The Long, Hard Lesson Christmas Taught Me

The year Christmas died was really a moral lesson

A Grain of Salt | ElbyJames
6 min readNov 17, 2022


Three blocks of government cheese | A Grain of Salt | by elbyjames
@fightfor15, CC BY-SA 4.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Christmas was always a time of the year me and my three brothers looked forward to as does most children in America. December approached slower than we liked, yet, we counted down the days as Christmas inched closer and closer.

When Halloween arrived, we knew Christmas was close.

When Thanksgiving arrived we knew it was just a matter of weeks.

When Christmas break started, it was just a matter of days.

We were just like any other child in America, we couldn’t wait for the 25th.

When Christmas Eve arrived, we could barely sleep. Every noise we heard was surely Santa landing on our roof.

We always woke early and ran down the stairs heading straight for the tree; the stockings were always overlooked until the end.

This was always followed by an early dinner. Our mother spent the day before cooking the turkey and ham and all the side dishes: dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce (from the can of course), lots and lots of veggies, and hot buttered rolls.

We drank gallons and gallons of southern sweet tea and beer and wine for the grown ups. The smells of the feast lasted throughout the day all through the house, especially the freshly baked pies.

As the years passed more and more of our feast was prepared by the fine people at the A&P or the Piggly Wiggly… we didn’t care; it was still good (but mother’s was still the best.)

Seconds turned into thirds and thirds turned into desert. Don’t forget about the late night sandwich in the middle of the night. The Christmas dinner always lingered into the next few days by way of left overs.

When I was 18 years old, reality came tumbling down.

A little context

I grew up in a military family which turned into a working class family when my father retired from the Air Force. Some years later we lived as a lower class family; life was never as good as when my father was in the military.



A Grain of Salt | ElbyJames

ElbyJames is an American disabled combat vet exiled in the UK & a free speech absolutist. He’s an occasional Top Writer