At Christmas ..

At Christmas ..

‘Little Big Boy’ by Max Power, is the harrowing tale of a young boy growing up in a dysfunctional family. This is an extract, re-blogged as a reminder for us all I hope, to think of others less fortunate this Christmas.

…Strangely, watching my father stagger confidently towards the supermarket across the street from our house to steal the Christmas turkey seemed normal.   When he arrived home to be greeted by my mother on the day before Christmas Eve blocking the doorway, demanding to know where he had been and where his wages were, I knew only half of what was to come.  My expectation was of an argument and I was not to be disappointed.  I stood behind her in the doorway and we watched him quite literally stumble up the path towards us.  He was so drunk and we both knew that his wages had been left at the bar.  But he was a proud man and when my mother abused him on the doorstep for destroying out Christmas, he simply said;

“Turkey?  You want a turkey?  I’ll get you a turkey!”

With that, he turned and set off for the supermarket without a bean in his pocket.  I was ten years old.  My mother couldn’t comfort me in that moment.   I was afraid and cold and suddenly very lonely, as I watched my dad struggle to cross the road.  It was such a terrible thing to have to witness at ten years of age.  The events that followed surprised me, even though I had seen him do some terrible things in the past.  He simply disappeared into the supermarket.  We stood there in silence, watching the vast expanse of glass through which we could see the check-outs, illuminated so brightly in the dark of that cold winter evening.

It was freezing, but my mother and I were glued to the spot.  Eventually my hapless father emerged, a massive lump concealed under his coat as he tried to appear sober passing out through the entrance, without paying for the turkey he had just stolen.   It was more than embarrassing.   He was even a useless thief.  The curtains twitched around us reminding us that our neighbours had heard the argument and were watching.  They only added to our embarrassment.

We watched the security man grab my father and haul his drunken backside into the store.  We watched the police car arrive and then stared in disbelief, still unmoving and freezing, as they bundled him into the back of the car before driving away.  He never stopped shouting as though he wanted the neighbours to know.

When we finally turned to go back inside, my mother stared back at the peering eyes, to close the curtains of our nosey neighbours.  Although she tried not to show it, her humiliation was complete, but mine was not.  That day, the day before Christmas Eve, the day I was supposed to be excited, counting down the final hours to Santa’s arrival, my mother crushed my dreams and I grew old in an instant.  It was not her fault.  It was his.  She had no choice.  We had nothing and no hope and Santa was not coming.  So she told me simply.

“There is no Santa.”

It was only four words and she kissed me and squeezed me and a pair of perfectly balanced tears rolled down her cheeks, and I thought for the first time in my life that my Mam looked old.  Hope was gone in that moment and looking back, I am amazed I ever found it again.  But discovering that Santa did not exist in such a shocking fashion, was not to be the worst thing to happen to me that night.  For the next thing my mother explained to me, was that she couldn’t go down to the police station after him.  She hated him.  I knew she loved him.  Incredibly she loved him with all her heart, but she could not face him in his shame.   My mother, my bedrock, went to the cubby beneath the stairs and got my coat.

In silence, she slowly helped me put it on my tiny little frame.  She softly brushed my wispy, fair hair from my face and tied a scarf around my neck.  My dad was a giant and the policemen at the station were terrifying to the little, scrawny thing that I was, but I was being sent into the lion’s den.  I didn’t argue.  I couldn’t.   In truth I had no idea what to do once I got there.  There was no real instruction from my mother, other than to find out what was happening, but even that seemed to be task beyond my abilities.  That Christmas I grew up.   That Christmas my heart was broken.  That Christmas, I was a little boy lost but there was worse to come…………

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3 thoughts on “At Christmas ..

    1. Some of it makes for tough reading with lighter moments sprinkled in for relief. It’s something I had part written some years back and recently went back to and adapted to make it more accessible as the original story was almost too harsh I felt. Glad you liked it thank you

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