The True Spirit of Christmas
Photo by Christen Cacanog
You wake up sulking.
Your usual tranquil mood has been replaced with total agitation. I could see it. Nobody else does though. Not even dad who is still snoring beside you.
It’s okay, mom. I don’t blame you. If I were in your place, I’d hate waking up on the 24th of December too.
Don’t worry, mom. It’s just two days. Two days, then this holiday you have always dreaded will come to an end, before it occurs for another year.
C is for the Candy trimmed around the Christmas tree
I follow you as you start pacing around.
You make breakfast; kiss the sleeping heads of Madison and Jean a good morning, and leave them both candy canes as you do every day.
After giving dad a kiss good bye too, you grab your keys and head for the grocery store.
H is for the happiness with all the family
That Cliff Richard song is playing through the store’s speakers again. And I could see that your sour mood has turned into something different.
Something forlorn — lonely.
“Get yourself together”, you whisper to yourself and continue grocery shopping.
You smile at the sales personnel and familiar faces around you, as if your gut isn’t being wrenched and twisted.
But as you put away the last bag in the trunk of your car and head inside, all barred holds were gone. You just lose it.
The tears just start flowing and though only you could hear it, your wails resonate around the interior of your car.
You clutch your stomach where only a faint scar remains.
I want to hug you, mom. Wipe away your tears and tell you it will be okay.
R is for the reindeer prancing by the window pane
Even just as you are parking your car, you could already see Madison and Jean through the window; in their reindeer pajamas and their massive smiles.
“Mom!” Madison greets you along with a hug, “Were you crying?”
All you can manage to do is shake your head and smile. “Where’s daddy?”
Madison drags you toward the kitchen and says in high-pitched 7-year old voice, “Daddy, mom was crying!”
“What happened?” dad cups your face between his hands.
“Oh, nothing. You know how Christmas is always overwhelming for me.”
“Yeah. But remember, your friend is in a much better place now.”
There it is again — that heart-wrenching feeling in your gut.
You can’t tell him anything, so all you do is lean into his hand and realize that there’s flour all over his hands. You grab a hold of flour off the counter and dash it unto dad’s face.
The both of you start to goof around the kitchen and it’s for a while. You forget about the well of sadness you have been carrying around for years.
I is for the icing on the cake as sweet as sugar cane
“What were you making?” you ask Dad after the both of you have cleaned up.
“Just tomorrow’s dessert. Want to make the icing for me?”
“Sure. I’ll call Madison and Jean to come down too.”
S is for the stocking hanging on the chimney wall
Five stockings hanging above the fire place.
Dad thinks it’s for your best friend who died years ago. Madison and Jean simply don’t ask. Everyone’s clueless; no one knows.
No one knows that stocking if for me. It even has my name on it: Blithe.
Again, tears start to well in your eyes as you trace your finger along the embroidery of my name.
Mom, I’m here. I have always been. So stop it, mom. Stop crying. Stop torturing yourself. It hurts me to see you this way, every year.
T is for the toys beneath the tree so tall
You move onto the Christmas tree in the far corner of the living room. A number gifts, mostly for Madison and Jean, flood the bottom of the tree.
But that’s not where your attention is though. It’s at the angel perched at the topmost part of the tree.
“Blithe,” you whisper to yourself. “I am so sorry”
“Mom,” I say. Then I say it louder, “Mom!”.
I wish you can hear me. I wish you can hold me.
I want to tell you I can hear you, that I’ve always heard you.
M is for the mistletoe where everyone is kissed
That’s where you met dad: beneath the mistletoe.
Your love story wasn’t that extraordinary, but it was beautiful, as it is right now.
Not for you, though. You carry the guilt and pain with you beneath the façade of your marriage. But it was a choice, Mom.
I just wish that you would stop blaming yourself already, tell dad the truth and value the family that you have. Though I may not be a definite part of it, it’s okay.
I have forgiven you.
A is for the angels who make up the Christmas list
I’d like to think that I’m the angel in that Cliff Richard song. Though no one really sees me, I’m there; a spirit enjoying the holiday with her family.
So mom, don’t worry. Your family is actually complete this Christmas.
And I don’t know if you heard me this time, but you have stopped crying.
“I love you, Blithe. I miss you every single day,” you whisper.
S is for the Santa who makes every kid his pet
I don’t know if Santa is real or not. I may be a “spirit” or an “angel”, but so far, I haven’t had any sight of him yet.
But really, there is no need for Santa for me. When I already have everything my existence could ask for, which is to see my family together and celebrating Christmas — and my birthday.