He was tired, dead tired. It was fifteen minutes to five and he was late. Had to get into the security office, meet up with Ruth and get into costume. Didn’t figure on so much traffic. How stupid! It was the week of Christmas you idiot!! He always yelled aloud at himself when he did foolish things… as long as no one could hear. As he entered the mall he could see how hot it already was, and the mall was pretty empty, being it was right around dinnertime. Once Ruth, his boss, helped him into the Santa costume, oh boy! He was going to sweat like a pig tonight!
When they exited the security office Ruth guided him, like the way the roustabouts guide the cattle. Yeah, he thought to himself, that is what I have become, a friggin piece of cattle! He knew he needed this job, just as he needed his teacher’s job. He knew he had no one to blame but himself for being under the 8 ball financially. You get divorced, make poor investments and then lose your business and you wind up as Santa Claus five evenings a week. He was just so tired. He remembered how the shit got to him the year before, and he actually debated what he never thought he would be debating… ending it all. He even wrote his father a letter telling him how he could finally understand what his late grandfather ( his dad’s dad ) may have been feeling before he did the unimaginable. For him, though, it wouldn’t be a bullet to the head. No, too horrific to even contemplate. A handful of sleeping pills maybe. He quickly erased that whole scene as Ruth got him to the Santa House. For the next three hours he would hold little kids on his lap as Ruth snapped pictures.
He returned to his attic apartment a bit after nine, jumped into the shower and then spent the time listening to Van Morrison. He had this little cassette player that did the trick. Sometimes he would grab a pen and pad and write poetry, usually sad ones to reflect his own torn psyche. HIs two boys lived with their Mom and stepfather about 30 minutes away by car. Before he got the temporary teaching job he worked at a health club in their neighborhood. This allowed him to pick them up from school every Weds for released time, and drive them home. His ex and her husband were at work, so he stayed with his sons inside their house for an hour or so. The first time he did this it was his oldest son who told him ” My Mom doesn’t want anybody here when they aren’t home.” He laughed and told the boy that it didn’t count for fathers. HIs young son was just tickled pink to have his Daddy with them.
He usually got the boys for Christmas day, and they stayed with their Mom for the traditional Italian seafood dinner on Christmas Eve. Oh how he remembered those Christmas Eve dinners at his in laws, with so many of the aunts and uncles coming over. His ex did have a large family filled with really wonderful people. He missed that. Now that his own parents lived so far away he just spent the eve alone. He would grab an early dinner at one of his favorite local restaurants, then go home to watch his two favorite seasonal films: A Christmas Carol and It’s a Wonderful Life. This was a tradition he followed since childhood, watching those two films. He would go through many a handkerchief every Christmas Eve. The old saying was so damn true: You don’t miss something until you lose it.