The Last Christmas

by Mark Hahn

The house is falling apart. Someone used their fingers to write “Merry Christmas” in the petrified holiday snow spray. It is impossible to know if this is from last Christmas or years ago. Other traces of the holiday are scattered throughout abandoned houses. It makes you wonder, how does Christmas feel when you know you are leaving everything behind for good? Do you tell the kids know or do you just let them believe in the permanence of a home just like you let them believe in Santa?

It can be a crushing realization that you must find your own magic and joy in life. You can’t count on it coming down the chimney in a fat man’s bag. Everyone wants the world to bring them happiness on a platter. Why shouldn’t a trip to Walmart or Toys R Us wipe away all the sorrow and difficulty in life? I want to believe in something!

My dad was killed by a drunk driver when I was a teenager. After that, Christmas became a day when I felt compelled to go through the motions for everyone but myself — following traditions for tradition’s sake. My connection to the childhood holiday excitement was gone. Christmas is just another day. If I’m not finding joy and happiness in my life every other day of the year it doesn’t matter. I won’t find it neatly wrapped up in a package under a tree.

Now that I have my own kids, I try to use Christmas as a time to symbolically show them how much I love them. Hopefully, all the gifts they get are memorable and bring them joy, but really, if I was killed by a drunk driver tomorrow, I hope they remember all the other days I spent with them and realize how much I love them everyday of my life.

Merry Christmas Everyone!