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Thursday, November 30, 2006

my birthday captured!

{here are some photos and stints of my birthday celebration, with jvp, my unit, and aclc, maraming salamat sa lahat!}

Monday, November 27, 2006

first star i see tonight

{for the next days, i will post my christmas entries during my juniorate. this one is my short story entry that won first place. hope you enjoy this}

First Star I See Tonight

In an open window of St. Francis Orphanage stands a little girl named Jenny. Almost every day, before the sun fully sets, she goes to this small window to wait for the first star to appear in the evening sky. Soft as a whisper, she recites a wish from her heart. “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, get the wish, I wish tonight.”

Nobody knows Jenny so as much as Norie, a social worker in the orphanage. It was one rainy night, twelve Christmases ago, when Norie heard a knock at the front door of the orphanage. She rushed to open the door and found no one, no one but a crying baby girl wrapped in bright colored linen, lying on their doorstep. Norie immediately took the baby in, changed her clothes, and fed her with warm milk. The baby’s cry subsided. Strangely, the baby’s bright eyes were fixed on Norie as if the baby had seen her before. From then on, Norie called her Jenny. As Jenny grew up, the two became the best of friends.

It is three days before Christmas and everybody in the orphanage wears a big joyous smile on his or her face. No corner of the house is without bright Christmas decorations, twinkling lights, the smell of unwrapped goodies, and the sound of merry cheers that go with all of these. Since the holiday started, the three storey orphanage is always cramped with different charitable groups who come yearly for a scheduled visit to the children. With their visit, they bring food, clothes, and Christmas presents creating for the children a little heaven in the small house. They talk to them, sing for them, and play with them. It is indeed the most wonderful time of year in the orphanage. Everybody is happy. Everybody but Jenny.

Every year, every Christmas, Jenny is this way. She goes out of her way to try to experience what Christmas is all about. She stuffs herself with all the yummy food she can eat until her tummy aches. She puts on all the clothes given to her until she is laughed at by the other children. She plays with all the toys until the thrill expires. Yet in the end, she still feels abandoned and confused. She often sits in one corner, quietly feeling the delight of her surroundings to unfold.

“Is this all that Christmas is about?” Jenny asks Ate Norie.

“Why do you ask?” Ate Norie politely retorts stooping down in front of Jenny.

“I eat all the food, I wear all the clothes, I play with all the toys…but I still can’t see what’s so special about Christmas.”

Ate Norie, with admirable patience, simply replies, “Christmas… Christmas is special not because of the gifts we receive, but because of the great love we feel in our heart during this season of giving and sharing.”

“But I still can’t see it?”

Ate Norie smiles. She holds Jenny’s hands. “You know what I usually do? I listen to my heart. It can see things beyond what our eyes can see.”

On the next day all the children, from five years old and above, are busy preparing for the most awaited day of the season – the Christmas adoption day. Each year, a family or a childless couple would pick an orphan to adopt and the child then spends Christmas day with them. It is a special treat for the children of St. Francis Orphanage. However, the painful reality is that not all the children are brought home for Christmas. Many are luckily picked but a few are helplessly left behind. Unfortunately, for years now, Jenny is one who hasn’t gone with a couple for Christmas. Even though she dresses herself beautifully, even though they say lovely things about her, even though she always presents herself with the cutest smile, the couples never pick her.

t is Christmas Eve tonight. The gate of the orphanage is opened as early as four o’clock in the afternoon. All eligible children are placed inside the T.V. room to watch endless Disney movies as they wait to be called. By late afternoon, most of the children have been picked and fetched by their adopted families. And there in her little corner Jenny, in her very best, patiently waits for someone to pick her. The afternoon sky starts to turn into a mellow, reddish portrait. It’s getting late. Nobody is arriving any more. She and a few others are the only ones still watching the movie.

Finally, the sound of the closing gate resounds. It is final. The rest of them won’t go to a family tonight. All of them are called back to the dining hall where the staff has prepared a grand noche buena and gifts for them. Jenny seems not to be interested. She goes upstairs to her window and recites her wish, as she usually does. Then a surprise. Someone is beside her.

“Who’s there?”

A familiar voice tickles Jenny’s heart. “Don’t be afraid, Jenny. It’s me.”

Ate Norie! What are you doing here?”

“Well, I am going to take you home with me…tonight…and the rest of the nights. You don’t need to come to this window and make your wish ever again.”

“O, Ate Norie!” Jenny embraces Norie and bursts into tears.

“Why are you crying, Jenny?”

Ate Norie, all I’ve ever wanted is to be able to see, so that I may see the world as you see it, with your own eyes. I wish I could see the goodies I eat, I wish I could see the clothes I wear, I wish I could see the toys I play with, and I wish I could see all of these…”

Silence fills the room. With her hand, Jenny is feeling her heart throbbing with much gladness. Jenny smiles. Then, in her blindness, she tries to feel Norie’s face with her hands.

“But most of all, I wish I could see you, the only mother I recognize. Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight, I thank you for the wish you granted me tonight.”

Arthur Nebrao, Jr., SJ
2 December 2004

Copyright © 2006 er2ol. All rights reserved. Patent Pending.