Here, I say, Merry Christmas.

The man sits up in bed, his back dragging the pillows higher along the wall. He looks at the package balanced carefully in my hand, red and green wrapping paper stretched over an irregular shape. The bow on top is lumpy, tipping over the side.

He asks what it is, his eyes narrowing, and I tell him It’s a present, of course. Exactly what you asked for.

But Christmas isn’t for days.

Just open it!

He leans, reaches, and I hold out my other hand in caution. Be careful, I tell him, It’s hot.


His fingers touch the paper and a question mark appears over his head.

You didn’t...

Leaving it in my hand, he slowly unwraps the mug of coffee. He takes it, leans back against the pillows.

You really didn’t have to do that, he says.

It’s Christmas!

He takes a drink. He asks, Do we have any cream? Damn. Damn, I should have thought of that.

Ten minutes later, I am on the floor in the den with the scissors and the tape when I hear his voice calling from the bedroom.

About the author:

From the Pacific Northwest to the Windy City, Matt Fagan has carved a path of artistic destruction through the heartland of America, marking his territory in such publications as Little Engines and McSweeney's along the way. He spends three quarters of every year getting ready for Halloween, but the rest of his time is devoted to writing and painting and producing his zine, Meniscus. If you're attempting to capture him, just place a can of OK Soda in a bear trap and wait for him to come hopping along: he always falls for that.