…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

The Ghosts of Christmas Past


By Rex Goode


ME6In the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol, Ebenezer Scrooge is show some of the Christmas times of his past in an effort to soften his curmudgeonly attitude towards Christmas. Depending on whether you read the story or watch the multitude of dramatizations of it, you begin to see how the old miser got the way he is. He suffered from neglect by his family, perhaps even abuse at the hands of a cruel father, and many setbacks related to his own poor choices.

I’ll say right up front that my childhood wasn’t all rosy. I suffered from abuse and emotional neglect. It was hard being in the Church back then, in the sixties. There were no doubt many broken homes and blended families in America, but there weren’t that many at church. Every child I knew at church came from a fully intact, no divorce involved, family. Naturally, I couldn’t know if they were being treated like I was, but they all seemed so secure and safe.For the most part, my temporal needs were provided for. Jobs were plentiful and I was provided for. I wasn’t entirely ignored by my stepfather, either. He was very strict, as most fathers were, but I was always treated like part of the family by him. I didn’t think he liked me much, and it was obvious to me that he thought more about his own two natural children more than he thought about me.

There was an abuser in our home and I suffered much abuse at his hands, physical, psychological, emotional, and sexual. This is a tough one for me to quantify. In a structure like abuse issues, on incident of a child being abused is too many. For me, it was much more than one in all categories, but it was not constant.

Most of the time, by far, childhood had lots of fun. I had lots of time away from the abuser and when he was around, he wasn’t always abusing me. It came in waves.

One thing I could always count on, however, was a happy Christmas time. I don’t have to make any effort to remember being abused as a child, but I have scoured all of my memories of Christmas and can’t remember one awful Christmas ruined by abuse. Even the abuser was in a good mood.

I credit my mother with this. She really made Christmas awesome. She loved it and was always really excited and happy for it.

The only Christmas memory I have where I wasn’t completely merry and excited was when I was about 16. I was walking home from school the last day before the holiday break. I was remembering all of my Christmas pasts, kind of like walking along with the Dickensian ghost, and felt a twinge of depression.

It was an interesting feeling, because despite everything, I don’t really get depressed much. I like life, even with its bad memories. I think that in that moment, it was just a realization that I was getting too old to really have the kind of Christmas excitement I had when I was a child.

When I got home, I played some Christmas records and that was that. For a few years after that, I felt that little twinge of loss that I wasn’t a child anymore. Without even noticing it, as I got married and had children and got to be the one, with my wife, providing the Christmas cheer.

There weren’t many things more fun that pretending to be resistant to my children’s efforts to wake us up at 3:00AM, unless it was watching them open gifts and the spend the day playing games or putting puzzles together. They are cherished memories.

Eventually, that had to give way to our children becoming adults and doing the same for their children. We are lucky when we get to participate. It’s still a wonderful time.

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