THE ALTERNATIVE FAMILY CHRISTMAS A short story by Mercedes Leal It was a very strange Christmas. It started normally, with the seven foot, artificial tree being decked, from top to bottom, with dozens of shiny red and silver baubles. To those were added sparkling, seasonal trinkets, collected over decades, and tired, scalloped garlands of small, golden beads. Dotted between these glittering decorations were four sets of lights, with hundreds of bulbs, all flashing in different ways, entertaining the children, but threatening seizures to anyone over forty. Grandad’s increasing unsteadiness was the determining factor for action for Mum. She had to duck beneath the spikey branches, to press all four control panels several times, to still the multi-dazzle display, rather than risk spending C [...]

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