I look back to all the Christmases of my life to see if I can remember some for being extraordinarily happy or sad or strange. Here's one of them.
The little girl Anna, was bawling her heart out. She tried mightily to extend her crying even if she didn’t feel like crying anymore. When she heard knocking on the door, she turned the volume a decibel louder. “Go away,” she hiccupped, even as she wondered if her voice sounded heart-rending enough.
Christmas began badly enough that midnight. She had written Santa Claus for her dream tea set. How many successive years she had asked for a tea set – she had lost count.
She knew by the shape and heft of the package she found by her bed that Santa had denied her again. She tore off the wrapping unhappily. What an ugly thing, she thought, as she drew it out from a box. A chunky aparador-aparadoran made of wood. She pulled the tiny closets and drawers experimentally, then pushed the whole thing away. It fell on the floor with a thud.
On Christmas morning, she and her sisters came home from church to a full living room. The flock of cousins, all nine of them, was waiting – they who lived three streets away and who never failed to come each year. They were nine reasons why her perennially broke Dad was always looking province-ward around this season. So he can "hide in the mountains."
One of them she didn’t particularly like. Inna her name was -- so pretty and so smart and so lista and was her Dad’s favorite. As Inna and Anna were of the same age and almost the same names, they were often compared, at the constant expense of shy, mousy-looking Anna.
Inna could twirl Anna’s Dad around her fingers. Even on Christmases her Dad was broker than broke, she was the only one he would secretly palm one peso to, among the brood.
Presently, Inna got up, her curls bouncing. I have a new poem, she announced pertly, curtsying to Anna’s Dad who sat beaming.
After the applause, Inna sat on his lap and whispered in his ear. In turn, he groped for his pocket. “No, I don’t want money,” she said. “What do you want -- my wallet?” he teased. She replied, “That one.”
Her finger was pointing at the aparador-aparadoran Anna’s mom had retrieved from the bedroom floor and set on the center table.
“Well, that’s Anna’s,” he answered thoughtfully. “But, hmm, I don’t think she likes it.”
At that point, Anna, her face flaming, fled to the bedroom, locked it, and bawled her heart out. She fell asleep from her effortful crying. When she woke and got out, the house was quiet. In the sala, she immediately found what her eyes sought.
The little aparador was still there and no longer looked ugly.