A Christmas Tale AKA The Tree

From me to you, Merry Christmas!

 

The snow was coming down in a white fluffy sheet, and it clung to every crevice and strand of hair as Jonathan entered the bus.

Shaking off the snow like a dog, he sighed. It was Christmas time and the band, on their first big tour, was stuck away from home.  Not that Jon entirely minded. Home meant being with Tricia, and while he wanted to be with his daughter, being with her mother was a part of the package and it turned him off.

Making his way towards the back of the bus, Jon’s attention was caught by the small, scraggly and silver coloured Christmas tree that some wag on the crew had evidently left as their version of holiday cheer for the boys. It was pitiful. Beyond pitiful even with it’s ragged, thin branches and teeny tiny ornaments.

Flicking one with a finger, Jon sighed and headed towards the lounge area near the back of the bus, where it was darker and he could be alone, which suited his mood.

Christmas was normally a time of family and celebration in the Walsh family.  Not that long ago, he’d travelled with Mike to be with his family and now, well, now they were out on the road, far away from everyone and everything that they cared about.

Ryan entered the bus with a swoosh of cold air. Jon watched him from the back of the bus, waiting to see if he saw the craggy tree on the table.

Ryan, shaking his head and taking off his glasses to clear the fog from them, made his way into the bus. He could make out a pinky blob near the back of the bus, half hiding in darkness that he figured was Jon.  While the other two were out having a bit of Christmas Cheer, he’d elected to have a single drink and leave, and Ryan, who was too young, hadn’t been long in following him.

Once he put his glasses back on, his attention was captured by the pitiful sight of that tree. Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree looked more lively. With a shake of his head in disbelief, he wandered off down the bus, shucking off his snow dusted jacket as he went. This was the first Christmas that Ryan would spend away from family of some sort. He felt lonely, even though he was with the boys of the band, and they could be said to be a family. A disorganized, sometimes combative, but still family.

The other two eventually made their way back to the bus, weaving slightly and singing Christmas carols loudly and off-key. The tree went unnoticed by the two of them, who made their way to join Jon and Ryan in the back of the bus.

The four sat in silence for a while. Snow melting from their hair, skin warming slowly in the bus.  Mike was the first to break the silence.

“What a depressing Christmas, eh? Not even parcels from family with us.”

Heads bobbed in agreement. It seemed that everyone was feeling loneliness.  Success was a two edged sword. They were making good money being out on tour, but being in the middle of butt-fuck nowhere on a holiday that they normally spent with family was disheartening.

The bus driver got on, and the engine in Bessie rumbled to life. Dan wouldn’t be far behind, bringing his instructions for the night. Everyone fell into their own thoughts, thinking of what they were missing.

The door wheezed open for a final time and with a blast of cold air that raised the hairs on their arms, Dan made his way onto the bus, looking like an Irish Santa Claus with the huge sack on his back, filled with parcels.

Giving the scraggly tree a quick look and a head shake, he headed to the back of the bus. As he thumped by, ornaments fell off, falling with a dull metallic thumping sound, and rolling around on the table.

“MERRY CHRISTMAS BOYS! I come bringing holiday cheer!” he bellowed, smiling from ear to ear. He’d made sure ahead of time that their parcels would be ready for them.

Thumping the bag down at the back of the bus in the middle of the four, he watched them tear into it, eyes wide as if they had been given a miracle. He supposed it might be in their eyes.  The boys were smiling, and even the cheap ornaments on the crappy little tree seemed to gleam a bit more.

Once the presents were exhausted, everyone happy and smiling, Dan took his leave, but not before stopping to leave four cards underneath the tiny tree, addressed to each of the boys. Inside was a return plane ticket home for the holidays.

“Merry Christmas kids.” He murmured and made his way off the bus into the cold night.