The presents glistened in glossy wrapping paper beneath the perfectly decorated tree. Each present was wrapped and with a bow to match, tags denoting to and from. A fire was lit, lapping happily at the seasoned wood in the grate. Yet it was such a quiet house. It was such a quiet house for Christmas Eve. I told my mother I would attend church for Christmas, she and I had a discussion the day before on religion.
My mother laid out her beliefs, that even growing up as a child in a home without God and his teachings, she always believed there was something more. She always knew that god existed. I listened to her tell her story and was silent for a moment, and ever so gently issued a reply. I think that I was always searching for the truth, even as a child I didn’t really believe what they told me about, the bible, the resurrection, all of these things that didn’t make sense. In a way I always doubted the existence of god, and my supposed belief as a child was more like acquiescence. I would love to have faith in a higher being, something to prove that I’m not alone, that there’s order to the universe. Instead I look to the universe around me, nature is just as awe inspiring and beautiful without God. As are we and our experiences on earth. My mother pursed her lips and then gave a small smile.
I put on my best dress, and my nice shoes, did my hair and went to mass. The familiar cadence of Venite Adoramus echoed through the coat room, and we took our seats. It wasn’t so bad as I remembered I thought, and I had missed it in a way, I missed the community, and the songs, and the vision of peace it brought. I did not miss God, though, that much I knew. As the mass continued, my favorite part of mass came up. “Peace be with you” I said to the woman behind me, and then to her small son in a sweater vest. I gave both of my parents a kiss and a hug. This has always been my favorite part of mass. It calls upon the very foundation of the christian faith- peace. Everything was going fine, until it was time for the homily. The priest’s tirade against alternative people, religions, etc and what made people good had my knuckles going white. Luckily mass ended without me jumping up and screaming that he was a liar and they were all fools.
We drove home and I put on my christmas pajamas that my sisters and I had opened together earlier in the day, both of them on skype. I did miss them terribly, I even missed the husbands. It was well past one am, when I got on the couch and asked my father to read ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas’. As was the family tradition. I held his hand so that he wouldn’t feel lonely without my sisters there. Afterwards I gave each of my parents a kiss and a merry christmas.
Christmas morning dawned, the excitement of presents hanging in the air. Books and notebooks were laying all about my stocking. A new Moleskine, Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. I even got a new laptop from my parents. It was awfully nice of them. We skyped my two sisters later in the afternoon and opened our presents from them. My eldest sister Katie’s presents got here yesterday. The presents I sent them haven’t even gotten there yet. Emily got me stationary, thank goodness, and a whole bunch of groovy LP’s. But Christmas was quiet. I tried my best to be overjoyed and grateful, and full of life and attention for my parents. But it was hard and empty. Somehow we have survived Christmas without my sisters. I hope we don’t have to do that again next year. Katie also got me a copy of Kahlil Gibran’s the prohpet, along with an awesome mix CD.
I feel as if Kahlil Gibran was able to write most of the advice that people need to live happy lives in this one volume.
I got many glorious presents. Sweaters, and jackets, clothes, make up, books and films. I love presents and always have, the surprise, the wonder, the thoughtfulness or thoughtlessness. Seeing who got what for whom. I have a child like glee that creeps up on me christmas eve, steals my sleep, and opens my eyes in the morning. This morning however, and this Christmas eve, I was tired. There were new games and old games to play, music and movies, but my sisters weren’t here to share them. There were supplies to bake cookies and ham and turkey and potatoes and cake, but no one to bake with, no one to eat with. “But it doesn’t matter. when you’re the last lizard.” (Last Life in the Universe)
Despite all of this though, I am grateful, and fairly content. I have people who love me in my life, and people whom I love. Though we’re apart, though we have changed over years, we still love each other and always will. Thank you for this life, Providence. Thank you for the love.
Happy Holidays comrades.