I hope this holiday season is filled with love and happiness. I know for so many holidays can be bittersweet. While many think of it as a joyous time there are many in our world who are without their loved ones this year who may have passed away, live too far to visit and cannot afford it in this economy, or may be living in a divided family. For most of the 20 years of my life I spent Christmas Eve and Day with my father’s side of the family. Gathering at aunts-uncles homes on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day at Grandma’s. If you have read my book many know that Christmas Eve/Day were not that cheerful when I was 11 and 12 and had a cousin abusing me during that time we were suppose to be gathering to celebrate the birth of Christ and instead I was fighting off a cousin. For many survivors of sexual abuse by a family member or family friends it was during holidays that abuse happened. Often a painful reminder each year when others are celebrating. For myself holidays like Christmas do not haunt me, are not a painful reminder. Yes I cannot erase what happened but I instead hold onto what I remember during some of those same holidays when my cousin abused me and reflect back on the good that came during that time.
I remember the half hour drive home back in 97 on Christmas Eve my cousin had trapped me in an aunt/uncle’s upstairs bedroom in the dark abusing me and would later have to sit on his lap the whole way home as his parents took us back to our house because our parents left earlier to place the Christmas presents under the tree since we opened our presents Christmas Eve. The entire drive home as I was stuck sitting on his lap in a van with 9 people including my two sisters. It was my cousin that said “Erin can just sit on my lap.” It sicked me knowing that he would not keep his hands off me the entire drive home and he didn’t. However while I sat in the very back of the van with my cousin abusing me I continued to talk to my aunt, uncle, other cousins, and sisters dreaming of what I would consider the best Christmas and it would be walking in the door and running to the Christmas tree to find sitting in the living room a huge trampoline set up.
My sisters and I had been begging my parents for two years for a trampoline and there was no way our Dad told us would he ever get us one. He just reminded us we would break our necks if we had one. That they are too dangerous. So I instead dreamed of the perfect Christmas and how the Christmas presents would be sitting not under the tree but on top of the Trampoline. By sharing my perfect Christmas it helped me get through the half hour drive home as my cousin abused me. When we reached our home I could not have been happier to escape that van and race my sisters to the front door like we did every year. We ran in the house where our parents were waiting by the tree as we ripped open our presents with Christmas music playing in the back round. No there was no huge trampoline set up like I dreamed of but it was dreaming about it that helped me escape the horror that happened the whole drive home. After finishing opening our presents my older sister and I beat our younger sister downstairs to our stockings where our parents had both already made there way down.
It was there on a Christmas Eve where I endured a night of sexual abuse when suddenly my Christmas dream became a reality and sitting in a huge box that stretched across the room by the fireplace with the bold words TRAMPOLINE! You could hear my sisters and I screaming all the way to the North Pole with excitement. I cannot remember a more exciting Christmas in my life and yet I experienced horror that night it no longer haunts me thinking back on it because I watched a dream come true. I do not let the abuse that happened in my life be a painful reminder but instead remember the good that I remember as a child that came out of that particular Christmas Eve in 1997.
So on this Christmas in 2008 I wish everyone a happy and healthy holiday and remind you to reflect back on the good of past holiday memories and look forward to creating new ones today. Breakfast is ready in my house and my 93 yr old neighbor whom I refer to as Uncle Sid since he does not like us calling him grandpa Sid has just arrived to join us like he has since I was a child. Time to go create more memories to reflect back on one day.