Sunday, December 23, 2007

Holiday Memories: Sunday Scribblings

I had not seen my father for a number of years. There had been an acrimonious divorce. "Acrimonious" is an understatement. The five children, ranging in age from 13 to 19 at the start of the break-up, had mostly suffered in different ways. The eldest, a boy, always the good son, tried the best to walk the line equally between our parents. The next one, a girl, seemed most aligned with our mother but played our father well enough to suffer few recriminations from him. The next, a boy, seemed somewhat removed from both, but still managed to walk the line. The last, a boy, sacrificed much to ensure our father remained, while still unhappy, at least alive.

I was the fourth child, 15 at the start. By the time of my 16th birthday, I was done with my father. For too many reasons to go into, I no longer had anything to do with him. I lived with my mother and refused to see him. He would make threatening calls from time to time, when my youngest brother was not around and my father was able to drink to his heart's content. He said cruel things. He said scary things. And I dealt the same. "Right back at ya, Dad," I'd say in the teen-speak of the day.

Somewhere along the line, several years later, while I was away at college, we managed to reach across the miles -- the very safe miles, thank you -- and start, first, an exchange of letters, then phone calls, and, finally, a visit of two hours long my senior year of college. A negotiated peace of sorts, I suppose.

But when the offer to fly to California for Christmas arose, I was not looking forward to it. Too many of my siblings I did not like. Too fearful of him. In the end, I went, dragging a close friend with me for part of it.

Gradually, I needed fewer and fewer buffers around when he was near me. By the time my friend flew home, I was all right alone with my family, sans my mother, of course. I tread carefully the entire time. I helped around the house, I helped with the cooking, and I took interest in his stepson and, to a lesser extent, his visiting stepdaughter. For all my overtures, my stepmother was appreciative and we got along famously.

By no means was this my favorite Christmas. In fact, I'd have to say nearly ever Christmas before and nearly every Christmas after tops this one. So why is it that Christmas of 25 years ago that comes to mind? Because it was at that Christmas that I was able to forgive it all, that I was able to let go and be at peace. Peace at Christmas, that's what I remember.

20 comments:

Jennifer Hicks said...

What a journey....

Maddy said...

It's good to be able to look back and recognise these milestones. Well done you. Very happy compliments of the season to you.
Best wishes

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Betty C. said...

I imagine that memorable and best don't always go together. Thanks for sharing your touching post...and Merry Christmas!

Linda said...

There are some memories in our lives that, though not the best, are the most important. Thank you for sharing yours with us.

Best wishes for a memorable Christmas of the best kind this year!

susiej.com said...

No, memorable is not something you force -- it happens, and it shows up. Good, bad and all!

m.o.M. said...

Achieving peace within yourself is a great gift!

Have a wonderful holiday!

Linda said...

I like your honesty here! The ending brought a tear to my eye. Good for you!

Amy said...

hope this one tops it for you. cheers and merry christmas!

arboleda said...

the magic of Christmas time!!

sandierpastures said...

The peace you got brought forth by forgiveness makes it the best Christmas. Glad you had that one sorted out because life is too short to dwell on hate.

Thanks for visiting my sunday scribbling at The Parenting Diaries

forgetfulone said...

It's good that you were able to recall that memory. Forgiveness does more for the forgiver than the forgivee sometimes.

Sian said...

I admire your bravery, both in your writing and your actions.
Happy Christmas Patois :)

Kamsin said...

Thanks for sharing this! So wonderful to find peace at Christmas time!

Sandy Carlson said...

That's a heart-stirring post, to be sure. Thanks for reminding me of what Christmas is about. Perhaps the best gift we can give ourselves and others is forgiveness. It is a form of freedom.

Bren said...

My story about my father is very similar. Finding that peace was the best Christmas gift you could give yourself!

Robin said...

Peace is a very good thing to find.

Jeni said...

A great post, for sure -and it kind of fits in with my post on Christmas Day -except that this year, my ex did something that brought out a lot of the bitterness I'd so often pushed down, back inside me. However, talking about the whole deal with my son did bring out some interesting thoughts from him about how things worked over the years. Plus I felt immeasurably better too after having blogged my thoughts as well -kind of a little mental housecleaning of sorts there I guess.

LittleWing said...

beautiful...i totally agree...the holidays are a great place to start

Redness said...

Thank YOU so much for your eloquence, the lessons you have taught us and for your honesty. May your Christmas's be brighter and brighter!

tumblewords said...

Yes, what a journey, indeed! Glad you found peace and forgiveness.

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