Christmas Cards

Rod sent out his Christmas cards this week. The commissary is selling three designs, which worked out well. To his son he sent the snow-covered pine cones, to his daughter the lit candles atop a mantle, and to his ex-wife he sent the shimmering gold ornaments nestled amongst evergreen branches. On the inside left panels, across from the general seasons greetings, he wrote a short message and signed them, "Love Papa" to the two children, now grown, and "Love Rod" to their mother. He then slipped the cards into three white envelopes and stamped them upside down, a symbol of love.

One of the Christians I tutor is selling Christmas cards. His sister sent him twelve blanks in the mail which he's reselling for three stamps a piece, the proceeds of which will help pay for a nacho bowl on Christmas day. He showed me one—a little gingerbread house set amidst a snowy wood—but I declined the offer. It seems to me that a card, no matter how heartfelt, would be overshadowed by the novelty of its coming from prison.

I called my brother last Friday. He had just returned from taking his kids to the mall to have their pictures taken on Santa's lap. The eldest enjoyed himself, the middle child was beside himself with grief, and the newest addition to their family, baby Madeline, whose ponderous head Santa had to support with a mittened hand, looked as though she was being throttled by the jolly Saint Nick. Two weeks ago, my father tried sending me a picture of the baby taken moments after she was born and still covered in afterbirth. But the photo was returned, and in its place was a notice from the mail room stating that sexually explicit material is prohibited.

I asked my brother if anyone shot at them while they were at the mall. I've been catching snippets of the Connecticut shooting whenever I pass through the black side of the unit where they keep one of their five TVs turned to the news. CNN's practically frothing at the mouth. Crazed gunmen! Rampant firearms! Dead school children! And all in time for the holiday season.

But the blacks called it first, beating the folks at CNN who are usually timely if not premature: the shooter was indeed white.

"Everybody know," South said, "the shooter always white."