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“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Happy Christmas music blares from the speakers throughout the car. Surrounding me… enveloping me. Christmas is the most anticipated day of the year for children of all ages, even including the adults. It is the one day, out of 364 days, that an adult gets to act like a child. Only for this year the adults have to act like adults and the kids get to be kids, except for me. I am a teen but have to be an adult on the one day I have to be a kid. I stare out the window and watch the trees disappear behind us. One by one they are gone, leaving my life forever. Just like my Christmas childhood. The trees stops disappearing from my eyes, the car comes to a stop. My father looks both ways, left right, right left, “Which way hunny?” One way to happiness while the other way to sadness, “To the left.” With this the car turns to the left never looking back.

The car pulls to a stop. The belt buckles hitting the side of the car sound like a rock hitting metal. I notice the mist above the lake and how different it looks. I stretch my hand for the handle and with a snap of my wrist it opens. Opening me to the reality of what Christmas Eve was really going to be. Different. Step by step, hardly moving but getting there. The door swung up and the warm air hit my face instantly making chills run down my body. Stepping in and shutting the door behind, leaving my inner child outside behind me. Turning to face reality, there in front of me, was my family minus one. Instantly hugs and kisses swarm me and around me. There was still love in the room just not as much love as last year. Minus one…minus love equal new traditions, a new Christmas.

Sitting, laughing, and having a good time. Like nothing was different and everybody was there. Smiles filled their faces but sadness filled their eyes. Everybody knew it was different nobody wanted to admit it. If it was admitted emotions would run high. This is a new Christmas with new traditions and new emotions. Time passed slowly ticking by. Every hour would be called by, “Santa’s almost here everybody!” Time stopped and everything was moving around us. Grandma finally yelled, “dinner time.” Everyone stood up but nobody moved. The seating arrangement was thrown off. Who would be the brave one to start the train? We were family but acting like we were strangers. One brave solider took the field and then the other followed in. It was the same set up just minus one plate setting.

The night slowly but surely ended. Hugs and kisses to go around. Tomorrow was going to be the real test. Christmas Day. Sitting in the car on the way home, I watched the trees again disappear behind the car. Leaving me and my vision. Never to be seen until the next time I venture down this road again. The car came to a stop. We had reached the same crossroad as before. As my father turned, I looked down the long and winding road. The last thing I saw was a single, lonely light. Blowing with the wind, the light went out forever.

“Karleigh! Karleigh! Karleigh! Santa came!” I was awoken with my brother and little cousin jumping up and down on my bed. “Come one Karleigh wake up already!” I slowly and groggily got up and reached out for my alarm clock. It is eight o’ clock in the morning… really guys? I stretched my foot towards to ground coming out from the covers. The cold air hit my body as did the reality. Today was the day. The real test had come. All of the subtracting would be shown. No more subtracting after this day. The subtraction will be permanent. Not able to be taken back or changed. We did the usual Christmas routine. Opening the Christmas presents and letting our inner child out. The only time of the year when it is acceptable to let your inner child out and that’s just what I did. It would be the only time all day that I would be allowed to let my inner child out. After opening all the presents and all the laughs, I change my mood instantly preparing for the day. I had to be strong for everyone. If I should my weakness everything would break. Today was going to be a good day. Christmas was the same as Christmas Eve. Time stood still as we moved about. The Christmas exchange was minus one. The names on the tag were minus one. The secret Santa was minus one. Christmas was minus one forever and ever. New traditions and new emotions where present to start of the New Year. We are still the Martin- Lee- Clark family just minus one.





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