As she joins her family, although the jovial talk, singing, and laughter ring true, an undercurrent of concern for those who don’t have it so good hangs in the back of Sarah’s mind. Jon, whose drug addiction has nearly broken his marriage; her aunt Anne who drinks too much; and a mysterious woman at the rest stop who has all the look of someone with her own sad history are the ghosts who haunt young Sarah. Their songs aren’t about decking the halls.
As she partakes in her grandma’s cake, Sarah stares at the empty chair at the head of the table. Grandpa haunts the space across the distance of time. He picks up his cup of coffee and makes cheers toward Sarah.
Go knock ‘em dead, kiddo.
Sarah chokes down a mouthful of cake, washes it down with coffee. Coffee. A drink shared. Pain shared.