She twisted the sleeve of her Frosty the Snowman sweater and stood before the semi circle of people. “Hi, my name is Sharon, and I’m a holiday shopaholic.”
“Hi Sharon,” the group recited back, their voices echoing of the walls of the empty high school gymnasium.
“Last Chris– I mean holiday,” she stuttered.
“No, no,” counselor Higgins interrupted. “Say its name. You must remember the holiday you are celebrating. Recognizing Christmas and what it represents…” he waved his hand for the others to repeat after him. “Love.”
“The birth of Christ.”
“The birth of Christ.”
Dr. Higgins raised one hand in the air, curled his fingers into a fist to silence everyone as if he were conducting a choir. “This will lead you to recovery.”
Sharon looked down at her sleeve. The thread had loosened above her thumb, creating a hole, which she poked her nail through, widening it further. “You see, the thing is… I’m not even Christian. Growing up, my family celebrated Hanukkah—”
“Ah, we have another Jew!” Dr. Higgins clapped his hands, motioning toward a man three chairs to the left of him wearing a red, grey, and white striped sweater. His hair fell over his face as he bowed his head and waved to Sharon.
Sharon returned a quick smile and continued. “I spent $200 on a mountain bike for my son. It was on sale at Wal-Mart… If you could’ve seen how his face lit up when he saw the commercial…” She turned away, rubbed the rough wool of her sweater against the bags, purple like bruises, under her eyes.
“Yes, yes. Go on,” Dr. Higgins said.
“He can’t even ride a bike. He’s still on training wheels. I’ve been trying to teach him for the past three weeks. I’m here because he’s finally given up. $200! Wasted!” She fell into her chair and it slid back, leaving a black streak on the floor and making a scraping noise like tennis shoes skidding across the basketball court.
Dr. Higgins stood at the center of the circle and clapped. The group followed in applause. “That’s good! Let it out! I want to feel your disappointment, your frustration, your anger even,” he said, turning to look at each person. “This is what happens when you allow commercialism and political correctness to turn your Christmas, or in Sharon’s case, your Hanukkah, or in Tanisha’s case, your Kwanzaa, into a generic holiday for everyone to spend, spend, spend money they don’t have on things they don’t need, running through stores like chickens with their heads cut off! We must take back our religion, our ethnicity! These holidays make us who we are, but they mean nothing if we don’t know them.”
“Amen!” shouted an older black, as if in church. She stood, her purse slung over her shoulder, and clapped more vigorously. The others followed, all clapping, shouting, whistling, closing in around Dr. Higgins.
Dr. Higgins again raised his hand to silence everyone. “Your assignment for next week is to bring in an item you think represents your holiday. Sharon…” he took her hand and held it against his chest. “You can bring in your family’s menorah if you still have it.” He then turned and spread his arms toward everyone. “I want to see you all next Tuesday, ready to learn the true meaning of your holiday! You’re dismissed!”
Day 8 of 31 Days of Holiday Hooligans