Ghosts of December 23rd Past

It is the early morning hours of December 23rd, 1980.  I can hear the Imam’s reading of the Qur’an through the loud speakers over the city as I wake from the stupor of sleep.  There’s a presence in the room but it is leaving. I force my eyes open only to hear the closing of the door.  Someone was here, but who?

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It is the middle of the night on December 23rd, 1984.  My sister and I are sneaking towards the Christmas tree.  I have had enough with this business of waiting!  I have reached my limit, and we’re willing to risk our future chances of being on Santa’s lists.  The suspense cannot be good for the pubescent!  I find a present with my name on it and start to peel back the tape, careful with the gift wrap.  What kind of present is this?!!

It is late evening on December 23rd, 1987.  All six of us are standing in front of the ground level living room window of our rented Vancouver Special house, mesmerized by the falling snow; flurries of dancing, twinkling whiteness against a thick velvety ebony curtain.  Our very first snowfall is magical in light of what we’ve just been through.  Only two months earlier, my parents left family, friends, career, financial security and the familiar, crossed the miles of oceans and continents with a teenager, preteen, kindergartner, and toddler for a chance in a new country.  At the prime of their lives, they are willing to risk it all for their children and a future with options, hope, and happiness; a future unlike theirs.  What lies ahead?

It is December 23rd, 2003 with a sparkle of promise in the air.  I look down at my left hand to admire my new ring.  It is a vow from my darling to walk the rest of our days together.  My lover is the gentlest of giants, boundless in love, steadfastly committed, bravest of knights and my lifelong best friend.  I swear to myself, to God, to the angels and to any witnesses: I will love him more than he loves me.  Yet, deep in the secret chamber of my heart, I already know that his love is truer, deeper and surer.  Will I keep my word?

It is December 23rd, 2007 and I am balancing a small plate of fruit atop my over-sized belly while waiting for the father of our in-utero child to join me.  I have spent the past few months in bed rest, having presented placenta previa early in my pregnancy.  It is a condition that may lead to the abruption of the placenta which could risk both lives.  Emotionally, I am stretched to the limit and financially, we are drained.  Physically uncomfortable and mentally lethargic, still, we are looking forward to being a family of three.  We have been in and out of the Emergency Unit almost every other week due to one medical problem or another, so we are very thankful that we are past finally past our 32nd week.  We are eagerly awaiting the arrival of our firstborn!  Will it be smooth-going from here?

It is December 23rd, 2009.  My father is visiting.  Clearly, something is weighing on his mind.  Our 11 month old son is asleep in his crib, so there is time to sit with Dad.  Dad tells us to take care of ourselves; where we are going, we will not know anyone.  Always keep some money in the bank in case of emergencies. Stay in touch with family back home and never hesitate to ask for help.  Our child is our responsibility, so place his needs and safety first and foremost.  As I look into Dad’s face, he is holding back tears, unable to go on.  My throat tightens and I’m at a loss for words.  I can only express my gratitude and love with a hug.  How will we fare on our own?

It is December 23, 2013, we are singing Christmas tunes as we make our way to the shopping centre.  The scenery is awashed in white after the snow squalls and storms of late, making for a crisp, wintry holiday.  “Frosty, the Red Nose Reindeer, had a very shiny nose, and when  hat goes on his head, he began to turn his sleigh.”  On and on, this went on with intermittent bursts of cackling and laughter as we mix and match at our pleasure.  We are feeling silly and happy; none too keen about the holiday shopping but certainly enjoying singing and being together, the three of us “musketeers” as we sometimes call ourselves.

Thinking back to that day when Dad visited, he was trying to tell me that we are loved no matter how far we are from home.  I miss him every day but I am thankful Mom keeps him company and that they are learning to take care of each other.  Their kids have all grown up and are living their own lives.

These days, holidays are about our children.  Are they having fun?  Is this good for them?  What would they like?  Is this what they need?  What’s best for them?  We are willing to sacrifice our time, spend a little bit more or suffer a bit of inconvenience for their welfare.  That is how precious they are to us.

That morning when I found a doll in bed beside me and a similar one beside my sister, it was Mom and Dad playing Santa.  They did it for our happiness, that first encounter with “Santa”.  And, though I was disappointed with my first Deluxe Scrabble, travel edition that Christmas we chose to be naughty, there is always at least one game when we are together!  We are practically Scrabble addicts now.

How did my parents do it all and made it seem so easy?  No matter how much I do for my child, it does not compare to the sacrifice my parents made for me.  Had they not summoned their courage or choose the harder path, I would not have met my husband, and without my husband, I would not have my angel.  My life is wonderful; each day is bright and brilliant, not just from the warmth of the sun, but the love of new family, friends, and future.

Back in the car, our five year old angel waits for a break in the singing, “Hey Guys, since it’s Christmas, shouldn’t we have a dinner together without the TV on?”  I extended a hand shake to my husband said, in my best imitation of a cowboy drawl, “We’d done good, Daddy!  We’d done good!”  Then we both said, “That’s a great idea, Honey!  Let’s do it.”

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