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"Senorita, I do believe I need a glass of water. Of maybe if you have something a bit stronger..."

Ah, the holidays. 'Tis the season to be jolly. Ho ho ho and a bag full of heavily salted mackerel. It comes from overseas you know. Sitting around the kitchen drinking decaffeinated Taster's Choice instant coffee with a bunch of family and friends you haven't seen since the Fourth of July. A little time off from work. A little break from school. Kicking back in front of the old Christmas tree in your pink socks and skin tight leggings... hey, that isn't a bad look for you. Honestly, I mean it.

"Hey pretty, want to take a ride with me?"

I heard that in a song somewhere, so I figured I would work that line on the sultry waitress. She isn't biting. I think she's in a rush to get out of the place and get home. She has some kind of lonely personal reflection Christmas non-celebration in the works. Who knows how much whiskey she is going to put in her egg nog. If I were her I would put plenty.

I guess I could head home myself, but I don't much care for what might be waiting for me there. Sometimes I pretend I am married to an imaginary cartoon character. I know that one day the phone is going to ring and it is going to be that guy from my past who liked the way I used to dance around in that cheerleader outfit I accidently on purpose left at the dry cleaners. There were too many questions I wasn't interested in answering. This is why I had my telephone disconnected.

"Static always fills my attic when I'm tuned in to Channel Z..."

When your career is on the downside, you can always host a Christmas Variety Show, except now they always call it a "Holiday" special because we live in a world where everyone is so sensitive to word usage. If you compliment someone's eyewear and say "spectacles" instead of "glasses" you'll have a small kitchen appliance thrown at you. Happy Holidays indeed. What happened to the days when people grew up and stop whining about how offended they were by everything around them? Just because I personally believe that trees are the most highly advanced species on the planet doesn't mean I go out on crusades against people who cut them down and slowly dry them to death in their living rooms. Shit happens. Welcome to the flip side. I have my own religion. I'll only tell you about it if you ask.

"Do you guys still do the all you can eat buffet with your first cocktail free on New Years Eve?"

She told me that changes in zoning laws and various legal issues had forced them to stop doing that. They were able to offer fruit cocktail and a shoe shine instead. I missed the old timer that played the piano and really be-bopped around when he got into the rollicking numbers. They sentenced him to a nursing home for twenty years. I guess he made the mistake of not smoking enough cigarettes and not drinking enough bourbon. Now they'll try to keep his animated carcass around for a while. Too bad they don't realize he only cared about playing the piano. He loved a woman once, but she died in a car accident in 1967.

"You doing anything after your shift?"

She told me that she was, but she refused to tell me what she was doing. I pictured it in my mind. She had a sad little artificial tree with six ornaments on it and a string of lights that she had to twist just so for them all to come on. She probably slept in a skinny little twin bed with a photograph of her grandparents on a nightstand nearby. It was probably one of those sepia prints that everyone thinks is so chic these days. People like to look at old photographs. It allows them to visit places they think were somehow better than the places they occupy today.

"May your days be merry and bright."

I told her these words with all the best intentions as I paid my tab and left her a holiday tip. She muttered something in return along the lines of "Same to you." She didn't break her stride. I doubted that she heard sleigh bells in the snow. Still, there was something about her. She had this depth in the sorrow of the lines of her face and they spoke of truth, justice and the American way. It gave her a seductive quality.

I stepped out into the streets. There was more slush than snow, but I pictured things my own way. There had been a plan once upon a time, but things fall apart. Now there was an apartment overlooking the fishing pond with one curtain and a twenty-year old sofa in the corner. This was the place where I lived. It was the place I came to quietly celebrate the value of being alive. I spent a few minutes looking for proof that my wife was not a cartoon and was not satisfied by the evidence I gathered. There was failure on that front. I ate some processed chicken out of a can and drank egg nog and whiskey from a festive holiday cup and smiled. Somewhere out there was someone who was spending their Christmas Eve thinking about me. I was always happy when I thought about things like that. Here I was, sitting on my sofa sipping egg nog and considering what it would be like to make love to myself. I started to slowly try to find out, but then I stopped.

"It would be nice to share my egg nog, but in lieu of visitors... more for me!"

It was snowing outside. Children were building a snowman and throwy icy snowballs at each other. An elderly man passed by. He was piloting a walker. Perhaps he piloted aircraft in a great battle. He looked at the children and remember his youth. He might have remembered it as well as I did. I waved to them all. It felt good to be alive. Truly it did. No matter how young or old you are or how many problems you have with your body and mind, it is good to be alive.

No matter how many dreams come true.
No matter how many hopes are dashed.
It is good to be alive.
Some people leave too soon.
Some people stay too long.
Some buses run late.
Some trains run early.
I raise my glass and salute them all.
All the wretched creatures of this planet I toast.
I offer a simple call for celebration.
It is good to be alive.

"God bless us, everyone."

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