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The Christmas Wreath This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   Yes, he thought, it was. It was snowing and there was nothing that could be done about it. The flakes fell from the sky in large puffs as they hit the dewy ground. Outside, the sky had suddenly turned from a charcoal grey to a pitch black. He turned on the outside light to confirm what he already knew: it was snowing and there was nothing that could be done about it. He turned to Mother and asked the question that had been on his mind.

When is Father coming home?

Soon, she replied and looked away is if something had distracted her from the corner of her eye.

He thought: Father had been away for months now on a business trip to the Philippines. He worked for a large corporation and went away often.

Where are the Philippines, Mother?

They are far, far away, she answered. Far across the ocean and on the other side of the world.

Oh, he said. That must be why Father had been away so long. He was on the other side of the world. He hoped that Father was happy over there.

Why is Father on the other side of the world?

Again Mother seemed to look away. He's on a business trip, honey, I told you that. He needs to earn money so he can bring us back lots of things.

He didn't know how much longer he could wait for Father to come home. He looked at the Christmas wreath on the wall. Last year he had made it with Father. It had taken them weeks, but with patience they had found the perfect amount of straw and ornaments to put on the wreath. It had been Mother's idea to attach the red and green ribbon on the bottom. He remembered that Mother had kissed Father and said something to him that had made Father laugh. There had been no fighting that night.

Will Father bring more Christmas gifts when he gets home?

Yes, she said as she looked down at her sewing and out the window at the falling snow. He will bring you more gifts if it stops snowing.

What kind of gifts do they have in the Philippines?

Oh, all sorts. Maybe he'll even bring you home a coconut.

He looked over the gifts already under the tree. They were shining brightly, wrapped in yellow and gold foil. As the fire crackled, he thought of tomorrow morning when he would finally open them. He remembered last Christmas Eve when he had gone singing from door to door with Mother and Father. That was one of his happy memories. But that was before Father went away. Now he hoped that Father could find his way home in the snow.

Suddenly Mother began to cry.

Why are you crying, Mother.

I'm not crying, she responded as she gently wiped away the first few tears.

But even at his young age, he could tell why she was crying.

She was remembering too.

She began to cry more, looking down at her sewing. He knew why she was crying: Father was on the other side of the world and she was worried that he would get lost coming home. Father had gotten lost before. But he always came home, even when it was a stumbling through the front door that woke him up at two in the morning. During those times Mother would always help Father up the stairs. The first few times he had seen this he had laughed. Father was singing and he liked the funny smell on Father's breath when he kissed him. It was a warm smell. He was fun when he came home at two in the morning. But Mother never seemed to like those times. She had yelled at him and screamed about his breath. She didn't think Father was funny. At least she didn't laugh like she did with the Christmas wreath. She just yelled. She had always told him that Father had gotten lost on the way home. That was why he came home at such a strange time. People's breath smelled funny like that when they got lost, she had told him.

Slowly, Mother pulled her gaze away from her sewing.

Father's not coming home, she said.

Do you think he's lost?

No, she said, as she turned her head toward the window. He's not lost, he's just not coming home.

Why? the boy asked.

Because, he just isn't.

The boy looked up at the Christmas wreath on the wall and then back at his mother. She was still crying. He got up and turned off the outside light.

He didn't need the light to know that the snow outside was coming down harder. n

He wondered if it snowed in the Philippines. e


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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