On the 1st Day of Christmas …

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My Christmas CardI got a gift from my stepfather. It’s weird because frankly I don’t expect anything from him and never have, but indeed I have this wrapped present in front of me, and it’s been sitting there waiting for my approval. I wonder what it is now that I’ve waited this long to lay waste to its wrappings. Certainly, that’s a different tone than has been set in this household for quite some time. While I don’t want to divulge too much of my history, I will say that the nights of loud salsa, rum aura, and angry family members hopefully is a thing of the past, and that has everything to do with me.

See, the problem with Christmas is that, as a child, I was always and forever entitled, hoping this ginormous White dude would suddenly appear in my hallway and slide a gift under my Christmas tree … or two, or three. And then I started noticing that I didn’t have a chimney from which Santa could climb down like in the commercials I saw on Fox Saturday morning. These images conflicted with what I learned about the Season of Giving through my Saturday Catholic classes and my Catholic education. Then, I noticed less presents and less family time. And of course, we had next to nothing, so every time I did get something for Christmas, I was ever grateful …

Until I was 13 when I got my Super Nintendo (I can’t believe it’s been 16 years since I got it). I was such an ungrateful little one. I immediately connected it, and didn’t thank my mom until it was a little too late. For 10 years afterwards, we’ve had oscillating success with this holiday, and ever since then, I’ve been trying to rebuild what I want from my family. Not so much from my stepfather’s side, who seems to have sealed its own fate, but my mom’s side. At the very least, the set of cousins and brothers we have in that collective could form some sort of bond, and maybe we’d get a little snowfall in the process.

After getting my first salaried job as a teacher, I decided to make that particular Christmas the one I forgave everything and everyone for. I kid you not, I gave gifts like I had lost my mind. I started saying grace, which is weird since I don’t really believe in any religion per se. I started to actually have serious conversations with my other family members, at least the younger generation. I started to feel like I had a family again, and this time, it was a feeling I didn’t want to let go of.

Now, that energy has been transmuted back into my elders, and that’s really what these holidays should be about. What’s the point of going to services and masses when the temple inside your home’s a wreck? My spirit replenished and refocused, I can celebrate togetherness all year round, with a special day to keep me on track …

On the 1st Day of Christmas, G_d gave to me
12 gifts from my kids
11 pieces of chocolate
10 comfy sweaters
9 pounds from my fam
8 drinks to choose from
7 calls from my friends
6 plates of good food
5 COMMENTS FROM YOUUUUUUU!!!!
4 people in this house
3 happy males
2 brothers sleeping
and 1 writer spreading the peace …

jose, who’s about as happy as he’s been for any holiday …

About Jose Vilson

José Luis Vilson is a math educator, blogger, speaker, and activist. For more of my writing, buy my book This Is Not A Test: A New Narrative on Race, Class, and Education, on sale now.

Comments 8

  1. Mes Deux Cents

    Jose,

    One of the nicest thinks anyone has ever done for me was done by my Stepmother. She gave me a surprise birthday party for my sweet 16. What does that have to do with your post? Well I’m not sure, except that you talk about your Stepdad.

    Anyway family is a very complicated subject. I enjoy hearing about other’s families since I really don’t have one. I have relatives but no real family.

    It’s nice to hear that you are reaching out to your family. That’s a great thing. The work you do now will pay off as time goes by.

    And I’m glad to hear you are happy, what a great Christmas present!

    Merry Christmas.

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    Jose

    @ everyone: a Merry Christmas to you, too.

    @ Frum: I would have written more, but I had to play Santa :-) …

    @ CTG: Nice to see you around, my poetic brethren. Thanks.

    @ MDC: Well I found out what the present was, and it was a digital picture frame. I’m not sure where I’m going to put it, but I know I’m still a little confused about it all. Family is definitely a touchy subject, yet something that helps us understand ourselves better.

  3. Shelly

    Hi Jose,

    Family life is sometimes confusing, often surprising, always complex. You captured it perfectly. Sounds like it was a good on the whole, hope you had lots of fun :-)

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