You probably will remember this Christmas as a time of joy over your new kitten as well as confusion over a missing family member. Someone very special to us was not here this year because of a sickness. I am sad to say that over the years the sickness had hurt us all, and we were together this Christmas to pick up the pieces as best we could. Mindless of the adult tension, you played games and built a snowman. Your questions about the circumstances went unanswered, and someday when you are older, we owe you an explanation. Christmas should be a magical time for children, a celebration of miracles when wonder and joy abound. Children are too innocent to understand that in the adult world, there is no such guarantee for happiness. You don’t realize it now, but you were robbed of the Christmas that you deserved, and I will make it up to you.
I know that for you, sleeping camp-out style in a cold, filthy building was an adventure. I used to think that way too. The meager Christmas tree that we erected in a dirty corner of a dusty room at the last minute probably looked better to you than it did to me. The broken ornaments found in an old drawer probably glistened a bit more in your eyes, bright with new dreams. The food probably tasted better and the arguments probably sounded less vicious because you were counting down the minutes until Santa came down the chimney.
You went about life as always, preoccupied with watching all the Christmas cartoons, drawing pictures, and teasing each other. You fixed a plate for Santa with no help from the adults, who were too busy anyway, shouting over each other and sloshing glasses of wine on the stained floor. I envied your oblivion, and yet I could not help but wonder how much you had already deduced. After all, you are the smartest children I know. How could you not notice that many things were strange this Christmas?
While you were gleefully playing with your new kitten, our entire family imploded. I want you to know that it was a long time in the making, and it had nothing to do with you. Actually, that is not true. For me and Daddy, it had everything to do with you. I don’t imagine that my childhood was like yours. I grew up very quickly, learned to hide problems and make excuses for my loved ones, and tried to be the glue that held everything together. The role I played is not the role that I want any of you to play. Because it’s not how Daddy and I want to treat you, it’s not right, and it’s not good for you. I want you to have a stable and healthy upbringing, but I have noticed that I am passing on to you some very bad habits that I learned as a child. You deserve better than what I had, and only I can make changes in my own life to improve the conditions in yours.
Someday I hope that you understand the decisions that were made, the lines that were drawn, and the boundaries that were established. I hope that you are not damaged because of what I experienced, and I hope that I have the strength to change myself before it is too late for you to have the family, the memories, and the life that you want and deserve. Your daddy and I had to make a very important decision this Christmas, and we both pray that our family will be much healthier by next Christmas. It is January 1st, New Year’s Day. My heart aches to speak to people whose ears have been closed, but I remain hopeful that it is not too late for us. It is time for me to break a long and dangerous cycle, and to give you the best gift that I possibly can.
Your life is what you make of it, but without the proper tools, you cannot thrive. You don’t know it now, but this year for Christmas Daddy and I gave you the gift of a better chance at life because we finally put you first. We lifted the curse of a million bottles and cans, and we released you from the grips of a family disease. The road ahead won’t be easy for any of us because we have been affected deeply by a sickness that hurts entire families, but we are working together to make our family better. Daddy and I owe that to you all. You will have a better life than your parents, because of the decisions your parents are making for you now. This is my promise to you, my darlings. I love you all unconditionally,