When you are child, there is nothing like the magic of Christmas. It seems like as soon as the calendar flips to December, there is a certain magic in their air. A pine tree becomes something more, flashing lights became wonderful decorations. All the little ones are on their best behaviour, hoping that Father Christmas will find them on Christmas Eve.
The snow beats down around you, but you really don’t give it a second thought. There really is nothing like a white Christmas. Sadness doesn’t know a friend on Christmas. Those who have lost their way, someone find themselves again on Christmas Day.
Everyone it seems expect me....
The snow beats around me as I stare at the large Christmas tree in the centre of town. Its lights shine against the passing cards. I don’t move as the snow melts on my shoulder, chilling me to the bone. I don’t even brush it out of my hair.
I dig my hands deeper into my coat pockets. It’s not that I don’t like Christmas-don’t get me wrong. I used to love the magic of Christmas, but the magic has left me. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t get it back.
I just can’t put it all behind me. That awful Christmas Eve...That night my life changed....
I guess no one would be able to move on. It’s not the kind of news anyone wants to hear.
I had went ahead of my parents to my grandparents’ Christmas Eve party. My aunt and uncle had offered to take me and I took them up on their off. It had been a rather snowy Christmas Eve. We didn’t even know if we were going to be able to make the twenty minute drive to my grandparents’ farm. However, we decided to try it. If the roads were worse than we thought, we would just turn back and have our own little Christmas Eve party at our house.
The roads had been snow covered, but nothing that couldn’t be down in a four wheel drive truck. We took it slow as the snow beat around us. While our truck did manage to make it to my grandparents’ in one piece, my parents hadn’t been so lucky.
That Christmas went from planning fun events to planning two funerals.
My family has tried to make the best of the situation, but there hasn’t been much spirit in the past two Christmases.
I turn and walk away from the tree. My aunt, Carol, will probably be wondering where I’m at. I am grateful that she moved across the country to take care of me. I’m also glad that I didn’t have to move, but going back to that house without my parents is just downright depressing.
We had put up the tree and all the decorations, but it just doesn’t feel the same. The Christmas village just doesn’t have the same touch without my mother. Though Carol and I follow her cookie recipe exactly, there is still something missing from it.
I walk along the enough of the road, trying to stay out of the slush that the salt trucks have left in their wake. Above me, the snow clings to the evergreen trees, making it look like I am in a Christmas card instead of real life.
Just ahead, I can see the faint glow of our log cabin style house. The Christmas lights flicker through the woods, while the wrapped mailbox alerts people to the fact that there is life here. The wooden fence leading up the house is also covered in blinking lights.
I stand at the end of the driveway, staring down it. The little lighted reindeer in the front yard stare back at me, almost as if they are asking why I’m not coming down to see them. I don’t know which is worse: putting on an act that everything is okay or letting the world know how you feel.
I smash into the snowdrifts in the yard instead of staying in the freshly plowed driveway. At least, I knew there wouldn’t be school tomorrow. There is simply no way that they are going to run the buses in this mess. Maybe if we got lucky, they won’t make us go back until after the holidays are over. It probably won’t happen, but it is a nice thought to have.
I wince as a bit of snow finds its way down into my boot. Maybe this isn’t the best idea I’ve ever had. I pause, staring back at the house. It seems so far away, but, yet, ever so close. I shift my weight around, still looking at it. Maybe I could just stay our here and not go back in. No, that won’t t be fair to Carla, who has given up her entire life for me.
The front porch light flips on and Carla steps out onto it, pulling her sweater close around her. “Kelsey, is that you?”
“Yeah, it’s just me.” I start walking again. The chill is finally starting to reach me. In the faint glow of the lights, I can see Carla’s worried expression. I mentally kick myself; I hate making her worry for me.
She rushes down the steps, urging me forward. “Hurry up, you’ll catch your death out here. School is already cancelled for tomorrow and I was afraid...”
Though she doesn’t finish her thought, we both know what is thinking. I just pat her on the arm and allow her to sweep me inside. My mother was her big sister; sometimes people tend to forget that it’s not just the child who has lost someone very dear, but the entire family.
Inside, the coffee table is covered with Christmas cards and Frosty the Snowman blares out from the television. I wince. I had forgotten that I had promised to help her get the Christmas cards ready, which should had been sent out a few weeks ago. I guess we are both falling behind on the Christmas season.
The Christmas tree lights shines brightly in the room. There is already a few presents proudly stacked under the tree. I look at them. They hadn’t been there whenever I left.
Carla rubs her hands on her jeans. “I thought it looked rather lonely without having something under it.”
I smile. “It does make it look a lot happier.”
My mother always insisted on putting a few presents under the tree early. She claimed that it added to the beauty of the tree; it made the tree look happier. I hate to admit that she was right once again. I expected her to come rushing out of the kitchen, bragging about how she is always right and I’m just going to have to learn to listen to her.
Of course, she doesn’t come out.
My shoulders start to sag. I thought as time went on, we are supposed to get better. I have yet to see it happen to me.
Carla sits down on the couch, picking up yet another Christmas card. “Josh called again.”
“Oh,” I mutter as I sit down next to her, watching as Frosty flew away with Father Christmas.
Carla sits the card back down on the coffee table. “You really should take to him. I don’t think he’s given up on you.”
I stare down at the worn thread on the coach. We really should get another one. Whenever I look back up at Carla, she is staring right at me. I sigh. “Okay, I’ll call him back.”
I stomp out of the room. It’s not that I don’t like Josh. He had been my first boyfriend-the one who had been there for me while I had to come to terms with my parents’ deaths. He still called every week to check up on me, even though we haven’t spoken for years. Well, ever since I cut him out.
I stare down at my cell phone . I still have his number and he still has mine. He stopped calling my cell phone once he realized that I was not going to pick it up for him. I don’t know why he has hung on for this long. I know he’s had better offers, but he keeps turning them. I’ve seen him stare at me at school and I know he wants to speak to me. However, I always either rush away or don’t answer him.
He really deserves to move on from me.
I scroll down to his name in my contacts. I really shouldn’t do this. I could just text him a simple “Happy Christmas” and be done with this. My finger hovers right over his name. I don’t have to do this...I shouldn’t have this much fear over him....
Outside, the snow is picking up. The salt trucks’ flashing lights are nearly blinding. I watch as one round the turn and disappears from sight. I wonder if it is Josh’s dad.
I groan...Why did I even wonder that?
I grip the cell phone in my hand. It really is kind of simple to do. I don’t even have to talk to him if he picks. Then, if I just hang up, it would be kind of awkward. He would probably call back or worse, decide he has to come over and check up on me.
I hover over his name for just a few more minutes before punching it.
My heart skips a beat as it rings. I stare back out the window, waiting. The road is empty and even more snow is sticking to it. It must be rather depressing to drive the salt trucks. Hardly anyone can tell that you’ve went through and, of course, people are always complaining about what a poor job you do.
It keeps ringing. I’ve lost count of how many times it has rang. Why hasn’t it gone to voice mail already? I probably should just hang up.
“Hello?” His voice sound foggy as if he has just woken up. “Kelsey?” I can hear him moving around, the television playing faintly in the background.
I don’t answer. It’s like my throat has closed up, making speaking out of the question.
“Kelsey, I know you’re there. I can hear you breathing.” He pauses. “Are you just doing this to torture me? I know Carla told you that I called. If you’re going to yell at me for checking up on you, you had best get it over with.”
“I’m not going to yell at you, Josh,” I say, finally finding my voice. “I’m not going to yell at you at all.”
“Oh.” There is no masking the surprise in his voice. “Then, why did you call?”
“Carla insisted.” Well, I guess she kind of did. She didn’t actually dial the phone for me and force me to talk to him.
“I see.” Silence fills the background. He must have moved to another part of the house. “Was there something you wanted to talk about?”
That really is the question, I guess. Is there something I want to talk about? I don’t know if we really have anything to talk about. I guess we could talk about how I cut him out of my life. He must not be too upset about it, since he is actually talking to me...Well, kind of...There’s been a lot of silence time between us.
“Kelsey, are you still there?” Josh’s low tenor jerks me out of my thoughts.
“Um, yeah, I was just thinking.” I twirl a bit of hair around my finger. The salt truck is passing by again.
I sigh. “I don’t know. Josh, look, I don’t even know why I called you. I don’t want to sound rude, but I’m the one who cut you off and, yet, you are still here.”
“That’s what friends do,” he says after a moment’s pause. “We have each other’s backs no matter what.”
“Yeah, I guess....”
“Look, Kelsey, I just want you to know that I’m always here for you, no matter what.”
“I know.” I flop down on my bed, letting the soft pillows gather around me as I close my eyes. “Josh, I really didn’t mean to shut you out on propose.”
I can almost feel his smile coming through the phone. “I know. That’s why I still keep coming around. You can’t get rid of me that easily.”
“I guess.” I pause. “Where did we go wrong? How did we even end up like this?”
“It just happened. Things like this happen all of the time.”
“I guess.” I pull my stuff dog close to me. “These things aren’t supposed to happen to us though.”
“Well, it did and there’s nothing we can do about it. We can only move forward.”
“I guess.” Now, it’s my turn to smile into my cell phone . “We could always just pretend like it never happened.” The words come out of my mouth before I have the chance to stop them. I really do need to learn how to think before I speak. It’s going to get me in trouble of these days.
“We could, but are you sure that this is what you want?” Though his voice comes out smooth, there is no denying the uncertainly in it. It’s almost like he doesn’t want to hurt me. He would actually be hurting me more if he didn’t agree to it.
“Yes,” I whisper as a beat passes. “This is what I want.”
The next morning a winter wonderland greets me. Carla keeps watching me out of the corner of her eyes; I know she wants to ask me about what Josh and I talked about last night. Neither one of us bring it up as we pick up the Christmas lights that the storm blew down.
It is actually a pretty calm day out. The snow has stopped and the wind isn’t blowing at all. The cold still lingers though and the roads are still pretty much impassable. Still, there is some beauty in the mess. The birds are out singing their songs, making it seem more like a spring day instead of an early winter one. The snow covered landscape reminds me of an old novel or a Christmas card.
“So,” Carla says breaking the silence.
I look at her, gripping a handful of Christmas lights. “So, what?”
“I know you talked to Josh last night.” She pins up a strand of Christmas lights on the fence. “I was just wondering how that went.”
I shrug. “It went.”