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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