by Samantha Sy (Batch 2012)
(A Christmas Special)
Ah… how time flies! It’s almost Christmastime again! Feels just like yesterday when I last received the pretty silver bracelet James gave me last Christmas. It’s currently mid-November and longer nights are evidently seen in the sky day by day. Plus, it gets chillier out in the streets. I’m so excited! Christmas is like the most exciting time of the year! We get to exchange gifts, have parties with varying themes, music, food, and most of all; spend a nice bonding time with family during the holidays! Oh, I just can’t wait for it anymore! I really hope the periodical exams start soon so that it can end soon as well.
I still remember what our parish priest said last year during his homily. He believes that the peak season of crimes happen during the Christmas season. Why, you ask? Well, it’s because Christmas nowadays is so commercialized. If you think of Christmas, there always has to be a Christmas tree, awesome gifts, neon lights, Santa Claus, delicious food, oh, and let’s not forget that it’s also that time of the year when famous artists release their new singles in their “Christmas Special Album”. The thought reminded me of the text I received from a friend last month during Halloween. I was asking her if she wanted me to buy her this cool witch outfit for our Halloween party even if it was rather overpriced. “I’ll just be wearing my jeans to that party. Why spend? Halloween is so commercialized now, just like Christmas.” she said. Really, in today’s generation, Christmas is all about the businessmen, the capitalists, the tycoons. I think a lot of people think it is. It’s that time of the year when they can make use of people’s sentiments to make their Christmas items sell like hotcakes. Everyone’s expected to have their houses decorated as pretty as they can. The more fabulous they are the better. Well, what about those people who can’t afford these luxuries? What about the people who don’t even have families to celebrate Christmas with? Just think. If you were a poor man with only little to eat and you don’t have a family, and you pass by this huge mansion covered in wreathes and Christmas lights where you can see loads of people partying inside, how would you feel? Won’t there be a sense of inferiority? Of course there will. Uh, it’s sad, I know. That’s why people would have pity on themselves and start stealing, or worse, getting that blade and scraping it against their wrists. It’s all so lonely, right? But knowing all these facts, I’m still rather skeptical about it. I just can’t accept the fact that Christmas is such a depressing season for the rest of the unprivileged.
Upon opening the door, I yelled, “I’m home!” as I put down my schoolbag. I saw mom’s stuff so I knew that she’s home early today. Great! I can talk to her more! During our conversation, I found out that our family is short of cash this year. That would definitely mean uncool presents or no presents at all. Aw, shucks! I felt quite down. But then, mom told me this. “Gifts are just superficial, sweetheart; Christmas is all about the birth of Christ and sharing, peace, and happiness. You know what would really make you happy?” “What?” I asked curiously. “If you helped others and made them happy.” Now, that really got stuck to my head.
The next day at school, everyone was chit-chatting happily while discussing their Christmas plans, but I noticed this seemingly invisible guy in our class who was just drawing some doodles on the back of his notebook in sheer boredom. His name was Tristan, and to me, he looked like a withdrawn introvert who doesn’t mingle with us, his peers. That guy was such a mystery to all. I mean, I personally have been his classmate since June, and until now, I barely know him. At break times, he would not leave his seat and just, you know, eat there by himself. When the dismissal bell rings, he would leave so fast that no one would even notice him. I don’t know why, but it’s only now that I had a sudden interest in him. Oh, no, not the kind of interest you guys are thinking about! I already have a boyfriend, FYI. Yeah, that’s James, that guy who gave me the bracelet. He’s really nice, hardworking, intelligent, understanding, gentle, religious, and has great sense of humor. He’s got everything that I could ever ask for. I’m actually envious of him because he manages to stay as perfect as he always is. Or maybe I’m the only one who thinks he’s perfect?
Well, anyway, I suddenly had an urge to help him out. Maybe I can bring him out of his shell and help him express his feelings to gain some friends. Honestly, I pity him a lot. He doesn’t have anyone to talk to. They might all think that he is a cold snob, but I think he’s having his own inner struggles and he just can’t bring himself to reach out. I remembered what my mom said. I will surely feel the happiest if I am able to help someone else. And so, I bravely took the first move and walked towards his seat. Hopefully, no one notices and gets the wrong idea. I took a deep breath and waved my hand, greeting, “Um…Hi Tristan!” He was facing down, not looking at me.
He reminded me of an ostrich, actually. You know how ostriches bury their head underground when their ashamed or something? Well I’m not really sure if ostriches are shy animals but he looked just like that! He’s also similar to a mimosa, a makahiya plant. It’s like when someone approaches him, he automatically retreats like one. After a few seconds, he slowly raised his head and looked through my eyes. He swallowed audibly and greeted back with a shaking voice, “Hi Shaina.” “Call me Shay.” I said warmly. “You know, I think this is our first time we ever talked since we became classmates.” I heard no reply but simply saw a nod. I hated awkward conversations like this when you have absolutely no idea what to say next. “Um, so, who do you hang out with?” Oh gosh, after spouting those words, reality hit me and at that time, I really wanted to slap myself for my stupidity. That was like directly asking him who his friends were. Earth to Shay, that’s exactly why you’re approaching him, right? He doesn’t have one. “Oh, I have a friend from another school. His name is Spencer.” He said softly with a smile. I guess I was wrong after all! He does have friends! Maybe they’re just not here. I wonder why, though? Doesn’t he like us, his classmates? Before I could ask more, he explained. “He’s my childhood friend since I was four. We’re neighbors.” “Oh… I see.” I whispered. I guess they must have a strong bond, huh? I was lost for words. I really just want him to mingle with us.
Then, I asked. “What theme would you like for this year’s Christmas party? Do you like to join the play we’re making for the program?” “No thanks, I don’t have nice opinions.” He said as he bent his head. “Christmas isn’t happy for me.” Now I was really shocked with what he said. He didn’t like Christmas? Why so? Before I could even ask him the reason behind it, suddenly, this incredibly annoying bully, Andre, entered the scene and started teasing nonsense. “Well what do we have here? Oh my, Shay, I thought you were better than that! Why are you talking to a loser like Tristan? Don’t you already have James? Wait until he finds out about this!” He ended with a maniac laugh.
Poor Tristan just buried his head on the table beneath his folded arms. I wasn’t sure if I could hear sobs but I knew that Andre definitely crossed the line this time. “Don’t be such a bad bully! He hasn’t done anything to you!” I yelled angrily while trying to defend Tristan. Classmates started to approach Tristan and talk to him while Andre was being pushed away. I wasn’t sure if what happened was a good thing. The fact that Tristan was hurt is a really sad thing but now; people are starting to notice him! They wouldn’t have if I didn’t take the first step. I felt… happy.
Days passed by and Tristan and I started to become closer and closer. He was slowly improving and he began to open up. I knew he just needed to be understood. Day by day I would go to his seat and talk to him about random things. Sometimes, James would even make him laugh, too. I knew it, James is really so awesome! I told him about Tristan and he immediately agreed to help the guy. Plus, he’s not the jealous type of boyfriend and that’s what’s great about him. One day, while Tristan and I were conversing, I discovered that he was an orphan! His parents died on the day of his birthday four years ago and he narrated that it was the saddest event in his life. He now lives with his other relatives who continue to support him. What’s worse is that I found out that his birthday was on Christmas Eve! No wonder Christmas is such a painful time for him. I couldn’t stop my tears from flowing when I heard his story. It was just so sad. When the bell rang, I hastily ran back to my seat and wiped my tears with a triumphant smile. I have decided something. I finally know what to do this Christmas! This Christmas, I have a mission. I will make Tristan have the best Christmas ever!
There was not much time to prepare. We had a few more days left before our school Christmas party. One day, I gathered all my classmates in a circle, except Tristan who already went home, and told them about the plan. Some of them were indifferent about it, but after I gave a good talk to them and confided to them Tristan’s story, they all instantly agreed. They also wanted the shy mimosa to shine like a bright star and be the center of attention. We all bought a gigantic Christmas card and wrote all our dedications to Tristan. Each of us also contributed money to buy Tristan’s birthday cake. Even Andre, the big bully, decided to join, too.
The day we’ve all been waiting for finally arrived alas! Our periodical exams finally ended, too! Although it is just December 16, we plan to celebrate his birthday in advance, too. Unknown to Tristan, he would be getting a huge surprise later on. As usual, Tristan quietly entered the classroom and sat on his seat unnoticeably. Everyone was busy exchanging gifts and having a great time. I approached him again. “Hi! I wish you a Merry Christmas and advanced happy birthday to you!” I said. “Thanks. Merry Christmas to you, too.” He greeted softly as he managed to make a small smile. I extended my hand to him and gave him his present. He looked really surprised with what I did. “F…For me?” He asked to reassure himself. “Yes, for you.” I grinned. “Open it.” “O…okay.” He said while slowly tearing the gift wrapper. His eyes widened. “A photo album?” “Do you like it?” I asked with a grin. “Y…Yes. Thank you. But, I don’t think I’ll be able to use this. Unlike you guys, I don’t have memorable photos worth putting here.” “Oh, you will, you will.” I smiled knowingly.
After a while, we all went up to the auditorium to watch the Christmas program. Each section had to present a short play about Christmas and when section D was called, all of the participants from my class, including me, all went up on stage. When the touching play we presented ended, we surprised everyone in school when we started singing. “Happy birthday Tristan! Happy birthday Tristan! Happy birthday, happy birthday! Happy birthday to you!” I could clearly see the astonishment in Tristan’s face as tears of joy slowly fell down. We all left the stage and surrounded Tristan in his seat, each of us giving him a hug. Then, when we all went back to the classroom for the Christmas party, we gave him the giant card. He started crying again but his smile never dissipated as he was reading.
Hi Tristan! Hope we can be closer from now on! XOXO –Tammy
Yo! Hope to get to know you more before graduation! –Joshua
Hey! We all love you! I hope you have fun with us this Christmas! –Shaina
Bro, I hope you don’t think my jokes are corny! Hope we get closer! –James
Hey, I’m sorry for bullying you. I hope we can start over? ^_^ -Andre
That was the most enjoyable day ever! It was like retreat all over again. We took loads of photos of Tristan in his happiest moment in school. I know he’ll have more. Mom, I may not have received cool gifts from you guys this year, but I’m really happy this Christmas, because I made someone happy.
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