Bah Humbug!


Carolyn Aspenson 


I have a secret. Donít tell anyone because itís a horrible secret and it proves just what a selfish woman I truly am. Okay, here it goes. You ready?  

I hate Christmas. I dread it every year and often wish I could skip it.  

Truthfully, I havenít always hated Christmas. I used to love the shopping, the decorations, the beautiful trees and even the ridiculous non-stop playing of Christmas music everywhere I went. I relished in the picking, wrapping and almost impossible to keep secrets about the gifts. It was exciting to show the people I loved how I felt with a unique gift or twenty. I loved Christmas!  

Until 1998, when I married my husband and became a stepmother. Thatís when I stopped liking Christmas.

For those of you who donít know my situation, I am a stepmother of two wonderful girls, 11 and 9 years old and I have a son who is 4. My husband, whom I met in 1997 was divorced and had custody of his two daughters, so when I married him in 1998, I became an instant step mom. Except the girls mother wasnít around a lot (due to that terrible drug problem and the late nights she spent working as a stripper and all) and instead of a Ďstep momí I was more of a Ďmom momí.

It was a great thing for me. These two little girls calling me mommy and following me around and relying on me, wanting to be like me, wanting me with them all the time. How could I not fall in love with that? It was amazing. Except eventually I realized they really needed their Ďbiologicalí mom and when she straightened out her life, I made every effort possible to bring her back into the fold.
And thatís why I hate Christmas now.  

Before she came back around, Santa and I bought the most incredible gifts, made the most beautiful decorations, did the greatest things. Every scarf, shoe and shirt was like gold to my girls. Every toy was better than the last. I was unstoppable!  Then the girls started spending time with their Ďmomí and the gifts she bought, the things they did with her and the decorations she made were the best ever.  I was ousted out of my much deserved first place spot. And that hurt.  

Okay, okay. I know, all you moms out there are saying ďWho are you to say these girls shouldnít love their mom unconditionally? Shouldnít want to be with her? Who are you to think you should mean more to them than their biological mother?Ē Well chill out a bit there folks. This woman wasnít and still isnít any form of a good mother. She abandoned her kids, but even before that, the left them at home at 3 and 1 years old, by themselves. She put them in situations where they were almost kidnapped, she let them run around outside at 4 and 2 unattended and unclothed. She didnít feed them often because she was too busy being passed out drunk or stoned on the couch. She would leave for days at a time and forgot birthdays, holidays and other events. Like kindergarten. She let them play at a pond, alone, when neither could swim. She wasnít going to receive any mother of the year awards. Trust me. And when the divorce started, she left, didnít come back for a year and didnít once try to contact them. 

Now that she has given up the drugs (and sheís not taking her clothes off for strange men anymore) they see their mom every weekend. She doesnít call during the week, nor does she go to any of their school events. Sheís not the one that takes them to the doctor, she doesnít buy their friends birthday presents, doesnít manage their medications, or fix their knees when they fall off their scooters. She doesnít help with their homework or wash their clothes. She doesnít make them dinner every night, take them to gymnastics, have their friends sleep over or listen to them cry about fights and boys. Those things are all my jobs, and as most other moms out there, much, much more.  

You know what she does do? She buys them Christmas presents. The most amazing, unbelievable Christmas presents. Well, to them at least. To everyone else theyíre ordinary. Gameboy games, sweaters, Bratz dolls. Nothing so spectacular to write home about. But to them, thereís nothing better.  

I understand why these gifts are so great. They are never quite sure if sheís going to be around and if sheís going to give them something because for such a long time she disappointed them. Every gift from her is, well, a gift. Iím a sure thing. Iím here everyday. I handle everything and they know Iím not going anywhere. Theyíre used to me. Almost to the point of taking me for granted, which most kids do of their parents.

I know I should look at this as a good thing. They think of me as a parent, not a stepmother. They rely on me, they know I love them and they love me too. But itís hard to remember that in the throws of the holiday when they come home all excited about a flippiní scarf from Target that she bought them. When theyíre wearing it to bed and around the house for days, parading it like itís the second coming of Christ or the largest diamond ever discovered I tend to feel a bit slighted, even jealous.  

Never once during the holidays do I hear, ďGee mom, thanks for all you do. You really are a great mom!Ē Most of the moms out there probably donít either and though I know that, it doesnít make it any easier. I do hear how great she is though. How wonderful the cookies they made were, how great the movie they rented was, how much fun they had at the transvestite bar she works at, decorating for the holidays. Itís like I take on the Jan Brady attitude, ďMarcia, Marcia, Marcia!Ē I become frustrated and jealous and angry because she gets all this recognition for doing basically nothing and hereís me, the one whoís done all the shopping and all the preparation and I get no recognition. Nothing. Nada.  

Am I wrong to feel so slighted? Maybe so. Maybe not. But it doesnít matter whatís wrong or right. What matters is how I feel and I donít feel very loved over Christmastime. I feel very alone actually. I feel like no matter what I do, itís never going to be like what she does. No matter what I say, itís not as good as what she says. And so on and so on and so on.  

So thatís why I donít really like Christmas.  

Itís getting better though. I do have a wonderful son who doesnít have any other mothers and who happens to think Iím the greatest thing since sliced bread. He hugs me, loves me and kisses me over and over. Sure, thatís worth a lot. And I treasure those moments because I know that some day heíll be older and wonít do that. Not for a long, long time. But I still wish I could get that from my girls. Because it doesnít matter if they came from my womb or not. Theyíre my daughters. Iíve been with them longer than their mother. I just wish they realized that. And maybe thought as me as the great one every now and then.  


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