Cold. I couldn’t figure out why. Chilled to the bone. I looked around me, trying to remember where I was. Oh. That’s right, I’d had to sleep on a park bench again.
I left my warm secure home more than six months ago, because I was pregnant, had had an abortion and didn’t want anyone to know about it. I knew I couldn’t hide the grief I was feeling. The pain was tormenting; every night I dreamt my baby was calling out for me.
I had to leave. Better to leave than to have my parents go through the anguish of what I’d done. I couldn’t bear the scrutiny if I stayed.
A one-night stand and I end up pregnant. I didn’t even really know the guy – I was drunk.
One night and my life changed forever. I had never drunk before, or done drugs, I was as straight-laced as they come. Why I even agreed to go to this party with my friend is beyond me. I think I was tired of being good all the time and I wanted some excitement in my life. Well, I got more than I bargained for.
After that night, I didn’t drink again but I sure did feel guilty for what I had done. Then – well, about a month later I figured I was pregnant. The day after I took a home pregnancy test that confirmed my suspicions, I went and had an abortion. Those people that tell you having an abortion is just getting rid of tissue – they’re wrong. That’s like saying you’re just getting rid of a pimple. Believe me, there’s a big difference. I knew right away that I had killed a living, breathing being that was growing inside of me.
The day after that, I just ran – I had to get away from home. I ended up on the streets, finding food whenever I could – it was pretty humiliating having someone find me digging through a garbage can behind a restaurant, but after awhile I didn’t care any more, I had to eat. Sleeping wherever I could lie down – alleys, park benches, under bridges. I had people offer me alcohol and drugs, but I just couldn’t do that. That’s what got me into this mess in the first place.
Now I’ve woken up on the park bench, to see snow gently falling. No wonder I’m so cold. I hadn’t planned on this… when I left home the weather was warm and now, it’s almost Christmas.
Christmas. Memories flood my mind. They almost warm me, they’re so sweet. Baking with my mom – oh what fun we had rolling out the cookie dough and punching out each cookie – bells, crosses, stars and hearts. Frosting them when they were cool enough, and adding sprinkles. Decorating the tree – what a joyous time that always was with the Christmas CDs playing in the background. My mind grabs on the song “Oh Little Town of Bethlehem.” The tune runs through my mind again and again throughout the day as I wander through stores trying to stay warm.
For some reason the song makes me think of home. Maybe it’s because Jesus wasn’t born in a home, but a stable. The lessons learned at my mother’s knee come back to me. I remember when I gave my heart to Jesus – the feeling of serenity that came over me, the sweet sadness of realizing Jesus was born a lowly birth so I could have a full life.
Home for Christmas. Suddenly, that’s what I wanted more than anything. To be home for Christmas. Why did I ever think my parents would scrutinize me? They are the most gracious people I know. I know there will be pain, anguish, regret; but I won’t be ostracized. I know as sure as I’m telling this story that I’ll be forgiven.
My cold fingers punch the numbers on the pay phone – I’m calling collect.
Tears flow unchecked, warming my cold cheeks. “Mom?”
“Tamara, is that you?” Her voice quivers.
“Yes Mom, it’s me. I want to come home – home for Christmas.”
The tree is beautifully decorated, as usual, the white lights twinkling, the red bows shimmering in the soft light.
My parents and I sit in the living room sipping hot cocoa and enjoying the cookies mom and I just made today. Each of us has tears glistening in our eyes. All is forgiven. O, little town of Bethlehem… how still we see thee lie…
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