Skip to main content
PBS logo

The Eclectic Pen - A Bittersweet Christmas

By: Erin R. (coprincess)  
Date Submitted: 4/15/2010
Genre: Literature & Fiction » Short Stories & Anthologies
Words: 849

  Joanie stood staring out of the large picture window in the living room. The room behind her was cloaked in darkness bringing stark contrast to the sight outside. A single street light cast its soft yellow light on the delicate snowflakes drifting down from the sullen sky. Slowly they began to cover the barren winter landscape in a blanket of white.

As Joanie stood there watching, her arms crossed in front of her, she thought of Christmas. Thanksgiving had just passed and Christmas was quickly approaching.

She gave a deep sigh and rested her head and left shoulder on the wall next to the window. With all of her heart, she wished that she could pretend that Christmas wasn’t coming or at the very least not celebrate it this year.

The sound of a small body shifting in bed came from a nearby bedroom. Joanie sighed again and knew that skipping Christmas was not an option. It was a magical time for children. Filled with beautifully decorated trees, twinkling lights, brightly wrapped packages, and delightful smells of baked goodies. No, Christmas could not be ignored.

A tear came to her eye. The children had no idea how hard this Christmas was going to be. Their father had always helped them decorate the tree. She was just too uptight to allow the children to do their own thing. So years ago, she had handed the job over to her husband. He was more laid back and more able to handle their whimsical placement of ornaments. He could patiently convince them that two ornaments did not belong on the same branch. She would just select the music and take pictures for the grandparents. All the while, they’d be laughing and having fun. That was their tradition. A lone tear escaped and ran down her cheek.

Another tradition they’d put into place over the years was their special Christmas date night. They would drop the boys off with Grandma and Grandpa and then go out to dinner. Afterward they would go out and purchase all of the kids’ Christmas presents. It was always a special time for them. They’d enjoy their time together and take their time enjoying the sights and sounds of Christmas.

Oh, how she dreaded having to do the Christmas shopping alone this year. There was no reason to linger and enjoy the sights. They would only serve to remind her that she was now alone. Another tear ran down her cheek.

Ever since she had met her husband seven years ago, they’d never been apart on Christmas. A soft, sad smile graced her pretty face as she thought back to when they met. When she told the story to someone they always thought it was crazy, for their story was one of true love forged in an online chat room. One short week of meeting online was all it took to convince them both that they had to meet the other. It was love at first sight. She had vowed to never marry again and he had just come out of a painful divorce. They even lived in different cities. When her lease expired on her apartment the following month, she moved in with him. That was the year they had spent their first Christmas together. Their wedding quickly followed in March. How ironic that the birth of their first child together came the day after their second Christmas.

At that memory, the smile faded from her face. Her beloved husband wouldn’t be there for their son’s sixth birthday either. A few more tears slipped down her cheeks.

Joanie took a deep, shaky breath and exhaled, temporarily fogging up a small section of the window. The ground was now completely covered in a blanket of snow and still falling. Another smile came to her face because she knew her boys would be thrilled at the sight. The snow in the yard wouldn’t remain pristine for long after that. They’d go piling out the door like excited puppies, all bundled up in their coats and mittens. Awhile later, they’d come piling back in, dropping chunks of snow all over the floor while they told her all that they had done and built in the snow. Then they’d troop into the kitchen, their cheeks still all rosy from the cold air, and ask for hot chocolate, which she would have gotten ready for them when she heard them coming up the stairs.

As she stood there thinking about the following morning, a car drove through the neighborhood, spoiling the smooth blanket of snow on the road and bringing Joanie back to the present. She knew that thinking of the boys playing in the snow helped her to avoid thinking of Christmas.

Joanie pushed herself away from the wall and wiped the tears off of her cheeks. “I am an Army wife,” she thought to herself, straightening her back and squaring her shoulders. “If I can get through him being sent overseas, I can get through this, too.”

With that, she reached up and drew the curtains shut.

“I’ll get out the Christmas decorations tomorrow.”

Then she turned and walked down the hall to bed.

The Eclectic Pen » All Stories by Erin R. (coprincess)

Member Comments

Leave a comment about this story...

Comments 1 to 2 of 2
Jesse (EddyKrueger) - 4/18/2010 1:45 AM ET
That was a very well written story of domestic life. It had a soothing pace that I appreciated. I hope you continue to have a passion for writing. You seem to be a natural. Good luck :-)
Donna V. (crafterdonna) - - 5/28/2010 12:42 PM ET
I'm looking forward to a continuation of this story, or another of your short stories.
Comments 1 to 2 of 2