Christmas Dreams

28 Dec

The cold wind dances along my skin and wets my eyes. It’s a blissful discomfort. I shiver for a moment.

Derek and I are standing outside our home in beautiful Denton, Texas.

“Jesus, it’s cold.”

“Yes, Derek,” I say. “Give it up to God. Tell Jesus you’re cold.” I smile at Derek a few seconds longer. He looks down on me, eyes ringed in red, cheeks flushed, mouth slightly agape. His stare is cold and not at all Christmas-y. It’s more like Halloween-y or Homicide-y. One time Derek told me “homicide” was a holiday.

“Jesus doesn’t care about how cold I am, Kyle,” Derek says, his eyes leaving mine and affixing themselves on something in the distance or perhaps nothing at all.

How dare you?” I ask incredulously. I try to slap Derek, but I’m drunk on silly egg nog and I swing wide, striking the empty air–nowhere close to Derek’s face.

“I just don’t think Jesus–son of God or not–would care how cold I am. I’d imagine he was much colder in that manger or on that cross.”

Wistfully, I look into the distance. “They don’t make crosses like they used to,” I say.

“Wait, what?” Derek asks.

“Derek,” I say, “I want to find the meaning of Christmas. Will you find it with me?”

Derek had left and gotten in the car. He was motioning frantically for me to join him, twirling his finger in a “hurry up” kind of motion.

I trot over to the car and get inside.

We drive down the highway, Christmas music blaring. It’s hurting my ears. Derek also seems a little uncomfortable. I start to wonder why neither of us have suggested turning it down. I try to ask Derek, but it’s too loud. I reach out to turn the volume knob down, but Derek slaps my hand away.

His mouth moves with speech, but I can’t hear it. His expression is emphatic. With one whip-crack head motion, Derek is looking straight ahead again. I can only assume Derek went back to his old car-stereo-standby:

“Don’t you ever touch a white man’s radio!”

I’m almost positive that’s what he said.

We continue driving until Derek runs out of gas and we crash into the shoulder of the highway going six miles per hour. It’s the least exciting crash I’ve ever been involved in while listening to Christmas music.

“At least we weren’t going a hundred miles an hour,” Derek says.

“Well, yea. That’s obvious. I’m glad the car isn’t made of children. I’m glad the highway isn’t boobie trapped with surprise speed bumps made of babies. I’m glad that the gas we use in our car isn’t from a factory that processes the tears of angels. I’m glad that the internal combustion engine doesn’t utilize biomechanical components built from the contorted bodies of our grandparents. I’m glad.”

“Why you gotta say all that, man?” Derek asks, slapping his leg for emphasis.

“Because, I hate it when people set up hypotheticals like you just did. Like, when I’m at work and a guy says ‘Man, wouldn’t it be great if we got paid twenty dollars an hour?’ Well yea, of course it would be, but if we’re going to wish for whatever the hell we want, why not wish to get paid a thousand dollars an hour, or a billion. While you’re at it, why don’t you make it so we don’t have to work at all.”

“Where is all this coming from?”

“My brain. My angry, jaded brain.”

Theres a few seconds of silence interrupted by the dry roar of cars as they pass.

“I’m just angry, that’s all,” I say. “I’m sorry–I’m mad that Christmas seems to be more and more a fleeting day on my calendar. When I was young, it felt like a global event eleven months in the making. It felt like it lasted days–weeks, even. Now it’s just a blip. For the most part, everyone knows that they’re getting for Christmas months in advance, so there’s no surprise–and that joyous season we’re supposed to enjoy before and after is ruined because before Christmas we’re stressed about buying the right gifts, and then after we’re stressed trying to find enough money to stop the bleeding the holidays have stuck us with.”

There is a long pause. A car drives by and honks at us. A guy throws a beer bottle out of the passenger window and it shatters ten or fifteen feet in front of us.

“That’s sad,” Derek says.

“What’s sad?”

“That guy just wanted to give us a beer.” I think Derek is kidding and snort out a short, almost perfunctory, laugh. He turns to me–eyes a bit wet. “And now he’s gone. At least he tried, though.”

I sigh and look out at the cascade of brown glass ahead of us. The truck is long gone. I will most likely never see it again, and if I do, I probably won’t recognize it. Soon I know I’m going to have to get out of the car and make the long walk to get gas for the car. Derek hates carrying fossil fuels. Something about Exxon Valdez. It’s probably horse shit.

 

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