Sunday, December 5, 2021

A Christmas Rose

    On most weekends his home was pretty busy. Friends were always dropping in unannounced. He always enjoyed the visits, almost as much as his wife, Rose. But it was during the christmas holidays when his home always became the center of attention.

    Starting with Thanksgiving, the holiday season brought enough visitors to make his modest home absolutely crowded. Almost every weekend there was a spontaneous party. People seemed to come out of nowhere. He hardly had enough room for himself let alone his guests. The influx of visitors picked up through Christmas. By New Year's Eve he could barely find a place to sit where he wasn't in the way.

    Older now and a little less active during the season, he loved to sit and reminisce about the days when he and his family celebrated the seasons with large gatherings of friends and loved ones. Holiday parties were a way of life growing up as a kid in his parents home. It was a tradition he carried on when he finally had a home and family of his own. He would tell his stories to anyone that would sit and listen. He wasn't much of a cook and he was never able to whip up a holiday meal. That had always been his wife's job.

    Holidays were when his wife was in her glory! She loved everything about them... especially the cooking. Her holiday table was always one of the best feasts around. He always referred to her as his "Christmas Rose!" She would always have a deep red blush on her beautiful face from working in the warm kitchen or hustling about, cleaning up after one party or preparing for the next.

    It was his skill behind the bar that made him the hit of the parties. His guests would always praise him for being able to make the best drinks around. He had mastered his talents during his college days working as a bartender at some of the wildest bars around. He met his Rosie back then and they married the year he graduated. He earned a good living and together, they raised two beautiful children. The holidays were the time of the year when his family always shined.

    Slowly, he began to be less of a host and more like a party guest. His friends started to notice before he did. His bartending skills finally started to get the best of him. Soon, he was mixing fewer drinks for the crowd and more for himself.

    Each year the financial demands of the season became more of a burden. He hadn't received a pay raise in years. He couldn't cutback on the party supplies, so the gifts became cheaper. He was always in a rush and dealt with the pressure by drinking. Gradually, his friends stopped coming to his parties as often. Even, "Christmas Rose" started to slow down. She'd grown tired of cleaning up after the parties... and after him. He'd embarrassed his wife and kids more times than they could bear. Eventually, they left the party too.

    But that never stopped him from enjoying a good holiday party. He simply decided that if the party wouldn't come to his home, he would go to the party. Before long, he found the kind of people for whom the party never stopped. He never lost his holiday spirit. Gradually, while finding the way to the next party, he lost his job, his friends, and his family. In the end, he never found his way home again.

    Every year, he still welcomed visitors to his home. Their good cheer and generosity helped lift his spirits. He never had much to offer in return, but he always put on his happiest face. Often he would sing a song and dance merrily to help add to the festivities. He always wore a bright red "Christmas Rose" in his lapel during the season. It was the only way he knew to keep his love for Rose alive.

    Pulling his coat tighter around him, he sat huddled in the doorway, staring at the holiday crowds through bleary, bloodshot eyes. He smiled at his guests as they walked past him or around him. When he wasn't singing or dancing for their entertainment, he sat talking in a low voice to the rose he wore. As far as the shoppers on their way to the next purchase were concerned, it was just a street to them. For the drunk that sat crying quietly in the doorway ... it was home.

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