Angel of Midtown

By: Laura K.

Final approach! I cue up my Discman.  

A cold and wet December day, when we touched the ground at JFK…

Despite the jetlag I bounce to the tambourine. Passport control takes eternity.  

New York, like a Christmas tree

He’s not home yet.  I shower, disappointed. Shaving my legs I hear him singing, sounding bemused, annoyed. I redo my makeup.

Showtime. We pretend we don’t care about each other. I crash on the couch. 

Morning brings Advil, coffee, another flight, my parents, The Holidays.  I know he’s doing the same, but I can’t picture it.

Jesus Christ I miss you. 

Home for the Holidays

By: Laura K.

The sky is marginally lighter than the slush walling the streets. The air stings my nostrils. It’s a relief after yesterday, too many people and stories squeezed into that house; nineties Christmas albums; cookies and champagne at noon, wrapping paper and packaging everywhere. 

He’s divorced, now, no kids.  I made it here okay, not even skidding around Dead Man’s Curve, to his East Side walkup with a young lawyer couple below. 

It’s better than after-Christmas sale shopping would have been. 

Afterwards, we’ll attempt small talk. I’ll blast The Cure on the way home, just like before our lives stopped intersecting.

Not Exactly What I Had in Mind

By: Laura K.

“Here, take these to Nicole?” Mom hands me a dozen cookies, iced gingerbread and pfeffernusse, and a glass of eggnog (the boring kind). Mom is always super-sweet to them, like they’re not being paid thirty-one dollars an hour (Dad mutters) to be here.

Nicole (my favorite) works nights. She’s in the foyer of the townhouse (our third “home” this year) (fucking doxxers), pistol holstered on her hip. There’s a tree, but no ornaments (in storage). 

I am proud of Mom, but courage and feminism and stuff fucking suck, sometimes.

Nicole lifts the glass to me, a toast.  “Merry Christmas, kid.” 

300,001

By: Laura K.

My grandfather died yesterday, of COVID. He was ninety, but not waiting to die. He used to fly planes into hurricanes and he adored his great-grandkids. 

There will be no funeral, no looking at pictures with my aunts. 

Over in the next universe, there is a hell of a party, with ice cubes in the white wine and everyone acting Midwestern stoic but elated, except my sister, who is just giddy. 

No invite to that party, yet. Instead, I feel guilty, but take my ‘bereavement leave.’ I buy some Christmas presents online and go for a walk.  And….that’s it. 

The Jig is Up

By: Lauren Spagnoletti

At five and a half, my son came to me.

“Santa’s not real, right? It’s just you guys leaving gifts while we’re asleep?”
“Did someone tell you that honey?”
“No,” he replied, “I just thought about it.”

I couldn’t keep up the ruse. I sat him down and explained about the magic of Christmas, and how he could help us create that magic for his little brother. He was on board, excited to be a part of the whole thing.

Five minutes later he came to me again.

“Mommy, does that mean there’s no Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy either?”

Meditation on a Christmas Tree

By: Megan Cramer

Deepak Chopra would be proud (I’m nothing if not a teacher’s pet…). 

My meditation began purely: tree lit, Netflix fireplace ablaze, Alexa providing peaceful music, “Forest” candle aromatically wafting. I stared at the Christmas tree in silence for 15 minutes, studying the quality of light, the bristly branches, the individual ornaments with all their respective stories of origin. 

But then Chris Cuomo butted in, needing to share some news… and then a few emails needed responses… “Warnock Your Ossoff!!”… my feet got cold and I had to pee. 

The tree would have to wait for tomorrow’s meager re-attempt at self-actualization.

Holiday Greetings

By: Lauren Spagnoletti

“Stand in front of the tree. Both of you. Get closer together. Stop touching your brother. Put your hand down. Not in front of your face! Stand still. Don’t touch the dog. Don’t look at the dog. Can you look at the camera please? BOTH OF YOU. Smile. Smile! Just STOP MOVING and SMILE! Wait, pull your shirt down—it’s up on the side. No, the other side. No come back here we’re not done yet. Stop. Stand still. Both of you look at me for one minute please. Smile! SMILE!”

 Happy Holidays from Our Family to Yours!

Mission Accomplished.

The 3 Magi

By: Megan Cramer

Three wise people had swiftly followed the lights down the road for almost a mile. It was worth the shortness of breath and sore legs. They arrived at the park, awed with the twinkling and glowing orbs surrounding them and the wisest amongst them led the trio to the grand finale, where they traipsed the suspension bridge into the trees. Thousands of lights hung from the sky, and colors and spots popped and dropped and surrounded and spun and moved all around them while Flight of the Bumblebee and John Williams classics blared in their ears. O Holy Night, indeed. 

Bubble Lights

By: Lauren Spagnoletti

There was a magic to it. The tree was so green. When the room lights went out, the bubble lights on the tree were particularly bright. (What were they filled with? And considering it was the 80s, were they even safe?)

My mother would spray a Christmas-scented room spray from Crabtree & Evelyn. (Christmas decidedly has a scent.)

My father would blast Christmas music from our stereo. If my mother had her way, it was Mannheim Steamroller.

There is a sadness about it all now. Those memories are a flash back to a time before it all crashed and burned.

Winter Spirits

By: Ed Dzitko

He peaked out from the doorway. Not a soul on the street, and too few cars moving far too slowly for any kidnapping and quick get away.

Strange, he thought. Did he imagine those screams? Possibly. But they were so real, so loud, so right outside the window. He looked down. No footprints, either. The snowflakes floated lazily onto the thick blanket already covering the sidewalk.

Again he wondered how something he thought so real could not have happened at all.

He shivered, turned, and headed in. Another brandy was waiting on the end table. Hm. “Did I pour that?”

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