Christmas and Wedding Hangover

Christmas hangover. Wedding hangover as well. I guess the pictures posted in my photos page show how the Christmas season has blended in with the Wedding season. And because I want to give Ashley and other “non-NBSB” girls out there justice – here’s another Marry Christmas. Ashley’s story. (^______^)

– Marry Christmas (Ashley’s Story) –

Mari Anjeli B. Lubrica

December 25, 2008

Perfect sunshine. Perfect breeze. Perfect everything. Ashley looked around as she stood at the entrance of the roof-top garden. This is the perfect wedding. And I am so glad that it is finally mine… Ashley laughed giddily as she anticipated walking down the carpeted aisle into the arms of her groom and into a blissfully wedded life. She couldn’t believe that this day – her wedding day – had finally arrived. This was it.

A goofy expression made it’s way into Ashley’s face as she continued to glance around her. Her older sister – Laura — along with the other bridesmaids, were glorious in their deep red satin gowns. The flower girls were fairylike in their dainty rose dresses. The scene indeed had an ethereal feel to it. This had only been a dream to her before. This had only been something that she imagined, something that she read out of fairy tales, novels, and watched in romantic movies. But now – those girlhood dreams that she had dreamed so long ago – they were all now coming into existence.

She looked at the elegant rose bouquet that she held in her hands. A smile crept into her face as an image of a vase containing the same kind of flowers took shape in her mind. As the wedding planner scurried around giving last minute instructions, Ashley was suddenly transported to a scene that took place in her life exactly three years ago… at one of her favorite coffee shops in the city. In the scene, a beautiful young woman was looking morosely at an antique vase holding a bouquet of scarlet roses.

“Why are you mocking me? Will you please stop mocking me. I’ve already moved on. I should be happy. I’m not the one who should be sulky. HE should be the one who’s supposed to be sad and depressed, not me.” It was Christmas Eve and a younger and crosser version of Ashley was spending the afternoon alone in a coffee shop.

“One Belgian Chocolate Frappe for Miss Ashley.” Ashley sighed as she got up and took her order. As made her way back to her seat, snippets of a conversation that she had earlier that morning ran through her mind.

“I’m sorry, Will. It’s over. This relationship isn’t going anywhere. We have to end this.”

“Ash – you can’t be serious. You can’t be. Are you?”

“I’m serious, Will. I’m sorry. I hope that we can still be friends.”

I hope that we can still be friends. Perhaps she shouldn’t have said that. That was like salt being rubbed into the wound that she had created in William’s heart. Ashley sighed once again. Well that wound would heal soon enough. Besides. It was better this way. The relationship really wasn’t going anywhere. Ashley felt choked in the relationship. She didn’t have room to breathe, didn’t have room to grow, and she didn’t even have room to be herself. William was too stiff, too controlling. And then there were the personality differences. Their interests, values, and dreams were too far apart from each other and it was clear that they weren’t moving in the same direction anymore. Better end the relationship than face serious consequences in the future.

Okay. Maybe she shouldn’t have chosen Christmas Eve to be the day of their breakup. That was like pouring vinegar over the salt-covered wound in William’s heart. But she had prayed about it and she knew that she couldn’t spend another Christmas in William’s arms, pretending that everything was okay and that there would be more Christmases to come. Besides. She knew that William was strong enough to deal with such a wound. The wound would heal soon enough.

But it was sure going to be a cold and lonely Christmas for Ashley.

Chocolate éclairs. With creamy hazelnut fillings. That would make her feel better and take her mind off William and her newfound singleness. She took a sip from her frappe and called the attention of a waiter who was clearing coffee cups from a table nearby.

“Excuse me, uhhh… Joseph,” Ashley said, peering at the waiter’s nametag. “Could I please have an additional order of Chocolate éclairs? Thank you.”

“Yes, Ma’am. Right away.”

Ashley continued to sip her coffee as the waiter made his way to the counter. He’s kind of cute. Ashley shook her head. No. I’m making a vow. I’m not going to get tangled up in any more relationships for now. After all, I’m just 22 years old. I have the rest of my life ahead of me.

As the good-looking waiter placed the Chocolate éclair before her, she simply gave him a nod and proceeded to drown her sorrows and frustrations with the chocolate covered delicacy.

“Yo, Ash-girl. What’s up? Waiting for someone?”

Ashley stopped in mid-bite as two ladies entered the coffee shop. The brusque woman who had just called her name was her elder sister, Laura. The other woman, much older but still elegantly beautiful, was their mother. Apparently, the two ladies had just finished doing some last minute Christmas shopping and had decided to refresh themselves with some coffee.

“No. I’m here alone.”

Ashley’s mother looked at the empty seat across her daughter, a knowing expression crossing her face. “Mind if we join you?”

“Sure. No problem, Mom.”

As the two ladies took their orders, Ashley couldn’t help but look at her elder sister enviously. She had always admired Laura and the principles that she upheld. True, her sister had a tendency to be very, very sarcastic. But Laura had that air of maturity that set her apart from Ashley. Ashley felt herself too foolish and immature compared to her sister. Ashley was a hopeless romantic, as opposed to Laura who was so pragmatic and so down to earth. When it came to relationships, Ashley had the tendency to rush into them head on – getting bruised and hurt afterwards. Like with what happened with Will. But Laura was different. And Ashley couldn’t help but envy her.

“The first shall be the last.” Laura had always said. Of course, Ashley always poked at her sister telling her, “Yeah? Well, good luck on catching your first!” Laura had such high standards – which probably scared off the men who wanted to get to know her. “He has to be intimately acquainted with God.” Was the first in Laura’s hard-to-reach list. “He has to have a passion for the nations and has to be willing to give his life for the sake of the call. He has to be patient. Never impulsive, but willing to wait. He has to have the ability to make me laugh, because I need someone to show me the lighter side of life. But he has to be deep. He has to be someone who gets me and the deep thoughts that come from me. We have to move in the same direction. We have to have the same dreams. The same values.” And so Laura’s hard-to-reach list goes on.

But as Ashley glanced at the woman holding a cup of black coffee on one hand and a cold tuna sandwich on the other… She couldn’t help but feel very, very inferior to the sensible 25-year-old woman. Ashley had already gone through four boyfriends in her 22 years on earth – and now, fresh from her breakup with Will, she saw her sister’s point.

“Are you alright sweetie?” came the consoling voice of Ashley’s mother as she sat down beside her daughter wearing a concerned look in her face.

“I’m alright, Mom. I’m alright.” Ashley smiled at her mother and then looked at Laura. She smiled at her sister as well. From now on, I’m going to be like her. The younger woman thought I’m going to set my standards. I won’t settle for anything less than I deserve. And I’m wiping my slate clean. I’m going to hand God the correction fluid and start all over again. And after this – well, the new first… he shall be the last.

Ashley drowned the last drop of her coffee and fiddled with the vase of roses in front of her. The new first shall be the last.

“All right! Everyone marches in at the count of three! One – two — ”

Te-te-te-tennn… te-te-te-tennn… te-te-te-tennn tennn tennnen tennn tenn tennn te-ne-nennn tennn tennn…

“Three!”

A mixture of excitement, nervousness, and thankfulness washed over Ashley. It was three years from that fateful day at the coffee shop. Three years since she made that vow to God that she would set her standards and not rush into any relationship unless she knew that THAT was it. Three years ago, she would have been willing to marry even if she was way past thirty – if that was God’s will for her. But now, exactly three years later, it was her wedding day.

As the bridal entourage made their way down the aisle, Ashley couldn’t help but smile. It was funny how God worked. Just when she laid everything down, it was then that He gave everything to her. She was a frequent customer in that coffee shop, and some months later, she began to take notice of the waiter who had served her the memorable Chocolate éclairs. Little did she know, he was also interested in her. Truth was, he had already fallen head over heels in love with her the moment that she called his attention on that fateful Christmas Eve. But he had decided to take his time, pacing himself until he knew that she could really be the one. It wasn’t until 8 months later, after some friendly – and frequent – conversations with her in the coffee shop – and after much, much, much prayer – that Joseph finally made his move. During that time, God was already dealing with Ashley’s heart. She had seen in Joseph a man that she could really respect, someone who she could really talk to, someone who didn’t choke her, someone whom she had the same dreams with, someone who moved in the same direction as she did – in short, someone who passed the standards that God laid down for her and… Well, the rest was history.

And he, Joseph – the new first – was the last.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the bride.”

A big smile lit Ashley’s face as she made her way down the aisle. As she caught Joseph’s eye, her smile grew even wider. Perfect. Ashley thought. Everything is perfect. Merry Christmas, Lord.

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Love is in the Air???

Finally. December is HERE. I would usually associate December with “Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly” but it seems that for this season… a different tune is being hummed in the air.


Uh-huh. A different tune. A different song. Strangely, this December is resounding not with “jingle bells” but with “wedding bells”. And since love is in the air… and although a certain friend of mine once said “Wala tayong ganyang season!” (hehe) I’ll slip into melancholy mode and try to write something along the lines of weddings… and love…


Love love love. sigh.

– Marry Christmas –
Mari Anjeli Lubrica
December 3, 2008

Perfect sunshine. Perfect breeze. Perfect everything. Laura looked around as she stood at the entrance of the roof-top garden. Yup. This is the perfect wedding. Too bad it isn’t mine.. The moment that thought crept into Laura’s head, she felt like slapping herself. Come on Laura. This is your sister’s wedding. You should be happy. Save the drama and the melancholia for later.

It was the 24th of December. Christmas was in the air yet Laura’s younger sister, Ashley chose that day to be her wedding day. She and her fiancé, Joseph had met during that exact day three years ago and so the melancholic bride chose that day to be their special day. “Christmas eve has been marked in our hearts forever.” Ashley had told Laura dreamily.

“But you’re destroying the true meaning of Christmas!” Laura had argued.

“No, I’m not.” Ashley had said. “Christmas is all about love, isn’t it? It’s agape, right? Well, that’s what Joseph and I share. Love. Agape.”

“But…”

“Everyone, get ready!” The wedding planner’s voice suddenly snapped Laura out of her reverie.

Uh-huh. Sure. I’m ready. Whatever.
Laura smoothed out a wrinkle in her deep red satin gown and took a deep breath. Okay Laura. Cut the sarcastic thoughts and remarks. You’re going to enjoy this wedding. You’re going to be happy for your sister. And you’re going to get through this all with a big big smile on your face. After all, what better way to ruin a wedding than to have a cranky maid of honor?

“All right! Everyone marches in at the count of three! One – two — ”

Te-te-te-tennn… te-te-te-tennn… te-te-te-tennn tennn tennnen tennn tenn tennn te-ne-nennn tennn tennn…

“Three!”

Smile, Laura. Laura plastered a grin on her face and, with head held high, marched along the aisle. In front of her, the flower girls were tossing rose petals that matched the color of their dainty dresses. The other bridesmaids treaded gracefully upon the red rose petals. Laura, on the other hand, despite all her efforts to remain cheerful — and graceful — had to muster up all her strength to keep herself from crushing them.

Oh, God, She thought to herself, when will this agony come to an end?

* * *

“Bye! Bye, Shirley! Bye, Grace! Thanks for everything! Wilson, take care of those two… Bye! Oh– and Merry Christmas!”

12:05 am. Post-wedding madness. Technically, it was already Christmas, but Laura felt anything but “Christmasy” as she surveyed the mess of plates and petals left by the wedding reception. The bride and groom had already departed to spend the rest of their happily wedded life together and she — Laura — was left there to take charge of cleaning up all the mess.

Life is so unfair.

Laura let out sigh of discontent as she plopped down one of the cloth covered chairs. She glanced at the bridal bouquet which she still held in her hands. Her catching the bouquet was supposed to signify that she would be the next bride. She exasperatedly set it aside. Yeah right. As if. Stupid wedding superstitions. I need to get myself a boyfriend first before I could even become a bride.

Sighing once again, Laura looked at all the mess that she still needed to clean up. She took off her stilettos and stood on her feet. Well, got to clean this place up.

* * *

“Laura, get up! It’s Christmas! Come on… You have to open your presents…!”

Presents??? Oh come on… I’m 28 years old for crying out loud…

“Laura… come on!!!”

Letting out a groan, Laura rubbed her mascara streaked eyes, stretched her arms, got up, and made her way towards their house’s living room. Her mom’s sunny face greeted her when she arrived there.

“Merry Christmas, Laura!”

“Merry Christmas, Mom… Where’s Dad?”

“Outside. With your present.”

“Mom… I’m too old for this.”

“No you’re not.”

“I’m 28 years old.”

“Well yeah…”

“And I’m still single.”

Laura’s statement hung dead in midair. There was silence.

Her mother looked carefully at the girl in pink pajamas sporting messy hair and a startled raccoon look. She surveyed her daughter’s face and peered into her eyes. Ah, yes. She could see heartache hidden deep inside Laura’s melancholy eyes.

“I see. So this is what this is all about. This isn’t about Christmas right? This is about Ashley’s wedding.”

Her mom had hit the mark. With her eyes welling up in tears, Laura sputtered, “Why is life so unfair, Mom? Why? Why does she get to be happy while I — on the other hand — will probably die an old maid???”

“You’re only 28 years old.”

“That’s exactly it! I’m ALREADY 28 years old!”

“Laura… aww, c’mere darling…”

Bitter tears were already streaming down Laura’s cheeks as the older woman took the younger in her arms. “It’s okay Laura… It’s okay…”

“No– it — it’s not!” Laura had a difficult time speaking in between sobs. “Mo- most of my fri- friends are already ma-married… and to top it all off — my yo-younger si-sister — younger sister mom! — she’s already ma-married!!!”

“It’s okay dear, really… it’s okay…”

“No, mom. It’s not.” Taking a deep breath, Laura repeated her statement. “It’s not.”

The older woman took a good look at her daughter. She could see sadness written all over her face. The tear strains on her cheeks represented so many questions which have been painfully left unanswered. Am I not beautiful enough? Is there no man willing to fight for me? Will I have to life the rest of my life — alone???

“Laura, dear…” Laura’s mom smiled gently at her daughter. “Dearie… are you aware that I got married when I was 30 years old?”

“Yeah, but Dad was already pursuing you when you were 27! Me? I’m 28 with no pursuers in sight!”

“It may seem that way. But God’s writing your love story, honey.”

“Well I think that He’s facing a writer’s block.”

Laura’s mom let out a gentle chuckle. “I don’t think so, honey. I think His creative juices are still flowing.” She looked at the beautiful woman who sat in front of her wearing an extremely mournful expression. “You know what? Back in my days, people were a lot younger when they got married. At 27, I was already considered an old maid. But that didn’t matter to me. I knew that the pen was in God’s hands, and that He was writing the most beautiful love story that I could ever imagine.”

“Good for you.”

“Come on honey… Anyway… are you aware that I could have married a lot earlier if I wanted to?”

Laura’s lifted her downcast eyes and looked at her mom. “Really?”

“Yeah. Really. A lot of men were already making eyes at me even before your father decided to reveal his affections for me.” Laura’s mom let out a girlish giggle. “Now don’t you throw your sarcastic remarks at me, little lady. Let me finish my story first. Some of those men — they really didn’t make the mark… yet some would have really swept me off my feet…”

“But you wanted Dad.”

“Hold your horses. No. I wanted God’s best for me. I didn’t want just anybody. I wanted His best. And I didn’t want to rush impulsively to any relationship. I wanted His proper timing. And I wanted a man who held the same standards.”

“And so Dad enters the scene galloping in a splendid white horse.”

“Actually… your Dad was already in the scene. He didn’t come galloping in with all that ‘pomp and blare’. I’ve known your Dad since secondary school. But I never really took notice of him before. He was a friend. That was all that I knew about him. That he was a great friend.” Laura’s mom smiled as she made her trip down memory lane. “But… friends can actually make the best lovers….”

“Oh, ewww. Spare me the mushy stuff mom. You’re becoming extremely cheesy.”

“It’s true.” Mother looked daughter in the eye as she said, “And I hope that whoever God has in store for you… Well… I pray that even before you would lovers… he would have been your friend too.”

“So are you saying that I should make friends with guys just so that I could grab a boyfriend?”

Laura’s mom let out another chuckle. “You’re extremely frank. That’s what I like about you. But no. That’s not what I mean. I don’t think that you should go and make friends for the sake of widening your list of ‘potential boyfriends’. And I am extremely against the thought of you making friends with a guy that you already like just so that you can be lovers sooner or later. I believe that if you want to make friends with a guy… it’s simply because of the fact that you just want to become friends with him. Simple as that. Pure and simple friendship. No strings attached.”

“Well, Mom, that’s great and all that. But look at me. I don’t have any guy friends. I’ve never allowed any guy get close to me. So there goes your dream of me marrying a guy who was my friend to begin with.”

The older woman was smiling down at Laura. “Laura, laura, laura. Sigh. I don’t know. We each have our individual stories. You saw it with Ashley. Her story is different from mine. She met a prince charming who rescued her from her tower and swept her off her feet. Me? God opened my eyes to a friend who has always been there for me. But that’s just my prayer for you. That you would find a friend whom you would eventually fall head over heels in love with. But who knows? Maybe His story would be different for you. But know and believe in this — that He HAS a story for you.”

“Fine. When that story is out in the bookstores — well, He just better be sure that it’s going to be a bestseller!!!”

Laura’s mom laughed. “Don’t worry, honey. It WILL be a bestseller. And your Dad and I will be the first ones to give out rave reviews about it.” The older woman looked at her daughter who was now wearing a much more cheerful expression. “Speaking of Dad, I think he and your present have been waiting long enough outside. Should we take a look?”

“Sure, Mom.”

“Merry Christmas, Laura.”

“Merry Christmas, Mom.”