This was a personal essay, memoir if you will, of a christmas about 3 years ago. As of late my well has run dry and I’ve been editing two stories for the longest. I’ve also been afraid to put up anything as many of my stories have been denied publication. But, I must persevere. Anyway, enjoy….
For the first time in my life, the house was quiet before midnight on the night before Christmas Eve. I wasn’t being asked to clean down the wooden tables with their glass center pieces and my older sisters weren’t busy cleaning the bedrooms and bathrooms. No. My second eldest sister hadn’t been living with us for two Christmas holidays now, and my eldest was upstairs in her apartment watching TV. My mind could do nothing but draw a blank after I had just witnessed my mother’s second real marriage fall to pieces before my very eyes. It had it coming, doomed from the very beginning. I had never seen two people argue so much on a consecutive basis in my life; the sheer idea of their marriage lasting was based on the fickle idea of hope.
My mother had asked her husband to take a shower before she placed her newly sewn curtains on to the metal rods in the bathroom. He told her no, that he’d rather work up all the sweat he’d have to that night and then take a shower when he retired from engaging in our ritualistic Christmas Cleaning. Sooner or later he took a shower after she had decorated the bathroom to its fullest and the suds his shampoo left on the wall stemmed into what I can only describe as the fight to end all fights; the great fight. It went from him “not being able to speak to anyone properly” to her “always wanting things her way” to him “being a liar” to her not “praying to God the right way” to him “not wanting to give the divorce” and her “not wanting to try to work things out” and then finally her saying that he hurt her and she has not “begun to forgive” him for his misdeeds. The argument continued to roar on as neither one of them could be man enough to stop speaking and let the words die as quickly as they were being emitted by the mouths of the other. The mumblings grew into words and then shouts and finally it lead to her asking him to leave because she was not starting 2007 with any of this pain and confusion.
She let it be known to the both of us that she’s been seeking therapy for this so called “tired” feeling that she’s been having toward him and the marriage when really I think it’s because she’s tired of everything that she’s been through period.
Tonight, I thought things could’ve been different. The parang music was playing and the sorrel was boiled and sitting on the stove. The meat was seasoned and waiting to be placed in the fridge and the bread and cakes, baked and wrapped in foil waiting to be devoured by the guests who were to dine with us during this “festive” holiday season. But alas, the true appearance to what I’ve been calling the “counterfeit Christmas” has shed some light on itself. Every Christmas since I turned 14 has gone wrong for me; a guy broke my heart, my father was nearly killed and now my parent’s marriage finds itself creating the tripod to the reason why I shall now never feel a pinch of the Christmas spirit in my heart.
I spoke to him while he sat on the stairs, his denim jeans and sneakers on and a glass of Bacardi and orange juice sitting in his hand, waiting for his brother to call him back. His clothes packed in garbage bags and suitcases at the door. His eyes were red, as though from crying. My sister said he probably was when she came in the house and saw him in our mother’s room collecting his things. It amazed me how all his stuff fit into just one suitcase and two garbage bags; almost as if he was never meant to stay with us. He told me how he never had anything against me and that he respected my mother. I told him that their problem was that they could never talk to each other. My mother lay on the bed in the guestroom as she was accustom to for some months now. She had stopped wearing her wedding ring and slept in the bed next door to where she use to share dreams with her husband. She was on the phone with my god-mother who I could tell was probably saying to her “you’re wrong for doing that.” As if my mother cared. If it’s one thing about that woman, she’ll never admit to when she’s wrong. I think that’s what really did their marriage in. Anyhow, as I stepped back and forth into the house, trying to salvage what was left of the ritualistic cleaning that stopped, she’d call me over, asking me about anything he may have mentioned to her. I hated that the most. I felt like I was twelve years old all over again, snitching on anything that my sisters had said about her after they had a falling out. To her great surprise I told her nothing. In that moment, I felt part of her anger seer through me. Her tone went slightly harsh and cold when I neglected to tell her anything, almost as though she was accusing me of taking his side. I couldn’t help but feel sympathy for him. I’ve had arguments with her- I know what it feels like to have something thrown back at you and then be called petty if you did the same. To not have the last word. To not have it die right then and there.
I tried to make sense of it all and I just couldn’t. I knew it was inevitable, but yet, I didn’t want it to happen. Not like this anymore. But now, finally my idea of Christmas is gone. In the early morning hours I mopped the kitchen floor, washed the dishes and wiped the wooden center table. I know that there won’t be a smell of baked ham on my mind. There will be no snow, no hot chocolate, and no smiling faces. We didn’t even have a tree. Christmas was doomed to fail this year. I don’t even think it showed up.