Brian and I have spent this night before Christmas Eve consuming vast amounts of processed sugar and balls of cheesy fried cornmeal, and bouncing from topic to topic in conversation. My blog has come up as he asked whether I was writing anything about Christmas. I told him I wasn't sure yet. If there is going to be a Christmas entry, he will undoubtedly find out whether I tell him or not, because a couple of weeks ago I foolishly gave him the Web address which he promptly mailed to his sister, who will keep him informed. Because of this I now must present him in the best light, keeping secret certain facts like his habit of washing his bedsheets on a seasonal basis rather than a weekly one. Oops, I mean about his habit of being meticulously organized and sanitary. At an O.C.D. level, really.
We talked a little about what Christmases were like for us growing up, what traditions our families observed. Brad asked me if my family put milk and cookies out for Santa. Of course we did, I told him.
"Well, I felt I needed to ask," he said. "After all, you don't eat stuffing." [See the "Happy Thanksgiving" post.]
You know, I'll be more than a little sad when Christmas has passed. Obviously it's tough to be stuck with only memories of the past and hopes for holidays in the future. And the unceasing profusion of grotesquely jolly and maudlin Christmas songs on the radio is enough to drive a person insane. But it is precisely those elements of the season which pull the Christmas spirit past the razor wire, through the bars and into the thoughts of all of us locked away. Even here in the hole there is an emotional charge in the air, a jovial and vaguely exhilarating energy in the atmosphere which is inescapable. For the couple of weeks before every Christmas just a trace of goodwill and compassion emanates from even the most hardened gangster and down-trodden prison bitch. The Crips and Bloods won't exactly be singing carols hand-in-hand, but perhaps instead of stabbing each other they'll solve their differences with a heated rock-paper-scissors competition. Of maybe a dance-off.
Unfortunately, the day after usually brings with it a general state of something akin to anticlimax. Or maybe it's better described as a sobering reminder of reality, leaving us all just a tad surlier than when we were before the first time that awful "Jingle Bells" was played on the radio.
But while it lasts I am savoring every Merry Christmas I am wished and every courteous act which is performed in the name of the holiday season.
Merry Christmas, everybody!