1647 c/o Justin Carter


Our father traced his earliest ancestor back to 1647, the year Christmas was banned in England by the Puritans. To commemorate our family history, he started going out every Christmas Eve and doing his best Tom Waits impression at the shittiest bars he could find, breathing in whiskey and singing “Christmas Card From A Hooker in Minneapolis” unaccompanied on the karaoke machine until the bartender, growing irate due to our father’s far-too-drunken state, would kick him out onto the street. Mother put me in charge of bringing him home. When my sister grew older, she began joining me on the yearly expedition. We would always find him laid out in an alley way, unaware of everything happening around him, coat-less in a light snow. We would throw him in the car, drive him home, and then leave him alone in the backseat. The next morning, while our father slept in the driveway, our mother would bring us the stockings of candy she had kept hidden from our father. My sister would smile at our only piece of “holiday joy” while I would eat the candy as fast as I could. Then the stockings would go back into the attic, away from our father’s ever-watchful eyes, into a chest in the corner of it, to be stored until the next season arrived and we repeated our secret rituals. When our father inevitably awoke from his stupor, he would walk inside the house, unaware we had celebrated the forbidden holiday, seat himself on the couch, and stare at the television screen. He never turned it on.