Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Real Spirit of Christmas


By Shane Marie K. Canono                    


When my dad was working in Saudi Arabia as a construction engineer, spending Christmas with him was rare. My heart breaks every time he says, “Sorry, Shane, I can’t come home.” My mother never knew that, for all those years, I had a wish list. My top wish was for my dad to come home.

Maybe Santa could give that to me, I thought to myself as my mother and I were inside the car, going to SM Cebu. It was the first week of December and as we always do, we go shopping. The lights along the streets and the lanterns which the vendors sell enlightened me. But I couldn’t lie to myself. As we strolled around the mall, I saw kids smiling at the faces of their parents. I wish I could have that, I said to myself. I went home feeling empty. I stayed in the terrace looking at the night sky and waiting for the shooting stars.

But when I felt hopeless, I locked myself in the room. I decided to have a movie marathon. I watched Princess Diaries and Mean girls, but my favorite is Freaky Friday. The movie is very comical that I laughed hard and forgot about my sadness for a while. It is about a rebellious teenage girl named Anna and her hardworking mom. They constantly argue with each other. Then one day, their bodies were switched and there is only one way to break the spell: Selfless love.  Some scenes really made me cry though; like when Anna realized how good and understanding her mom’s boyfriend is (her real dad died) and all he wanted was just to be accepted by Anna.

And by that scene, I remembered my dad. The moments when our family would celebrate Christmas together would come flashing though my head. My dad would invite our relatives and we would have Noche Buena together. Afterwards, my cousins and I would go inside a room and play pick-up sticks. It was so fun. But I thought if I keep being this way, remembering what was long ago, I would only let myself emotionally drained in the middle of Christmas.

So a week before Christmas, when my mom ordered me to do a little decorating on the Christmas tree while she do groceries, I didn’t hesitate and became really excited. My brother, on the other hand, had a meet up with his friends in I.T. Park. So I was alone. After half an hour, I got bored. I was done with decorating and there’s nothing to do except playing computer games. So I decided to visit my neighbor’s house and play computer games together. But in the middle of our game, I got a call. I had to stop the game and answer the call. It’s dad.

He asked me where I was then I said I was with Chan, my neighbor. Then he told me to stand outside of the house. I got really excited for no reason at all. I ran out of Chan’s house then rushed going to ours. I saw mom’s car parked in front of our house. It’s too early for mom to finish groceries. I knew something was up. I hurried to go inside the gate. My heart trembled and I couldn’t help but smile. I knew, by that time I already knew…

“Dad!!” I hugged him so tight while crying. I can as well feel that he’s about to cry. My mom went out of the car and her eyes were a little red. She and dad kept this a secret all along to surprise me and brother. Then we went inside and my dad opened his suitcase, surprising us with tons of pasalubongs. But I didn’t care because I received one thing I asked for, and that was for my father to come home to me.

As we, the three of us, have a happy conversation in the bedroom, my dad told us good news. He would stay with us for good and he would find a job immediately. We were so glad that finally he didn’t have to leave. The times when dad would make me excited about Santa Claus when it’s actually just him and mom. The times when he would never forget to include my favorite chocolate ice cream every Noche Buena. The times when celebrating of Christmas were simple, but the presence of each one is priceless and smiles and love were real. That’s the real spirit of Christmas. And finally, I could go back to those times.~



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