Blah, another Christmas in the federal prison system — the 13th to be exact. I know what to expect by now, so there are no real surprises. Sure, there will be groups cooking together, games being played and all the usual holiday stuff. I just try to stay busy and get through the day.
But Christmas Eve 2021 was different. I watched one of the “cars” — prison slang for a group of people bonded by geography, crime or nationality — gathering various commissary items into a trash bag. I figured they were doing something for one of their guys. That’s cool. But then as I was sitting at my bunk I saw a few guys stand up. I witnessed this group of guys from one car give a bag of stuff to a guy from a completely different car, who had no money coming in and could use some goodwill. I was floored. It made me smile.
Then the next morning I got up at my normal crazy-early time and saw another fellow up who normally wasn’t. I figured he was struggling because Christmas morning can be hard for some people.
I went to breakfast, which I rarely do. When I returned, I found a little gift of Little Debbie snacks with a note that said “Merry Christmas,” tied with red and green yarn. It wasn’t only on my locker. There was a package on the other lockers too. I was touched. How thoughtful.
I looked over at the fellow who I thought had been in a funk over it being Christmas. I noticed him tying something and realized he was the one behind it. I walked over and whispered to him, “Your secret’s safe with me, Mr. Grinch.”
I heard “Merry Christmas” repeated countless times all morning. People patting others’ backs, shaking hands, fist bumping and all that jazz. Humanity, kindness, well-wishing and the like all exist here. I imagine and hope it’s the same in other prisons across our country and world. Hope still exists!
Disclaimer: The views in this article are those of the author. Prison Journalism Project has verified the writer’s identity and basic facts such as the names of institutions mentioned.