July 22, 2013
“Why?” I asked, an obvious whine in my voice
“Because we need to spend more time together as a family. And I’m sure you’re not finished with your shopping yet, ” Dad answers, his arms folded and impatiently waiting for me to get in the car.
“What if I am done with my shopping? Then can I stay home?”
“No, Leah. You are going and that is final. Get in the car.”
Dad gets in the driver’s seat of the already running van and starts down the street.
“Well, ” Mom says from the passenger seat. “How about some Christmas Carols to get the festivities started?”
She pops a CD in the player and “Jingle Bells” floats through the air. Mom begins to sing and Seth and Dad join in, making me want to cover my ears. It’s not that they’re bad singers—they’re actually pretty good—I just hate Christmas music.
“So after we get our shopping done, we’ll go to Jeffery’s and get a tree, ” Mom says.
Seth smiles excitedly. He’s always loved Christmas, as did I when I was little. That’s changed now though.
“Why do we even celebrate Christmas?” I shout through the blaring Christmas Carols.
Mom turns the volume down, “Christmas is Christ’s birthday. He—”
“I know that. I mean why do we celebrate Christmas? We’re not Christian. We don’t go to church. So why celebrate some guy-we-don’t-even-believe-in’s birthday?”
That quiets Mom down, “It’s a fun holiday anyways. Don’t you think?”
“No, I don’t, ” I mutter quietly. Mom either doesn’t hear me or doesn’t answer and they resume their Christmas Caroling.
We drive the speed limit to Port Angeles and park on the end of the long row of stores facing the ocean.
“Alright, ” Dad says as we climb from the car. “We’ll meet back here at noon to have lunch together and then if we still have shopping to get done, we’ll shop some more. And we’ll go to pick up a tree after that. Sound good?”
“Yep!” Seth chirps and hurries down the sidewalk, wallet in hand. Mom and Dad follow closely behind, holding hands. I linger a few minutes and then wait until Mom turns her head over her shoulder to dive into the closest store. I wanted her to see me go into a store so she thinks I am actually shopping and not skipping out.
“Can I help you?” A middle aged sales lady asks.
I shake my head, not even knowing which store I entered and watch out the window for my family to go into another store. As soon as they do, I hurry out of the store and down onto the rocky beach.
I skip across the large stones peeking out of the water until I’m several yards from where the tide reaches. The water laps against the rock and splatters dark spots against the hem of my jeans. I watch the waves form far out and roll in towards me getting smaller as they come.
I don’t know how long I stand there, but finally I dare to pull my phone from my pocket, checking the time. I still have nearly an hour before I have to meet my family and I wait several more minutes before bounding back across the rocks. I find a log of driftwood and sit, not bothering to brush the sand from the wood before I do. The beach is nearly empty today, everyone being too busy with the holidays to spend time there. A couple walks down by the water and as I see them I look away. The reminders are everywhere, mocking and haunting, like ghosts.
I watch the scene around me, narrating the details in my head to avoid thinking of anything else. The sky looked down like a parent over the beach, her child, a solemn gray promise in her eyes. The sun, a bright sliver of hope, murmurs against the salty wind which gathers the dark storm clouds on the horizon, closer and closer until suddenly they would take over, menacingly spitting rumors onto the beach. The ocean yells, over and over, threatening to rebel against the rocky shore, but each time, it’s strength peters out before it can and it’s white whispers slide across the land and then return, leaving helpless artifacts in place. Another shout comes, and in it’s wake, sacrifices the twisted remains of a jellyfish, already lifeless and flat, strangled by a green snake, seaweed.
A buzz in my pocket brings me from my trance. I remove my phone and open it beside my ear.
“Hello? Leah? You know it would really help if you said something when you answered the phone,” Mom complains.
Mom sighs, “Where are you? It’s time for lunch.”
“Oh, I finished my shopping so I walked down to the beach. Be there in a minute,” I quickly lie.
“Okay, see you in a minute.”
We hang up and I walk back up to the street, taking my time. Mom, Dad and Seth are waiting beside the car when i arrive.
“Where’s your stuff?” Seth asks.
“I didn’t find anything. I already have my shopping done,” I say, lying again. I don’t really plan on buying anything for Christmas since I don’t plan to be home.
I follow my family down the street and around the corner to a little cafe. After lunch, we decide to go get the tree since everyone but Mom has finished shopping. I refuse to get out of the car as Seth leads Mom and Dad through the lot pointing out the best trees. It takes nearly a half an hour for them to decide on the ‘perfect one’ and another twenty minutes to tie the tree down on top of the car. I wait in the backseat, my head resting against the window as I try to sleep, only to be reawoke every few minutes by a child squealing with delight.
Finally we went home and I went straight to my room and listened to the grunts from Dad and Seth as they lugged the tree inside and the high-pitched orders from my mother as she directed them on where to go. I heard as they dragged the boxes of decorations down from the attic and the Christmas Carols they played loudly on a loop.
Finally at midnight, the house was silent except for the rumbling in my stomach that had steadily been growing louder over the last few hours. I sneak downstairs to the kitchen, and eat a sandwich as I stand in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room.
Our house looked like the Christmas Fairy had dumped a bucket load of pixie dust, leaving behind a perfect Christmas scene. The tree occupies the corner, glistening with lights and ornaments. As a border, icicle lights are drooped around the room with big red bows every few feet. The picturesque view made me sad; I wanted to be happy and enjoy Christmas but I didn’t see how I could. No one wanted me included anyways, and it wouldn’t be fun without friends in addition to my small family.
Thanks for reading!!! And yes, I know it’s only July but I’m in the mood for some Christmas (and yes, there will be more holiday entries to come)! You can like Leah’s Diary on Facebook here and follow on Twitter here to tell me what you thought of this entry and others! I would love to hear your thoughts and questions so don’t be shy