The Night Before Christmas

Oh, how it snowed in Schenectady that year. Clouds touched the treetops with gray clutching fingers and enveloped our neighborhood so deeply in white that it seemed all color had drained away from the day.

But the night was so opposite. Red and green and twinkling blue lights cast a surrealistic lambency over the drifting snow, chasing back the shadows. Electric candles added a golden glow.

I loved Christmas as a kid. That day of the year was the one day I lived for.

I woke up around midnight, the night before Christmas the year I turned ten. I crept downstairs to catch a glimpse of Santa. I truely wish I hadn’t.

Santa was there all right, next to our Christmas tree with a bloody knife in his hand, standing over my mother who lay unmoving on the floor. Her eyes were open but unblinking. He was laughing and taking swigs from a whiskey bottle. He looked for a second in my direction but it was dark. Then, he left by the front door.

My mom was dead. My dad went to prison.

Christmas – bah, humbug.

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