Life at UCB through the eyes of our international student bloggers

A Christmas but not-so Christmas memory

A Christmas but not-so Christmas memory

With Christmas just around the corner, I thought it would be an excellent and funny idea to share with you one of the most memorable and possibly stupidest (but funny though!) Christmas memories from when I was a child. 

Christmas is always my favourite holiday of the year. I don’t know if it’s because I was raised in a country where Christmas starts as early as September, or if it’s because of the tinge of innocence and hope behind it, or the warmness that spreads across my chest whenever I see the pretty lights and hear Christmas songs. Or simply because it’s also my birthday month. (Yes, it is, in fact, my birthday in four days!) Either way, for whatever reason, there is something magical about Christmas that makes it my favourite. No matter the circumstance, it’s something I genuinely look forward to before the year ends. 

Anyways, this was when I was nine or ten. It was Christmas Eve, and my grandparents were attending the Misa de Gallo, but for whatever reason, this time I chose not to go. I remember being in bed, gazing at the ceiling as I glanced at the clock momentarily, counting down on time for the fireworks, which usually go off at midnight. Next to me was my little cousin and the babysitter, who were fast asleep. After a while, I thought I heard a firework go off. Immediately, I sat up from my bed, and I stilled, listening as I waited for the booming eruption to cut through the deafening silence. A second went by and I hear one go off again. 

Excited, I jumped off the bed as I tried to shake the babysitter and my little cousin awake, but to no avail; they were sleeping deeply. I was slightly disappointed, but I built up the courage to run down the stairs and watch the fireworks. I vividly remember running down the wooden, polished stairs. The surface felt cold against my bare feet and as I reached the foyer, I quickly slipped on my slippers and rushed towards the front porch. Once outside, I waited and waited. My head pulled back as I sulked onto the void of darkness, spotting flecks of stars once in a while. A minute or so had passed by, and with no fireworks in sight, I sighed sadly. Not ready to head back just yet, in case the fireworks showed up again, I decided to walk to the back porch. It was heavily dark out, and there were no lights nearby, no lamps or motion-sensored ones. I remember it being so incredibly dark. 

(Here’s a rather lazily drawn floorplan of the house for more visuals.)

There are three routes going from the front to the back porch: the easiest one is going back inside the house and just walking to the back. The second one is the longest one, turning right and walking around to the garage, and the last one – which is not too long or too short either – involves turning left and passing by the laundry line. Of course, as a kid who didn’t want to go back inside yet, I chose the latter.

I made a left, walked for a bit then made another left. The laundry line was dark dark. With the front porch, I got light from the lamp, the light from the street and the neighbours in front of us. But in the laundry line, it was really dark, however I didn’t think much of it. Besides, I saw a glimpse of light from the floor at the other end, which washed a relief over me. 

Knowing that there was light at the other end put me at ease, walking a tad bit more confidently. Suddenly, I hear a spine-chilling wail. I don’t know if it was the dark or it’s because of the Chucky movies that I had watched in the previous days, but that one slip of yowl scared me to the bones. Upon hearing the ugly cry, the first obvious instinct was to run. And I did. I ran to the back porch, even with light blaring onto my eyes, I was still terrified.

Reaching in front of the back door, I grabbed the door knob to pull it open, only to realise that it… was… locked. I tried to convince myself that it was a dream or that I was twisting and pulling it the wrong way, but of course, it didn’t budge. The second plan I thought of doing was hiding in the kitchen which was right in front of the back porch, but decided against it because I knew I was going to get told off once my grandparents came back from church. The third plan was to use the long route, which was going through the garage, however it fuelled my fear more because it was dark. There were no lights whatsoever. 

So I trusted my gut and ran back the way I went through, with my eyes closed and hoping I wouldn’t bump into a pole from the laundry line or into a gate. Once I got inside the house, I kicked off my slippers, I didn’t even care if it was all over, I just wanted to get back in my room. I almost even slipped as I ran up the stairs, but I was glad my mind was still functioning as I instantly grasped onto the rails. Pulling myself up from a semi-fall, I ran back up and jumped onto my bed. 

Laying on my back, I heard the babysitter mumble in her sleep, “you okay?” Without looking over, I replied with a shaky breath, “yeah.” I stared onto the ceiling as I heard the heart patter through my chest, it was all I could hear. I couldn’t hear the soft snore of my cousin, or the soft rustle of curtains. Basically, what I thought I heard was a ‘tiyanak.’ It is a vampiric creature in Philippine mythology that takes on the form of a toddler or a baby. (Be careful of searching for it though, because to be frank, it is a very ugly baby – I mean, if you even consider that as a baby.

Anyways, to cut the story short, I told my aunts the next morning about the incident. I remember sitting at the head of the table, as I anxiously and unintentionally played on the food. I said, “I think I heard a tiyanak last night.” And I told them the whole story. Once I was finished though, one of them laughed and said, “It’s not a tiyanak, Ur. It’s just a cat.” 

And I lost my marbles… 

“A CAT??!” I said, unable to process it in my brain. Regardless, if I could talk to my nine/ten year-old self, I’d tell her to stop watching horror movies so much. I’d just end up looking foolish. Also, I know Christmas memories are supposed to be light and happy, not horrific. But every time I think of a Christmas memory, this one is always on top of the list. Not only did it happen around Christmastime, but it is also very hysterical. One way or another, Christmas memories are almost the same for everyone, no matter where you’re from or how old you are… Because Christmas is always spent with the ones you love – your family and friends. 

I just thought I’d share this particular story of mine to stand out from the rest. Although it’s not a Christmassy vibe, it’s definitely up for laughs. 

Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this rather long blog! I’ll see you next Wednesday and it’s certainly going to be a lot more Christmas related! 

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