When the boy awoke, the sun had not yet risen. The boy felt excited. Christmas Morning! He left the bed, he didn’t feel tired, he felt pure enthusiasm. He wanted to know what the presents were, he knew Santa had come. He knew Santa came from very far away to bring him presents. The boy believed in Santa. The boy believed. He believed that no one would lie to him, that the world was filled with beautiful things like Santas, ghosts, monsters, fairies and human kindness. He believed, when everyone else stopped believing.
The boy went to the living room where a giant Christmas tree stood covered in ornaments, red, green and white lights. The floor was covered in presents, the majority being for him. He was the youngest, the baby, his two older brothers were much older. They were in high school, they were cool. They had cars and places to go, they had summer jobs and women they called girlfriends. The boy was little compared to them. A tiny, little creature, who had no car or girlfriend.
The sun still had not risen, no one was yet up, the world was silent. The boy felt so excited. Later on, they would find out the boy was bipolar and felt extremely excited way too much in life but at that point he was just a little boy and no one knew anything. The boy wanted to open a present, his mind kept screaming, “Open presents, open presents, open presents, open presents.” His mind wouldn’t stop. He couldn’t take it anymore, and opened a present by his older brother. It was a couple of packs of football cards. The boy looked at the football cards and felt happy. He looked at the cards, he looked at the football players, he read their stats, he smiled. The boy liked Christmas, he never got anything all year. The boy got horrible grades and always got in trouble at school, he was ceaselessly in trouble, his parents never bought him anything because the boy couldn’t figure out how to behave. The boy would look through old photo books of his brothers and see that his parents bought them expensive dirt bikes, four wheelers, snow mobiles and even guns. But his parents bought him nothing. They said he couldn’t behave and deserved nothing. Later on in life, the boy realized he was a late child which meant he came from sad sex. His parents had long stopped having sex before they conceived him. He suspected that his father got drunk one night and fucked his mother while she was on pain pills. His father was too drunk to remember to pull out therefore he, the boy, should have not happened.
The oldest brother woke up and sat on the couch in the living room. The oldest brother said to the boy in an angry voice, “Did you open a present?”
The boy said, “Yes.”
“What the fuck is wrong with you? Can’t you wait for everyone to wake up, whose present did you open?”
“Don’t you think Dave wants to see you open his presents.”
The boy looked down. He went silent, hoping if he was silent his oldest brother would stop talking. The only way he could fight them was by silence and staying out of their way.
Eventually his father, mother and brother Dave made it to the living room. The sun came up and shined off the snow causing a weird whitish glare in the living room. The whole family was there – the whole family was never in the same room, they never ate together, they never went on vacations together. The boy knew from old photos that his family did go on vacations with the older boys, but it stopped when he came along.
It was weird for the boy, for everyone to be together. They didn’t know how to act while in the same room, the dynamic was awkward and not fun. The boy’s parents worked at different times of the day, his father worked in the morning and his mother worked the afternoon shift. He never saw his parents in the same room, he never saw his parents talk to each other, hug, kiss, or even look at each other. One time, the boy went with both of his parents to a restaurant, the boy believes it was a Red Lobster and while they were there his parents fought the whole time. They never went to a restaurant together again.
The boy began to open his presents, his mother yelled, “The presents marked Santa are from Santa but the presents I bought you are marked Mom.”
Every time the boy opened a present from his mom, his mother would yell how much the present cost and where she bought it and how she had to wait in line for so long and how she had to deal with some minority to get the boy’s presents. The boy didn’t like opening his mother’s presents. He wanted the present, but he knew that when he opened one he would have to deal with her words. It made his heart race.
There were no hugs on Christmas morning, there were no “I love you’s.” There were no smiles, no smiling, no smiling, just business. Everyone knew what had to be done, and they did it.
After everyone opened their presents, the boy went outside to feed the chickens on top of the hill out of sight of the house. The boy wore a big winter coat, blue jogging pants and large boots carrying a jug of warm water. The snow crunched under his feet, the boy felt the icy wind on his face, the boy didn’t want to feed the chickens on Christmas morning, but ‘whatever’ he thought. The boy made it to the chicken coop. The chickens walked around and the boy told the chickens, “Merry Christmas chickens!” The boy broke the ice in the water bucket with a hammer, then poured hot water in, then he gave the chickens some food. The boy looked up and saw a man. The boy felt no fear of the man. The man looked like a smiling redneck, stocking cap and Carhartt jacket.
The man knelt down, put his hand on the boy’s shoulder and said, “You will know nothing but pain your whole life. You will get random glimpses of happiness but it will always be snatched away. You will never wake up on Christmas morning surrounded by a beautiful caring wife, in a big cozy house of your own, with a giant Christmas tree covered in ornaments, with children screaming for presents. That will never happen for you. It will never happen.”
The boy stayed silent, hoping the man would stop talking and go away.
“I’m doing this, so you will know the Spirit of Christmas because when everyone else has given up on love, you won’t because you will learn how vital it is. How the smallest particle of love can sustain a person for a thousand years. You are the wildest horse, the untamed one, you will never be broken. You will know pain but your life will be a Christmas that is never forgotten.
The man walked off, the boy watched him go. The boy knew what the man said was true. He had always known his fate.
The boy went down the hill to the house. He went inside the house and stayed silent, playing with his new toys.