Deep In The Ocean’s Treasure
We were coming home from an evening at church, as we did almost every Saturday night. I could see through some of the gaped window curtains as my mother and I made our way down the street to our house. The lights were twinkling on the Christmas trees alternating red and green in my neighbor’s homes. Families were gathered inside celebrating this Christmas Eve with large meals and bountiful company. No lights trimmed our house this year, even though I begged my mother to let us put up some lights. Our house was the only house in the neighborhood with no lights and no joy. We did not celebrate Christmas, or any holiday and birthdays for that matter due to our religious practices that limited our participation. But I longed to be free each chance I got and would fuss at my mother to let us. The beautiful twinkling lights etched in me that I was missing out on the greatest holiday ever celebrated.
“Mom, I’m missing out on celebrating with my friends at school. Can’t I just participate in the school parties so I can fit in, please?” I pleaded. There was no immediate response; she pretended to be focused on parking the car in the driveway. The car was finally still and she had rested her hands on her lap, sighed and turned to look at me.
“You know it’s not appropriate for you to participate because you don’t believe in what they believe in. Besides, you do fit in, you have friends who have you over and come by too,” she said. She turned her head back to look again at the dark house and reach behind the seat for her purse.
We got out of the car and walked up the pathway to the door. I wasn’t going to argue any further. It was Christmas Eve night; there was no need for a debate tonight. I put my white marshmallow looking coat in the closet underneath the stairs and stuffed my gloves and hat in the pockets to hang together. My mother patted my shoulder and hummed church hymns in attempt to sooth my temper I was containing. I was upset, but I knew there was no point in asking her to change her mind tonight. It was too late. Christmas was four hours away and my chances of seeing a tree in our house and opening presents tomorrow was a farfetched idea.
“Don’t you want to watch a movie and have some popcorn with me?” my mother asked. Her warm hand moved up to cup my cold chin and pull my face out to meet hers. Her soft brown eyes and puzzled look could not soften my stolen heart. Tonight it selfishly belonged to Christmas; I wanted it to come to me this year if it were not for her.
“No thank you, I want to go to bed,” I said.
“But it’s only eight, you can’t be tired,” said my mother.
“I am, I’m tired of not getting my wishes met every year,” I said and broke into a thumping march up the stairs and into my room. My fluffy red warm comforter was waiting to embrace me. I gathered my pillow into my face and let out the tears I had been holding. My face grew hot and wet from soaking in the now wet pillow. Blocking the world out and sulking in my sorrow, I curled up under the covers and started to drift and sleep the night away.
Waking up to find dim sunlight coming in through my bedroom curtains, I felt the dread of another Christmas that had come, but not for me. I pulled the covers off and felt the cool brisk bite of a winter chill. My church outfit was still on. I did not change last night because I had cried myself to sleep. I heard pans rattling and smelled eggs and frying bacon. It was only seven in the morning; my mother could not possibly be awake yet. But I was anxious to find out what was happening. I hurriedly changed into pajamas and wrapped my tattered robe around me for extra warmth. As I flew down the stairs, the tail end of my robe draping like a cape, I find my mother making breakfast.
“Good morning, hon. Are you feeling better?” she asked with a forgiving smile. She was not mad at me for last night. Not vengeful for the temper tantrum I threw and closed her off from my world.
“I am. Why are you up so early mom and making breakfast already?” I asked.
The kitchen table was set for her and I, but this was different. There was a tiny box wrapped in magenta foil wrapping paper sitting on a plate with a hand written note that was addressed to me in gold ink. It was not my birthday and I had never gotten anything on Christmas day before.
“You went to bed early last night and so did I. I hope you can forgive me for the many things you have missed out on in your childhood. Are you always going to be mad at me?” she asked. Her face looked nervous and anxious for my response. She stirred the yellow runny eggs more and more, scrapping the pan with the spatula to hurry along my response.
“I’m sorry mom. It’s not what I meant to do. I didn’t want to hurt you but I just feel like I’m missing out on something special. I’ve always wanted to celebrate Christmas. I really am sorry. But why are you up so early and what is this on my plate?” I said
“I don’t mean to cause you to be upset and feel like you are missing out on something special. But you hopefully will see one day that there are many more special things that will consume your life,” said my mother. “But for now, open your gift. Don’t think of it as a Christmas present, just as something from me to brighten up your morning.”
I sat down at the kitchen table and tore the foil off adorning the tiny box. It was a box that obviously held jewelry. Its distinct curbs and gold hinge on the back was unforgettable. We didn’t have much money to spare this end of the month since our heater needed more repairs and was evidently acting up today again. I couldn’t believe my mother was giving me an obviously expensive gift. My fingers gripped the little box and pried it open to reveal its treasure. It was my grandmother’s ruby pendant necklace that she always wore. I hadn’t seen it since she passed away when I was only five years old. It was my most memorable of her possessions and she loved it very much.
“Wait mom, why are you giving this to me? This was left to you from grandma,” I asked.
“I’m giving this to you because it was your grandmother’s treasure once and you are mine,” She said. I could tell she was cold because she was now hugging herself and the end of small slender nose was turning pink from the heaters selected operating times.
I rose out of my chair and hugged her. I buried my face into her chest and felt her warmth. She wrapped her arms around my head and kissed the top. The eggs forgotten and the bacon still simmering; I held on to her for as long as I could. I did not want to lose my mom or make her feel like she hadn’t given me enough in this life ever again, because she had.