We passed giant plastic Christmas decorations. 

The ground was dirty and frozen, 

The sun just beginning to lazily show its face. 

It was about a 25-minute drive to the hospital, with just me and my mom in the car. 

Today didn't feel like it was Christmas.  

Today was different. 

Just the night before, I was laughing with relatives, eating a variety of Swedish foods and opening gifts. 

The normal Christmas Eve stuff you do with relatives. 

This year was different. 

We all crammed into my Grandpa's small and well-heated office to skype my dad. 

He was lying in a hospital bed, and seemed to light up when he saw all of us. 

Skype lagged and froze on our zoomed in faces and echoed our loud laughter. 

I can't remember exactly what he was diagnosed with, 

But I knew that it was serious, that it could have been much worse. 

I could sense the tension and anxiety of my parents. 

Normally on Christmas morning we would be gathered around our overly decorated tree, 

Half asleep with our traditional food cooking in the oven. 

But instead my mom and I left for the hospital in the morning, 

And walked through empty hallways lit up with rainbow lights and doors covered with paper snowflakes. 

Hospitals had always scared me. 

I always felt so bad for all the people stuck in them, maybe going to die soon. 

My dad was lucky he would be leaving soon. 

The sun shone in through the tightly shut blinds in my dad's cramped room. 

We crammed another chair into the space, 

And I sat there, 

With a coloring book and some markers. 

I was going to create something beautiful, 

 as I sat in the suffocatingly warm room,  

Conversations slow and peaceful. 

The TV hummed Christmas tunes, my parents laughed. 

Pulling the blinds all the way up, 

I saw it had started to snow, 

Very tiny snowflakes hesitantly floating through the air. 

We sat there, watching "The Christmas Story" on repeat, 

Eating ice cream from a Styrofoam cup. 

My mom and I drove away that night, 

And it felt like Christmas. 

Published by Kendall Johnson