The Day after

I promised a Christmas story to myself…but it never came. No, that’s not right. The ones that came were not stories I wanted to write. Not stories I wanted to unearth and know.

It was a wonderful Christmas this year, full of love and peace, accentuated perhaps not by my own loss, but by the loss endured over the holidays by members of my family, my friends, and my neighbours. I didn’t want to write a sad piece, and in the end, only tidbits were created but never put down. A sort of memoir type mini piece (even though I don’t write memoir) is at the forefront, and I thought here would be a good place to let it out while free-writing.

———

He sat at the table, his face long, twirling the heavy fork. It kept falling out of his hand, clattering among the cups and knives discarded on the table, but no one said anything to him. No one even looked at him, and if they did it was only to pity him, and quickly look away. Too much loss, too much of a reminder of what can be taken, when on Christmas one hopes only to receive.

I open my eyes, the memory of his somber gaze fading although Christmas was only yesterday. I force it away, pushing it further. Happiness comes with acceptance of grief. I listen. I hear sounds and laughter, children, my children, and I know they sit among the mountain of gifts they received.

I move so that I can peer at them, without interfering. It is like watching a scene out of a book. If I had created it myself I could not have done better. Somehow everything I had imagined as a child is now before me. The tree, chosen after a sleigh ride, chopped, and driven home from the country-side strapped to the car roof. The fire-place roars. Large windows let in light that shimmers reflected off the snow. My husband, a grin so large that I can climb inside, a steaming mug in his hand, watches them as I do, except he is among them.

I had laughed yesterday, moments after offering my condolences, and then I had wondered if this was inappropriate. Was it to be a somber day? What was it I had said to another a day or two ago, after she had suffered her own loss – ah yes…we go on. I could laugh today, I could smile. But, while I did, I thought of yet another loss. I did not think there was any smiles in that household on this day, not when a young one is taken. I’m sorry for your pain, I whisper, and I let it go.

I do not know when my Christmas wishes changed, when I began to know that a home and a family truly are a gift. Does this mean I have grown up a bit more even though I still feel I am a child?

It is the day after Christmas, and as I type I listen to my husband telling the children they have to wait thirty minutes for the icing on the gingerbread house to dry before decorating. The baby, asleep on my chest, takes a deep breath. The children are off, their feet pattering as I imagine Donner’s and Blitzen’s do. My husband turned bear rubs his long back against the door frame. I blink quickly, and smile. Everything is just as it was.

———

On Christmas Eve I bought a book at the pharmacy. It’s red and shiny and has a gift on the cover with a giant bow. And it’s called – you got it – The Gift, by Cecelia Ahern. I had read The Book of Tomorrow by her, and it had gotten me through a tough spell with baby, so I thought this would a fun holiday read. Waiting on my bookshelf is The Solitude of Prime Numbers, and The Girl With the Pearl Earring. It is a fun story, a little cliché, but that’s ok. It has some problems, that I think could have been easily fixed (mostly in back story), but I forgive it, because it doesn’t really matter – I’m talking as a reader here, not a writer!

Are there any book you’ve read that you forgive its flaws, because the rest of the book was good? It’s Christmas season after all!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday!





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9 thoughts on “The Day after

  1. What a beautiful, poignant piece, Jennifer. Learning that “a home and a family truly are a gift” is indeed a treasured life lesson. In the end, relationships are all that count.

    Forgiving flaws in book? I joined Goodreads a few months ago and started entering and rating books I’ve read. It was very interesting to start comparing ratings with others. I don’t believe any book is universally considered perfect. If hundreds rate a book five stars, hundreds more will rate it one star. As writers, the best we can hope for are readers who will overlook the flaws because they love the rest.

    1. Thank you, LInda!

      No, no book is perfect, for certain, otherwise it could not be human 🙂 BUt some have come pretty close. lol.

      ” As writers, the best we can hope for are readers who will overlook the flaws because they love the rest.” I love what you say, so true!

    2. Linda, I just wanted to make clear (cause I realize I didn’t) that when I say flaws here I mean BIG flaws, flaws that don’t usually make it to print. Telling instead of showing, major overuse of adverbs, treating the reader like a dum dum by spelling it all out. Those kind of flaws….

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