O Tannenbaum


As old Bing said, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. This is a photo of this year’s Christmas tree! We even have a few presents already underneath, making the entire living room look ten times cheerier. However, Christmas can be a difficult time of year for many people. Loved ones pass, traditions are somehow forgotten, people grow up and apart. Such is life, yet that does not take away the heartbreak that can reemerge every year at about this time. The lights, the music, the hustle and bustle of people crowding stores with a jittery excitement in the chilled air is enough to make someone like me not want to leave the house until well after New Year’s.

However, this is the “busy season” for retail workers. I can’t afford to hide in my cozy recliner and spend the next month and a half wrapping things up before the big day comes for publication of The Contract, as much as I would love that. I still have obligations and I still have to press forward. This Christmas is going to be a special one, though.



A pretty rotten picture of me, but this is a photo of my brother and me taken this past spring.


This is my best friend. He’s my theatre buddy, my writing coach, my manager for marketing The Contract, and he even has first dibs on the very first printed copy. It’s just sort of an added bonus that he’s my brother. I could sit here all night long telling stories about our childhood and all of the crazy things we managed to get into. We went through hell and back, and though we’ve experienced some real hardships, we always managed to make it through with a joke later.

He moved up to Illinois to help me out when our grandmother became really sick and too much for me to take care of on my own. This is going to be the first Christmas that we will basically be by ourselves, so we promised each other that we are going to make it as memorable as possible. We have the Christmas tree up, we arranged the Christmas village (even though we are still missing a City Hall, which is apparently a big deal and it will not be a complete village until we obtain one), and we have the radio playing Christmas tunes 24/7. As you can imagine, it’s pretty jolly around our house.


It’s no secret that I’m not a big fan of Christmas. I’d like to say that it was working the past three years in retail that killed it for me, but I’ve felt this way since my early teens, even subtly before then in some aspects. This year seems different, though. It is still a dark time for me, but it is immensely brighter knowing that I will get to spend it with my brother and actually have a good time, not regarding it as just another day that I pray will quickly go by.

This is a new chance to reassess just what it is that brings me down instead of becoming bitter once again. More than that, this is an opportunity to make lots of great memories and create traditions that we both can carry on for years to come. This upcoming year is set to be a remarkable beginning of something completely new. No matter how the book fares, there is sure to be so much change. Who knows what lies ahead? This Christmas is to be a celebration of a passing toast to the old and welcoming what is next, whatever it might be.


Fellow readers, while this is intended to be a beautiful season, please remember those who might be experiencing depression as the days become shorter and colder. Some might not show it, but I know from experience that this time of year can absolutely drain a person who is dealing with severe issues. Check in on an elderly neighbor that might have a tough time leaving their home from the snow or may not even have family to visit them. Send your reclusive friend a quick text just to say hi. Even though somebody might not celebrate Christmas, find a way to brighten their day. It doesn’t have to be a religious practice to spread a little bit of faith in humanity!

If you feel alone and miserable right now, trust me, I get it. It is hard to keep that smile pasted to your face when everyone around you is happy and automatically expects you to be, as well. But let me tell you something: you do not have to explain yourself and you do not have to pretend to be happy. Don’t let anybody tell you that you are supposed to feel a certain way just because it is Christmastime. If you feel trapped and suicidal, that is different. You are not alone. There are people who truly do care and wish for you to succeed. You are important, despite how you might feel or what you may have been led to believe. This season can suck, but give this a chance to make your own tradition. Make this the starting point for something more – a new beginning. 

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Thank you everyone who has checked out The Undisputed Unknown so far! I’ve been receiving so much support that it has been overwhelming – totally in a good way. I hope that my words have been able to make some sort of difference. As a writer, that’s always been my intention over everything. I hope that this season is good to you, and I hope that you continue to follow me along this journey!


M.I.H. McCool


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