Tuesday, December 22, 2009


What is a blog in December without a cheery holiday post from a Christmas past?

My blog.  Sorry.

I have spent the last several days attempting to conjure up even one sliver of a Christmas memory to smile and roll my eyes at. The bike I always wanted. The puppy in the bow-tied box. The impossible-to-find-toy found under our tree. The antics of out-laws and in-laws. Something. Anything. Nothing.

I can't remember a Christmas in my past; I just know that I have never enjoyed the holidays. The closest I come is in remembering a school party, candy canes, and trashy gifts.

I hate getting notes sent home from the teacher. Whatever is detailed, asked for, or is changing; those things will be ignored. My face red with shame, I will stand and explain to my teacher why the note was not followed and why I am unsigned, empty handed, or out of new guidelines. My parents are too busy to care or too unimpressed with me to help a kid be a productive member of a second grade class.

I am sitting in the carpool line and pinned to my shirt is a note on green paper asking for my contribution to the class Christmas party. Filled in the blank with curly teacher writing are the words candy canes. I like to eat paper and I would have been better off eating this note. I would be less hungry and my mother would have one less item to concern her hatred with.

Walking to the car, I pulled the note off the pin and crammed it in my uniform jumper pocket. I waited for the seemingly right time to ask... after my sister had presented her own classroom party request and had it approved. What better time?

I ran to my room to rescue that green note from a certain death in the washing machine. I took it to my mother and showed her my own request. Quickly she glanced and returned the note to its original creases. I received a conditional "yes".

Behave, keep your room clean, have good manners, don't talk back... these were the conditions pressed upon my behavior in order to receive my candy cane contribution.

The night before the party came and went. That morning, I asked my mother where my Christmas party requirements were and informed me that they were in my bag. Once at school, I opened my bag to find a smaller bag. Inside was one, single peppermint.

One fucking mint to share with my class.

Humiliated, I am sitting at my desk when I hear the morning announcements. The younger kids are having their parties first. There is my one chance. I twist and fret until the younger parties are finished. I ask to go to the restroom and slip into the other wing of the school. Happy kids are leaving hand in hand with their hurried parents. The classrooms are black as I step into each one to forage for my treats.

Digging through cold cups of hot chocolate, sticky red frosting, and squeezed small juice boxes, I find my treasures. Discarded candy canes. I carefully wipe each one off and will the broken ones whole again. I carefully stuff them in my pockets and repeat this process until I have twenty precious canes to share with my friends.

I race back to my own classroom but not before I peer into my sister's room. And there she is. My mother. Smiling, laughing, and enjoying my sister's Christmas party. I hate her at this specific moment.

I return to my seat only to linger a few minutes behind when the recess bell rings. With everyone gone, I retrieve the rescued candies from my pockets and place them on the table with all the other green notes fulfilled.

She didn't come to my party. She never said a word to me. I never said a word to her.


Anonymous said...

Oh... I'm deeply sorry for your sadness. For the lack of love you were shown. You deserve so much better. I'm glad you have a loving husband and child now. It doesn't matter if you're not a "perfect" mother (referring to your other post). You are a mother who loves her child. That is what all kids deserve.

Wishing you a loving and peaceful Christmas!

The Pliers said...

Was your sister older than you? Younger?

You were a very resourceful child. I don't know that I would have had the presence of mind to go looking for substitutes for what my parents were supposed to have provided in such a situation.

Hopefully, part of your self-care is concerned with deliberately making things turn out differently for your daughter and, in the process, reaping some benefits for yourself. I've never minded riding on the coattails of others' celebrations.

I never had a funeral or memorial for my suicided mother, but when my aunt died 17 years later the funeral orchestrated by her brother, mother, children, and grandchildren satisfied a desire that I had never been able to fulfill on my own and somehow my inability to generate one for her slid on by as the important matter.

Happy Holidays and knock yourself out making it a nice Christmas for you, your daughter, and your husband!

Friko said...

Christmas is really not such a big deal but could you try to learn to make it as happy an occasion as possible for yourself, your daughter and husband now? Don't think that you have to do it all, that you have to 'create' their Christmas; let them also do their part, take your cue from what your daughter and husband say.
Try to start little family 'traditions', something small, crazy if you like,a favourite or silly ornament which comes out every year, a song you and your daughter sing, or a poem you read, at a certain time. Visiting a particular place, the crib in a church, even a museum, a special coffee shop or restaurant treat, anything that can be repeated year after year. As you have no happy memories yourself, find stories in books to read to her, have a favourite Christmas book from which you read every year.

Involve your family in all of this as much as they'll take and you will be creating memories for them that will never fade.

All the expensive toys and gifts in the world will be of small value compared to the riches you yourself will pile up with a little thought and time and love. I know you have the love and the thought, find the time. You will not only create magic memories but take steps to heal yourself thereby.

English Rider said...

I agree with the previous comments, and from now on it has to be about your future, not your past. The Magic is out there, grab hold!

English Rider said...

Afterthoughts; it was a revelation that your Mother treated you so differently from your sister. Do you think she saw you as competition for her husband? (Perish the thought).

Deborah said...

Jennifer, the thing I have confidence in is your ability to give your daughter good memories that she will be able to look back on with pleasure years from now.
More than most people, you truly understand the importance of what you bring to her and your husband. May you have a truly happy Christmas with the ones you love.

Ruth said...

Yesterday I was researching Yule logs. While I was reading about Christmas histories I realized that what makes Christmas happy or sad is memories. I found something inspiring in the yule log tradition that goes back centuries, even though I myself never celebrated with one. There is a genetic memory in me somewhere from my ancestors, and so Don and I went out and cut off the fallen branch of the French lilac for a yule log Christmas Eve. You're supposed to save a remnant of the log and place it in your home to protect against evil for the coming year, then use it to ignite next year's Christmas log.

I don't have much of anything to celebrate now at Christmas. We put up a tree because we always have. Pulling out the ornaments from our children's early years is a treasure of the heart.

Memories are ghosts. Yes, you can start some new ones with your daughter and husband. I hope they can start shifting this holiday from pain to pleasure. As you walk through your parents, fully giving expression to their abuse, maybe there is something beyond them from your history that could inform a new family tradition for you. Something that would be meaningful, that would mean love and light. It seems like the hardest work is to open the stone enough to let in a chink of light. Then let the light do the rest. You're opening the stone.

Shattered said...

Svasti, I agree, I'm so blessed to have my husband and daughter to love now. Merry Christmas to you!

Shattered said...

The Pliers,

My sister was younger than me. I don't know if resourceful is the name of what I did; I will say that digging through the trash was nothing new for me when I went looking for candy canes.

I completely understand what you mean about riding on the coattails of someone else's celebration. I try to do this and I am glad that you were able to do this in regards to your mother.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas!

Shattered said...

Friko, I am, for the first time, trying to make memories by following the lead of my husband and daughter. I do have a tendency to try and "force" a good time by wanting everything to be perfect but I am trying to let go of this.

It's funny that you should mention reading a book because we have been reading "Small One" every night this week... one night my daughter will read it to me and then the next night I'll read it to her. It really is a sweet story.

I hope you have a peaceful Christmas. :)

Shattered said...

ER, the past is the past... I keep telling myself this. So far, this holiday season has been the most peaceful we have had in a long time.

As for your second comment, yes, my mother did view me as her competition. It was no fun for me to be in that role. A lot of her anger towards me was due to that... or at least that is what she said.

Shattered said...

Deborah, I do hope that we are creating good memories as a family. I am hyper-sensitive to making things for my daughter better than what I had. Sometimes that is a good thing... other times that is a bad thing. Balance is the key. *sigh*

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Shattered said...

Ruth, I had never heard that about the yule log. That is very interesting! How right you are about memories being like ghosts. I do hope as I continue this process that I am able to salvage some good memories amidst the awful ones.

I hope that you are able to find something to celebrate this Christmas. Thank you for listening and sharing your own experiences with me.

sarah said...

this really made me sad. I look at my children..and cannot fathom ever doing that to them. It wasn't fair Shattered. you didn't deserve that. Hugs to you. I wish you a happy holiday...Stay safe ok. Sarah

Shattered said...

Sarah, so much of what stirs within me is rooted in my experiences with my own daughter. I sat there the other night, packing her bag for school the next day and while including her contribution to her own Christmas party, all of this hit me. I too cannont imagine doing such a thing to her.

It makes me sad.

I wish you a happy holiday as well.

sarah said...

My therapist told me our kids trigger our stuff. We look at them at ages when we experienced stuff and it`s hard to believe anyone could hurt someone that vulnerable, that innocent, that trusting. I`m sorry your mother made you feel you were worthless. What both of us are doing with our girls...is breaking the cycle. In Jewish we say, Never again, when speaking about the holocust. I say, never again when speaking about the abuse and hurt we suffered. Have a good holiday Shattered. You deserve it. Hey...if I could squish some neat candy canes to you....I would do it in a heartbeat. Sarah

shadyrae said...

That is such a sad story.

What kind of christmas memory is that?

My first christmas memory? A cold drafty house, a pathetic excuse for a tree, and shake and bake and pudding for the meal.

It always sucks when you try and think back to some beautiful memory, and find that it simply does not exist.

You are strong though. I see a strength in you that I cannot find in myself. It's an admirable quality.

Annie Coe said...

I feel for you. You got the short iend of the straw when it comes to parents.
I have no good holiday memories either, though my mom tried. I am working at making new good hoilday memories, you will too. Think about now, let the past go.
Happy Christmas and big hugs!
P.S. Thank you for the lovely feedback on my ETSY site.

English Rider said...

It is Christmas Day. I hope you and your "Now" family have a beautiful time. I just came across a blog that you might relate to. She also has horses, which she credits for saving her spirit. That is a path I understand. www.mycloudsandmystorms.blogspot.com

Shattered said...

Sarah, you are very right about our kids triggering us. I look at my daughter, she is so small, and I can't help but wonder why...

I like how you relate "never again". There are a lot of atrocious things in this world that we could and should apply this same thinking.

I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Shattered said...

Shady, I am so sorry that you have more than your share of bad holiday memories as well...

But don't sell yourself short, you are young, you ARE strong, and you can make things different in the years to come.

Shattered said...

Annie, you are right, it is about the present and making new memories. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

And thanks again for my Etsy order. The giftee loved it! You are so very talented...

Shattered said...

ER, thank you for the blog link. It is a great blog and I think I will be visiting it more. I had a very nice Christmas and I hope you had a great one as well!

Journal of Healing said...

Thank you for reading mine...i have been on yours for the past hour. *sigh*--getting it too, ang

Shattered said...

Ang, I'm sorry that you "get" this...

Journal of Healing said...

as i am sorry that you get what i mean. fucked up, huh. yet, with hope. with precarious hope. Thank you for your new friendship of sorts, cyber-style.