A Boy on Christmas

On this, the eve before Christmas, a story comes to mind; it’s about a boy. A quiet boy. He tried hard to bother no one, and at times tried harder to blend in. He often felt awkward, weak, unimportant and unwanted.

It was like that for him, this boy, for the majority of his younger years, and beyond. But as time does, it passed. Seasons changed and Christmases came and went. Eventually, this boy became a man, a man whose heart continued to beat with the unsurety of a once timid boy.

On a cold Christmas eve, this boy now man found himself alone and in the company of only regret, sat in utter solitude within the darkness of a movie theater. The movie playing was and remains insignificant. He felt the sticky floor cling to the soles of his shoes as he occasionally shuffled in his seat. His head, weighted by the intoxicant of the night before. His breath, still heavy with old scotch, beer and tequila.

For the better part of five years, this man once a boy celebrated, or commiserated, Christmas in one of the only venues to offer yuletide patronage — a movie theater. He would arrive in the early evening, procure one ticket, a small bag of buttered popcorn, a medium pop, and a bag of twizzlers — this would be his Christmas dinner.

Typically, about half way through the film, whatever it may be, he would reach into his jacket, slide the inside pocket zipper down, and remove a flask replete with a single malt. He’d poor it into his now empty cup, and proceed to sip and swallow tainted droplets of self-despair and loneliness.

For as long as he could remember, all he craved, all he wished for, and all he asked Santa for was the love of a someone. As a boy, he’d sleep with a pillow tucked behind his back to mimic the comforts of love — something he starved for back then.

Eventually, the credits would play, the lights would come on, and it was time for him to take his leave. He returned to the cold, snow covered streets, and walk with sloshing footfalls along the beleaguered sidewalks of the city. He’d pass homeless men, noticing them covered in snow and ice, wondering how they’d gotten to that point in life — perhaps their wishes for love had gone unheared as well…suddenly, their sullen features seemed not too dissimilar from that of his own.

With evening still young, and his small, uninviting apartment seeming like an unpleasant destination, this boy in a man’s body would traipse to another venue that welcomed the walking weary — a lesser known Korean bar tucked within a derelict part of the city. Once inside, he’d sit beneath the ambient glow of cheap, florescent lighting, bad music and depressing ambience, and order another scotch to replace the one that had fallen victim to his sadness.

“So…this is Christmas…?” He’d think to himself. To the barstool on his left, he’d observe a spector of a young girl he’d failed to save some years prior. On the stool to his right, a ghost of a man badly burned — ghosts of a paramedic’s Christmas past, lingering in present, condemning his future.

Fast forward a number of years, that boy is now forty. His heart is full and in love. He sits within warmth and comfort, he has a home, a family and no longer a need for a pillow at his back.

“So, this is Christmas…” he thinks to himself, and I respond…

“Yes, boy — this is Christmas — and you survived to see it…so enjoy it!”

That little boy turned man now rests quietly in an abundance of love and light. I know this, because that boy was me!

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