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Canceled Christmas-A Memoir


I was nine years old when my mother canceled Christmas in 1960.  She announced, “There’s not going to be any Christmas in this house ever again.”  With that statement she retreated into my parents’ bedroom.  She did not come out of the bedroom for several weeks.  I did not know what the reason was for this cancellation nor was I told.

School had just let out for Christmas vacation and now I was to reside in the heavy atmosphere that my mother had just left with no means of escape.  It was as though an atomic bomb had dropped right in to my house with my mother’s statement.  I had completed a Nativity scene, for school, that was placed inside a cardboard box, blue painted, with clear plastic on the outside giving it a three-dimensional look.  I wondered what I should do with this since Christmas was canceled.

There was no Christmas tree.  There were no outside decorations.  There was no Christmas candy.  There was no Christmas dinner.  There were no presents.  It felt as though Christmas had died in our house, and unlike Jesus it was not going to be resurrected.

I was an only child and did not have any friends.  My parents had moved to Los Angeles, California from Tennessee, and did not trust the big city.  I was not allowed to have friends at the house because both of my parents worked and I was home all-alone.  My mother was afraid if people knew I was home alone I would be kidnapped or something much worse.  She was always telling me, “Now don’t tell anybody you are home alone after school.  You just come home right after school and lock the door.  Don’t open the door for anybody.”

My after school companions were children’s cartoons television hosts, Skipper Frank, Sheriff John, and Tom Hatten from the Popeye show.  My kindergarten teacher had told my mother, three years earlier, that I spent too much time watching television.  Of course my mother never told the teacher that she wasn’t home in the afternoons.  I never knew what it was like to play games, ride my bike, skip rope, roller skate or any other normal childhood activity, since I was confined to my house.  My only friends I viewed on the black and white television in the living room and for some reason we weren’t able to play games or converse.

My mother’s violent temper manifested itself from the time I can remember. I learned early in my life to avoid my mother as much as possible.  Otherwise I would be subjected to a verbal lashing, “You are so stupid.”  She was telling me constantly, “People are no good.  You can’t trust anyone.  Don’t ever trust your daddy, he is a liar.”  By the age of five I had decided I would never have children, as I did not want to inflict the same mental pain that I received from my mother.

The previous year, 1959, I had hidden outside, in the shrubbery, as I heard my mother throwing plates at my father while screaming, “You’re a liar.  You lie about everything.”  My mother was always angry with my father.  I never understood why.  He was my daddy and I saw him as a deity.

My father worked long hours in the aerospace industry, standing all day working at industrial machines, and I did not see him very often.  He worked most weekends, which left very little time for me. My father came from poverty and was determined to make a better life for his family and himself.  I worshiped my father.  He seemed larger than life.  There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do.  But even my father, with all his talents and ability, could not change what was going on in our household.

The weekend before Christmas my father took me to Folb’s Toy Store and told me, “You pick out whatever you want for Christmas.”  I had always wanted a Shirley Temple doll, since I spent a great deal of time with her in television land.  So I chose a Shirley Temple Doll.  Little Shirley was always an orphan in her movies, who was so precocious that people fought to adopt her.  No one wanted me was how I felt.  I couldn’t sing or dance I was not Shirley.

I couldn’t play with the doll once I brought her home. I would look at her face smiling at me, and wished Shirley could make everything better, for me, like she did in the movies.  I wanted to play with her but every time I looked at the doll I wondered what I had done wrong, making my mother cancel Christmas?

I loved my father so much for making sure that I had at least one toy that Christmas. I knew my father loved me but he had very little time to give to me.  I wanted his time more than I wanted presents

Many years have passed since the canceled Christmas.  My parents are no longer alive.  I have moved many times even to different countries and I still have that Shirley Temple Doll in the original box looking brand new.  I never played with that doll.  But every time I look at the box and see the doll inside I think of the love that my father had for me that Christmas and I cry.

My father passed away December 27, 1994 and I always will love and miss him.

I know that my mother has been healed in heaven and is no longer the hurt resentful person she was in life.

Cherokee Billie


Comments on: "Canceled Christmas-A Memoir" (10)

  1. Thanks for sharing your painful Christmas story. You seem on the way to overcoming evil with good by your attitude (not easy to hold I am sure). You deserve great happiness!–Carol

    • I have worked very hard on forgiving my mother, because she really had been victimized as a child in the nineteen twenties and I remember that little girl that she was and it has helped me forgive and heal. Many blessings, Cherokee Billie

  2. Thank you for sharing this-brings me tears. You are so precious and I hope you have grown to receive so much love in your life xxx

  3. Linda DuMont said:

    Billie…….these are the stories that , though painful, have the greatest meaning, not only to you, but to your appreciators. The strength and survival qualities you exude from your being is commendable and remarkable. All I know is this….you are blessed beyond measure with spiritual gifts and wisdom that is so much greater than the norm…..and you are a teacher. If life had not dealt you that hand, I wonder if you would have become who you are today. God gives you more than your share to endure… must be a very valiant soul and I am so blessed to know you…..thank you for making me see my own blessings. Angels all around you! Linda

    • Dear Linda: I never thought of myself as a survivor until I became bedridden. Since then I have learned that I have to fight to stay alive. I do not have the protection of a family anymore and it’s really rough. As difficult as things were with my mother she still took care of me in her own way. I’m glad that I have inspired you. Thank you for sending me the angels. Christmas blessings, Cherokee Billie

  4. Thank you Billie a powerful and raw honesty. A story very well written of your child hood

    Love and light

  5. A very painful story, but one which has given you a lifelong and precious memory of your dad. Every time you look at your Shirley Temple Doll you are reminded of your dads love, so in a way she does make things better.

    • A good way of looking at it. I just thought telling my story that others might relate from something that happened to them as a child. I’ll always love and miss my father as he died December 27, 1994. I look forward to seeing him face to face again. Many blessings, Cherokee Billie

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