A Christmas Without Family

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Loud voices floated in from outside my bedroom door. The Christmas party had already started, and the guests were probably pouring in by now.

Mr. Benson from across the street, bringing over his guitar to sing Christmas carols to all the neighborhood children. Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell, who had spent the morning helping Mom decorate. And maybe even old lady Dodger will show up, bringing some of her sweet gingerbread cookies.

But I didn’t want to go out.

No, I couldn’t go out.

Too many memories.

Too much pain.

My mom tried to put on a smile. Tried to make everything just like it was. Tried to pretend Dad was still here with us. And in most situations, I could put on a smile too. Pretend to be strong just like her. We could fool the world if we wanted to, and the world wouldn’t call our bluff. With a smile on our faces, we could deal with any situation, any problem.

But not this.

I heard the knocking, quiet tapping. My mother was never a forceful woman, so her knocks always sounded as if a branch was gently tapping on a window. She walked in and sits down beside me. I had buried my head into my pillow, trying to drown out the sounds drifting inside my now unsealed room.

“Honey, I brought you some hot cocoa…” Mom whispered, as if she didn’t know how to properly break the silence. I sat up, quietly wiping my eyes. Mom pushed the cup into my hands, and I took it as carefully as I could. Mom looked back outside towards the brightly lit hallway, as I sipped the hot cocoa.

“You know, everyone really would love to see you.”

“No, they don’t. Not like this.”

My mother gave a silent nod to my answer, as the noises outside were drowned out by the blanket of silence. I sat the mug down and did the only thing I felt like doing. I hugged my mom and began to cry into her shoulder. She held me tightly, gently patting my head and shushing me.

“Honey, shh… It’ll be alright…,” She whispered into my ear, as my grip tightened around her.

“I can’t go out there, not without Dad…,” I manage to get out between the sobs.

“Wendy, do you know what Dad’s favorite part of Christmas was?” My mom asked me, as she lifted my head to look into my eyes. I could only manage to shake my head. “His favorite part of Christmas wasn’t the party or the decorating or even the presents. It was when your eyes would brighten at the sight of presents, or when you would sing along with the Christmas Carols, or when you would take down an entire plate of cookies by yourself.”

Mom smiles and hugs me close, my tears still falling down onto her shoulder. “What I’m trying to say is, Dad’s favorite part of Christmas was you. And he would do anything to see you happy today.”

I slowly let go of mom, a small smile on my face. “Then I think I better get out there, quick before all the cookies are gone.”

This situation may not be something you’ve dealt with before, and perhaps you never will. For many, a holiday without someone important, whether it be a friend or relative, can ruin what is supposed to be a joyful occasion. Though it may not seem it right now, things always get better. Sometimes, we need to remember the happy times we’ve had with those who’ve passed on, rather than the sadness of wishing they were back.

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