Richard stood beside his wife, an arm around her shoulders, watching his family. The Lims and Dela Rosas were together for the first time as they celebrated Christmas in the new house. They attended midnight mass, enjoyed the noche Buena feast, and had just finished giving gifts. They were now having fun opening and showing each other what they received. He pulled his wife closer and turned to look at her.There was a time when he did not think a Christmas like this was possible.They had weathered the toughest storms this year. He was elected president of Pilipinas Aviation Society, only to be voted off as CEO of Lim Aviation Services. After winning MRO company of the year, LAS was put in a bad light because of the crash. Lim Aviation Institute was struggling. Despite everything, he still felt blessed. His family was with him every step of the way. They were everything that mattered. Maya looked back at him, and he could see the same contentment in her eyes. They smiled at each other.
When everyone was settled in for the rest of the night, or morning, Maya drew Richard aside for some you-and-me time. They were going to use the new coffee table with matching chairs that the children had specially decorated and had given as a gift just a little while ago.
“Inaantok ka na ba?” Maya asked as she placed two coffee cups on the table. Richard smiled as he took one and stirred it.
“No, hindi pa naman,” he said, starting to reach for her hand but Maya held it up. He raised an eyebrow.
“Wait lang, sweetheart, may kukunin pa ako,” she went back inside. She was holding a gift when she went out. She smiled widely as she gave it. “Para sa’yo.”
“I thought we promised not to give gifts to each other?” He stared at the gift.
“Eh, sweetheart, lagi ka namang nag-b-break ng promise. Alam ko na may ibibigay ka nanaman, kaya heto. For the first time, I’m breaking our promise,” she shook the gift at him. “Ayaw mo ba?” She asked hesitantly. Silently, he took the gift and opened it. It was a small glass trophy, with Best Husband and Daddy in the World written on it, the date today and Maya’s and the children’s signatures. The twins’ thumbmarks were also there. “Para may ma-display ka na sa office mo,” she said gently, watching the changing emotions on his face. In stark contrast to his lush office at LAS where he had a lot of awards on display, his place at LAI was bare and impersonal.
Richard looked at her, his eyes misty. “Thank you, sweetheart,” he took her hand and pressed it between his, kissing it. “This means so much, thank you,” he said in a choked voice, as he leaned his forehead on their joined hands, elbows bent. Anything that reminded him of LAS still made him emotional.
“Ricky…,” Maya stood up and went to him. He hid his face against her waist and wrapped his arms around her as she rubbed his back comfortingly, standing by his chair. After a while, he raised his head and hastily wiped his tears with his hands. “I’m sorry,” he said, looking up at her, trying to smile, “nahawa mo na ako sa pagiging iyakin mo, sweetheart.”
“Ok lang yan. Masusubukan ko din sa wakas na gawin ito,” Maya took her own handkerchief, lifted his glasses, and dabbed gently at his eyes. They both chuckled.
“I couldn’t find you a gift…,” he started to say, but Maya shushed him with a finger on his lips.
She grinned at him. “Wow! Another first! Ako naman ang gumawa sa’yo nito. Dati, ginawa mo na din sa akin to, e,” she said, turning wistful as she remembered.
Richard raised an eyebrow when she remained silent. “Kilig moment ba?” His smirked.
“Ano sa tingin mo, Mr. Lim?” She wrinkled her nose at him. He stood up.
“Wait here,” he told her, and he too went inside. He had his hands behind his back when he went back out. She was sitting on her chair again. He stopped before her. “This time, I’m keeping our promise,” he said, a little shyly, and presented an extra big Christmas card. Maya looked surprised. “I wanted to give you something else…,” he was going to explain again, but she shook her head.
“Ricky, gusto ko siya,” she assured him, opening it and admiring the simple Christmas design of a parol. “Thank you, sweetheart,” she smiled softly as she handed it back to him. “Gusto kong ikaw ang mag-basa,” she told him, bringing her chair close to his as he took it. She hugged him from the side, as close as the arm rests will allow, and placed her chin on his shoulder. Richard started reading.
“Maya, sweetheart…,” he felt her head move to peek at the card, her eyebrows lifted dubiously. He gave a little laugh as he tilted the card towards her so she could see what he was reading, then continued, “for all the times you have been there for me, giving me hope, cheering me on, and never giving up on me when I almost lost faith in myself, I am grateful. I wanted to give you something that would show you how much, but no material thing in the world can do that. Besides, even if there was, it would probably be very expensive, at pagagalitan mo pa ako instead of appreciating it,” he paused as Maya giggled.
“Tama ka dyan, sweetheart,” she wagged her finger at him.
He shook his head, smiling, then heaved a sigh as he read the next word, “so, I bought this card, thinking I could at least try to express it in words, though I know that this, too, is not enough. Sweetheart, we have been through a lot this year, and we have grown stronger as a family and as a couple. You have been my rock, as I have been yours, and I continually pray that we always will be for each other. You are an integral part of me, and I am a better person because of you. Thank you. I love you more, sweetheart. Merry Christmas!” He said the last line softly, turning to look at her, their faces close to each other.
“Merry Christmas!” she said back, and their lips met for a sweet gentle kiss. They grinned tenderly at each other.
“I love you,” she glanced at the card, taking it from him, “and I love this,” she held it up to him. “Salamat, sweetheart, ha.”
He laughed softly. “You’re welcome; and you didn’t have to give me anything, although I really appreciate your gift. It’s beautiful,” he touched it lovingly, reading what was written on it again. Suddenly, Maya tugged at his arm.
“Sweetheart, shooting star! Bilis, mag-wish ka!” And she closed her eyes to make a wish. When she opened them, she found Richard just looking at her. “Sweetheart, hindi ka ba nag-wish?” she wondered.
He shook his head. “There is nothing to wish. I have you and the children. You are everything I could ever want,” he said simply.
“Sweetheart…,” she started to tear up.
“O, ako na ba ang magpapahid ng luha?” he asked teasingly.
Eyes glowing with love, she locked her hands behind his neck. “Hindi na, sweetheart. Kailangan ko lang na gawin ito,” and she pulled him in for another kiss.
A sweet warmth spread through him, and he slowly slid his arms around her as he deepened the kiss. The arm rests of their chairs prevented him from pulling her closer and he groaned in frustration. “Mas gusto ko yata yung bench,” he murmured as Maya giggled. “Let’s go to bed?” he nuzzled her neck.
“Umm, Ricky, ang mga bata…” He had forgotten that they were sleeping in their room. The look on his face made her laugh out loud. He sighed.
“Dapat pala nag-wish nalang ako. Paano pa kita masosolo nyan?” he looked so forlorn that she took pity on him, wanting the intimacy as much as he did. She touched his arm.
“I want to make the best husband and daddy in the world happy.” He raised an eyebrow. She could not look at him. “Alam mo, walang tao sa kwarto ng kambal…,” she whispered conspiratorially.
Richard’s chinky eyes rounded with incredulity as he realized what she meant. “You’re serious?” At her shy nod, he laughed softly, standing up, then scooping her effortlessly in his arms. “You already make me so happy,” he told her quietly. “I want to make you happy.”
Blushing as she wrapped her arms around her husband’s neck, she told him saucily, “So, ano pa ang hinihintay mo, Mr. Lim? Pagkakataon mo na. Mamaya nyan gigising na sila.””
“Heto na nga. Sinabi mo, eh,” he grinned as he mimicked her, and carried her to the twins’ bedroom where they shared the best gift they have for each other, love.