Dark Christmas

Written by: don munro

3 am.
The alarm clock in my head wakes me with a 
silent clanging.
Outside, the rain is falling so hard. It sounds like someone's
trying to break into my room.
Jesus.
It's Christmas Day.
It might as well be August 25th because the conversation in my head has not changed
since then. "You are a piece of shit."
I think of things I need to worry about, things I've worried about since August 25th and way before that.
My anxiety runs through my veins like hot chemo.
I stagger to the living room and stare at the half-decorated Christmas tree ...
gold balls weighing down one side. Empty green takes up the other. Oh, there are two figurines of kittens that I bought at a garage sale in Staten Island in 1998.
God. 3:10 am.
A whole day to spend by myself.
Not a fake friend in sight today, with their banal conversations about picking up their laundry or meeting at the gym at whatever time to do arms or back.
Just as well; I get a blank stare from them when I want to talk about chasing happiness or being childless at 53.
The TV is my savior. It pulls me out of myself.
Bing Crosby comes on singing "White Christmas." He's dancing
with those two impossibly shiny bleached blondes. And they all have those white, almost blue American teeth -- not one out of place.
12 pm.
I wake up on the couch and "White Christmas" is still playing; it must be a marathon.
Outside, the rain has turned to snow and there are two messages on my phone -- from Christian friends inviting me to their houses for the day.
It's tough being a Buddhist on Christmas. OK, so I know, as the Buddhists say, everything is OK as long as I let it be OK.
But this is one day of the year I don't want to "be."
I consider whether to shower. It takes 10 minutes to decide. I let the hot water run down my back, and I don't know if it's burning from the water or my nerve endings.
I don't want to face Christmas - but I have decided to join life and go to Cory's to see his kids, stare at the tree and eat some turkey.
I decide to take a Xanax, and I stick one in my pocket as assurance.
Maybe some of this gloom will yet lift from my heart.