My phone rang one night in December of 1992. The person behind the voice was carefully piecing words together. The caller was drunk. It was Mom. "Grandy went to be with Jesus." My mother’s only religion is despair - not Christianity, but she still wrapped the news of her father’s death in a message of faith. She did it because that’s what people do, and nothing more. My grandfather was the only person left whom she adored, so this was an especially low point in a long procession of low points. Both from within and without. Christmas was rolling downhill now, and she wasn't returning my calls. Before I knew it, I found myself driving down to town after dark on Christmas Eve. After dark means she’s in for the night. In for the night means sedation with cans and bottles. After minutes of knocking on a locked door between two lightless windows, I walked back to the car feeling guilty for not trying harder, but after a while you know when to stop. Over the wheel of the car, I see her signaling to me from the door. I make my way back, and after a brief exchange, handed her my gift. She opened it and smiled with the same look I had seen countless times before. The way she can smile the saddest smile you've ever seen as if she alone perceives the hidden sorrow in every triumph; the impending death in every birth. She shook her head as if to school me with wisdom: "Michael, Christmas is a time for reflection." I now find myself caring less and less about Christmas as I get older, especially over the past ten years or so. It’s not festive - it’s forced. I’d rather not be bothered with it. So now I reflect on her words from that joyless Christmas Eve. I wear them like a pair of tattered gloves that won't come off. It's Christmas again. I'll watch people celebrate and carry on, but for me, well, I pay a yearly visit to a little boy. His knees don’t hurt yet, and I know where he’s going to end up. My childhood was further from happiness than it probably should’ve been, but I made it something special. I had moments of magic. Christmas was magic. It's still there somewhere.