I'll Be Home for Christmas

This year, the first thing he does on Black Friday—before digging the tree out from the cubbyhole under the stairs, before hanging the stockings his mother knitted for the twins back when they were still in utero—these days, the first thing he does is unfold the letter his wife sent him from the front, the one that began with the promise she never got to keep, the one that they tucked into her boot when they returned it to him, that worn and beautiful thing that was still filled with sand and the faintest whiff of her sweaty foot.

He unfolds it and he reads it and then he tucks it away behind her photo on the mantel again, moves quickly to reattach the back of the frame before the girls come racing down the stairs for cartoons and Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

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