With the many commercials and ads running, countless sales at stores, Black Friday turning into a week of crazy madness; everyone already knows: Christmas is coming soon. This year I am actually excited about Christmas. It has been quite a while since I’ve actually been excited about for a holiday. Especially Christmas. Being excited for the holidays again is a special feeling.
Generally there isn’t much to be excited about during holidays in prison. Holidays, even just the bank holidays that no one really celebrates, just means no mail. On the more major holidays the prison is usually locked down because too many staff members stay home. Lock downs are a form of punishment, yet thousands of inmates spend their holidays locked in their cells for no other reason than people didn’t show up to work. Which means we usually don’t get to use the phones to call our families. This is why I couldn’t call my family on Thanksgiving this year. Holidays in prison are bleak, often worse than the average day.
On four holidays a year, the prison system grants an extra day of visiting. Which is why I am excited about this Christmas, my amazing mom is giving Emelia and I the gift of a visit for Christmas. Now Emelia is going leave her home to drive nearly four hours and spend Christmas Eve in a hotel room just so she can spend Christmas with me. All to make my Christmas special. I could never thank my mom or Em enough for this special gift. They are both amazing women and I am blessed to have their love.
While Emelia and I will be together on Christmas, our day won’t include the delicious smells of Mom’s cooking. We won’t see any decorations, no bright colorful lights, and I’m pretty sure there won’t be a Christmas tree. We will not be allowed to exchange or unwrap presents. There won’t be any homemade cookies, no joyful Christmas music…unless I can get Emelia to sing for me and believe me I will try!
What makes our Christmas special is simple. It is us spending time together, our gift to each other is just that: time. Having the opportunity to be with family on Christmas to celebrate together is what truly matters, not a gift you can unwrap, but the love you share. Being together is the greatest gift I can ask for. For Emelia and I to get to spend Christmas together is special, making this the best Christmas I have had in many years.
I am once again excited for Christmas. I am counting down the days just like I did as a child. Only this time I am not waiting for Santa to come. I am eagerly counting down the days until I can spend time with the woman I love on Christmas as it is meant to be celebrated, with family.
So please enjoy your families this Christmas. Give an extra hug. Say I love you. Spend a little more time enjoying your holiday meal. Do not take a single moment for granted. Love your families and know how precious the time spent together truly is.
Merry Christmas everyone!
blog post and artwork by Sean O’Brien