Holiday memories: I'm 5 years old. I put chocolate chip cookies and a note out for Santa under our rotating musical tree. Pot smoke wafts from my dad's office. I wonder if the North Pole smells the same.
My friend Colby and I wrap lights and garland around every surface and object in the living room. We stand back and admire our work.
My stepfather kicks me out of the house, so my boyfriend and I stay in a cheap hotel on Christmas Eve. We are fifteen. The room smells of cleaning products and an old ashtray. We eat microwavable burgers. I miss my mom and cry all night.
Grandma Millie and Bumpa wear a smorgasbord of holiday garb. We eat a Christmas roast while ogling a giant pile of presents under their tree that will take all day to unwrap.
It's Christmas morning. It's supposed to be a happy time, but the yelling makes my stomach ache.
I'm in Danang, Vietnam. I have a sense of relief that Christmas is nowhere to be seen.
To the right is a picture I took of a house down the block from me.