Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas in Prison

by Troy Chapman

Well it’s three days from Christmas and I thought I would share a glimpse of the holidays here. The snow, first of all, isn’t white and pretty and probably won’t be until well after Christmas day according to the forecast. It’s been warm (there’s actually fog this morning) and with all the foot traffic, the snow in the yard is a light dirty brown. I went out yesterday and spent a couple of hours concentrating on keeping my feet under me and staying upright.

I’ve been working on a Christmas concert for the men here in which a group of us performed 18 Christmas songs in various styles. I safety-pinned a big white ball of cotton, saved from aspirin and vitamin bottles, to the top of my blue stocking cap and sang, played guitar and harmonica, and everyone seemed to like the show.

Then yesterday, my bunkie and I spent $6 each to buy a meal for our room. We had corned beef and chili sandwiches, nacho chips and cream soda. This also served as a birthday celebration for one of my other roomies; he’s 50 this year and besides the meal we got him a Little Debbie fruit pie and put a match in the top of it and sang happy birthday to him. I got the same treatment on my birthday at the beginning of the month.

Last night, we got our Christmas bag, a bag of candy and chips and cookies bought by the prisoners’ collective fund. We spent the evening munching and trading various items back and forth, then — high on high-fructose corn syrup — we played bluegrass music on our guitars and mandolin, the latter of which my bunkie plays and is pretty good at.

As to what was under my tree this year, Maryann bought me a new color television to replace my old 12-inch black-and-white, which rolls and has lines through the picture on most channels. I haven’t gotten it yet because we order them from catalogs, but it will be nice when it gets here. I gave her a painting of her knitting, which I did from a photo she sent. The photo seemed to say “peace on earth” because that’s how she looked, very peaceful, working away with her needles, so I tried to capture that and emphasize it in the painting.

So this is a glimpse of Christmas in prison. (Which, by the way, is the name of a John Prine song, which is worth pulling up and listening to. In fact all of Prine’s stuff is delicious. Check him out if you don’t already listen to him.)

Anyway, all in all I’m thankful for the many blessings I have and am well aware that my situation doesn’t represent the situation for most prisoners in our country and around the world. There are a lot of things that are sad for me, like separation from family and the general spiritual craziness of this place, but I know many people, both prisoners and others around here, are suffering all kinds of hardships. So let’s keep them in our thoughts, lift up the soldiers and others caught in wars and away from their families. Just keep praying and working for peace on earth and good will to all. Bless you, all of you, who make my life in this season more meaningful.

Painting by Troy Chapman


Sid Leavitt said...

Thanks for sharing your gifts.

Anonymous said...

Hi Troy and Merry Christmas to you! I enjoyed seeing the painting in this entry.

Rich W.

The Wests said...

Troy, if it had been humanly possible we would have sent cards this year. But we will keep you and Maryann in our thoughts and prayers. Nice painting of her,too.