My most memorable gift I have had to date, is spending Christmas with my children and grandchildren. This is the best gift I have received as well as the best gift I can give. Time with family. I have three sons, who are scattered about and have their own families and new traditions.
This does not happen often and I am grateful when it does. Growing up in rural New Mexico, I was one of 7 children, 2 boys and 5 girls. My father and mother struck an unusaual bargin when they decided to start a family. My father would raise the boys, and my mother would raise the girls. My parents met in college in Norman Oklahoma. My father was working on an Engineering/Drafting Degree, while my mother was working on what I call her MR degree, while taking Education courses. Both left school, my father with one semester to complete, my mother with two years to complete. Neither returned to school and so began the life of poverty and struggles.
My father worked construction and odd jobs, while my mother waited tables in small Ma and Pa type resturants. My father generally worked two or three jobs, while my mother generally worked one. There is only one exception, for a short time she and my father taught English to Native Americans in Northern New Mexico, this being the only time in my memories where my mother worked two jobs. This was a job that lasted only a few months.
This arraingement made by my parents led to the girls rarely having contact with the boys. I was the 6th child and by the time I came along my father was already taking my brothers with him to work in the early morning hours, then dropping them off at school. When school would let out my father was there to pick up the boys. They would then work with him until late at night. He would drop them off at home to work on their homework around 10:00 pm, then head back to work for a few more hours. This was just how it was for as long as I could remember. When I was 14, in 1977, after the death of my mother, who was diagnosed with cancer when I was 7 things begain to change. It was not until spring of 1977 my father became enlightened on the ways his daughters were being raised....not at all. I lived on the streets and when I was told I could no longer be out at all hours of the night, by 1980 I was graduated from high school, 17 and angry and a runaway. When I returned home by force I worked two jobs and then double shifts, when I was home it was to sleep. My goal was to leave as soon as I could.
My mother generally worked 2:00pm-10:00pm shift at whichever resturant she was working at. Humm, clearly, this left her daughters unattended from an early age. As we all know children generally attend school from 8:30am to 3:00pm. Since my mother worked 2:00pm to 3:00pm her daughters would walk home from school, or on occassions when living in rural areas and cold out we would ride a bus home. We generally walked, because that is what my mother seemed to prefer.
My parents prided themselves in not having to rely on childcare services. The older children were expected to watch the younger children. I remember while the older children were in school, two sisters and myself would ride to work and sit in the car, regardless of weather and watch my father work. He would come talk with us on each break and we were able to get out of the car and eat lunch with him each day. As time went on there were only two of us, then I was alone, crying all the time for my sisters as I sat in the car alone. My younger sister was not born until after I was 7 years old. She grew up in a totally different enviornment then her siblings. She had a father who spoiled and papered her beyond belief, as he tried to make up for the loss of her mother. My younger sister was raised more by my sister two years older than I and my father.
After my father's death of heart disease in 1992, family no longer existed, as it collapsed with his death. I was married to my second husband at the time. We had been in a car accident and my father saw my four day old car on the news, before I had a chance to call and say we were all okay. It was winter and a blizzard was in full force. My father suffered a heart attack. After this heart attack we learned my father as hiding a secret. He had been diagnosed with heart disease three years before. Within four months my father was dead.
Christmas to me has always been when tragedy occurs.
When I was seven I had no idea what death was. I had parents, grandparents, and greatgrandparents. Those that had passed, had all passed before I was old enough to comprehend death on any level. Just before my 8th birthday in July 1969 I learned what death was....My great grandfather died, then my greatgrandmother died within days of a broken heart. By the time we returned home from my greatgrandfathers funeral my Aunt watched us so my parents could return for my greatgrandmothers funeral. Within a week my grandmother died. 1969 was a bad year for my family. My mother lost both her grandparents and my father lost his only surviving parent, his mother.
In 1972 in October, my cousin died, she was one year and sixteen days older than me. That winter was a cold one and my mother traveled to Oklahoma to be with family. The loss was heavy on the family that Christmas.
In 1976 in December, my mother lost her battle with cancer. Christmas again was not a happy event at our home.
In 1977 in December, was worse....
In 1978 in December, I broke up with my high school sweetheart.
In 1978 I begain focus of getting out, I was completely obsessed, I attended school a half day then worked until late at night, often working doubles and getting off at 6am just to sleep about an hour and get up for school and start again.
In 1980 I was pregnant and alone when my boyfriend and his family moved to California and I chose not to go and not to get married. Both our parents had began fighting nonstop about where we should live once married. I ended it all by choosing to stand on my own two feet. My oldest son was born the July 1981. His father had difficulties accepting this choice, I never knew this, as it appeared it was what he wanted. He turned to drugs and alcohol and was dead within a few years. I received word of his death from his mother. She sent it in a Christmas card. Ironic.
Tragedy continued at Christmas, with another break up. Once rekindled I married my first husband. Again by the next Christmas life was in turmoil. I gave birth to our first child, my second, December 1982. He had without telling me agreed that his mother could take our first born child and raise the child as her own. I learned his families dark secret that year. His mother belived the baby to be the reincarnation of her former close friend Paul Twitchell.
By the next summer his sister, who I had trusted to watch my children while I went to pick up a RX from the pharmacy, abandoned my oldest son alone in the apartment and had taken my middle son, her nephew, without permission and delivered him to AZ where their mother was staying. My second son traveled from AZ to NV where his mother tried everyway possible to illegally adopt my son.Then traveled to MI to visit with his fathers grandmother, where he was being hidden, unknowingly by his fathers mother's family. I stayed close to my first husband and all love turned to hate as I waited for my chance to see my son, hold him in my arms and ease the loss in his brother who asked everyday for his little brother.
I chose to return to my husband and stop the divorce for fear I would never see my child again. It was five months before his mother resurfaced with my son, though I know she was secretly meeting up with his father and allowing him to see our child. With the help of local authorities, I was able to regain my son, file for divorce and gain custody. Unfortunately, I was pregnant with my third child. In January 1984 I gave birth to my third child, and youngest son. The divorce was finalized by July 84.
I remarried, marrying my second husband after a almost three year courtship in June 1989. When my father had his heart attack, Nov 1990 he spent the next four months in hospitals both local and those in Albuquerque, before returning home and dying in the local hospital. It was this husband and my self who visited and spent time by his bedside. My siblings refused stating, "I don't want to remember him sick." Unbelievable! This man died without his children because they all have black hearts. Needless to say, Christmas was not a happy time in our house that year.
After my fathers death family completely fell apart...almost before his body grew cold.
In 1991 I split from husband number two, for Christmas. By July we were divorced. The reasons are another story for another time.
Christmas was a struggle ever since. My boys often did without or with very little. I choose to make the Holiday season, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, happy times for my family, no matter where we were, where they are or will be in the years to come. I decorate and cook as big a meal as I can afford to insure they all have their fill and they are surrounded by laughter and love throughout their lives.
My most memorable gift? Family