My Family and Christmas

My London Family

That's Freddy in the middle. He's very handsome, and is, "The Older Man", being 29 and all.

My Belfast family


We need a new photo, Stephen!

I’m looking forward to Christmas.  I have found it increasingly less fraught as the years pass.  My eating problems aren’t so bad now. And I guess it means less.  It’s stopped being this magical thing and is now just a welcome respite from normal life, a chance to eat and sit fatly on a sofa without feeling bad about it.

And I wonder- guiltily- if it’s because I don’t have to go home and confront my dad’s drinking and him and mum trying to kill each other.  I miss him a lot at Christmas, but I can’t deny there are things that I don’t miss.  He took Christmas quite seriously, and that was infectious.  It made it an event.  It made every creak from our bedroom floorboards at 4am in the morning elicit a roar that shook the tinsel. I miss that a lot.  But he never took it so seriously he would stop drinking. Inevitably it would descend into tears and screaming.  Some of my worst memories are from Christmas.  But so are some of my best.  He didn’t the last Christmas he was alive, which I am grateful for, and it is a Christmas I cherish. It was the last time I saw him not a yellow papier mache dying in a bed.  He jumped into the taxi with me on the way to the airport.  Then jumped out at the off licence.  He took in my dismay, but it was pointless to protest-if letters and hospitals and pleading and screaming and tears and kicking out then taking back didn’t work, a weak, “Please” in a rushed taxi was not going to work either.  He pressed a twenty pound note into my hand for the fare and kissed me on the cheek.  And his breath was scentless- the last scent I had of him living, untainted by alcohol.

This year, Robert and Freddy will be coming to Belfast with me. It’s going to be weird!  Although Robert has seen me in many of my less glamourous moments in our 10 years of distrustful acquaintanceship and 3 of love, he has never seen me shout at my brother while wearing Primark pyjamas, nor has he witnessed my prestigious ability to eat more Brussel sprouts than the average farmer can grow in a month.  In one sitting!  It is a skill. I revert to Childhoodom, fighting with siblings, unabashedly farting, helping my mum with the stuffing and peeling gammon off the plate in the fridge and blaming it on Paula.

He knows of my family dramas- my dead dad, obviously and my dad mum.  But if he can handle me he can handle a Christmas amongst the Molloys.  It feels very grown up, though, moreso than last year when I spent Christmas in London with him, eating Polish food in our friends’ large and welcoming home.  We even went to Christmas midnight mass, which I found both moving and amusing.  I’d never been to a Church of England service before.  The reverend referenced Twitter and Facebook.  But it was quite lovely.  It had snowed and the church looked beautiful and made me feel very Christmassy.  It’s not a time to be cynical, it’s missing the point to be cynical about it.

Are you looking forward to Christmas?

7 Responses

  1. I’ve been dreading Christmas because of the food, but reading this I realise I have nothing to complain about.

  2. I’m looking forward to Christmas but dreading it at the same time, cos it’ll probably be the last one I spend with my Dad as he has a terminal brain tumour. And I know that if something goes wrong and the day isn’t completely perfect, I’ll feel shit cos it could be his last one. Even though like your Dad he’s the source of some unpleasant Christmas memories, none more so than when we had to fly back with my Grandpa to Edinburgh on Boxing Day, but on Christmas Day my little sister woke up with an ear infection and couldn’t fly. Dad shouted in her face that she’d ruined Christmas, then insisted on serving the first course of Christmas dinner to me and Grandpa when her and mum were still at the out of hours doctor.

    But I also have a lot of lovely Christmas memories of him, like how his cards are always really soppy and Christian and signed “Dwaddy”, and how the paper hats in crackers never fit either of our giant heads, and the hilarious picture I have of him wearing my Santa hat with plaits last year. And just the Dad personality memories, how he bitched at Mum for weeks last year to get a giant turkey even though it technically didn’t fit in the oven, and how he’s so fervently royalist that even if dinner is late we must all decamp to the sofa to hear her majesty’s speech. And how he gets scarily pyromaniacal about the pudding.

    Without wishing to be overly emo, I’m really sad my hypothetical future kids won’t get to spend a Christmas with him. He gave the best horsey rides, he made whinneying noises and everything.

  3. I love Christmas. It’s the one time when my entire extended family comes together – for that one day we don’t argue, we just enjoy eachothers company, drink wine and have a good time. I always feel so much excitement in the run up to Christmas, I’m like a little kid. It’s my favourite time of year (even if I do despise Christmas dinner..and having new years eve afterwards).

    I hope you have a good one, Seaneen x

  4. Urgh Christmas. 2 years ago I spent it nursing my terminal mum, who then died the day after New Years. The family fell apart shortly after that.

  5. I’m so glad that you can enjoy Christmas now. I enjoy it because I have peace regardless of the circumstances that surround it. I hope I can continue to do so. Much of it depends on whether or not I get to be with my family. Hopefully I will be able to this year.

  6. No, I never look forward to Christmas – I generally feel ripped in to between jewishness stating it has nothing to do with me and cultural pressure (plus christian family members and friends) trying to goad me into it. Add a whole slew of food issues, and family which when all in the same room pretty much implodes into well, something unpleasant, demands of spending money that doesn’t exist, of being happy when you’re not (jewish festivals are good for that one too – “you must be happy because otherwise you’re insulting G-d, or commercialism or something…)

    If I spend it with people I wish I spent it alone, if I spend it alone, I wish I spent it with others. Either way it never has, and probably never will live up to the saccharine sweet ideals that’ll be splattered all over the TV and in all shops and everywhere in that inescapable fashion that it seems to have.

    Playing endless carols and christmas songs in band, until your lips bleed and you feel the need to bash the music back out of your skull on the nearest wall…

    I quite frankly wish I could close my eyes and it not happen.

    I’m glad you’re looking forward to it. But as far as I’m concerned? Give me Chanukah any day…

  7. My teddy’s called Freddy too! Although he’s only about 26 years old, I think I got him when I was in playgroup.

    Mixed feelings about Christmas this year. Not really sure. I want to get excited about it, and hopefully that’ll go a long way.

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