Tuesday, 11 December 2012

A Christmas to forget

Growing up in an environment where the parents are not getting along is very traumatic for the children involved. Some children block out the negative memories in the years that follow a divorce, while others can't forget. My siblings have, in varying degrees, blocked out most of the difficult situations we were faced with while our parents were together. For many years they selectively remembered particular things about my mother and as a result had a much different view about her than I did. My youngest brother once told me that he couldn't remember anything before the age of 5, my other brother said he can't remember much before 4 years old. I remember being in my walker, very vaguely, but I remember it. 

What's my point here?

Memories are very powerful things, they can dictate how you feel about a season, a month, or a day. I have a memory that is forever linked with Christmas eve, and I believe my brothers have the same memory, whether they admit it or not. It's still unpleasant to think about, and I may indeed cry when I write this.
Christmas 1993 was the last Christmas my parents were together; it was the last Christmas in our home; it was the last Christmas at the school we attended; and it was the last Christmas we would wake up to our mother. It was Christmas eve and I remember being excited to sleep in the attic with my brother, we knew that Santa was coming and remembered that we had heard the reindeer on the roof the year before. My youngest brother slept in his room, he had just turned 4 and was still scared of the attic. I remember waiting for my dad to get home but my mother had sent us to bed before he could make it. 

My brother and I were lying in bed, starting to fall asleep while waiting for reindeer to land on the roof. Just as I was feeling very tired, my dad opened the door to the house. The stairwell to our attic was directly across from our porch door, so I heard the door open loud and clear. My excitement for his arrival immediately turned to devastation as my mother lit into my dad about being home late. I remember her screaming at him, she swore with every other word. She called him names, she accused him of being drunk, she yelled that she was sick of his bullshit, and she said she had had it and was leaving. I heard the door slam shut, the truck start, and then pull out loud and fast from the driveway. At this point, my brother and I came down from the attic, sobbing. My youngest brother was coming out of his room from behind the kitchen, balling and crying for my mother. We went into the kitchen where my dad was sitting at the table crying, and we all cried together. Hardly the Christmas eve I had anticipated an hour earlier. After a long and sad night, we all woke up to open presents and were very happy to see our mother home.

It wasn't until February that my mother talked to me and told me that she would be leaving due to an impending divorce. Why on earth anyone would ruin their children's Christmas, and not even leave for another 3 months, is totally beyond my understanding. I later found out that my mother had spent that terrible Christmas eve with the man she had been having an affair with. She left my siblings and I in tears, just so she could spend the evening on the other side of the grass.

Sometimes memories can haunt you for years, sometimes they can haunt you your entire life. I wish that my mother would have thought things through that Christmas eve. I wish she would have put our feelings first and talked to our dad alone. Instead, my mother acted selfishly, and left me to remember every Christmas, how selfish she really is.


  1. Aww!
    I can remember fights my mom and dad had and the ways I wouyld try and block them.
    I can remember the fights *I* had and how my daughter tries to please everyone. Hope your holiday season is filled with happy memories.

  2. You have a great holiday season too, Merry Christmas!

  3. Sorry you are still haunted by this memory, I hope your terrific writing will help with the healing process!

  4. Thanks for the complement! I considered writing this for a very long, and now that I have started, it feels really good!