The Ghost of Christmas Past…

I know sometime soon I’ll hear the song that makes me think of you. ‘War is over’ by John Lennon was your Christmas song. You would play it on Christmas Day each year, wear your Christmas skirt and lock away the presents so we had to play hunt the key to get them. The Christmas traditions are family traditions and we wanted them every year and enjoyed them. I can’t remember that last Christmas I know it was filled with tension…

I do remember the day you left. You cooked dinner; you knew it would be your last. Did you plan the meal, selecting each item with us in mind or the new life you were going too? We were in our bedrooms and you called us into the living room sat us down and told us you were leaving. Within an hour after R and I phoning J from the phone box at the top of the road you were gone. Half-hearted explanations were given but not fully understood by a very innocent 14 year old. You said you’d be back the next day but you didn’t come I was disappointed but life carried on though my world had fallen apart. Your clothes were cleared from the house, I can’t remember exactly when but I did go into your room and open the wardrobes to see the empty hangers left there. Their emptiness reflected my heart. I don’t remember those early days; looking back I don’t seem to remember many details.

I do remember the drunken phone calls from you, I remember the concert you came to covered in bruises (I was told by my father not to tell my elder brother) you’d swapped one life for this life and you tried to convince me it was better, you were happy but I just couldn’t understand. Your world became him and you climbed into the glass box so we couldn’t reach you. We saw you as the same on the outside but you didn’t hear us and so you left us again. I couldn’t take the phone calls, the repercussions, the name calling from your step children and husband I was a teenager and life was confusing. Money was short, shoes were needed, clothes were desperate but I did learn to be different (I had to be) so for that I thank you.

I cut contact because I needed the arguments and the phone calls to stop. You filled up answerphone tapes rambling on and once wanting to be picked up and brought back to us as he’d beaten you. To hear this was devastating, what had we done that was worse than this to make you leave?

You made your choices and I made mine. You’ve missed graduation, weddings and grandchildren. You live on your island alone now and want to come back into my life. 10 years since I last saw you (drunk at your father’s funeral) and a whole sea has flowed under the bridge. I look like you more as I get older that’s one thing I have noticed lately. You want to leave money to me but you don’t see that I can’t take it. I can’t cut contact and now take your money that would be hypocritical. I know I won’t see you again. That’s the choice I make though it hurts me like I wouldn’t believe it could to think that my sons could ever do this to me. But I am saving them from you as no one could quite save me. The anxieties I suffer with I believe are from you, from all you did and all the heightened anticipation of your next phone call that damaged a teenager. My sons will not know this and they will never be afraid of the ringing of a phone. I will put us in our glass box and the alcoholism and violence will not touch us as I finally have control back. They ask after you, well, they ask after their other grandmother as they know they don’t have the matching pair others do. I tell them that you were ill; that you made other choices and that I wasn’t your choice. They hug me and promise never to leave me and I always fight back the tears because this is what you should have said but you didn’t.

The scars are fading but they will never disappear. I am who I am because of, and sometimes despite, you. Take all the credit you want as 14 years were yours but the 22 years since are mine and I survived because of me…

So this Christmas when ‘War is over’ comes on and I may catch it in the distance I will pause and think of you. I may close my eyes and breathe a little slower and be taken back to being that 14 year old whose mother has just left, whose world has broken beyond repair and whose damaged mind will take years to mend but I will open my eyes and see the world I have created and know this is all from the choices I made. I will open presents this Christmas day with the grandchildren you’ve not seen and the husband you’ve not met. I’ll see the nieces and nephews you don’t know about and the sister-in-laws of mine that haven’t ever heard your voice. I will have my family with me and you will not be mentioned, you haven’t been for years. The wounds really are healing as every day is calmer without you. I don’t have a Christmas skirt and I don’t lock the presents away and have the children play ‘hunt the key’. My children are always at home and they wake in their beds to find their stockings they have hung filled with presents. There will be no violence, no alcoholism and we are building memories for our children that don’t include you. My need for a mother will never be sated but the need for you is no longer there. I don’t want to hurt you but you need to know that there is a consequence to your behaviour and actions. I can’t trust you’ll not be aggressive and I will protect my children.

I’m not sure I’ll ever hear the song and not think of you but each year that passes is both an ending and new beginning. The Ghost of Christmas past will always haunt me but I will keep you in my glass box in my mind and know that I am in control over how you affect me. You do not scare me anymore. I am smiling…

So this is Christmas

I hope you had fun

Another year over

And a new one’s just begun.


About littlewhitecottage

Emma is a qualified teacher with 14 years of teaching in many different settings. From teaching adults and children at a music school to choosing to work in a demanding primary school that was failing (which meant moving from an outstanding school – her colleagues were aghast!) to running her own sewing business for the last 5 ½ years teaching all ages how to sew: Emma loves to teach.
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5 Responses to The Ghost of Christmas Past…

  1. wow i don’t know what to say, this has maid me cry well infact sob my heart out, i wish i could be a better parent to my children just like you, i suffer with depression and it kills me, as i just cant do things with my children, they see me laying in bed or sitting on the sofa crying some times just staring into space, i some times get angry for no reason with them, I Do love my children but think they would be better off with out me some times, i lost my dad at 18 and this has really had an affect on me so im stuck inbetween to evils i feel, do i fail them for not being good enough or do i go and let them be with their dad, but to leave would break my heart(i’m crying as i type this) am i just as bad as your mum but for different reasons! I am very alone in my head! you are a true insperation i would love to be just like you to have you as a friend must be amazing, sorry for my reply but i had to just let it out xx

    • Tracey there are always 2 sides to every story and I know that my mother would tell her side very differently but for me it came down to being unhappy as a teenager and not wanting this for my children as it just seemed to have no end in sight. Your life is totally different and there is always time to be different and to live a different life. When I’m feeling in a despair (depression/aniety) I find it almost impossible to see the bigger picture and anything past the awfullness that is that moment but in between the difficult days I can see that small steps are as big as the most powerful giant steps that I assume everyone else is taking. Can you talk to your children about how you’re feeling? Can you just say that Mummy isn’t feeling well today and ask them for a bit of help? They will want ot do something to help -could they draw a picture for you? With your anger can you get an A4 pad and just write everything that’s in your head so it’s not in your head anymore but in front of you. Don’t expect it to make sense, perfect sentences becasue it’s not meant to be read as a piece of work. It’s meant to stop thoughts going round your head and literally driving you mad!
      Do you have support around you? Could anyone have the kids so you can just have 1/2hrs off? If so ask for help and have time for you. Are you seeing Dr? Counselling or any talking therapy?
      Feel free to email me at to have someone to chat to that doesn’t know you and won’t judge xxx

  2. Ange says:

    Wow! thats some piece of writing! i love reading ur blog’s they r great! Truely wonderful, if not, sometimes a little sad. This piece moved me to tears! As a child (and adult) i am truely blessed as both my parents gave me an amazin upbringing that was filled with laughter and love. I now understand a little betta why this was so important to my mum and dad who both for different reasons, had a less than perfect childhood. I only hope that i achieve half the parenting skills they both possess! I think we all believe we r failing our children sometimes, the tears u cant stem, the hurt they feel we cant heal! I have come to realise the biggest gift u can give ur kids this christmas is you! those moments eating chocolate and snuggled on the sofa watching christmas films, playing silly games and letting them win so u can hear their squeals of delight. Thoses momories stay wiv u both foreva and mould u. thank u for sharing and i wish u and ur family and very merry christmas filled with love and laughter xxx

  3. Corrie says:

    This made me cry. I was brought up by two alcoholics, I love Christmas now, but my tree is always down before New Year, I still can’t bear to celebrate it. I am in touch with parents and they do see my children but we never have any big family celebrations, we are never together for birthdays or Christmas. I have no contact with my siblings and feel that I don’t have much of a family at all. I have a wonderful husband who didn’t have the best of childhoods either and we have only recently made contact with his mother, don’t even know for certain who his father is! Our two little boys get so much love and attention from us but it hurts me that none of the family show much interest in them. Had a big row with my parents not so long ago, they can’t seem to understand that yes, I still feel hurt that I was never cuddled, that nobody ever held me and told me they loved me. But we’re not supposed to talk about that! But one thing is for certain, my boys will grow up and remember that I hugged them and told them I loved them every single day. And they will never see me drunk. Sorry for the ramble! Another moving blog! xxx

  4. Fantastic! I have an excuse of a father rather than a mother; not that i actually want to call him just that word “father” a father to me is someone who loves and supports their children, not even financially most importantly but emotionally. My dad never even used to ask me how my day had been as a child; and i have many memories of spending weekends at any of the many local pubs with him as he was and still is an alcoholic; he would even “take us out” as he’d tell our mother but we’d always end up at the pub wherever we went. He would drink and drive with us in the car and put us at serious risk; luckily he got banned from driving about 7/8 years ago and doesn’t now thank god before he killed someone! Looking back i now remember very clearly the smell of “weed” in the house whenever my mother wasn’t there; at weekends when she used to do charity work or go out with friends when him and his “mates” would babysit; in fact one evening they were so wasted we “borrowed” money out of their pockets after they had passed out and ordered pizza as they hadn’t fixed us anything to eat and ignored us all night and we were starving! Many occasions i had found him passed out fallen off the toilet in the middle of the night with his pants round his ankles; in fact the last time i saw him was about 2 years ago on my brother’s 18th birthday when my brother was intoxicated and being held up my my dad who was wasted too waiting for me to pick my brother up at 2am (whilst might i add i was 8 1/2 months pregnant and the only one who could fetch him) and managed to drag him into the footwell of the back of my car to get him home without leaving him on the streets for the night. At the time it had been that long sicne i had seen my father that he didn’t even know i was pregnant and gave me a look almost as if he didnt recognise me as it had been so long. The last time i saw him was for half an hour about a week after this on Christmas day when i went to visit my grandmother and wish her a merryc hristmas and he was there. Ever since then i have sent birthday cards christmas cards and gifts and wellwishes but every year since he has not been there even if i visited and nver even sent me a card (not that i actually care as he is a waste of evryones time not just mine). He has nevermet either of my children or even asked about them; oscar is almost 2 now and doesnt know he even has another grandad and thankfully so as he has no place in my life anymore and i am not willing to make one for him to make my children feel as miserable as he made me feel when i was old enough to realise what he was. My parents split when i was 16 i am nearly 22 now and since then i have been thankful that my mum found someone new and is very happy as she has always been miserable ever since i can remember. It seemed we all made sacrifices for many years to keep him happy but he was not prepared to make any sacrifices for ayone else in terms of supporting my mum financially or emotionally, or us and not making the effort to get help with his drinking. I pity him if i’m honest but at the same time i have no sympathy for him as he made his bed he had a loving family and a chance to be happy but he threw it down the drain by being so selfish. I have no intention of taking my children to meet him as he is not a good role modelfor them and i don’t want im in their life as he is a letdown and wont make the effort and it will disappoint them and he will constantly let them down. It’s pretty sad that a grown man of almost 60 is living off dole money that his own daughter pays taxes for! I could go on about this forever and tell you many more stories but i’ll just leave it there as i have already rambled on too much! haha 🙂 I really enjoy reading your blogs and find them really intersting and can relate to them! Please keep them up as they make me smile every week xxxx

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