Of Mistletoes And The Meaning Of Christmas By Chuks Obinna
POSTED 12/23/2017 10:27:13
Gloria stared at the frail TEXACO calendar on the wall of her bedroom. She held a pink marker in her hand and held the calendar with her right. A thin smile formed across her face; an absentminded thrill that could only be forced into a smile or a squeal. She did both.
"Twenty-fourth." She said out loud and marked a shaky 'X' over the date. She stood back and admired the marking, December 24th, less than a day to Christmas! She squealed in delight.
There were footsteps outside in the hall and soon her parents were poking their heads in, with Dad coming in first.
"Hey, lollipop, what's all the screaming about?"
Gloria quickly shuffled off her bed and moved towards her door.
"Daddy, don't call me lollipop, I'm not a child anymore."
"That's where you're wrong, sweetie." Another voice, this time Mum pushed the door wider as she stepped in.
The room suddenly felt crowded to Gloria. Relax, they'll soon be gone and it'll just be you and your Christmas wishes. Gloria was fourteen and still found an almost excessive delight in the Christmas holidays. In part, it was probably because she was born on the day after, Boxing Day.
"Boxing day is not Christmas." Her friends would tell her after she bragged about how she was almost born on Christmas day.
"Yeah, but it's the nearest thing to Christmas than your birthday, what was it again, oh yes, November eleventh." She'd rumple her face as she said the date as if it was literally a filthy word.
Gloria shook her head and tried to get her parents to focus on the main issue at hand: Christmas.
"So, what are the plans, dad?"
Both her parents stared at each other, "plans for what?" Her father asked, he looked genuinely lost. This concerned her.
She groaned, "Christmas, it's tomorrow."
"Yes, we know." Both mum and dad echoed.
She arched her eyebrows, "so?"
They stared at her, silent, as if trying to slowly decipher a foreign language.
It seemed like they were not taking the initiative, so she decided to push harder.
"None of you have said anything about my boring clothes, or this ugly hair," she groaned and pulled strands of her rough light crimson hair.
Her parents kept watching, looking less lost and more worried.
"It's Christmas tomorrow and we haven't made plans on how to celebrate it and..." Her voice began to shake, pull yourself together, you haven't gotten to the best part yet.
"Sweetie, I think you are getting this whole idea of Christmas wrong." Her father spoke and sat on her bed.
She muttered an inaudible 'what' and wiped her now glistening eyes.
"Your mother and I, and yourself are what makes Christmas special, for us." He said.
"What?" Gloria said, but out loud this time.
Her mother spoke this time, sitting just by her husband and staring at their daughter, who seemed to be grower taller by the minute.
"What your father is saying is simple, as long as we are together, Christmas will be fun." Oh my god, a lecture? Gloria stared at her parents in disbelief, if they didn't have money they could just say it instead of this cheesy line of talk that sounded like something from a family movie.
"We are still saying the same thing, mum."
"Really, how's that?"
"Simple, dad will drive us to the mall, which will be packed full if we don't hurry soon, then you and I will go into the mall and get nice things for me and maybe yourselves."
Her mum shook her head, "I still don't..."
Gloria clenched her fists, "together, you said as long as we are together and I just showed you how, so can we go get ready for Christmas?"
Both her parents stood from the bed, "this is serious, sweetie, there's more to Christmas than tangible things and shopping, there's also love and..."
"Blah blah blah." Gloria interrupted, folding her arms.
"Alright then," her father shrugged, "nothing for you until you learn the true meaning of Christmas."
"You weren't planning to get me anything before, you're just making excuses. I hope I never see you both again!" She shouted.
Her mother gasped loudly. Her father, looking more stern now, walked up to her.
"You see, this is one of the joys of the holiday, the reason why I am not beating you now for taking that tone with us is simply because of the holidays which, by the way, you so clearly have no idea what it’s about."
They both left the room. Her father poked his head back in, "oh, Gloria, be careful what you wish for."
Gloria watched as they left and fell on her bed, sobbing. She soon drifted off into a deep sleep.
It was the chilly breeze that came in through the open windows that first woke Gloria from her sleep. Her neck ached a little from the position she'd slept and, looking around her, she noticed a certain unerring silence that she recognized, one that she only felt on...
"Christmas morning!" She squealed in delight. She sat up on her bed, had she slept through the 24th? Weird.
She walked up to her window and peered outside; it was a dull, misty morning. One covered with the mist of harmattan winds and the dryness that accompanied it.
"Something's not right." She said, as she observed the silence outside. The place was just too...quiet.
"Mum, dad!" She called out and left her room. The hall echoed as she walked across it, she stopped in front of her parent's room.
"Dad?" She knocked softly, and pushed the door open. The hinges cringed loudly, in need of oiling, she thought. A small kerosene lamp burned low in the room, on a bedside table. Gloria's mother always used the lamp for her night reading, especially when the power was out and that had been happening a lot lately.
Gloria walked up to the lamp and turned it off. Her parent's bed was still neatly made, as if it hadn't been used. A book lay on top of the table, beside the lamp; she picked it up: FROZEN IN TIME.
"That's a strange book." She said, taking it over to the window. She drew aside the curtains, letting in straight rays of light through the shutters.
"Strange, indeed." She muttered again. Where could they be? And didn't they always tell her not to leave the lamp on as it was a fire hazard or something?
"Dad, where are you?" She called out.
Their bathroom was empty and dry, nobody had been there in a while from the looks of things. The kitchen was also empty, and so was the living room.
"Where'd they go without me?" She groaned and stamped her feet. She walked up to the living room window and pulled aside the curtain, her dad's blue Mercedes was still parked outside and he never went anywhere without that car.
Her voice echoed through the whole house and for the first time she felt terrified. A sound came from the hall, like footsteps.
"Mum, is that you?" She asked, picking up a yellow flashlight and walking towards the hall. The beam from the flashlight was powerful and there was no one in the hall. She pointed the beam towards the clock hanging on the wall.
"11:59, stupid clock needs new batteries."
She walked back into her room and sat on her bed. Something was so not right. Where could her parents have gone to, on Christmas morning?
A loud clicking sound and then the chiming of a clocking. Gloria had her face in her palm as she listened to the strokes. She counted twelve strokes before the clock went silent.
She got up from the bed, "That's weird, are all the clocks in this house bad?" She checked her bedside clock, 12:01. Even her phone read the same and also her wrist watch.
"But I thought..." She rushed to her window and gaped as she watched the darkness.
"But–I don't understand." She said to herself.
"What don't you understand?" A voice came from behind her.
She froze on her feet, it wasn't a voice she recognized.
"What don't you understand?" The voice repeated.
Gloria turned sharply, the side of her neck pulsing slightly and her lips dried in fright.
"What are you?" She said, staring at it.
"Of course you don't know what I am, that's why I am here."
Gloria looked from the top of it down to its feet? She couldn't see any feet. She was looking at a bright blue figure which seemed to take numerous shapes. It was warm and glowy; like a bunch of stars packed into a transparent plastic wrap.
What are you, she wanted to ask, but stopped before the words came out.
"You will follow me, and I will tell you what I am. We don't have much time, though, it’s Christmas morning."
Before she could answer, the warm and glowy thing rushed into her and she was immediately warped into some sort of monochromatic tunnel, spinning continuously until they landed in a long field with yellow grasses.
"Here, for your first lesson."
Gloria slowly stood up, a bit nauseous from–what had that been? She looked around the bright misty place. The yellow grass seemed to run for miles, except the side covered by mist.
"What are you?" She asked.
The warm, glowy thing moved closer to her, "why, I'm the spirit of Christmas. You wouldn't know because you've misplaced me a long time ago."
She scoffed, "spirit of Christmas, yeah right."
"Well, I'll have to teach you a lesson now, wouldn't I?"
Gloria folded her arms and looked away, "where are my parents and where'd you come from?"
The spirit of Christmas remained silent for a while and it came even closer.
"I thought you asked never to see them again?"
Gloria shot a quick look at it, "What, I never..." Her voice trailed off.
"Yes, you did, see?" It reached forth and opened what looked like a curtain of cloud and some images started showing.
"There, see where you said it."
"...I hope I never see you both again!"
She gaped and remained quiet, then she began to shake her head. "No, no…I didn't mean it… I…"
"Well, you said it. Be careful what you wish for."
The spirit of Christmas, all warm and glowy, moved behind her, close to her ears.
"As for where I came from, well, somewhere in there, deep within." It shone a thin ray of light on her chest, "sadly, you lost me."
Gloria was sniffling now, "Why are you here?"
"I am taking you on a path to find the true meaning of Christmas, only then will I find my way back into your heart and maybe you'll get to see your family again."
Gloria wiped her eyes, sniffled and began walking after it.
"I know what Christmas is all about." She said.
"No, you don't, and I'll show you why."
They moved up the grass and as they moved buildings began to spring forth around them. Familiar buildings, places Gloria always associated Christmas with; the mall, amusement parks, fast food restaurants where they had chicken meals, places her parents always took her too.
"You see, we are in an 'idea'. Your idea of Christmas, that's what this place is. As you can see it's really shallow."
"What do you mean?"
The spirit of Christmas moved up to one of the buildings and tapped on it.
"Come on, see."
Gloria walked up to the building, the lovely mall where she spent time Christmas shopping. The building looked and felt as if it was made of cardboard.
"You see it, don't you?" It said, beckoning her to move over to the other side of the building, "you see, it's hollow, two dimensional. This is a fun thing to do during Christmas, hence the face value but this is not really what it's all about."
"Follow me, come on."
They walked up to another building.
"That's home." She shouted and ran up to it.
She could see movement through the windows.
"Yes, it's home, years ago, look and tell me what is different."
She could see her younger self and her parents laughing at the dinner table, sharing a meal and singing and laughing. They all seemed so happy. She walked to the other side of the building, it ran on and on, thick in its side.
"Solid, not two dimensional." It said to her, "this lasts forever, this was a Christmas well spent."
"What's the difference?" She asked.
"Family, that's all that makes the difference, family and friends and the people around you."
They walked along several buildings, and she noticed the thickness reducing with each one they passed.
"What's happening here?"
"You're losing your Christmas spirit, that's what. It became more about what you got and not who you shared it with or who you made happy."
She nodded, "I think I get it now."
"Yes, but, how can I make it better? My parents are gone."
It moved closer to her, "let the spirit guide you." And with that it rushed into her again.
Gloria gasped and suddenly woke up. Her neck ached from the position she'd slept in. She quickly glanced at her clock, 7A.M.
"Christmas morning!" She shouted and moved towards her window, it was bright and misty outside.
"It was all a dream." She said and sighed.
Pushing open her room door, she ran down the hall and into her parents’ room. Her mother was reading by the lamp and her father was just getting up.
"Merry Christmas." She shouted and hugged her parents, feeling a familiar warm glow within her. END
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