My home life as a child was never perfect, but what person had a perfect home life? There’s no such thing as a perfect childhood. As an adult, when Christmas time rolls around I don’t think much of it; I make an effort to avoid getting caught up in the festivities because I’m not too fond of Christmas now that I’m all grown up. I don’t hate it, but, certainly, I wouldn’t say I like it.
As an adult, Christmas time reminds me that my parents are divorced, and most of my family lives far away in separate locations. When the day comes around, I genuinely feel out of place no matter where I go for the holiday. But don’t think for a second that my life is terrible because it’s not. My life is great. Obvisouly every life has its ups and downs. Mine just happens to be around Christmas time because it makes me realise how torn apart our family has become.
When I think back to my sometimes-rough childhood, Christmas in memory was never a bad time, it was actually pretty good.
My mother was the type of person to re-use things as much as possible because spending money on something we already owned seemed pointless. So because of that, every year when we set up the tree, we would get out the old cardboard boxes from the really high up cupboard. I always had stuff fall on me because I couldn’t reach. One box contained an old plastic Christmas tree, and another had old tinsel and bobbles that sat around the fake leaves.
My Christmas stocking, along with my sister’s would get stuffed with mini corn chip packets and other odds from the cheap section at the supermarket, which I knew was my parents doing, not Santa. Back then, as a kid, I thought, “why can’t we have the good lollies and chocolate?” but little did I know that my parents did their best to provide a great Christmas for us.
Now that I’m in my mid-twenties and know more about money and the cost of living, I know that it’s not always easy to have a lavished and exotic Christmas as they portray it on television or in magazines. My parents gave me everything they had and everything they could.
It’s a shame that it took me until now — when I no longer enjoy or celebrate Christmas — to appreciate everything they did back then.
And the presents! I never fully appreciated them and I wish that I had. I was fortunate enough to have more than one to open on Christmas morning. My Nana on my father’s side always told me that they only got one present and that I was lucky. I never thought much of it as a kid. I thought she was exaggerating a little but really, she wasn’t. I was extraordinarily lucky and I didn’t see it because I was just a kid.
The tree always looked huge to me because I was so young, and for all those years when we set it up, it towered over me. When I went to un-box the tree at age 16, I had gone through a growth spurt that year, and it was me that towered over the plastic tree instead of the other way around. That made me realize how long we had our old Christmas decorations and also how much I had grown over the years. I was 16. Not an adult yet but no longer a child and our family was still together.
For years I begged to get new decorations or a new tree, but we never did. As soon as my parents divorced at my age of 19, I didn’t remember caring for the tree or the holiday that it represented anymore (we were not religious, so Christmas was just time with family). It signified a time when for one bit of a year, we were a ‘happy' little family, or at least we could act that way for a few days.
I used to complain about the plastic tree and I used to complain about the five-year-old tinsel that didn’t match the bobbles. But I never took a second to step back and think that maybe my parents did a decent f*cking job at providing for us and giving my sister and me a great childhood despite the negatives along the road.
If I could go back, I’d take more time to appreciate what they had given me because even though we weren’t rich, I still got more than a lot of children did on Christmas.