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There is no money for presents at Christmas that year. In an action that is the result of his feelings of inadequacy and that also frustratingly perpetuates the family's condition, Junior's Dad does "what he always does when (they don't) have enough money...he (takes) what little money (they do) have and ran away to get drunk". Dad is gone from Christmas Eve until the second day of the New Year.
Junior's Dad comes home and apologizes about Christmas, and Junior says "it's okay", but he realizes that it is not okay. Junior does not undertand why he keeps "protecting the feelings of the man who (has) broken (his) heart yet again". Then his Dad tells Junior that he got him something, and instructs him to look in his boot. Junior picks up his Dad's cowboy boot, which "smells like booze and fear and failure", and digs inside under the footpad. There, he finds "a wrinkled and damp five dollar bill".
Junior knows that, while he was drunk for that whole week, his Dad must have really wanted to spend that last five dollars, but he saved it, so that he could give something, at least, to his son. Junior recognizes both the beauty and the ugliness of his Dad's action, and thanking him, kisses him on the cheek (Chapter 21).
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