Being a Jew on Christmas normally meant being home with the family for a relatively quiet day, but not this year. Alex's entire family had gone on vacation to the Dominican Republic without him. For Alex had acquired a nasty ailment - a job - and like, can't just leave whenever he wants to or something, I don't know. Anyway, Alex was alone in his family home, taking care of his beloved dog, Skye, while his family basked in the sunny, warm Dominican air.
Even for someone with no attachment to the holiday itself, the prospect of being alone on Christmas was still depressing. The thought of how quiet his house would be while everyone else's houses were filled with laughter was not comforting in the least. Every year this happened - since he'd been a child, Alex had always been confused, then later angered, by the way the world disappeared and shut down every year for two days in December. Nobody could ever hang out, and winter break was supposed to be all about hanging out. It's a time for family and friends, only on the 24th and the 25th no one remembered their friends because they were too busy appreciating their families, ugh.
It was Christmas Eve, and Alex had been alone in his empty house for several days getting restless. Just before bed, he let the dog out one final time, closed the garage, and went to lock the front door. "Christmas is awful!" Alex shouted out the outside. "JUST FOR THE RECORD!" He slammed the door, turned the lock, and went to bed. He'd been sleeping for an hour or so when he was jostled awake by Skye pawing his arm. "Skye", he mumbled, "stoppppppp". She climbed over him and starting licking his face. "C'mon Skye, cut it outttttt" he grumbled. "Listen", said Skye, "I have to tell you something."
"What? What are you talking about?" Alex asked her. "I'm supposed to tell you something", she whispered. Alex opened his eyes, looking at his yellow labrador sister. "Oh my god, I'm dreaming. Okay, for a second I thought you were talking to me." "I was! I was I was!" She said excitedly. "I know, but I'm in a dream. I thought I was going insane." "Listen, here's what I'm supposed to tell you: tonight you're gonna be visited by three ghosts-" Alex rolled over to the bedside table and grabbed the open box of Cheez-its he'd left there. "You wanna treat?" Alex asked in his high voice he used exclusively when talking to Skye. Skye's ears perked up. "OH MY GOD YES, YES I DO!" She shouted. Alex got out of bed, holding a single Cheez-it above her face and walking out of the bedroom. "PLEASEPLEASEPLEASEPLEASE" she begged, following him. He hurled the Cheez-it across the hallway - she took off bounding after it, and Alex went back into his room and closed the door. He climbed back under the blissfully warm covers, pulled a pillow over his head, and drifted back to sleep.
"TIME TO GET UP!" A chirpy voice shouted. Alex screamed and fell out of bed, running to the light and flipping it on as fast as he could. In front of him was a thirtysomething blonde woman, dressed in casual business attire with her hair in tight bun and a holding clipboard. "WHO ARE YOU?! Get out of here!" He shouted, heart still pounding. "I'm the ghost of Christmas past!" She smiled. "I don't celebrate Christmas. I'm Jewish." Her smile fell. "What? Are you sure?" "Yeah", he said tersely. "Both parents?" "Yes, both parents." he rolled his eyes - that question annoyed him like crazy. "And you really don't celebrate Christmas?" "NO", he shouted - he hated that question most of all, "WHY would I celebrate Christmas?" The ghost frowned and looked down at her clipboard. "Well... listen, I don't really know how we had this mix-up, but I have to do my job. Take my hand." "Do I have a choice?" "NOPE!"
And suddenly, they were flying through the cold night air, wisps of clouds around them. Alex held on to her hand as tightly as he could, and also wished he'd grabbed a sweater, because it was freezing. When they touched down in a parking lot, it was daytime. "Where are we?" Alex asked. The ghost pointed ahead, "look!" he turned and saw - "CENTURY 16 MOVIE THEATER". Alex smiled. "Are we going to a movie? I have so many I need to see before the Oscars..." suddenly he was distracted by the sight of his own family - himself included - walking out of the parking lot and towards the theater doors. "Your family is going to see a movie on Christmas?" The ghost asked, seeming partly disappointed and partly confused. "We're. Jewish." He said through gritted teeth. Brow furrowed, the ghost said, "take a look at your past; here your family is... goingtothemovies" she rushed through that last bit as fast as she could. "does this fill you with memories of happy childhood Christmases times?" "Childhood, what? No - when is this, 2008?" "Are you sure you don't celebrate Christmas??" the ghost said, her panicky voice increasing in pitch as she flipped through her clipboard, getting redder and redder in the face with each passing moment. Alex ran up to the theater window and looked at the movie posters. "I remember - we saw Marley and Me, BIG mistake. It was like - just sobbing hysterically. That dog looks exactly like our dog." He ran inside and over to his family in the ticket line. "Mom!" He tapped her on the shoulder. "Mom, don't see Marley and Me, it's gonna make everyone really sad. Mom? MOM?" "She can't hear you." The ghost said. "They don't see us. Time to move on."
At that moment, an incredibly obese man with long curly hair pulled up next to them in a mobility scooter. "I've got it from here", he said, grabbing a handful of Doritos out the scooter's basket and stuffing them in his mouth. "Oh, thank god" said the ghost of Christmas past, "I don't know what to do with this one." She said, pointing her thumb at Alex. "Who are you?" asked Alex. "The ghost of Christmas present! Now get in!" Suddenly there was a second scooter. "I can walk-" "Get in the scooter." Alex hopped aboard his scooter and followed the second ghost, who had already started driving away. "Look at what everyone is doing for Christmas right now!" Suddenly the two arrived in an unfamiliar living room. "Do you know this girl?" the ghost asked, motioning to a young girl opening Christmas presents. "Um, maybe? I think she's one of my sister's friends - I can't keep them straight, there's like a million different girls I have to drive to soccer practice-" the girl began screaming, hurling her new iPad Mini across the room and yelling that it wasn't what she wanted. "See, this girl is miserable on her Christmas." The ghost raised an eyebrow at Alex. "And that's MY fault?" Alex shouted as his scooter lurched forward, moving on its own. "Let's keep going..." the ghost beckoned and they drove into another room. A boy was kneeling in front of the toilet, vomiting profusely. Alex quickly turned his head away from the sight. "I know him, that's my friend Andrew..." "Yes, and he ate too much food for his Christmas dinner", said the ghost, taking a swig from an energy drink, "or perhaps he got food poisoning." Alex, unable to watch more upchucking, hit the gas on his scooter, and was suddenly in someone's dining room. A family sat at the table, hurling insults at each other, screaming over one another, slurring their words. "These are friends of my parents... why are they so drunk?" "Because it's Christmas", the ghost said before burping. "Can I go home now? This is all really upsetting. Christmas sucks." "Not until you hang out with me." Said a new voice.
Alex, suddenly outdoors, turned and saw a rail-thin, incredibly pale boy. He was wearing a black hoodie, skinny jeans, and couldn't have been older than sixteen. He had dyed black hair with a single blue streak that hung over his eyes and was leaning up against a Mini Cooper. "Why? Does my Christmas future involve a bunch of emo parties?" Alex said, horrified. "SHUTUP." Said the ghost of Christmas yet to come. "Let's go." Alex walked up to the passenger seat, but the ghost appeared directly in front of him, blocking the door. "You have to drive, I only have my permit." "Seriously?" asked Alex. The ghost didn't budge, so Alex walked around to the driver's side door and got in. "Where to?" Suddenly the car was driving on its own, so Alex took his hands off the wheel and waited until it came to a stop - at a funeral home. "Oh... this is really creepy, I don't want to do this." Alex said. "We have to", said the ghost, flipping his hair off his face. Alex got out of the car and entered the building, ghost at his side. The place was full of people wearing black and crying, holding each other. "Look there", said the ghost, pointing down a long hallway. Alex could see a large photo of someone. "You have to go see." "Please", Alex begged, "this is gross, I don't want to know when I'm going to die." "You don't have a choice." The ghost exhaled towards Alex, and the wind sent Alex flying down the hallway. "NO!" Alex yelled, getting closer to the photo. "PLEASE, NO!" but it was too late - he was at the photo. The ghost was again standing next to him. "Look", the ghost ordered. Alex turned his head to see - it was a framed school photo of the black-haired kid, maybe a year or two younger, hair parted and smiling real big, showing off his braces.. "Is this you?" Alex said to the ghost, annoyed. "Yeah, I come here confront myself with my own mortality, it's pretty deep, you probably wouldn't get it-" "SEND ME HOME!" Alex screamed -
- and he sat upright in bed - Skye was laying at the foot of it. She lifted her head up, startled by Alex jolting awake. She was looking at him - she cocked her head to one side, looking quizzical. "That was the stupidest, most pointless trip I've ever been on." Alex said aloud. "Those ghosts need to get their act together, because that was ridiculous. Like, what a bunch of hot messes." Skye put her head back down onto the comforter. "But at least now I know how to talk", said Skye. "Yeah girl, at least you can talk now." Alex said, petting her head.
Merry Christmas, y'all.