“After the coalman left” by Anonymous (incarcerated for 51 years)

I don’t expect anyone to to understand what the early memories of family togetherness at Christmas means to a person who has been confined in prison for 50+ years. When I was a child in the 40s and 50s we didn’t have lights or ornaments on our tree; we made a colored crayon chain made out of paper and glue, like the ones we used to make in school, and we wrapped it around our tree as decoration. Later Christmases revealed trees with lights, ornaments, and garland. My father, an illiterate, hard-working, self-employed roofer always tried his best to provide. Dad didn’t talk a lot. He was a quiet yet deliberate man. I’ve seen him struggle when he was down but also noticed his generosity towards others when he was doing well and had plenty. He struggled with life because of his lack of education and a bum-leg he acquired from slipping and falling on ice at the age of 29. He never liked taking handouts. At Christmas, our house became as grand-central-station. After the coalman left, neighbors suddenly appeared at our front door. At Christmas, the spirit of thoughtfulness and kindness filled the years and mind of many. I remembered thinking later in life, that if only that spirit prevailed all year long, it would a wonderful world to live.