Christmas in Prison 1: “Bears for Christmas!”

by Keith Wiglusz

Christmas in Prison: Bears For Christmas !

I think of this more than anything during the Christmas season while incarcerated.

My first Christmas in prison my two daughters were ages 8 and 9. I was very active in their lives before I fell and we were very close especially at Christmas time. This very first year of incarceration they came to see me. “Seeing me behind razor wire for them would be harsh and sad,” is all I had going through my head. My wife and I had made the decision to stay together when I fell and see if we could actually stay together. I had my doubts but she insisted that I at least should see my girls no matter what. Now the big test was upon me on this very first Christmas day with them walking into a prison with all the razor wire only to see their dad in tan scrubs.

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Essay Series: “Christmas in Prison”

On his 1973 album Sweet Revenge, singer-songwriter John Prine attempted to capture the despair and hopeful longing that he imagined simultaneously occupied the mind of a prisoner at Christmastime.

Whether or not “Christmas in Prison” is an accurate account might be debated. This year in lieu of Advent devotions we’ve invited prisoners around the country to reflect on what Christmas means behind bars. Some share stories of their first Christmas as a prisoner or one that is most memorable. Others offer their perspective on the ways Christmas is kept “on the street.” May they all remind us that wherever Christmas comes—to rich and poor, young and old, free and prisoner—it marks the birth of a child who would eventually die as a prisoner. Who knows? Maybe prisoners have some special authority on the matter.