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Christmas Memories: New & Old

December 28, 2007

There are very few memories of my childhood as vivid, happy, and utterly depressing as the ones I have of Christmas. I dread it, right around the beginning of November I start getting this feeling in my gut that I can only describe as “Black”. It’s an empty feeling: lonely, cold, depressing and so much more. When I’m alone it literally brings me to tears, crying helplessly in the dark with no one to comfort me… it hurts.

They say that it’s better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all, but I can’t think of a more cruel and unusual punishment than to let somebody experience pure and utter happiness, and then in one foul swoop take it all away. All the while making them watch the whole world enjoy this happiness knowing that they will never be able to have this type of joy again.

My greatest holiday memories are the ones from when I was a kid. We used to all gather at my grandparent’s house on Christmas Eve: me, my sister, my parents, aunts, uncles, their children, and on occasion some extended family from out of state. We would all enjoy a huge dinner, and then spend the night together, as a family, waiting for Santa to come and deliver the presents. As a kid it was all about the presents and toys, as a memory it’s always been about family. We don’t do that any more.

There has been a huge rift in my family for years, no one can get along, they fight uncontrollably, they have taken my childhood and destroyed it. They have taken a time of joy and happiness, and turned into a time where I struggle with depression and sadness. Of the six “grandchildren” in my family, only me, my sister, and my oldest cousin remember those “family” Christmas’… the youngest of us is getting ready to graduate this year.

There is no doubt, that as I get older, my family is becoming more and more important to me. I love them, I love them all… They.Are.My.Family.

Since the birth of my daughter, the first “great-grandchild” in the family, I’ve spent every Christmas and Thanksgiving driving all over Ohio trying to visit each and every member of my family individually, and trying to spend an equal amount of time each of them so as not to start another fight. This year I put my foot down, as one of the few people in my family that gets along with everyone, I was not going to spend it in my car. I politely called each of them and told them that I wasn’t going to be able to do all that traveling this year, but was going to host Christmas at my house, and if they wanted to see me and my family they were going to have to come to us. There was no set time to be here, but the food would be done around 1:00 and they were welcome to stop by whenever they wanted to.

I spent two days in the kitchen preparing a huge meal unsure if anybody was even going to show up. I’m still broke, I spent twice the amount of money that I had budgeted for the dinner, and I was exhausted, my mother-in-law stayed with us for three whole days, but in my mind the gamble was worth it.

This year the only present I got was the 80 gig iPod I bought for myself, but I got the greatest gift of all… my family.

The only people who were absent were my uncle, who in all fairness got a short notice, and my parents, who were both sick and highly contagious, so we made plans with them to have a small belated Christmas dinner in a few weeks after they get better. A little after midnight, I went down to the basement to smoke my last cigarette… I was ready for bed, but there were still people upstairs playing wii, laughing and having a good time. I’ve never been so happy to be so tired.

This year I did cry alone in the dark, but for the first time in years they were not tears of sadness; they were tears of joy and happiness, not only for myself but for my daughter, who for the first time in her life got to experience a real “family” Christmas… it felt good.

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