It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas
My parents’ training of me started early and was original in its cruelty. Christmas day, 1975, when I was five years old, I cried because Santa did not bring me the doll that I wanted. I was only a kid, only expressing my feelings, in this case, disappointment. But a five year old’s tears deeply offended my father. He responded not by comforting me, but by shouting that I had ruined Christmas for everyone. Then he made me go from person to person, relative to relative, and apologize to each individual for ruining their Christmas. My mother and my grandparents did not object to my father’s behavior. They said nothing to correct him and did nothing to stop him.
Even at the age of five, I knew I had done nothing wrong and that what my father was doing to me was unjust, but I did not have the eloquence to defend myself, having not yet graduated kindergarten, and even if I did, it wouldn’t have made a difference. As I grew, even as I obtained both courage and language, my parents never listened to me and never heard me. I existed solely to fulfill their emotional needs and if I failed to read their minds and perform my role to perfection, whether I was a toddler, a teenager stricken with cancer, or an adult stricken with anxiety and depression, I would be severely punished. It is no wonder that for so long I assumed nothing I said or did would make a difference, that I was worthless unless I was pleasing the detestable people around me. Deep within me and also on the surface, remains a sense of fear and inadequacy. If I step out of line, if I speak for myself, if I show feeling, if I think differently, retribution is coming, and it will not yield, it will not show mercy.
So I approach the holidays as I would any day, by celebrating being thousands of miles away from my family of origin and having made the pledge never to see them or talk to them again. LIfe and death will ensue and I will have nothing to do with them. So long suckers!
I am now free to live without punishment for being myself. It is the Thanksgiving of all Thanksgivings. It is the Christmas of all Christmases. It is the best gift I could ever give myself.