I finally made Starsky shun relentless holiday commercialism. That’s one reason why we spend our Christmases together in the last place you’d expect – the Bay City Prison.
We arrive there on Christmas Day; make fools of ourselves, dressed as cowboys or Elvis, whatever Starsky wrangles for us. I play the out of tune piano. Starsky does his thing, passing around retro candy and gum. He makes them remember themselves as kids, talking about the lights, the trees, their mom’s cookies or sometimes snow when they’re from back east. If there’s a child inside them, Starsky unlocks it, even in the prison rec room.
For a long time, we viewed that place as a pit too nice for the dangerous scum we hunted and sent there. We had pain, physical and heart wise, as a constant reminder why those in that room were the enemy to be feared. Any charity that was once in our nature dried up and got blown away with Terry, Jackson and a hundred others. By the time Lionel got killed, we had trouble offering kindness to anyone, even each other.
But things change.
Starsky finally made me sentimental about Christmas. He made me remember exactly how it felt when I was a kid; the lights, the trees, and the anticipation that something wonderful was going to happen. It didn’t matter what I had done before or what had been done to me. He lived and loved me still.
That’s the other reason we spend our Christmases together with those in jail. All that euphoric sentimentalism made me a bit loopy and sort of brave. We were done being cops, that made it simpler. The counselor suggested that Starsky’s healing process should include a certain amount of forgiveness. Of course, Starsky had to show off, forgiving this one and that one until he forgave them all. When he asked me to go with him to visit the inmates on Christmas, I went gladly, fearlessly singing Feliz Navidad, Elvis style.
It turned out to be a good thing for both of us to do on Christmas. He stays away from shopping, mostly. I don’t complain, much.
On the drive home, we’re usually quiet, glad to be away from the fluorescent lights and cement walls. I think it’s our time to let the cares of the world fade away. As soon as we’ve both let go of the noise, we listen for each other, not with our ears, but with our hearts, open and ready for something wonderful. Always, I hear him clearly.