I can hear the screams now, no don’t remind me. Not yet. it’s too early…. the odd dread people have for this season that I never understand. I count down the days. Christmas is my favourite day in the entire year.
I never really had Christmas as a child, the family celebrated it of course, but for me it was the way in which my hopes would be torn apart each year. My mornings were the same, I’d watch my brother open gifts and hope the ones I had were from my list, but they never were. Anything that was on my list always ended up in my brothers pile. I asked for a train set for years. Every year it was at the top of my list, I loved trains. And every year I didn’t get one, until when I was 12. On my list again was a train set. I went to bed hoping and wishing like all the other children and in the morning when we opened our gifts, my brother got a special one. He got a train set. This kind of thing had gone on all the time, I asked for a go-kart, he got it, I asked for a bike, he got it, but nothing made me more heartbroken than watching him get that train set. I watched him build it with our father over the days. I watched him play with it and I got banned from touching it.
That is what they did all the time. Through the day I would sit by my Nan and watch my brother and wonder why he got what I asked for. My dad would always tell me they couldn’t afford it for me.
My Christmas Day nights always ended the same way, year after year. My father would sexually abuse me and then I’d go to my room and cry it out into a notebook, sometimes I’d cry so hard I though it possible I could die from that alone. Those were my most sorrow filled moments.
I guess it’s odd that Christmas is my favourite day given all that, but I’ve come to realise my parents never took that day from me. They didn’t have what I had. I had my Nan. I’d sit curled up with her and watch movies on the television while I tried not to think about what my brother had. I’d sit with her at dinner time to ensure I got fed. I’d share her giant mugs of tea with her, her laughter, her jokes. We played board games. We sat away from everyone, the two hated outcasts. But she gave me love and warmth. Christmas Day didn’t start until she arrived.
If there’s anything I miss, it’s her sharing that day with me and now with my children. I wish she could be part of that.
I remember getting my first real Christmas present. I was 22. It was from my mother in law. There were gifts for me, I was surprised. I had sat watching everyone open their things and never realised she would buy me something. I was part of my first real Christmas. she put the wonderfully wrapped gift in my hand and I stared at it. I didn’t want to open it. I was afraid but excited inside. I just held onto it because that moment was worth more to me than anything anyone could give me. She asked me if I as going to open it and I was so shy. How do you tell someone they gave you your first gift? She’d think I was crazy. I didn’t tell her, but I did open it, but she gave me more than just a gift that year, she showed me what family Christmas was.
That is what I love, the family part. If someone asked my children about Christmas, it wouldn’t be extravagant gifts they remember, it’s the funny things. The year they wrote letters to Santa and left them trailing up the stairs and he replied to each one. The year we watched 24 Christmas movies, one a night. Midnight baking of mince pies and cookies. The special gift they get on Christmas Eve. The time spent hunting for each years Christmas decoration. The scene we make from marzipan to put on our Christmas cake. Making crackers and decorations, window painting and so much more. No amount of money could ever buy those memories.
This year I’m going to give someone else Christmas, because in all my hate and anger and jealousy, I released that my brother has never been given Christmas. He doesn’t remember the toys he got. He remembers the fights and the arguing and the beatings. He remembers the disappointment and heartache. When I talked to him a couple of days ago about Christmas, he said he wished he had a real family so he could do Christmas. He may have had the gifts of expensive toys, but he never had the fun or the laughs.
I guess I didn’t see that he lost out too.
It makes me a little mad when people moan about Christmas and all the money they have to spend and how they hate it, because it’s not true. we’ve already got our gifts. They are the people we spend Christmas with and memories we make. Nothing can beat that. No one says we have to buy all the latest gadgets and buy ourselves into debt.
This year Im going to Berlin for the Christmas markets 😉 I’m taking my brother. He might kill me when I’ve walked him for hours, and his legs want to leave, but I can’t wait to see the look on his face.
I want to give him his first Christmas.