From the December 1955 magazine.

My Four Seasons

CHRISTMAS 1952. The year of my liberation from the family responsibilities and cares I firmly believed had driven me to drink. The year I gained my longed-for freedom--and didn't know what to do with it. The year of My Big Chance, so long "denied" me, when overnight I slid from chronic into acute alcoholism, and began my brave new life pondering ways and means (but lacking the courage) to end it. The year when the only positive thought in my twisted, sick mind was that "this Christmas would be different"; this was at last the year when I didn't have to go through the motions, the year I'd been waiting for when no one was left for whom I had to conform to the meaningless.

It was different, all right. I spent it nursing my first (and last, thank God) black eye, acquired in a blackout on Christmas Eve; nursing it not with appropriate medication but with my usual anesthetic for all ailments, the bottle. I spent it in silence, aloneness and numbness, just the way I wanted to. . .just the way I had to. It was, indeed, apart from the disfigurement--which somehow didn't matter--exactly what I'd planned: another day, no better and no worse than those of the preceding three months and, as it developed painfully, those of the following five months. Lost Christmas of a lost soul.

-- J. H.

New York City, New York

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