Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Biggest Star

It was only four in the morning. The house was just lit by the flickering Christmas light. Tricia was already busy decorating the tree.

Tricia remembered how she was not allowed to put decors on their Christmas tree when she was younger. She would be given just a few Christmas balls and she would hang it on the bottom of the tree. Even so, she was always thrilled at her mom’s announcement of the annual tree decoration.

“Mom! Look! I think this is the best spot for this ball!” She would proudly say to her mom, wanting to get her ok to every spot she would hang her few precious balls.

And her mom would smile at her lovingly and would tell her, “Yes dear, that’s the best spot.” With that smile, Tricia would beam with excitement.

By the time they finish decorating, her dad would suddenly appear. That was the best part. Her dad would lift her to his shoulders while she held on protectively to the biggest star. Her brother and sisters would cheer her as she placed the star on top of the tree.

Then they would all march towards the kitchen and chaotically got themselves a hot chocolate. They would spend the entire morning on the dining table talking about what to eat on Christmas dinner. That was the second best part.

“You ok?” Her sister, still in her pajamas, appeared behind her.

Oblivious of her presence, she almost dropped a Christmas ball. “Yeah, I’ll be done in a while.” She quietly smiled.

“Alright. Wake me up if you need help ok? But I don’t think you want me to help you anyway.” She teased and ran off.

It was roughly 10 years ago since they last decorated their Christmas tree together. She could barely recall how they spent those ten Christmases without her mom.

After she placed the last Christmas ball, she thought, “Isn’t this the best spot for this ball?”

The sun was already shining when she finished decorating. She stared at the biggest star and left it beneath the tree. She was on the verge of crying, realizing that she did everything alone.

She was already cleaning the boxes when everybody suddenly rushed in the family room.

“Wow!!! This is so great! You made it!” Her sister beamed.

“We’ve never had a Christmas tree for what, a century?” Her brother exclaimed.

She couldn’t say a thing in surprise. She turned her head when she heard a voice saying, “You did this sweetie?”

It was her dad.

“Well…Uh, huh.” She said sheepishly.

“Yes daddy. I saw her doing it at four in the morning!” Her sister said.

Her dad picked up the biggest star and handed it to her. “It’s the tradition.”

Tricia’s eyes widened as she remembered the Christmas feeling she had 10 years ago. As her siblings cheered, she placed the biggest star on top of the tree with a big smile.

Her dad hugged her. “Come, we made you a hot chocolate.”

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Jingling Bells

Jingling bells jingling bells
Jingling all the way…

Little Ben sang with great exuberance, his little fingers slightly tapping the car’s window, a little drum hanging around his neck. The driver waved his hand without looking at him.

His eyes lost sparkle, his shoulders fell and he quietly moved to the sidewalk as the light turned green.

After a few minutes, another red light. Little Ben instantly leaped as if not feeling the cold wind wrapping him, creeping into his tattered clothes.

Jingling bells jingling bells
Jingling all the way…

He hopped from one car to another, continuing to sing the same lines. People kept shooing him away but he sang anyway. Some were amused but never gave him anything.

A lady tossed a penny from the window. Little Ben’s eyes widened with excitement as he thanked the old lady.

Upon realizing how long he’d been roaming the streets, little Ben slumped into the sidewalk.

“One…two…three…one…two…three…” He silently counted as if he knew exactly how to.

Suddenly a girl, about 4 years old, appeared behind him.

“Kuya…” she said in a soft whisper.

Frightened, little Ben hurriedly hid the coins he saved from that day. “Oh Sarah, it’s you! I told you to wait for me at home.”

Tears welled up in Sarah’s eyes. “Kuya, I’m hungry…”

His throat tightened and realized that they hadn’t been eating anything for three days.

“Don’t cry… Look, 1-2-3-1-2-3! Kuya earned much! We’ll eat something special today.” He managed to cheer his voice up.

Little Ben left Sarah near the bridge and got themselves something for that day. Then he ran back to their home where she left Sarah and hurriedly climbed down. The pile of cartons was already set. Sarah was already sleeping quietly at the end waiting for him.

“Sarah, wake up…” Little Ben shook her softly. “It’s time.” He said with a silent excitement.

The two of them watched the different colors of fireworks appear in the sky, eating bread and a cup of warm noodles. “Merry Christmas Sarah…”