Day 15 - Story Advent Calendar.

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Advent Calendar 15th December.

The November Tree
A Short Story

By Jasmine Mah

I’ve become one of those people that puts up the tree the day after throwing the pumpkin in the trash. The kind on the receiving end of gentle, prodding messages on social media that read “you know it’s only November right?”, followed by a thoughtfully-chosen laughing-to-tears emoji. Yes, I know it’s only November but I grasp for Christmas like a kid being hauled away from a half-eaten birthday cake. I need it like so many of us need Christmas.

As I unbox the tree, I can see you nimbly folding the ribbons that kept it tied together for the last three hundred days in the darkest corner of the basement. You had to dig it out for me, though I’m thirty years old, I’m still scared of going down there, still scared of the dark. We start to unfold each branch and this time, I don’t wave your hands away for doing it wrong. I decide it’s perfect just the way it is. Now the tree is upright in all her evergreen glory and we’re standing back in admiration, your hands on your hips like a superhero after saving the city from inevitable destruction. I always think of you that way, that you could save anything and anyone.

Next comes the moment you detest most of all- testing the innumerable strings of lights. It’s a law of the universe that every year, one more stops working and since they’re old, you have to remove every single bulb to find the one to replace. We get to our favourite, the one with the tiny coloured liquid-filled vials that bubble like miniature lava lamps, and we say a little prayer under our breaths before plugging them in. Magically, they light up and we start laughing, relieved. Thank goodness.

Once we’ve weaved the lights in and out and around the imperfectly fluffed branches, it’s time for the ornaments. They are always packed away perfectly by my mother, organized into themes in Ziploc bags with labels but we’ve always been a little bit rebellious. We open each one haphazardly, leaving the bags strewn on the floor.  I pass you the pasta ornament I made in elementary school, it’s missing a few pieces of macaroni here and there but you still cradle it like a delicate work of art. You hang it in the designated place of honour, to the right of where the star will be. I could never reach that spot, not even on my tiptoes.

After we’ve strategically placed each and every glass bauble, the only thing left is the star. You kneel down to take it out of its paper box, it’s wrapped in yellowing tissue paper, a testament to the years that have gone by. The years that go by too quickly, I think to myself. You lift me up so I can be the one to finish our tree and as soon as you put me down, I turn around and remember I’m alone in the house with the exception of BublĂ© in the background, the last lines of I’ll Be Home for Christmas floating in from the kitchen - if only in my dreams. 

Since you’ve been gone, I’ve put up the tree every November. I need it like so many of us need Christmas. Because it brings you back. I’d give anything for you to bring the tree up on your broad shoulders from the basement, to fluff the fake needles in the wrong way, and to lift me up like you used to. I know we’ll have the chance to decorate our tree together again, but until then, Merry Christmas Dad.

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Author’s Note: Christmas can be an especially difficult, yet beautiful moment for anyone that has lost a loved one and loss can be in many ways which is why I wrote this piece without revealing who that person was for me until the very end. This Christmas season, may you create memories that will last a lifetime like mine, may it bring back treasured ones as well and remind us all of the things that are truly important.

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We found Jasmine thanks to a group herself and two other lovely ladies set up called #DolceVitaBloggers. Each month they gave us a topic on Italy to write about and we absolutely ate it up. It couldn't have come at a better time, as after our Grandad passed away it gave us a place to go to talk about what we love and it felt like we were honouring him in doing so. The group is having a break over the holidays but will be back next year and we cannot wait. Find more information about it, as well as where you can find Jasmine at the following links:


Happy Reading!


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