There’s a fragrance coming from somewhere, and it’s luring me in… deeper and deeper into the tempting scent of something so strange yet familiar at the same time.
I could recognise that smell anywhere, but I hoped to trick my brain into ignoring it so I could forget about it. It was divine, it was indulgent, it was multiplexed and intricate – it smelt like home.
It was Christmas eve, and I was questioning everything that had led me up to this point in my life. I was young, successful, content, and I had everything I needed to keep me happy and comfortable – yet I allowed the unreasonable demands of corporate slavery take a hold of my senses in a weak moment of hasty decisions. I decided not to go home for the holidays and cover for some co-workers during the busy period.
Did I regret my choices? Yeah, I definitely did.
Why did I do it in the heat of the moment? I wanted to prove my reliability.
Was it worth it in the end? Absolutely not.
Which is why I am sitting here, alone at home, in a comfortable apartment in the perfect city that doesn’t get cold – hoping deep inside my heart that I was somewhere else a little less perfect for the holidays, spending time with the less than perfect people I loved so dearly; my family.
I could hear hushed voices of laughter filtering in from the house next door; thumps of little feet on the ground, squeals of drunk men letting loose on societal norms. It felt wholesome, it felt intimate, almost like the disjointed pieces of strangers’ gossip I was putting together was confidential. I missed it all – the mindless chatter, the overwhelmingly irrelevant family gossip, and the sounds of little kids running around and getting up to mischief.
It made me feel almost bitter to think that I was the only one sitting alone, embracing my inner Grinch at the thought of someone else’s happiness, and internally cursing myself for being so selfish. Was it so wrong, though?
The Christmas tree perched in the corner looked dull, and the takeout food I looked forward to so much on my cheat days suddenly tasted bland. I craved the oily, greasy, buttery soft texture of mama’s breads and cakes, eyes welling up at the thought of the roast she slightly burns at the edges and dough she kneads from morning till dusk.
I was startled out of my spiral by the loud ding of my doorbell.
Not expecting anyone to visit me, I secretly (and selfishly) hoped it would be a family member surprising me with a visit and a basket full of goodies as a token of apology. But then I got thinking – apology for what? I sighed.
Once again the doorbell rang and I screamed, coming! Before my feet were actually moving.
Knowing that whoever was on the other side of the door would be disappointing now that I had daydreamed about the best case scenarios, I slowly and begrudgingly swung the door open.
It was my neighbour, with a little kid clinging on to her leg.
“Hi? Can I help you?” I probably sounded a little rude, but I barely had a neighbourly relationship with anyone in this city.
“Hey,” she smiled warmly, “I’m sorry, I have family over and we’re probably disturbing you a lot right now”.
I smiled and let her know it was okay. Christmas was excused!
She smiled back and asked me, “I know you’re alone and no one should be alone during the holidays… do you want to join us?”
The offer was tempting and weird at the same time. But I didn’t really get a chance to contemplate, because the kid was now clinging to my leg, entwining his tiny hands that reminded me so much of my little brother back home, into mine and guided me into the hall next door for a truly wholesome celebration.
With a feast spread out over the table, loud and blaring music playing on the dying speakers, and a huge family that came with its own set of imperfections, I knew Christmas was complete this year.
Now, it felt like home.
(Photo credits: Pexels)
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