Friday, December 24, 2010

A long ago Christmas, during a tough time

I have never, to my recollection, shared this story with anyone. When I was about 13 or maybe 14, I helped my mother steal a Christmas tree. We never discussed it, at the time, or during the entire rest of her life. My father was out of work, had been for quite a while, due in large measure to his alcoholism, which was also never discussed or acknowledged. My sister is 10 years younger than I, and we could not even afford the $5 a tree would have cost at the time. So one evening my mother told me to come with her, no explanation of our destination or purpose. We went to a corner lot, owned by a local shop which was selling Christmas trees as a sideline that year. She picked out a tree, told me to help her, and we took it. Even at that age, a part of me knew that I was not to ask embarrassing questions, or resist. We took the tree home, decorated it, to my little sister's delight, of course. I suppose relatives and friends gave us presents, I can't really remember. But my mom died in 1998, and we never, ever spoke about it. I am a mother now, and I can understand her desperation to make sure her youngest child had a Christmas tree.

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