19 December 2006

Aunt Suzy's Last Christmas

This day a year ago
he was rolling in the snow
With a younger brother in his father's yard
Christmas break
a time for touching home
the heart of all he'd known
And leaving was so hard
Three thousand miles away now he's working Christmas Day
Making double time for the minding of the store
Well he always said
he'd make it on his own
He's spending Christmas Eve alone
First Christmas away from home
She's standing by the train station
pan-handling for change
Four more dollars buys a decent
meal and a room
Looks like the Sally Ann place after all
in a crowded sleeping hall
That echoes like a tomb
But it's warm and clean and free
and there are worse places to be
At least it means no beating from her Dad
And if she cries because it's Christmas Day
She hopes that it won't show
First Christmas away from home
In the apartment stands a tree
and it looks so small and bare
Not like it was meant to be
Golden angel on the top
It's not that same old silver star
you wanted for your own
First Christmas away from home
In the morning
they get prayers
then it's crafts and tea downstairs
Then another meal back in his little room
Hoping maybe that "the boys"
will think to phone before the day is gone
Well it's best they do it soon
When the "old girl" passed away
he fell apart more every day
Each had always kept the other pretty well
But the kids all said the nursing home was best
Cause he couldn't live alone
First Christmas away from home
In the common room they've got the biggest tree
And it's huge and cold and lifeless Not like it ought to be
and the lit-up flashing Santa Claus on top
It's not the same old silver star you once made for your own
First Christmas away from home
- Stan Rogers -

My lesbian aunt Suzy's last Christmas was spent at the Hockey house. Her long time partner Molly, who everybody also called an aunt, had croaked many years before. The whole time I knew my aunt Suzy she had white hair, white as fresh Zamboni'd ice. She was not the best aunt, I do not remember her giving me a beer. Suzy and Molly did give us Hockey kids a quarter if we did not break any of their antique furniture when we visited their Dope City apartment.

Before Aunt Suzy arrived for Christmas mom and dad assembled their Hockey kids and laid down the fucking law. My dad went first, "First rule is we do not talk about Aunt Suzy ever being attracted to her own sex."

My mom spelled out the second rule, "Firstly, your aunt is not a lesbian." We all giggled. My aunt was more lesbian than a leather mothersuperiorfucking nun. "When it is time for the Lawrence Welk Show everybody has to be quiet. It is your Aunt Suzy's favourite hour of Christmas Day. If she can swing to Lawrence without there being too much of a disturbance she will have had a fine Christmas Day. Remember: this is going to be her Last Christmas."

My dad asked us if the young Hockeys felt they could handle the awesome responsibility of helping old Aunt Suzy have a good last Christmas. We agreed we were up to the No Lesbian Talk Lawrence Welk Challenge, but not before I asked my dad, "How about if you leave us a few beers down in Santa's workshop to keep us out of the way for the Lawrence Welk Show." He agreed.

I came upstairs to get us another round of beers before The Show was over. My aunt Suzy was rocking in my dad's big chair like she was in heaven. (It had to be my aunt's last Christmas, my dad would not give up his chair to Tim Horton if Tim threw in a lifetime supply of doughnuts and coffee.) A heaven where everywhere you look there are bubble machines, people waltzing, kids drinking beer in the basement and vertical smiles singing "I Love You Suzanne."

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