Christmas Eve 1978
I can't believe I'm doing this. It's three in the morning and I just brought Mary home from the hospital. Doc says it's not unusual, just a scare, don't worry… she's fine, the baby's fine.
Our first is due in a month. How's a man not supposed to worry?
This is my family.
I haven't done this since I was a kid, eight years old, still stubbornly believing, holding on to that youthful hope. Mary's been teasing me, asking if I'd sent my letter off to Santa.
God, that woman!
Just watching her lick the stamp and place it on the envelope had me… eight months pregnant and she's never looked more beautiful.
She wouldn't tell me what she wrote in her letter, just gave me that mischievous smile, the fine laugh lines around her eyes drawing me in. Damn! She has eyes a man could get lost in. Get lost and never want to find his way back out.
I turned on all my charm, trying to tease it out of her, but she just smiled that half-smile of hers, holding back while telling me everything a man needs to know; her eyes dazzling, lit-up like a goddamn Christmas tree. And then she laughed, sweet and light, soothing and electrifying, the most mesmerizing sound in the world.
I think my heart actually stopped for a beat or two and then it started racing. I took her hand and we made a beeline for the bedroom. I just had to feel her, touch her, hold her.
Never did get that letter out to the mailbox.
Well, that is, not until the next day. Mary danced it out early that morning, sashaying down the walkway, her already mussed hair blowing in the crisp breeze, the hazy morning sunlight dusting her blond locks with an even brighter glow than normal, making her look like an angel come to life.
My heaven here on earth.
No man could just stand there watching, not with the distance growing between us with every step. I followed her out, snuck up behind her as her hand graced the latch on that old mailbox.
Good thing I own half the garage, just can't seem to make it in to work on time anymore…
I don't know why I'm doing this except there's something I really want. Not for Christmas, but since it's that time of the year I thought, what the hell?
Here goes nothing.
All I want for Christmas, all I want, period, is for Mary and the baby to be healthy.
If you want to take it a step further, well, I wouldn't mind if this child of ours looks just like her with that sweet smile mixed with just a dash of mischief there in his eyes.
Oh, and happy. I want my kid to be happy. As hokey as it sounds, that's all that's important, healthy and happy. If you can take care of that, well, we'll figure out the rest.
- John Winchester
December 15, 1982
Yeah, I know, it's been a few years. Didn't really need to ask for anything, had everything a man could possibly want.
By the way, thanks for coming through like that on the last letter, Dean's healthy and happy and the spitting image of his mom. He's everything I ever dreamed of. I couldn't ask for more in a son…except, maybe this year you could bring him some patience. Every day it's the same question, 'When's the baby coming?'
I'm looking at five more months of him bouncing off the walls, so anxious to take on the role of big brother. This baby is one lucky kid. He's gonna have the awesomest big brother ever.
So a little patience for Dean and for me…well, you know the drill, same as before, healthy and happy.
Thanks, big guy!
- John Winchester
December 24, 1984
Bet you didn't expect to hear from me now, did you? Well, I never expected to be here. Enough Jack and a man might do anything…
Christmas last year was a blur.
I guess I'm hoping this one will fade away too.
Here, why don't you join me? Pour yourself a double; no one should be alone on Christmas.
What, you think I'm drunk? Maybe so. What else does a man have to look forward to when the whole damn world is celebrating?
I might have written last year, given you my wish list, but I knew I'd never get what I'd ask for. That would be beyond your pay grade, right? Miracles just aren't you, are they? Never were.
All I wanted was Mary.
All I needed was Mary.
Everything else would take care of itself…if I could just have that one wish.
You make a note of that, Santa. That's number one on my list every year, from here on.
All I'll ever want is my beautiful wife back, here in my arms, soft hair brushing against my neck as she whispers in my ear that everything is going to be all right.
But it's not, is it?
And it never will be again.
I went off the rails last Christmas…and my boys suffered. Suffered even more then they already had.
God, I don't want to put them through that again.
But here I am in this rundown bar and there they are back at that crap motel room all alone.
I need to get it together, but there's this hole inside me and I can't fill it.
Lord knows, I've tried.
Tonight's just another repeat.
All the booze does is let me forget, for a second, a minute, sometimes for a whole night if I get wasted enough.
The thing is, it is right back there in the morning, staring me down. God, the look in Dean's eyes…Mary's eyes… just cuts right through me. Hurts like nothing else can. Not accusing, never that…just so goddamn hurt and lost…and pleading. He never says it, never asks for anything, but those eyes haunt me… Mary's eyes begging me to be the daddy he used to have.
But I can't, it's just not in me…not anymore. I'll never be that man again, not without Mary. She kept that little kid inside me alive, made me the man worthy of her love. Mary gave me that hope that things were going to work out, that belief in our family. Without her, I just can't do this. I can't be the daddy my boys deserve.
So, why am I writing? Hell, I don't know. I never did believe in this crap and I sure as hell don't now, but if there's any chance I have to take it.
About that wish…I'm begging you, can I please have Mary back?
No? No miracles, huh?
Didn't think so.
Here's something more manageable then, see if you can handle this one.
I just want my boys to feel safe again.
Sammy, well, he's still a baby, doesn't understand. He misses his mom, still cries for her touch, her voice. Sometimes I wonder if there will always be this missing piece inside him, that phantom touch he'll long for.
Dean's always right there, to pick him up, change his diapers and feed him, whisper in his ear and tell him everything is going to be all right. Dean knows it's all a lie, ain't no way he doesn't; but I guess that's the role of big brother he's taken on, to protect Sammy, from the truth, from all the nastiness in this world.
That would be my job if I wasn't so messed up. Dean's the one who's there for him, giving Sammy everything I can't.
God, my little man…he's stronger than I am. He takes care of his brother. He takes care of me. He's the one holding what's left of this family together, just like his momma used to do.
That's too much responsibility for one so young. It's wrong…but I've come to depend on it.
I know that whenever I stagger in drunk at some ungodly hour and can't find the bed, crashing to the floor in a heap, I'll wake up in the morning with the motel blankets wrapped around me wherever I collapsed, my head propped up on a pillow to keep the smell of the nasty carpet as far away as possible.
Dean's always there when I stir, fresh coffee brewed and ready. Those tender eyes watching, waiting…Mary's eyes…and I look away.
He brings her back to life in so many subtle ways, the love and concern, the soft gaze that tries to draw me in, but I can't go there. I can't stand the pain that throbs within my son's eyes, the unshed tears that glisten with every unsaid accusation and hopeful plea.
I hope he'll understand someday.
It's asking too much, I know that, but I hope someday he'll find a way to forgive me. I don't deserve it and with anyone else I'd never expect it, but with Dean, well, it's just his nature. He'd do anything for his family, just like Mary.
I don't deserve to be loved like that, not anymore.
Little Sammy is still so innocent and pure, doesn't realize just how much he's lost, and maybe I'll have to answer to him too someday, but Dean… Well, Dean had all the love and security two loving parents could offer and now he's left with nothing, nothing but this empty shell of a man, this poor excuse of a father.
My son knows his life was shot to hell.
I just wish it was different, that we could go back and start over. That by some miracle we could blast this last year all the way back to hell where it belongs and just have one more chance to be a family again…
If I can't have Mary back, if I can't have our old life back, then I just wish I could be anywhere but here. That I could somehow find the strength to be the man my sons need.
There's this darkness all around us and I can't shake it.
I wish I could see Dean smile again. I miss Mary's smile…Dean's smile…those dimples and that light in his eyes, a joyfulness there on his face. I just want him to be happy. I want him to feel safe.
One look in those eyes and I know he'll never feel safe again.
And that guts me.
So, hell, never mind. Just forget it. All this goddamn bellyaching ain't gonna change nothin'.
It's too late for that.
December 18, 2005
One week until Christmas. Funny that I'd remember now, huh? How many Christmases did I leave my boys alone?
They'll be on their own again this Christmas, but at least they'll be together. They're grown men now and they probably don't have a single good memory of Christmas…
I still miss Mary.
I miss her every single day, but especially this time of the year.
She loved the holiday and that makes each one that passes without her even more unbearable. If she was here she'd have me stringing up a million lights while she baked cookies. Dean would probably be hanging around, just like he did when he was a kid, ready to lick out the bowl when she got another batch done, a huge contented grin on his face.
Sammy would know the taste of his mother's fresh-baked cookies, how soft and moist her chocolate chip and butterscotch cookies were, melting in your mouth like pure ecstasy; and he'd have learned over the years to avoid her attempts to honor the season with gingersnaps, but then maybe a few more years and she would have mastered the recipe, or discovered new taste sensations. Sam would get to hear her humming a Christmas tune and know how beautiful she looked with flour smudged on her forehead from where she brushed her hair back out of her eyes as she worked.
He'd be able to give her a hug and receive one back, feel the warmth of her skin, smell the scent of her favorite lavender soap, know the love and the joy in her heart. He'd have to bend down for her to plant a kiss on his cheek; Dean too, both our boys grew up tall and strong. Mary never got to have the strong arms of her sons wrapped around her, never got to see her boys all grown up, see what good men they turned out to be.
All the simple joys of being a family lost all those years ago.
Lost dreams, shattered hopes… all that promise stripped away…
We never had a lot of money, but we never had to go without.
Just being together was all we ever needed.
All that's left now are memories, few and fleeting.
That last Christmas, Mary was just starting to show, and you know how they say pregnant women glow? Well, she was downright radiant, just like she was when she was pregnant with Dean. When I married her, she was the most beautiful woman I had ever laid eyes on. I never thought she could be more luminous than on our wedding day, but carrying that new life around inside her, knowing all our love would live on in our children; well, I was a fortunate man back then.
Our family was perfect and now we were being blessed with even more.
Dean, well, he was beaming with pride from the moment we told him about the baby, so excited to have a little brother. Yep, Dean knew the baby was a boy. Don't know how, but right from the get-go, all he talked about was his baby brother.
Dean was determined they were going to be best friends 'for ever and ever and ever'.
With everything that demon took from us, I hope that holds true.
At least they're together again.
I hope they can always be brothers and best friends; that they'll always be there for each other.
I need to believe in something and that's all I've got left.
Sometimes I look back at those early Christmases, how happy we were, and I wonder if I fully realized it? Can anybody ever truly realize it at the time? I thought I did. I thought I was holding on to all those pictures in my head, filing them away, but now that the years have sped by, now that I've lost Mary, they are starting to fade and I'm losing track of how it felt to be a family, to be whole, to be happy.
Our lives were perfect back then. We'd already welcomed Dean into our little family and Sammy was the promise that things were going to be even better, and for six months they were…
I once had everything a man could ever ask for and then that damn demon, he just ripped it straight to hell. And he's still tearing at us.
My boys are halfway across the country and I wish I could be with them.
I wish I could just see them, talk to them…tell them how much I love them and how sorry I am that I let this happen. But I can't, not yet.
I have to finish this.
It's been a long-time coming but I'm close. That bastard has finally come out of hiding and I am going to hunt him down and kill him.
Once I do, then maybe we can be a family again…
I'm tired, so damn tired.
Santa, all I want for Christmas is for it to be over.
- John Winchester
All standard disclaimers apply.
Oh, how those Winchesters break my heart. Thanks for reading.
Enjoy the Holidays and remember to hold on to those you love. Take care, B.J.