Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Memories: The Crack

The pain was much closer than I could ever have imagined. In the midst of all the activity and noise I heard someone say, "It sounds like someone is knocking on the door." No one saw any car lights, no one saw a car in the yard. There it was again. How strange to have an unexpected visitor on Christmas eve. I got to the kitchen in time to see mom and dad talking, then dad disappeared into the entry and closed the door. Soon he came back into the kitchen with Mrs. L., our neighbor from about a mile and a half away. She sat on the kitchen stool, warming up, while dad started the car, then they both went off into the cold night. I caught bits and pieces of the story. Mrs. L. had walked from her place to our place, in the dark, in the cold, through the snow, by herself, on Christmas eve. Why? Because.....her husband was drunk, had a gun, and was threatening to kill her. Dad took her home; staying long enough to be certain she was safe. To this day I'm not sure how he did it. But to me, it was incomprehensible that a man would be less than loving and respectful to his wife; especially on Christmas eve, the most wonderful time of the year. That evening, a crack appeared in the protective shell in which I lived. Little did I know that over the years that shell would have many cracks and some day completely crumble. I would be left standing alone, vulnerable, assaulted by the ugliness of life. That would be later. Now it was time to return to the festivities. Children were playing with their tractors and trucks, their dolls and books; teenagers were working puzzles and playing pick-up-sticks; the men were talking farming; diapers were being changed; hands of all sizes were reaching for another cookie, a piece of fudge, a chocolate bon bon. Once again Christmas was....almost normal.

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