Tonight’s Christmas was silent. Simple. I, who happen to still be awake, went down to eat cold spaghetti– my sister’s successful experiment of tuna and Italian sauce– and buco salad. Simply greeted my father a merry Christmas. He was there, lying on the sofa bed, watching a Zorro marathon on our nearly broken television set. Accompanying him were two of our dogs. Our female shitzu was barking bravely at every blast of the fireworks outside. Our handsome mongrel curled up in the corner, afraid.
“Are you planning to have coffee later?” he asked. I agreed.
The sink was messy from the dishes my sister used to cook. There was no hot water left, so I had to go to the bathroom faucet to fill in the teapot. But then there was no gas left in the stove. Father stood up and volunteered to open the other stove we had, which was linked to another gas barrel. It was bulky, and you need to fire it manually with a lit matchstick. He volunteered to heat the water, not just for tonight but for tomorrow.
When the teapot boiled, when my cup was filled, I greeted my Father another Merry Christmas before going upstairs. I consoled Pooch, our mongrel, who was curling in the corner. I patted PJ, another mongrel of ours whose has a coat and a blood close to a rottweiler’s. He was rebellious and smelly, but it was the best love he could already get in this home.
My other family members are out there in another house my mother built with her own sweat and money, singing karaoke with the family of her elder sister. I do not miss them.
In my life, it so happens that the best Christmas worth celebrating is the one not celebrated at all. It happened last year when I decided to spent it alone, cramming on a thesis I find so hard to finish. It was peaceful, it was simple. It made no false pretenses. It was a celebration of contentment. It was the best Christmas I had.
If only I could afford to recall what happened every Christmas in our family, I could have written a tapestry of silences, spaces, masks hidden beneath the anticipation of food and gifts. All of it were horrible for me.
And I could only remember a few. Once, my mother dragged me and my two other siblings to Manila. We spent Christmas Eve crammed in our van while my mother visited her friends to enjoy their Christmases. When we ended our night trip on the floor of one of our cousin’s floor, sleeping with their family members whom we barely knew, my two sisters were already begging my mother to go back home.
My elder sister and one of our cousins cried too, if I remember. So did my father. It was the first Christmas we celebrated apart. Or was it? Didn’t we spend another Christmas on the home of a friend of mother in Laguna? Isn’t it where my elder sister got her first digital camera? I couldn’t bother to remember.
I didn’t want to go. But I had to accompany my sisters, who insisted I come. My mother did too.
And my father, he was usually the one who looks forward to these occasions. I guess all those years spent left out of recognition, of love and affection he knew he could only give, given his salary, his far-flung job, his other family if my mother was telling the truth, left him cold. While I don’t mind spending it this way, in the back of my head I feel like I owe it to my father to at least give him a great time tonight. But I never knew happiness in the company of others, not even my family. Even if I could, I don’t know how.
And I had enough of crying. I had enough of being the sponge of my family’s troubles.
This is the best Christmas that he could spent tonight perhaps. Besides, I could have gone there and sang karaoke with them. But I do not sing karaoke. And I do not wish to step inside that house for the rest of my life.
And he is not someone who deserves to spend it alone but did or is close to being. I on the other hand refuse to celebrate it anymore. That or I’ll celebrate it on my own.
So for tonight, I play the songs of George Winston’s December.
Merry Christmas everyone! May you celebrate today without any false pretenses, in contentment and happiness in the company of those you love. And thank you for the time you spent reading this post. 😀