chocolate is a verb

colors, flavors, whims and other growing things

Good Cheer

1950 ChristmasMy third Christmas rolled around when I was still a couple months shy of three years old. Dorothy’s card that year was a linoleum block print with the red colored in by hand. The three of us are lined up on the couch, each pair of feet missing the sock that’s hung on the mantel.

Though I’m sure my mother intended it to be amusing, there’s a hint of sadness in this year’s image. She was already feeling the wounds and disappointments of motherhood and she would soon be sent away to “rest” and “get better” (what I was told) for some months. She wouldn’t make another Christmas card for four years.

7 responses to “Good Cheer

  1. Eric Solstein December 25, 2015 at 6:34 am

    As I’ve been hearing this story in bits and pieces for years now, I wonder if your mother’s discomfort is not with motherhood, but with more, everything, anything. Why are you so convinced that it was your appearance that she couldn’t manage? Maybe I shouldn’t be asking or it’s a bad time (X-mas day, really?) Life is so hard even without a child. I don’t know any of it myself to argue, but I have always felt the weight of this on you as you repeatedly present it, but I can’t recall if I know in any explicit way how you are so sure of this. Mental illness and even the simple vagaries of a person’s mood can have complicated explanations, if they can be explained at all.

  2. kristin December 25, 2015 at 6:48 am

    I always mean to make a linocut Christmas card but so far have not done it.

  3. jik December 25, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Well, I think you’re right: it’s complicated. I know there were many factors at work, not least including her own childhood wounds, but my mother was quite explicit in telling me, verbally, that she didn’t like children, that she blamed me for various of her physical ailments, etc. The fragments that appear here are just my way of processing memory; I don’t want to oversimplify and I don’t want to get ensnared in blaming, but I do feel a lot of compassion (for all of us) and find the process rather liberating. Thank you for witnessing.

  4. marsha addis December 25, 2015 at 11:06 am

    Goodness, goodness, Judy. I didn’t realize that your mother disappeared also when you were very little. (You will remember that mine was in a psychiatric hospital in LA for 9 months starting when I was 6 months old.) Who helped your father take care of you?

  5. jik December 25, 2015 at 11:21 am

    A very nice woman, Henny Krebs, came each day to stay with me while my dad was at work. (Our moms’ absences must be written in to our connection, yes?)

  6. Eric Solstein December 25, 2015 at 6:42 pm

    Now, I’m trying to figure out how your third Christmas could arrive before you had actually been breathing air for three years, or maybe I’m forgetting a previous entry.

  7. jik December 26, 2015 at 2:30 pm

    Higher math: born in Feb, first Xmas before I was 1, etc.

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