Amélie had her 5th birthday this weekend. I have a hang up about celebrating birthdays and holidays.
Christmas Eve in my childhood home was a family and neighborhood event. The house was decorated, friends came with gifts, drinks flowed and then we went to midnight mass with our dad. (I assume my mom stayed home and cleaned up, I don’t think she ever stepped in the church aside from our baptisms.)
After my parents divorced things changed dramatically. Mom had no money or time for birthdays. My dad’s wife would always tell us what gifts she HAD bought us but returned to the store because we did not deserve it, for one reason or another. My father got every other weekend and holidays after we went to live with my mother. Our first Christmas after his marriage and conversion to Judaism he insisted on his visitation. No mass, no tree, no turkey, not a gift, just plans to go to the movies. (I have nothing against Judaism, it was just a very rude awaking, clearly our lives would be different from here on out.)
A couple of years latter when I was in the foster care system, I was the ONLY kid at AHC (out of 24) left in the building. In all fairness I can’t remember if I was in trouble or if both my parents were away on trips. (I think all of the above). Anyway Christmas Eve I hung a sock up, hoping that the Christmas spirit would move someone. No such luck…I woke up to find that the poor staff who had to stay and work for one damn kid had stuffed the sock with toilet paper, and I was done. I was done with Santa Claus, done with Christmas, done with religion, done with family, done with birthdays, done with childhood, done with hope. Done, Done, Done!
I know a lot of people who went threw the system go all out trying to give their kids everything they never had as kids. Please, don’t get me wrong, in a lot of ways I do that, with my time and attention, my decision making. They are always my first consideration. But, they can’t miss what they never had.
Now, my attitude about all of this makes my husband crazy. First of all it is not about me. (He is right). Birthdays and Christmas are fun (so he says). We are not getting divorced (we're to lazy to hold grudges). Nobody in our house is going to change religion (we don't have one). So, what's the problem? Why am I so nutty about this? I can’t escape the feeling that we are setting them up for future disappointments.
I know that nobody expects for their life to change in the blink of an eye, but I know it can, and it does. I never want my girls to know what it feels like to lose everything they hold dear.