Ho Ho Ho! Christmas afternoon in Terre Haute. Imagine my disappointment this morning when I woke up and beheld that the cozy area under the lopsided Christmas tree Brian had scribbled on a sheet of writing paper and taped to the wall was devoid of any brightly colored packages topped with flowery bows. There was absolutely nothing under that rendered pine tree, not even any dark lumps of coal I had been dreading. Not only that, the milk and cookies I had spent an hour making out of candy bars, trail mix and peanut butter were both undisturbed. Well, partly undisturbed; Brian apparently got up at four in the morning and the temptation of a cookie was too much for him. So Santa never made it to cell B-213. How could this be?
There's only one possibility which makes any sense. In the absence of a chimney, Tubby Clause obviously uses ventilation systems to make his deliveries. In order to reach the second floor where my cell is located, he would first have to make his way through the 3rd and 4th floors .. Death Row.
So that's the end of old St. Nick. There's no telling what those animals on Death Row did to that jolly fellow when they got hold of him. Yelling up through the vents, I've had a few conversations with those maniacs up there and, man, I'll bet Kris Kringle didn't have a very merry Christmas if Carlos the tri-state decapitator was the one who got him. Poor bastard.
It's quiet around here. Too quiet. Except for the guards coming on the run to hand out our lunch of Cornish hens, there hasn't been a peep all day. This is highly unusual because for most people, any prolonged quietness is unsettling, so during any lapses in activity there's almost always a few people exchanging small talk with each other by yelling through their doors or roommates arguing over a card game. But today a person could hear a pin drop.
I've never been in the hole for Christmas before, but I imagine this is probably what it's like every year. I'm a taciturn individual even under normal circumstances and today I am finding myself even more reticent and introspective than usual, which is probably something everyone is feeling. General population offers plenty of Christmas-day distractions. Like the traditional Christmas morning craps game where anyone who feels like it can gamble away their holiday cookies or candy bought from the prison commissary. Even if a person isn't a big gambler, it's still fun to watch, and spectating is allowed and encouraged. On top of the dice game there are the tournaments sponsored by the recreation department. Inmates sign up to compete in anything from horseshoes to spades to basketball to Scrabble. There are prizes. Usually something silly like a box of sugar-free Kool-Aid. Certainly nothing more valuable than bragging rights.
Back here in segregation, there's nothing. At least nothing except that Cornish hen and a roommate who cheats when we pull on the wishbone. But actually, I'm kinda appreciating the opportunity to be stuck back here with nothing to distract me from the thoughts of what I'm missing by being in prison. There's something to be said for a day of forced meditation on the good ol' days of Christmas trees and dinner at my grandmother's. Of being jealous about my sister getting a cooler gift than I did and hoping the snow melted soon so I could try my new bike. There's something almost healthy about such painful reflection, it seems. Kind of like a fast for the mind.
Life isn't so bad. For all the whining I do, the sorrow associated with my memories of Christmas Past haunting me during Christmas Present certainly provide a greater appreciation for Christmas Future (to vaguely and poorly reference Dickens), and also for life in general. At least I've got some good company to feel sorry for myself with. Even if he does cheat at the whole wishbone thing. Jerk.