© 2019 Bill Murphy
It’s been said that truth is found somewhere between what you believe and what I believe. Perhaps sometimes it is, but not always. The following is about perceived Christmas child abuse inflicted upon me – and that which I inflicted upon my own children.
My paternal grandparents lived in Carthage, MS, located just over fifty miles northeast of our home in Jackson. We made that trip at least one a month.
That traumatic year I must have been around four, for at the time, I was still an only child. It was Christmas time. Dad had several reason to make that Christmas Eve trip: He wanted to be with his parents; It was his and mom’s wedding anniversary; He had a couple of days off from work; and did I say that he wanted to be with his parents for Christmas Eve AND Christmas Day.
I didn’t understand. My four year old focus was not on Dad’s desires, but upon my NEEDS. How would Santa KNOW where I was Christmas Eve Night? Could anyone GUARANTEE that the great bearer of gifts would REALLY find me when I was so far from home? My Christmas cheer was kaput, replaced with dread, fear, and worry. Yes, I felt, well, abused.
Not to leave you dangling, Santa DID find me that night far from home, so as they say, all was well because it ended well. Now, let’s fast forward around thirty years, to when I was a father.
Our family was a member of a rather ‘fundamentalist’ church at the time. It would seem that the emphasis was more on the ‘thou shalt nots’ than on the ‘thou shalts.’ Our family strived to get with and be with the program. Our thinking, colored by what we were now learning, was strictly ‘accent the spiritual, eliminate the secular.’ And Christmas was rife with secular, carnal, humanistic influence. Just to say “Put Christ back into Christmas,” was not enough… that year we strove to not only put Him first, but also make Him the ONLY persona representing Christmas.
Frosty was out, as well as the Grinch, Tiny Tim, Rudolph, and of course, the jolly ole usurper of the true Christmas… the jolly ole elf himself… Santa!
I remember that our only concession was a small tree, but it remained undecorated, and of course, unlighted… no snow, no tinsel, no popcorn… nothing. But under the tree, we placed a large nativity set!
Carol and I gave the kids presents of course, but it was understood that they were from us, not some fat guy in a red suit. He didn’t visit our home that year.
The kids had a difficult time understanding this, even though there was no open rebellion. But I’m sure they were thinking, “What are you folks thinking? We’re not Jewish, or Jehovah Witnesses… we’re supposed to be THE Christians in town, and y’all are locking a Merry Christmas out of our home!”
Yes, I’m sure they felt, well, abused.