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by The Finn
“Oi, get up.”
A voice in the dark, and a gentle nudge in my ribs. For a second I think it’s the dog. But then I remember that the dog is three thousand miles away and still living with my parents. I, on the other hand, am sleeping in a walk in closet that belongs to the guy who’s kicking me in the ribs. I roll over to find Will’s brown smiling face mere inches from mine. “It’s fucking Christmas, mate,” he says, “Let’s go.”
I sit up a little, stretching and yawning at the same time. Will bounds out of the closet and starts waking the rest of the “house”. It’s actually a two bedroom apartment that five of us are sharing. It’s the first place I’ve ever lived “on my own” and even though it’s a hole, the people I live with are good, and the rent is painfully cheap. I look around for my pants and find them near the foot of the bed. I pull them on and pull the pack of cigarettes out. I light one and scratch my head, and stumble just a bit as I head into the living room.
Which is clean. Really clean. It’s actually cleaner than I’ve ever seen it. Ashtrays are empty, magazines are put away and Will’s guitar is not lying about in the middle of the floor. As I continue to look around, I’m amazed by the amount of cleanliness that was not there when I passed out last night. “Will ?” I inquire as he breezes past in a Santa hat. “What happened?”
He stops, turns on his heel and gets three inches from my face again. “It’s Christmas!” he says again with a maniacal grin before he heads back down the hallway. Jonny D appears to my left, dressed only in his boxers and scratching his skinny bird chest. He’s got a glass of juice in his hand and I wonder exactly how much vodka he’s got in the glass as well. “Will been into the acid again ?” he asks me. I can only nod in agreement before I go to the kitchen in search of coffee.
The kitchen shocks me. Not only is there fresh coffee, but the oven is on and there’s a turkey in it. There’s no dishes in the sink, the counters are clean and the dining room table is completely free of it’s usual D&D manuals, dice and graph paper mess. Apparently Will made good on his threat of “staying up all night and cleaning for Christmas”. I glance at the clock and notice that it’s almost two.
Slowly, we all get our shit together and wake up as Will jumps about like some slightly overweight dreadlocked pixie elf telling us that it Christmas and that he’s invited people over for dinner. I grab a beer out of the kitchen and join Jeff on the couch and we watch football for an hour or so before people start showing up. And show up they do. Apparently Will had started calling people early and had asked them all to bring something. Some showed with booze and drugs and others brought food. When all was said and done, there were thirty some people in the house, laughing and drinking and making merry. All who had nowhere else to go, no family to be with and all of us making family with those around us.
And that’s how I spent my first Christmas away from home. I was surrounded by friends, eating good food and doing ridiculous things under the influence of great drugs. I remember sitting out on the balcony a little after midnight, thinking that at that moment I had everything I ever knew I wanted right inside the house. I knew that there had to be more, but at that moment I lumped that stuff into things that I didn’t know I wanted.
And now, a little more than fifteen years later, I’m on my second (and most favorite) wife, father to the worlds smartest boy, and have everything I never knew I wanted. Some days a little more. And that’s all I wish for you folk this holiday season. Just a little more than everything you never knew you wanted.
Happy Holidays, folks. -F