A Christmas Tale

Dec 24 / Irene Garzón

Chapter 1: Unveiling Freedom

Zoe leaned against the cold metal of the crowded metro, her mind a whirlwind of thoughts as she
journeyed towards her Christmas family dinner. The rhythmic clatter of the train wheels against the tracks
provided a backdrop to her contemplations. Tonight was the night she had chosen to share her exciting
news, a decision that filled her with both anticipation and trepidation.

As she scanned the faces around her in the metro, Zoe couldn't help but ponder the dynamics she was
about to encounter at the family gathering. The dinner, an annual event meticulously orchestrated by her well-intentioned mother, was a double-edged sword. While it promised warmth and familial connection, it also brought with it the weight of expectations and the unsolicited opinions of her family members. Her brother-in-law, always armed with cliché jokes about patriarchy and the accomplishments of women, was a predictable presence.
Zoe knew that navigating his humor would require patience and a wellpracticed smile. She was prepared for the eye-rolling and the internal sighs that would accompany his attempts at enlightening the family on how to make the world a better place while showing his rampant sexism, racism and all the "isms"

Then there was her mother, the orchestrator of the annual feast. Zoe appreciated the effort her mother put into making the dinner special, but it came at a price – the unwarranted permission to scrutinize and opine on Zoe's life choices. The constant well-meaning advice accompanied by judgment led by her own unresolved shildhood issues hung in the air like an invisible cloud, threatening to dampen Zoe's enthusiasm.

Her father, who had financed her business studies, had always harbored a silent fear of Zoe's unconventional professional path. His dream was for her to follow a more conventional route, working as an accountant in his company. The unspoken tension between Zoe's pursuit of passion and her father's desire for stability lingered beneath the surface of their relationship, creating an unspoken barrier that Zoe was eager to break. Her grandfathers' blatant sexism had cast a shadow over that family dynamics.

Zoe's younger brother had been bestowed with opportunities and support to pursue his dream of becoming an artist, while Zoe's own path had been met with skepticism and disapproval. It was a reflection of the deeply ingrained gender biases that Zoe sought to challenge and overcome.

Her sister, the oldest of the siblings, was ensnared in the trappings of their father's company. A perpetual people-pleaser, she sacrificed her own dreams to fulfill the expectations placed upon her. Even as a marketing director, she found herself laughing at her husband's sexist jokes, a behavior that echoed the patriarchal norms ingrained in their family.

As Zoe exited the metro and emerged into the bustling city, she felt a surge of excitement and determination. Tonight, she would break free from the shackles of judgment and unveil her true self to her family. The news she carried was a beacon of her independence, a testament to her resilience in the face of societal expectations. The dinner table awaited, laden with familial nuances and unspoken tensions. Tonight, Zoe would be the catalyst for change, shattering the expectations that had bound her for far too long. As she approached her family home, she took a deep breath, ready to face the challenges and emerge victorious in her quest for freedom.

Chapter 2: A Symphony of Family
and Freedom

Zoe stepped into the warmth of her parents home, greeted by the familiar scent of mom's home-cooked meals and the comforting ambiance that enveloped her the moment she crossed the threshold. The crackling fire in the chimney and the melodic notes of Louis Armstrong's music welcomed her, setting the stage for a night of familial connections and revelations.

The first to appear in the doorway was her brother, John, adorned in bohemian attire with a striking change, once again, in his facial hair.

"What have you done?" Zoe teased, a smile playing on her lips, as she approached her little brother and jokingly grabbed his chin.

"How are you, sis? It's been too long! I'm so happy to see you, " John exclaimed, genuine excitement in his eyes.

"I have amazing news to share. I just signed a contract with a gallery to exhibit my latest work. What about you, sis?" he inquired, his anticipation evident.

"I'll tell you in a moment, " Zoe replied, a mysterious glint in her eyes. Despite her reservations about her family's reactions, she sensed John's deep admiration for her choices, and she was eager to share her news.

They walked together to the living room, where the rest of the family had already gathered. Greetings and compliments were exchanged, and toasts were made for a new year gathering together. Zoe crossed paths with her brother-in-law, Steve, who remarked on her tardiness with a joking remark about women's nature. He playfully expressed the hope that she would behave tonight, a comment that sparked a mixture of annoyance and determination in Zoe. "If only you knew..." As they mingled, Zoe's mother, Stephanie, emerged from the kitchen. With open arms, Stephanie enveloped Zoe in a motherly hug—the safest and most homely feeling one could experience, the embrace of a mother who had missed her child dearly.

"I'm so happy you could make it, Zoe, " Stephanie said, her eyes reflecting both love and concern.
She looked at the clock on the wall behind Zoe to see it was time. Quicly she raised a glass of wine and tapped it with a fork, a gesture that instantly captured the attention of the gathering.

"Dinner is ready! Let's move to the dining room."

Chapter 3: Revelations at the
Christmas Feast

The family gathered around the table. Stephanie, with a warm smile, began serving the starters—delicate dishes that reflected her dedication to making this evening her greatest gift to her loved ones: Her daughters, her son and Rob.

Zoe's eyes darted across the table, searching for the homemade goat cheese she had brought. A realization struck her—her contribution was nowhere to be seen. A flicker of disappointment crossed her face, but noooo She knew better this time. She knew even tonight, when she had come such a long way to finally break free from them, she'd still be human. Despite having worked so much on this evening, dropped all expectations, even knowing that the posibility of her cheese making it to the table were almost non-existent, for one moment she became that little girl who believed these days were magical and let her guard down enough to let this hurt her. This demonstrates how much she's worked on herself that she's already very far from them.
"Fuck, I did let go there for a moment and I actually tought that I'd come and the cheese whould make it to the table" she thought while she smiled to herself. But, of couse she said nothing, not wanting to disrupt the festive atmosphere.

Her dad Rob, took advantage of the moment to launch into a discourse about his business triumphs throughout the year.

"This year has been incredible for the company. We've secured some outstanding contracts and achieved remarkable results, " he declared with pride.

John, Zoe's brother, interjected, a playful smirk on his face."Dad, this is Christmas dinner, well, we've not even started it yet and you're already at it, " he teased.

Rob, undeterred, responded, "Family and business have always gone hand in hand in our family for generations."

Stephanie, the matriarch, smiled at her husband's enthusiasm. "Of course, dear, but let's save the business talk for at least after the main course. For now, let's focus on us, " she suggested, defusing the tension with a gentle redirection.

Lisa, Zoe's sister, seized the opportunity to share her big news. "Next year we will be one more at this table!" she announced, her eyes sparkling with joy. The room erupted in celebration, toasts were made, and congratulations filled the air.

Despite Lisa being in the early weeks of her pregnancy, her husband confidently proclaimed, "I'm going to father a son, a strong and succesfull son!"

Zoe, unable to resist challenging the status quo, quipped, "What if it's a girl?

After a few moments of puzzlement his faced became much kinder, even sweet, as he acknowledged for the first time that he could be fathering a girl. Of course, then she'd be my little princess, her daddy's little princess. And I'll protect her and buy her everything she wants

And when she grows up? how do you see her?

With a sudden worry on his face, Steve commented "I might have to buy a gun to intimidate the boys around the house. You know how boys treat girls even as children.

Sensing the undercurrent of sexism in Steve's remark, Zoe responded with a touch of sarcasm, "Ah, I can see you're well-prepared, wishing for a boy to be strong and for a girl to be exactly the opposite because you take well care of that business."

These last words couldn’t be heard as Stephanie stood up and walked over to embrace Lisa. "Come, here my dear, congratulations to my darling Lisa, my firstborn, the person who made me a mother and now, a grandmother, I’m so happy for you."

John, catching Zoe's eye, winked in empathy while mouthed “AUCH” at the punch she had just thrown. Zoe had braced herself for the annual circus of professional boasting that characterized her family dinners. Success, in their eyes, is equated to the number of zeros in one's bank account. This year, however, Zoe felt a newfound sense of liberation. As the spotlight turned to her, she knew that, for the first time, she didn't crave their approval. The power of her own choices and the authenticity of her journey were more valuable than any accolades they could bestow. She smiled, ready to share her news, knowing that this Christmas would mark a turning point in her relationship with her judgmental family.

Chapter 4: The Unveiling of Zoe's

There’s something I’d love to share with you tonight, she announced.

All eyes turned to Zoe, anticipation and curiosity etched on their faces. Her brother's excitement was palpable, eager to hear what Zoe had in store. However, before Zoe could utter a word, her father's voice cut through the air. "

"What are your plans for the year, my love? I’m eager to hear what you want to say but first let me tell you what I have planned for you, so that you understand where this family is moving towards and where you should be heading, just to give you a bit of fatherly guidance."

Zoe, however, refused to be silenced. "I am so sorry, Dad, " she began, her voice steady. "But I have different plans in view. Something bigger. I am not going to follow a path you drew for me just to sit in this room every Christmas, being treated like a puppet that does what others plan for her." As Zoe spoke, a fire ignited within her, a determination to break free from the constraints of familial expectations. "I am moving my career towards something bigger than this family business, than any business, actually. I am going to save humanity from the narrow-minded, money-steered business minds that have brought the world to a place of fear, pain, disappointment, and solitude. It all starts by understanding that all I need is within me. I will help humanity regain happiness, as we were many generations ago. I will bring love back to people so children will be born surrounded by their family's love."

Zoe's father, unable to contain his frustration, raised his voice. "What the hell are you saying?" he exclaimed. The frustration stemmed from the realization that he was losing grip on the daughter he had always seen as the future of the family business, the most capable among them.

"Dad, " Zoe responded calmly, "you are focused on the future of your business, while I want to focus on the future of humanity.

I’m going to be a shaman, a medicine woman,
I’m going to be a midwife.

For you, my dear midwife friend. Thank you for making the world a better place Merry Christmas May this New Year be full of LOVE for you and those that make you happy Irene True Midwifery
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