Monday, December 24, 2007
Full Circle, A Christmas Story by Me
Christmas was just another miserable day to Sara, full of hopelessness. Her grandmother always told her that God doesn't give you any more hardship than your shoulders can handle. She never believed it though, because it seemed during her whole 40 years of life she had been fighting demon upon demon and alcohol had been her only refuge from them. Sara moved often, sometimes leaving all her belongings behind, because when those demons took control she had to run. This time she ended up at a small fishing village off the coast.
She earned money working in housekeeping at one of the motels. Her needs were simple; liquor and sometimes food. Sara kept to herself, shunning anyone who tried to befriend her. As she drank, she would revisit memories of her failed marriage, her failed career and the child she lost. It wasn't long before the demons took control again.
Standing on the edge of an overlook, staring down at the sea with the bitter cold wind whipping at her, she contemplated tossing herself into the murky midst. Grandmother told her a few years ago that when Sara reached that full point; that "I've finally had enough" feeling, she would be able to throw away the liquor bottles. Last night was the breaking point, she knew that her demons would be with her regardless of how much she drank.
When a pizza delivery kid, called her "Grandma," she faced the fact that drinking had turned her into a bitter old woman at the young age of forty. She had to do something or she would die soon. A minuscule part of her thirst to live.
That morning she had grabbed a large trash bag off the housekeeping cart at the hole-in-the-wall motel she was staying at and put all the empty bottles of liquor in it. It took a long time to drag the bag to the overlook. Sara declined every offer of assistance. This was her demon and she had to fight it alone. One by one, she tossed the bottles into the foamy waters below, naming each one for a vice, a bad memory or experience. She didn't count them. They were too numerous.
It was dusk when Sara stumbled down the path, the weight of her sorrow so heavy she could barely walk. She came across a group of people, preparing for a play on the beach. They were dressed in robes and were assembling a make-sift barn. She stopped and asked them, "What's going on?"
A pimply-faced boy said, "We're performing the Nativity tonight. I'm Joseph." He pointed to a pretty girl and said, "She's Mary. This is our first year in the play. It's performed every Christmas Eve by people from the community. You should stay and watch." He smiled at her, before turning back to his work.
Sara didn't answer. She felt the uncontrollable urge to buy a bottle of rum and hum her night away. But before she could leave, a lady handed her several bags of coffee cups, saying "Put these on the table over there. Then come help me with the coffee maker." Sara followed the direction of her pointing finger and placed the cups on the table. The lady, whose name turned out to be Helen, continued to give Sara tasks to perform until the play was almost ready to start.
When Sara turned to leave, Helen took her arm and guided her to a seat. "You must stay and watch. We've got a younger generation performing tonight and they need all our support." She handed Sara a cup of coffee. Although it wasn't the warm liquid she craved, it soothed the coldness within her.
The play was performed with the usual mistakes and goof-ups of unsure first-time actors. Sara laughed with the crowd. But the heartfelt performance touched her troubled heart. She wanted to run away, but was frozen to the seat. After the play was over, each young person came forward and shared what Christmas meant for them. Their wistful earnest words caused Sara to weep. She once felt as hopeful as they did, but time tore the hope away.
A memory of her grandmother rushed in. She was on her death bed, holding Sara's hand. "My sweet granddaughter, you might give up on hope and faith but remember this always: Hope and Faith will never give up on you. Full circle. That's how it will be one day. They'll return."
Sara looked up at the stars above. She had forgotten how bright they could be on a clear winter's night. But the stars weren't as bright as the young faces, reflecting hope and faith. Sara fell to her knees with hands clasped. "Oh God," she prayed aloud, "forgive me for losing my faith. I need your help to fight these demons that tear my hope away. Please help me."
The crowd enclosed her within a circle, praying with her. Sara felt the weight of sorrow and regrets lift off her heart. Hope and faith had returned. She feverishly wished her grandmother was there to witness this night, to know that her prayers for Sara had been answered. A small cry broke the prayer circle. "Look at the water," a child said, pointing.
Along the surf where water met sand was a series of faint sparkling lights of different colors, fading into the distance. They resembled lights on a Christmas tree. Someone said,
"What is it?" Another person said, "I think it's starlight or moon light reflecting off some surface, maybe glass."
No one made a move to investigate. They stared in wonder at the vision. Sara thought "Bottles. The ones I tossed into the surf." High tide had washed them ashore. They went in as vices and had returned as hope and faith. She looked up at the Christmas sky in awe.
Maybe her grandmother did know that Sara arrived at her full circle.