12 Epiphanies

i. Christmas isn’t about family.

Kate’s boyfriend was in Antarctica studying ice.  He couldn’t make it back in time for Christmas, and she couldn’t travel there.

That left her mom and her mom’s husband.

“Oh, honey,” Kate’s mom said when she called. “Steve and I are going to Hawaii for the holidays. I’m sure we’d love to have you come along. We could set up a cot on the lanai.”

That was all right. Kate didn’t want to impose on her mom and her mom’s husband’s time in paradise, and, besides, she didn’t really like her mom’s husband, or even, if she were completely honest, her mom when her mom was with her husband. Kate missed her dad.

It never felt like Christmas without him, and it had been five years since he’d died. That made five years with no real Christmases, and it felt like this would be another, bereft of the holiday spirit.

Kate had two full weeks off. The university where she worked as assistant to the dean of students closed over the holidays, and she, like all the other classified employees, received time-off with pay. It made everyone cheerful.

Except she didn’t know what she would do with herself.

City Life Network aired a “Zombie Holiday Marathon,” complete with a zombie boy-band singing Christmas carols. If Josh were there, they’d fix buttered popcorn and spend the night cracking jokes and singing along while pretending their arms fell off and their heads twerked.

It wasn’t funny without him.

Another network showed old crime movies that had nothing to do with Christmas.

Kate didn’t know what was better and what was worse: Pretend that Christmas didn’t exist or try to celebrate it anyway, without Josh, without her mom, without her dad.

At any rate, she had two weeks off, two weeks to do what she wanted.

In her dingy apartment, in a crowded city, alone. For Christmas.

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