For most kids, Christmas is a happy time. There is excitement in the air and snow on the ground, and an added bonus of no school for a few weeks too. Everyone is in overall great spirits! There’s gift wrapping for parents and wishful thinking for children, and big smiles on faces when the tray of milk and cookies finally goes out by the warm fireplace for Santa Claus to grab and snack upon as a reward for giving out gifts to all the good, little boys and girls. There’s tree decorating with the family, and the exhilarating phenomena of feeling so tall when dad sets you up on his shoulders so that you can place the topper on and stare at it in accomplished awe. Never mind the glow of lights once the plug finally goes in and illuminates the room. Families show up from out of town with extra presents and an over-abundance of cheer and affection. The food always seems to taste better, and everyone slows down to celebrate once and for all. It’s a time of happiness and cheer, and love and warmth.

For most kids.

For Jamison, it’s getting kicked out in barely above freezing weather by his drug-ridden mother. For Jamison, it’s rubbing hands and seeing his breath get crystallized in the cold of night. It’s hardened looks and chattering teeth, and the sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach when he realizes that the holiday holds no true value to him because of her. There’ll be no freshly baked cookies set out by the fireplace. No tree with its pretty lights and presents scattered underneath. It’s his stolen childhood and childlike dreams instead. It’s his mother sprawled out on the couch… yet again, with a needle barely sticking in the skin of her arm. It’s an exhausted sigh as he draws out a blanket and tosses it over her small, malnourished body; tucks her in and even brandishes a kiss to the top of her head before she stirs for only a minute and scares him half to death. If she wakes up, it’ll be another lecture, but he kisses her because she is his mother and she’s the only one that he’s got, and that must count for something… at least on a day like Christmas anyways.

But she doesn’t care in the slightest. It means nothing to her that her son goes out and scraps for food in the dead of winter just so that they don’t starve. All she cares about are the drugs that she pumps into her body. And in a few years, the thrill of Christmas leaves Jamison altogether anyways – making him wonder how it once existed there in the first place. He grows up bitter to the holiday and annoyed by the mass consumerism of it all. What's there to fucking celebrate?! He grabs a bottle and has a few drinks to dull the pain.

It should have been a good thing that he got away from her. He did so much, and his own mother showed him so little for it. But the holidays make him feel the worst, especially when he remembers the gift he wished for every year. Sure, it makes him feel guilty, but it’s also hard not to feel some sort of resentment for a stolen childhood, many ruined holidays, and an awful life of separation that led to juggling numerous different foster homes. A loving family. That should have been the best Christmas present of all.