December 12, 2017 by Patrick Starks
They say when you grow old, that you forget the person you were before, the innocents you once had. However, my sister Zoya would remind that such sayings were just taboo for the ones that needed an excuse—an excuse for their hatred of the world, but more so their pain. It was just two days away from Christmas and I was already exhausted by anything that had the meaning of jolly behind it, but Zoya would then tell me of a story—about the little girl ghost next to her side, when she turned forty.
Before I had grown to be an adult, Zoya would go through the same depression as I, she was much older, twelve years to be exact. And as a kid, I was always so fascinated by the holidays and the spirit of Christmas, and so was Zoya. Although, the older Zoya got, her delicate mind would begin to rot. Believe it or not, but Zoya had hated Christmas more than anyone I had ever known; never did she write a list to Santa, or leave cookies and milk by the fireplace. Like myself and everyone I knew, Zoya had been hit hard with the realities of life, and unfortunately, that would all become the result of her doubt of love, doubt of friendship, doubt even of family—you name it, Zoya had become a sad soul.
Zoya had searched her whole life for the happiness she once held, but it would never seem to be within her reach to grab. Zoya looked towards the men she dated, towards the jobs she felt would appreciate her talents. or make her happy, yet still, nothing ever went right for Zoya—it only brought more sadness at the end. But out of all, there stood beside Zoya, her younger self—a heart-felt reminder of who she used to be.
At times, Zoya would find her younger self a pain to deal with, but she managed; after all, how could you be mad at yourself, especially the younger side—so innocent and so fragile. Zoya even laughed about how our mom would say, “Now you know how I feel,” and I’ll admit it, Zoya and I were a handful as children, but we were good children, no matter what we did—our intentions were always in the right place.
Saddened by tears of Zoya, “Young Zoya,” decided to take her older self on a hike around town. They went to the obvious first, which was the mall. Every, anything you could think about was there—toys, dresses, video games, elves, reindeer, fake snow, Christmas music—a truly authentic winter season. Zoya seemed to be within the present for just a moment until she and her younger self would see something they had not seen for a while—Santa Claus. His cheeks were red as Rudolph’s nose, and belly full of cookies and milk as it was fully exposed. His Beard white as snow, but one could feel warmth from the laughter that rowed.
“You have got to be joking,” said Zoya. Her younger self just nodded and pointed, as she clenched tightly onto the chocolate colored teddy bear she was holding.
Zoya was afraid, she felt unworthy, somewhat embarrassed to sit on Santa’s lap, but somehow still found herself embraced within the warmth of his coco infested body.
“Ho, Ho, Ho Merry Christmas little… Well, look at this. You’re a little big to be sitting in Santa’s lap, but all ages are welcome of course, I bring to all many gifts. What is that you would like for Christmas my girl? “ Said Santa, smiling as always with his rosy cheeks. Zoya’s younger self then leaned over and whispered something into her ear.
“So, what did the little lady tell you?” asked Santa.
“I-I’m sorry?” said Zoya.
“The little lady beside you. What did she tell you ? Surely there is something she wants as well, maybe another teddy bear, a larger teddy bear, one that would be the size of her.” Young Zoya smiled, with eyes that sparkled of glitter. She tugged on Zoya for approval that she could have one, and Zoya smiled hesitantly, but knew she wanted to give a bigger smile in return.
“You mean you can see her? “ asked Zoya.
“Yes, I can see her. I can see that she is you, and for whatever reason she has come to you on your birthday. It is your birthday right?”
“Yes, yes, I just turned forty today, how did you know?”
“Oh, my child I am Santa. I know everything. I know that you have been neither naughty or nice, you have been just sad, alone.”
“B-but you’re not real. Your just supposed to be some fantasy that our parents tell us to behave year around. At the end of it all, it was they who were eating the cookies and milk, not you.”
“Oh, then if I am not real. What do you call the little one next to you? Hmm?” Santa grinned with his glasses tilted down staring deeper into Zoya’s broken heart.
Zoya didn’t say a word after that. She was confused, and didn’t know if it were best to get off Santa’s lap, or just stay on it in comfort of not being alone.
“You do have family don’t you?” asked Santa, and Zoya nodded with teary eyes.
“Yes, I do, I did, but I pushed them all away, and everyone I ever knew.” Zoya cried, as any child would in Santa’s lap, although, not for the fear of Santa, but because she felt she could not get it all back, not even the restoration of her shattered heart.
“Come with me child I will show you something.” Young Zoya smiled, as Santa winked back at her. Little did Zoya know, that this was all part of young Zoya’s plan to restore her older self’s happiness, that in which she did. Although, that would be another story to tell, all I can tell you is that what I learned from her helped me see life as a painting, not fast, not aggressive, but still and calm. To be in the presents and feel the love that everyone shares, although, it’s a shame I do not see it more often.
“But Dad, what happen to Aunt Zoya, what happened to young Zoya.” Said two tiny children.
“Sorry children time for bedtime, its getting late, and you know how your mother feels about you staying up to late. “
“Okay if you go to bed now, promise that Aunt Zoya will tell you the rest of it.”
“Promise, pinky swear it.”
“Okay, pinky swear it. Now lets all go to bed Santa will be here later tonight.”
“Goodnight my princesses.”