And a Partridge in a Pear Tree
When the holidays rolled around, we didn’t have any money for presents, so Dad did what he always does when we don’t have enough money.
He took what little money we did have and ran away to get drunk.
He left on Christmas Eve and came back on January 2.
With an epic hangover, he just lay on his bed for hours.
“Hey, Dad,” I said.
“Hey, kid,” he said. “I’m sorry about Christmas.”
“It’s okay,” I said.
But it wasn’t okay. It was about as far from okay as you can get. If okay was the earth, then I was standing on Jupiter. I don’t know why I said it was okay. For some reason, I was protecting the feelings of the man who had broken my heart yet again.
Jeez, I’d just won the Silver Medal in the Children of Alcoholics Olympics.
“I got you something,” he said.
“It’s in my boot.”
I picked up one of his cowboy boots.
“No, the other one,” he said. “Inside, under that foot-pad thing.”
I picked up the other boot and dug inside. Man, that thing smelled like booze and fear and failure.
I found a wrinkled and damp five dollar bill.
“Merry Christmas,” he said.
Drunk for a week, my father must have really wanted to spend those last five dollars. Shoot, you can buy a bottle of the worst whiskey for five dollars. He could have spent that five bucks and stayed drunk for another day or two. But he saved it for me.
It was a beautiful and ugly thing.
“Thanks, Dad,” I said.
He was asleep.
“Merry Christmas,” I said, and kissed him on the cheek.