I remember Decembers when I was a child; on the first of December we received an Advent calendar with its 25 windows waiting to be opened; then we were given a catalogue of toys to obsess over; when we started the cookie baking festivities, we had carols on the record player ( Good King Wenceslas was my favorite and still is)..yes, we were very spoiled kids, and we seemed to have everything.My father always bought a tree which was much too tall for the roof, and had to be trimmed down to fit the living room. I guess he had delusions of grandeur..Trimming the tree was fine except for the throwing on of the tinsel. My brother would delicately fling a bit on each branch, as though he were doing a puzzle where each piece fit just so. My method was to throw clumps of the shiny stuff all over the tree..his method was “less is more”, while mine was more is more.
There was one thing which made Christmas Eve and Christmas day troubling..the alcoholic spirits of my parents.We knew that this was part of the celebration, but we probably hoped (every year) that sobriety would win.When children are used to something, whether bad or good, they go into a defensive or a positive posture.As I recall, I felt my stomach drop in advance of the cocktail hour ,while my brother would go off to his room and close the door. We always liked to go to my uncle’s house on Christmas day in the evening. We played a bit with our cousins and received fond words from all the relatives gathered. Unfortunately, the return trip was nerve-wracking and somehow sad. How does a child cope with adults who mean well, but behave in a wreckless and potentially harmful way…We returned home and thankfully went to bed and to sleep.Even now I remember the good and the bad of this time..I guess that I’ve made peace with it, and learned to accept it, but I still remember the hazardous road to Christmas.