Requiem

rosemarywisdom

Singapore

February 18th, 2022

cause all my thoughts run astray
and I'm a walking cliché

“If you want your life to be a kickass film, then
begin by realising that you are the director, screenwriter, producer and lead actor.”

Message to Readers

What December means to me (on one side of the world!). The other side of Christmas will be published as a piece from this prompt, not for the competition.

Τα αστέρια από το Όστιν

December 10, 2018

Six years old, sitting in front of the Christmas tree. No snow. Wrapped in blankets and warm clothes. Fireplace embers dancing in the air. Humming a carol, crafting a story in my head. New books wrapped in bright colored paper. Voices swirling around: my siblings, cousins, parents and grandparents. Stories shared and laughter echoed. Cinnamon and pine. 

Eight years old. Stories in notebooks, on napkins from restaurants. Aromas of cooking pastitsio and baking vasilopita waft in from the kitchen, mixed with the smell I always associate with my grandparents' house. I now sing carols loud and clear. Dying fireplace embers, lit-up Christmas trees with homemade ornaments. Christmas shopping in the square, bookstore all decorated. Thousands of twinkling lights. Driving in winter makes me nostalgic. Mass until ten pm, in the candle-lit church. Greek Orthodox mass is particularly beautiful. Wrapped in jackets over my dress. Ballet flats. Watching the stars out of stained glass windows as mass ends, eagerly scanning the skies for a sign of a sleigh pulled by eight reindeer.

Twelve years old. Words swirl around in my head, creating characters with no stories and stories with no ends. I put the Christmas tree up this year. No snow. A red sweater the color of the shoes I wore as a young girl. More new books, read in nooks and crannies on the stairs. The cool feeling of the tiles in the kitchen at six am on an early morning. Socks framed in wool, boots framed in fur. Then leather, as I grow. Gloves the color of cider. Spiced, warm cider. Cider sparkling in colored glasses. I have a seat at the fancy dining table now, as I grow. Cloth napkins, silver rings I used to try to fit around my wrist like a bracelet. Eloquent china and the good silver γιαγιά brings out for guests, Easter and Christmas. Sometimes New Years, but in Austin, New Years is a quiet celebration. Much quieter than Christmas. More stars as we leave for Christmas mass at nine, car doors slamming quickly to avoid the cold. Windows fogged up as we drive. I stare at the stars, wanting just one glimpse of St. Nick and the sleigh before tomorrow, Christmas Day. My siblings and cousins wrap themselves tighter in layers of fur and wool and cotton. I have an embellished coat the color of snow, framed in light blue, with small diamond buttons. I remember adoring this coat. We enter before mass begins, our teeth chattering from the cold. I get a glimpse of the stars as we stride past the windows. They look as bright and as sparkly as the diamond buttons on my coat. Candles are flickering, flames of orange red reflected in our eyes. Two Christmas trees, twinkling vividly as if winking at me, as if someone had hand-picked the brightest stars from the sky and placed them on the branches. As we leave around eleven, I hold on tight to my γιαγιά'ς hand, as if to grip onto this moment forever and ever. I remember lying awake that night, my blinds wide open for even the slightest chance to spot a luminous sleigh or a reindeer. I remember giggling and laughing with my sibling, watching and waiting as the hours lazily drifted by. Sleep is fleeting and precious, and with the morning comes excitement and spirits high as we tear into our gifts, smiles and hugs given all around. Carols sung, stories recited. My stories told. Food shared. Moments captured in pictures, evanescent glimpses of the past.

Present day. As I look at these pictures of smiles and hugs, carols and stories, food and laughter and love, I am reminded of the very reason my family celebrates Christmas every year. To remind everyone that there is indeed love to be shared, and given, and received, just as gifts are, but ever more precious and valuable, because love is forever. 

Present day. Words still swirl around in my head. I tell stories and sing carols, feeling the warmth spread throughout me as if a shield in these cold times. Because where there is snow, there is always a fireplace of comfort to return to.
The title loosely translates to The Stars From Austin, a reminder that the stars are forever, no matter how fleeting or how fast each year goes, the stars will remain the same. As I continue to grow, I'll look up on Christmases years from now and be reminded that the stars I see then are the same stars I saw on that first ever Christmas. <3

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