It’s the holiday season again and all the old memories of when I was a kid come flooding back. The lost traditions that I’m sure my family still celebrates haunt me from time to time. From whether or not the marshmallows were burnt on the sweet potato recipe to the cookies made from my Grandmother’s recipe, the memories hang like a broken piece of tape still attached to the broken and torn box I was long trapped in. My grandfather had a green globe ornament (about the size of a child’s basketball) that hung in his kitchen. When you pulled the cord, a melody played. I’ve had this song in my head for years. Last time I saw that globe, my older sister had it. I’ll likely never see it again. It’s memories like this that haunt me. I want to recall those happy moments where a memory exists but those happy memories lead to a sad path of disconnect and anger. It’s unreasonable to believe that I can get through a holiday season without those memories but getting through those memories without allowing myself to feel the burn of the anger is a challenge I face every day.
We brought another kid into our home. She’s legally an adult but she wasn’t given the care and attention that a kid required. It’s not that her family didn’t love her but they had zero expectations for her. When you never expect a kid to do anything other than fuck up, the kid never learns how to do things right and they never learn to be proud of themselves. This kid is amazing. She’s incredibly smart and has some hidden talents but no one nourished those things in her and she has no concept of her own potential. She slipped in and out of homes, some foster families, she stayed on friends’ couches when home was too much to handle. No one cared enough to say, come home we love you. We love her with all of our hearts. When we tell her we love her, or tell her how proud we are of her high grades in school, she struggles to accept the praise often waiting for the “but” to follow with some sort of reprimand. She too struggles with memories from the past where she was given an ounce of hope and love (when she deserved so much more) and feels the burn of anger when she realizes it was just an ounce.
I try to focus on how unequivocally happy I am now. I am who I was supposed to be. The box (as I often refer to it) that my family shoved me in to keep me straight, Christian, and brainwashed has long been trampled. The lid is busted, the tape and chains that once sealed it are broken and corroded, and it’s in a dark corner of my memories where the burning searing pain emanates from. When I make cookies using my Grandmother’s recipe (because they are the best…) I do it with my kids and my fiance to overwrite the memories that come first with newer, better versions.