“How’s YOUR Christmas?”

Lynne - Brentwood, New Hampshire
Entered on December 17, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Fighting, screaming, shouting, and crying. It is Christmas morning. It is Christmas morning at the Hodgdons. For most, the typical Christmas morning includes smiling, laughing, and peacefulness.

When you have a parent who is an alcoholic, nothing can be further from the truth.

If my brother and I weren’t listening to my mother’s rants, we were sitting in the living room waiting for her to sleep off her hangover so we could open our gifts. I remember begging my father to let us start, but he insisted that we wait for my mother to wake up. There were always presents galore. I believe this was my mother’s way of making everything okay. The fact that she was never around for us could be masked over with gifts. We never went without material things, only without her presence.

Growing up in this kind of situation was not only difficult for my brother and me, but it was also very difficult for my father. My father had to be both a mother and a father to us. Since he had a job that required him to travel frequently, my brother and I spent a lot of our time home alone. I believe my father did the very best he could. He was always there to watch our sporting events and always came to discuss our education with our teachers.

Growing up wasn’t always like this. Before my mother started drinking, there is evidence of us spending time with her. I have seen several photographs of my brother and me, together with her, at the beach, the park, and the zoo. Although I do not remember them, I can only assume they were happier times.

It takes a very strong person to step back and evaluate the impact their addiction has on themselves, their family, and their friends. Luckily, my mother was able to take that step. In 1989, my mother stopped drinking. Although she has been sober for twenty years, she still has the same personality she had when she was drinking. She has now become a workaholic and is never at family functions.

I realize how negatively and positively a parent’s decisions can impact their children. Despite it being difficult to grow up in a family affected by alcoholism, I believe because of it, I have become a strong, grounded, and stable person. As I grow older, I know, I will not repeat history. I believe this easily could have gone the other way, and I could be living a completely different life if I decided to let alcohol run my life as it did my mother’s.

In my lifetime, I will not let history repeat itself. Because of that, I believe I am a better person.

Soon, it will be Christmas morning at the Bohleys. Here with us, you will find that smiling, laughing, and peacefulness permeates the household. Although I try to provide the best gifts that I can for my family, I know that I could remove the gifts completely and still have a beautiful day.