’Tis the Season

by Stephen Graham Jones

My father, coming home all through December with dollar boxes of Christmas lights, the kind from the display at the liquor store, lights he would string on our tree while we slept, and beyond, draping across the couch, the curtain rod, the coat rack, finally tracing his steps after he’s lost his bottle again, finds instead a place on the floor to sleep, the end of the green line of bulbs held ahead of him like he’s still reaching, or doesn’t want to forget where he was, or wants us to know that this is what he was doing, for us. All for us.

Such a festive guy. Such a good father.

The night we finally plugged all his lights in, the house went black with fuse death, and my mother sighed, unsurprised, and I felt my eyes cupping to accept this too, but then my father’s hand tightened around mine, and I saw what he was seeing: on the mantle, half under the couch, balanced in the tree—perfect little squares of green. The price tags glued to the necks of all his lost bottles were glowing with the season.

It’s not a reason to drink, I don’t think.

But it’s not a reason not to, either.

Stephen Graham Jones has eight novels and two collections on the shelf, with four or five or six more in-press, and probably a hundred and thirty or so stories published. He also does reviews and essays and writes on the back of hand and the top of his legs a lot, and teaches in the MFA program at CU Boulder, and got his PhD from FSU in 1998. See more at demontheory.net/.