Wednesday, December 14, 2005



Redemption

I grew up within a large Catholic family - four brothers and one sister - where tension and strife were common. By the time I arrived on the scene, both of my parents were well into their forties, and I was considered an "oops" baby. Money was always tight, and my dad's drinking habits consumed a lot of it. Mom was a very devout woman, and Dad converted to Catholicism more out of love for her than any burning desire to profess Catholicism as his religion. Despite all of the problems within our family, there was never any question that I was loved by my parents (some of my brothers, however, did their best to let me know I wasn't wanted), but by the time I left for college, I had an unhealthy view of relationships which got in my way of knowing how to form and keep them.

Christmastime at my house was kind of a nightmare. It started with getting the Christmas tree. We'd go and pick one up, either at a tree farm or a tree lot on the corner, and deciding which one was the "perfect" one was kind of a joke because each one of us had a different opinion. It wasn't fun - it always ended up in an argument. Then, when we'd get home, the argument would spill over into getting the tree in the stand - my dad would be yelling at the boys because they wouldn't hold the tree still long enough for him to push the screws in. I would end up in my room because I hated listening to them. Putting the lights on the tree was a horrible chore, because that meant figuring out which lights needed to be replaced. Decorating the tree was fun - providing the boys didn't yell at you for putting an ornament where they wanted to put one. There was no sense of camaraderie - only a sense of begrudging duty. There was little happiness, a lot of anger, and an attitude that people would rather be anywhere but there. I can remember hearing my mom crying late at night, and I am sure all of the animosity hurt her soul beyond repair.

I am writing this so that you can get a sense of why Christmas is such a "big deal" to me. I know, at a certain level, that part of the reason why I decorate my house so lavishly is because I am trying to "make up" for those Christmases past as a child. I know that I tend to go all out for the kids because that didn't happen for me as a kid. I know that I do so much for my family at Christmas time because I want the memories to be happy and loving ones. I want to give my kids traditions to pass on to their kids. I am also trying to help them understand that the REAL reason for Christmas IS Christ's birth. Without His coming into this world, I would never have been able to get beyond the pain and unhappiness of my childhood and get to where I am today - a woman who has forgiven and who has been forgiven, a woman whose broken heart is now whole, a woman who loves and has been loved, and a woman who strives to give everything because she has been given everything.

Christmas is a story of redemption. And I have truly been redeemed by Christ's presence in my life.

18 Comments:

At 9:59 AM, Blogger Tyra said...

Amen, Val, amen.

 
At 3:21 PM, Blogger Paula said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes as I remembered the pain from my own childhood. Holidays always brought a fuss to our home, even though mom did her best to make those days special. My mom did without so we could have and dad never went out of his way to make her happy. When he did, she always had something negative to say about the things he bought her. Anyway, I do almoat the opposite of you. I don't go all out. We have a tree and our own traditions, but I am always happy when the 2nd day of January arrives. Even though I know the real reason for Christmas, it still brings back such painful memories.

Thanks for letting me share my feelings here.

 
At 5:19 PM, Blogger Tammy said...

Excellent post.

 
At 5:23 PM, Blogger ukok said...

Valerie,

the little girl in me wants to reach out to that little girl in you, from yesteryear, and give her a hug. I know you're 'over it', now, but, those past hurt's really struck a chord with me.

We were very poor, and hadn't got much, but I am fortunate enough to have wonderful memories of our family Christmas's, it resonated with me, because it makes me realise how greatly blessed I have been.

You have the heart of Jesus, I read it in your post's everytime I'm here or whenever you comment at my place. Your tranparancy is such that it is clear to see Christ's love in your words, and hence, your heart.

You created in your own family all that had been lacking in your own, and I only hope that I can be a tenth of the mother to my children that you so clearly are, to yours.

God bless

 
At 8:56 PM, Blogger Mrs. Diamond said...

this brought tears to my eyes too. i'm so glad you found redemption and that you are making beautiful memories for your girls

 
At 12:42 AM, Blogger bigwhitehat said...

Val the Ghost of Chrismas present is planting a boot accross the buttocks of Chritmas past.

You have a fantastic Christmas this year.

 
At 2:11 AM, Blogger Barbara said...

Valerie,

i hope you are feeling better now and that your throat is less sore...
beautiful, thought-provoking post..

made me think a little about why I do things in a certain way - don't have the courage to share though - admire your bravery..

God bless and I am sure that your two loveleies will have fantastic memories of their Christmases past to hang onto and cherish..

 
At 8:54 AM, Blogger My Kid's Mom said...

Tyra - thank you.

Paula - You know how much I love you, and my heart aches when you describe your childhood and how you're haunted by those memories. Thank you for sharing your feelings - I was very touched by what you wrote. I wish I could be there to give you a hug!

Hi Tammy - thanks for stopping by! I visited your blog and was pleasantly surprised by the change in blogskin - it is so neat!

Ukok - I am speechless by what you wrote (believe me, that is a rare occurence!) You are a WONDERFUL mom - so please don't minimize what you have given to your children. Besides - you've never heard me when I've asked my girls (for the 10th time) to clean their rooms - not a pretty thing to hear!! Anyway, thank you so much for your touching comments. It means the world to me.

Mrs. D - And I know you're making wonderful memories with your children, too.


BWH - Only YOU can so aptly describe in one sentence what I said in a fairly lengthy post. Thank you for your Christmas wishes, and I wish you and Echo and the kids a blessed Christmas, too.

Barbara - I thought I was feeling better, but I just took my temp and it has returned. Not a good sign, seeing how I'm on day 4 of antibiotics. Anyway, thanks for sharing what you could, and I appreciate your comments at any time. You're a special lady - and I am sure you are creating memories for your "munchkins" as well!

 
At 4:19 PM, Blogger Darlene said...

Great post, you really cut to the heart today. I grew up in a Catholic family too. We also were six children. My parents were Catholic, but they didn't serve God as I know now that many other Catholics do. Anyways, our family started serving the Lord when I was about 11, and Christmas has been great ever since. I wish the most blessed days ahead for you this season. You are a gift to us this Christmas.

 
At 5:40 PM, Blogger HeyJules said...

We all assume each of us had the "All American Christmas" when growing up, don't we?

I DID have these - but have learned that I am one of the lucky few. So, Val, my Christmas wish for you this year is that yours be the best and brightest one ever. That your children feel loved and cherished and that you see Christmas this year through the eyes of a child - finding an unending supply of love inside every present you unwrap.

God bless -

 
At 11:44 AM, Blogger Gina Burgess said...

I stand right beside our sister Jules in that prayer! AMEN.

I also want to thank you for so kindly sticking with me through the college exams, papers and research. Praise God I'm done with that and hopefully will have a little more time to read my buddies blogs! Thanks, Val. You are a peach.

 
At 2:33 PM, Blogger Paula said...

Just thought I'd let yo know I stopped by for a visit. Have a blessed weekend!

Love ya,

 
At 9:59 PM, Blogger Gina said...

How sweet is redemption. What a beautiful post. Thank you for being brave enough to post. I'm sure Christmas will be so special to your children.

 
At 7:12 AM, Blogger My Kid's Mom said...

Darlene: And you've been such a gift to me as well over the past few months!

Julie: Thank you so much for your beautiful Christmas wishes for me and my family. I wish the same for you. . .

Gina: Welcome back! You've been missed. I'm so proud of all that you've done!

Paula - I hope you have a great weekend, too! And thanks for visiting again.

Gina: You're very welcome, and thanks for stopping by again.

 
At 12:32 PM, Blogger Barbara said...

Came over for a quick visit..

Hope you are feeling better..

All fine here

"Speak" soon

 
At 2:45 PM, Blogger Colleen said...

I wanted you to know that I too grew up in a house simiar to yours aside from the drinking money was also very tight in my house as well. But Christmas was a time to be looked forward to and I loved everyminute of it. I too was a ooops baby and I guess I felt like I was the intrusion on everyones life, but somehow I managed to appreciate the holiday. I dont decorate as much as I should for I live with my mom and she has ideas on how things should be and I just go along to keep peace. I guess I just wanted you to know how much I enjoyed reading your post. I will come back for more..

 
At 11:20 PM, Blogger JodiTucker said...

Hello there....I'm coming to your site via Rebekahspage blog. (Scott is my cousin). I too am from OH!
The Redemption blog was really good, so insightful as to the different upbringings we all have and how that sooooooo affects the way we want holidays to be for our own families now. You hit the nail on the head with the real reason for CHRISTmas. Thanks for this!.....Jodi Tucker (Akron, OH)

 
At 3:43 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

Love this post, and the blog. I've seen your comments over at Hector's place. Just thought I'd drop by and check things out.

Christmastime Blessings to you.

 

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