Well, we finally took down the Christmas lights, and when I say we, I mean Karen. She did a great job this year, but even by her own admission, her display did not compare to my previous editions of the “Jewels of the Desert” as I called them. My annual light display was legendary, if only in my own mind as a certain person might say meanly to the innocent, almost saintly, handicapped husband, still amazingly good-looking after all these years. I do plan on resuming the tradition next year because I will have all year long to continue learning to walk with my new prosthetic leg. Very much looking forward to that. I still sneak in a Christmas movie or two after my dear wife retires for the evening.
For me, I will bring Christmas season to a close with this remembrance from a lovely white Christmas I spent in Ohio. I had volunteered with an organization to be Santa Claus for the children in one of the many local hospitals. Now this volunteering thing was new to me, but I knew I could not drink or do anything stupid to screw it up for the kids, so I was on my very best behavior. No drinks, no drugs, clean Gene the Santa machine!
The party started at 10am with drinks galore (“No thanks, see I have this volunteer thing…”) and I was aching to join in. As luck would have it, my assigned hospital was only blocks away from my house. I was to arrive at 6pm after the children’s dinner hour and visit the kids in post-op recovery. There were thirty children located in this wing and twenty were able to take part in the fun. We had a sing-along and cookies; it was a total blast and the looks on the little kids’ faces still remain in my memory. I loved volunteering! I went home and regaled the stoners at the Christmas party and we decided it was time to kick the party into high gear. First came the shooters, then the lines, pills, you know the story…
I get a call now two hours into the drinking and drugging.
“Mark, I need a huge favor.” It was Sherry, the woman from the volunteer organization.
“Billy, that dumb shit did not show up at St. Thomas Hospital. The kids are all crushed and crying because Santa won’t visit.”
“Sherry, I am unable. No way, I am drunk and I can’t show up. You’ve got to get someone else.” At least I was being honest. She really didn’t need to know about the drugs.
Five minutes later Sherry called back and pleaded with me once again. “Mark. The kids. Christmas.”
I showed up at St. Vincent Hospital sweating and smelling of Vicks Vapo-Rub. They weren’t really prepared for my visit which I found odd. I ho-ho-ho’d my way through the ward and gave out presents to each child, almost falling down on a couple of occasions. I left after an hour, starting to sober up. Back to really kick the party into high gear. I wasn’t home five minutes before I got a call from Sherry.
“Merry Christmas Sherry!,” I shouted into the phone. Cross St. Vincent’s off your list. The kids are all happy as can be. You can depend on me to come through, I said.” I was pretty proud of myself.