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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Quiet Christmas

Being a non-Christian, Christmas has always been just another excuse for a couple of days off from school, or whatever. But the sea of Christmas movies on TV (when I used to actively watch TV) that came on around this time of the year made me wish that maybe one day we would wake up to a giant tree, with presents all under it, and spend time together.

For a few years, we did have our own little Christmas tree, decorated with little gold and red balls, little bells, intricately woven bows that my mum made out of ribbon and wire; this little masterpiece to be the decoration for both Christmas, new year, and Chinese new year, all in one little pot on the telephone table in the living room.

Sometimes, we would have a treat for dinner as a family; sometimes, a barbecue, or some sort of celebration/countdown with friends; sometimes a trip to Singapore where all the pretty Christmas lights came up all along Orchard Road. I still remember the drives my godfather took us on - regardless of how tired he was after a long day's work - after dinner, a light swim in the moonlight, and a Wall's Paddle Pop - just to let us gawk at the pretty lights and decorations that lined the entire shopping haven in Singapore.

The house now feels empty. In those three years that my baby was here, I could at least secretly treat him to some store-bought cake, or a little bit of fruit during Christmas, and I could cuddle his furry paws, and play with his ears (which he wasn't too fond of). Now there's nothing. There's been no more late-night scratching and scuffling in the middle of the night, no more barks at strangers, no more pawing of our thighs to get little scraps of food from the kitchen.

My older sister was usually the one who initiated the presents exchange. The thing about her was that she always thought about what to get us for our birthdays and Christmas, and it would usually be a gift that isn't too expensive, but thoughtful enough to touch our hearts. This year, I consider the carton of vanilla cocoa granola she gave me after she got back from work as my Christmas present - little, but significant.

While friends were out having fun, at family parties, or with other friends of their own; I was trying to get over my own guilt of being a bad niece, braving through my discomfort at being at a hospital full of needles and beeping machines. It was a Christmas that I planned to be rebellious - perhaps spending a night drunk at a friend's place nearby, or just going out in the evening for a drink with my girls.

At least, something.

I really never thought this Christmas would be like this. I keep feeling like I'm not doing enough - I'm there, but I don't do much. I try to help, but I feel like it's all too insignificant. Every gesture I make, I feel like it tells people that I'm ignorant, but in fact I'm just uncomfortable - I've been in my physical and emotional shell for too long. I'm there, but I don't know what to say - just planted there on my feet like a mute idiot.

And then I'm here, silently waiting for someone to talk to me. And not just someone, actually. That particular person who's hot and cold at the same time; who seems to be everywhere at the same time; is a different person every other day; the kind that doesn't really sit still, but is the sweetest. Perhaps it's a sign that I should grow some balls and take some initiative sometimes.

The third Christmas I'm spending single. Not that it's a problem, but given everything that happened since April of this year, I thought that something would have happened by now. No rush for that, though. Solitude has been something I'm growing comfortable into - I get to plan my own itinerary of activities with various parties, which is a plus, especially given that I have a car of my own. Yeah, it does get cold between the sheets during certain nights, but that usually nothing a nice fleece blanket can't take care of.

Wishes of happy Christmas could be heard everywhere, and even though it's a quiet and lonely Christmas, I'm grateful that I got to spend it with family.

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