could easily come off without tearing the wallpaper or chipping the paint.

“I know how much you’ve always wanted to see snow so I wanted to make it look like a winter wonderland. It’s nice huh?”

“Yeah, it’s…something.”

I had to lie. I mean, he did it for me because he thought I would like it. I didn’t want to be a total bitch and complain when it really was that big of a deal in the larger scope of things.

“I’m glad you like it. I spent all morning making them.”

Now I was glad I lied. “So…as much as I love how nice everything looks…why are there flip-flops hanging over the windows?”

“Oh, Olive came up with that idea.” He said. “Poppy was gonna throw them out since she outgrew them so Olive decided to repurpose them since they were rubber flip-flops and they’ll live in a landfill for a million years or whatever…I don’t know. It turned into a rant so I just told her to go for it. I kinda like it though. We should probably let her make some for outside? It’ll look great with the surfin’ santa and the sandy snowmen, don’t you think?”

“I…think it looks better indoors.” I didn’t want anyone on the street to walk by and see flip-flops hanging from our windows.

He eyes me suspiciously for a bit and then smiled. “You’re so bougie, you know that!”

“I’m not. It’s just…flip-flops hanging outside of such a nice house looks kinda tacky to me.”

It wasn’t the first time he called me bougie. He called me that in jest many times back in the day. He even called me that last week when he brought home grocery store parmesan instead of the imported aged parmesan from the deli like I asked for. You’d think after all this time he’d know what I mean when I ask for parmesan!

Okay, maybe I am a little bougie.

“Christmas is supposed to be a little cheesy and tacky. That’s part of the fun. But I can take it down if it bothers you so much.”

“No, no. I like it. Hey, let’s take a pic so I can send it to Lyra.”

We took a selfie with those lights in the background. Lyra had a good laugh at me because she knows how I get at Christmas time with all this extra clutter lying around and hanging from the walls and ceilings. If it were up to me, I’d just have a simple tree and call it a day.

At least the girls love it so that’s all that mattered.

Ever since they were little they enjoyed making decorations to put on the tree and to hang around the house. Well, Nori and Olive do, Poppy was never artistically inclined the way they are. At least her agility and flexibility come in handy when it’s time to hang up the lights.

When the house was finally finished we all sat in the living room as I had something important to discuss. I was going to announce which one of them I had selected to be the next heiress.

“So girls, your mother has an announcement to make,” Michael said, understanding how nervous I was. Is this how my mother felt when she had to pick between Lyra and me?

“An announcement?” Nori asked, with a hint of concern in her voice. “Is it serious?”

“Don’t worry. It’s nothing bad. It’s a good thing.” I assured her.

“You’re not…pregnant, are you?” Olive asked.

“What? No! No, no, no, no!” I chuckled uncomfortably. “That ship has long sailed! Trust me.”

“So what is it?” Poppy asked.

“Well, as you all know, our family has been a legacy for many generations now and…”

“You have to pick one of us to be the heiress?” Nori asked.

“Yes. I have to pick one of you. Now I hope you know that this is not a competition. This is not about who I love more or anything like that. I love you all equally. And honestly I wish I didn’t have to choose but legally I have to. After some consideration, I had to make my decision based on who I think can best handle the responsibilities of this family now and in the future.”

“Alright, well we all know who you’re gonna pick Mom and it’s no surprise,” Olive spoke up. “Let’s just cut to the chase please.”

“Olive.” Michael gently reprimanded her.

“Look, I have to go meet Clara. Just say you picked Nori so I can be happy for her and then leave. I’m running late.”

“I didn’t pick Nori,” I said.

She looked confused and then said with a smile. “Oh, Poppy then?”

“No, honey, I picked you.”

She looked at me like I had three heads or something while both Nori and Poppy laughed at her. They were surprised as well though not as surprised as she was.

“But…but…why me?”

“Why not you?” I asked. “Why did you seem so sure I wouldn’t pick you?”

“Because…Nori’s your favourite and you’re always doing stuff with Poppy…”

“Olive, I don’t have a favourite. Sure we butt heads sometimes but I believe in you. You’re smart, self-sufficient and I see the way you always look out for your sisters. You’d do anything for them and that’s how I know that you can best handle this responsibility. However, if you don’t want it then…”

“No…I…I want it…I just…I’m surprised, that’s all.”

“Are you sure?” I asked. “Because there’s no pressure.”

“I’ll do it, Mom.”

“I think this is great,” Nori said. “Congrats Ollie.”

I did notice Nori’s sudden change in mood. Poppy looked like she would have been happy regardless but Nori was so tense before I revealed I had chosen Olive as the heiress. I guess she assumed I would have picked her as well and was happy with the outcome since she didn’t want to be the heiress.

I don’t see why it would be a bad thing for any one of them though. As the heiress, you get to inherit the money, the house and everything in it. You’re pretty much set for life and can do anything you want and have a safety net.

I couldn’t read Olive’s reaction properly. Was she happy but overwhelmed? Or was she freaked out and only accepting this because she feels like she has no choice? She certainly didn’t look as thrilled as I was when my mother picked me.

When Mom picked me over Lyra I was surprised too but I was happy. I always wanted to be the heiress. It always felt like such an honour since this legacy was a tradition in our family. My girls are the seventh generation of Sloanes and now Olive would be the one to carry on the tradition.

Yeah, I can see why she would be freaked out. That’s a lot to put on a teenager especially when she never considered it a possibility before.

After a while, we turned off the lights so we could take in the beauty of the Christmas tree with all of its lights and sparkling ornaments and listened while Nori played The First Noel on the piano. I must admit the place looked really pretty despite the clutter and being with my husband and my girls just added an extra special cherry on top of my favourite holiday.

“I thought you had to go out with Clara?” Michael asked Olive.

“I texted her to cancel. I’m just gonna hang out at home if that’s okay.”

“Of course it’s okay baby girl.” Michael was beaming and so was I. Olive rarely chooses to stay home with us. Sure she and her sisters will hang out together in one of their rooms but she never willingly hangs out with Michael and me. Maybe it was because of Christmas, or maybe it was because I had proven how much faith I had in her. Either way, I didn’t care. If giving Olive more responsibility makes her closer to us then I know I made the right decision.

***********

Congrats to Olive Sloane, the Generation 7 heiress of the Sloane Legacy!

The next post will be the start of Generation 7 and will be told from Olive’s perspective.

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