This post has taken enormous courage to publish. I read a piece of writing, just a sentence or two, about lost things, and it piqued my imagination. From it I created a simple story, not a literary work by any means. It will be published in three posts over the next week. I hope you enjoy it as I have enjoyed writing it.
Alicia didn’t know exactly when she lost her love of Christmas. It was gradual, imperceptible, lost over years of baking too many cookies for piano recitals and school programs, lost through wandering the malls looking for just the right gift, lost by too little sleep and wondering if she’d done enough.
She remembered the anticipation of being a child – those years when the turning of the calendar to December 1 kindled a small spark of excitement that was fed into flames by playing the part of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer in the puppet show in Grade One, by putting on an angel costume and singing Angels We Have Heard on High in the Sunday School program. She still loved that Christmas carol, especially the prolonged Glorias that trilled on for so many notes before the Latin words “In excelsis Deo” brought it all together.
When she and Kevin courted and married, Christmas was imbued with romance: the delight of walking hand in hand through new-fallen snow, cuddling together while watching Sleepless in Seattle or Miracle on 34th Street, putting up the Christmas tree together, and waking up to his face on the pillow next to her.
The Christmas she was pregnant with Jill she felt the anticipation Mary felt, carrying the Christ Child in her womb. She thought of Mary and wondered if she had felt the same protective love Alicia now experienced. Of course she did, Alicia thought. Don’t all mothers?
Two years later, after Ben arrived, she reveled in the sparkling eyes of her children when they saw the tree lights and shiny ornaments. She pondered the tender moments of telling them the story of Baby Jesus in the manger. The anticipated joy of Christmas morning was more for the delight she would see in her children’s eyes than for herself.
Then the children became teenagers. Jill was difficult, moody and unpredictable. Ben went silent. Alicia became uncertain about her parenting and other skills. Christmas gifts became a guessing game and Alicia bit her lip as she watched her children open their gifts. Would they like them, or would they get engender a perfunctory “thank you” and be discarded?
Over the years Christmas dinner became a sprawling affair with siblings, nieces, nephews and parents. She loved her family, but Alicia felt squashed, trying to please everyone. Everyone contributed to the meal, held at Alicia and Kevin’s home because they were welcoming and relaxed.
Alicia loved the story of Christ coming to earth and the hope brought to humankind, but she felt empty and, if not hopeless, then rather numb to the love, joy, peace and hope promised by the Christ Child. Somewhere over the years, she’d lost the meaning. In fact, she loved nothing better than when the celebration was over and there were a few days of doing nothing before returning to her part time position as a doctor’s office manager. Christmas became a chore added to the all the other things demanding her time.
On November 30, Alicia sat in her favourite chair looking out at the barren garden. No snow had yet fallen. Some years none fell, yet Alicia always longed for snow. She loved the way it brightened and transformed the dark landscape of winter into a magical world of light. For her, one of the most entrancing scenes in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was Lucy’s entrance into Narnia where the lamppost glowed in the falling snow.
She sat now with her journal and a cup of tea. “What if,” Alicia thought, “what if I ran away for Christmas?”
She toyed with the idea, envisioning a quiet cabin in the woods, a cozy fire burning, comfortable couches and time to just read and be. Then she thought about being alone. It seemed appealing, but soon she realized her imaginary scenario included Kevin bringing in the firewood and making her laugh. She realized that the children were upstairs in this imaginary cozy cabin, ready to come down and play games or watch a movie together.
“So much for that,” she thought.
...to be continued