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?
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