Marie set the blue wool sweater beside the open suitcase she’d been unpacking. “I ll never forgive him,” she said.
“But you have to,” her sister replied. “Perhaps not tonight, and perhaps not during the next few weeks or months, either. But you ultimately must forgive him—for your own good.”
Marie walked over to a long bureau made of mahogany and pulled open an empty dresser drawer. She Set the sweater in it, pushed it closed, and then turned to face her sister. “But Janice, he doesn’t deserve to be forgiven. What he did was awful.”
Janice pushed herself off of the twin bed with its quilted bedspread and walked over to the bedroom’s sole window which was set in a dormer. She lowered herself onto a cushioned window seat which wore the same pastel stripes as hers and Marie's bedspreads She twisted her torso and looked through the panes of glass out into what would have been darkness if it was not for the tall evergreen tree perhaps thirty feet from the house on which now glowed multi-color lights--just as they always had each Christmas season when she and Marie were young girls sharing this same bedroom with its now faded wallpaper filled with cabbage roses in various shades pink.
She realized those lights did not lift her spirits as they once had. But then, It pained her to realize that it seemed her sister couldn’t understand that Sam was a narcissist who'd likely never feel any remorse for what he'd done.
Marie let out a long sigh. “He just kept telling me over and over that he couldn’t understand why I’d gotten so upset in the first place.”
Janice turned and made eye contact with Marie. “Trust me, you’re the one in the emotional quagmire, not Sam. He’ll just go on his merry way as if nothing ever happened.”
“So, you really are implying that I need to forgive him to help myself,” Marie said.
“Exactly. You forgive to help yourself." Marie stood up and faced her sister squarely. "It’s the only way to let go of something so emotionally charged that if you don't do this, it will only keep eating at you. Furthermore, as long as it’s eating at you, it might not only destroy your sense of self-worth and confidence, but don’t you imagine your physical and emotional health will be negatively impacted, too? But you certainly don’t want that, do you?” Janice answered.
“Oh, but I’m so tired of having to always be the healthy adult," Marie wined. "For once, I’d like to scream back and tell Sam how I really feel—to tell him how much I’ve been hurt by the years of cruel words and total indifference to anything I've ever wanted—to anything that could possible make my heart sing.”
Janice stepped forward and wrapped her arms around her sister’s shoulders. She couldn’t help but notice how frail they felt. And this was despite the fact Marie had always been the swimmer and the more athletic one overall. Janice pushed such thoughts aside, though, and whispered in her sister’s ear, “Feel good, Sis, because you’ll be striving to live in integrity now--by honoring your values and Trying to always live as your highest and best self."
Marie leaned her head against her sister’s shoulder. “Sam had always known that I love Christmastime. So, why did he have to spoil this--of all times?”
Janice gave he sister's frail shoulders a gentle squeeze. “That man has always known how to make certain that his punches truly hurt, Marie. Mon, Dad, and I could always see it. But you were blinded by the lifestyle he provided."
"Maybe I was afraid to look too closely at the true colors of the man providing it.”
“Just perhaps," Janice answered. "But let's not talk about the past right now. I just want you to know that I'm so glad you were finally able to do this." Janet gave her sister a peck on the right cheek.
Suddenly, they both jumped apart as muffled voices drifted up toward them from the front yard. And then almost immediately, those muffled sounds became the voices of men and women lifted in song--singing the first verse of “Silent Night.”
Janice reached for her sister's hand and led her Marie to the window. They knelt on the cushioned window seat and pressed their noses to the glass in the way they once had as small children--when they thought they might have heard Santa and his reindeer preparing to deliver magnificent gifts to their home.
"Oh, i want to go out and join them," Marie suddenly shouted with glee. "I didn't even realize it had started snowing. But it has, and it is sticking. Perhaps we'll have a White Christmas after all."
"It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas," Janice said as she studied the carolers. she suspected the group was composed of many of their neighbors who'd been doing this for years. But she soon realized she was unable to make out any of their faces. "I suspect if you really want to join them, we could." She turned and smiled at Marie.
Marie looked back as if she was seriously considering that possibility. "Oh, let's go see if Mom and Dad have that famous eggnog of theirs fixed and ready to drink. Perhaps you can play some carols on the piano, and we can all sing."
"That sounds great to me." Janice climbed down from the window seat and held out her hand to Marie.
Marie clasped it and exclaimed, “I think it's going to be a fine Christmas after all. I feel like the angst in my heart has drifted off into the ether."
Janice gave her sister's hand a quick squeeze. “Perhaps one day you’ll look back and realize that while this might not have been the happiest of Christmas Eves, it might have been one of the most significant—because it turned out to be a positive turning point in your life.”
“I’d like to believe that,” Marie whispered back. There as a sudden glow in her eyes, and a sudden smile atop her lips.