She Had To Be Strong For Her Kids In The Face Of Despair
“In September of 2013, my son was born. Early November, we went to visit my dad who had terminal lung cancer and that was the last time we saw him. About a week after that, my husband basically collapsed and it turned out his intestines had holes in them so he needed emergency surgery. Then my dad died in December.
A few days after that, my husband ended up on life support. On Christmas night, I was sat down and told I might need to get his papers in order because it was likely he’d be gone within the year.
I’ve never really been able to process the loss of my dad because of what came after. I had a three-month-old baby and a frightened four-year-old to keep safe. I still go to text my dad or see someone with his build or hair color and I can’t breathe. The silver lining is that my husband didn’t die and is doing much better.”
He Had Been Hiding His Pain For Quite Some Time
“My dad never had a sick day and never went to the doctor. On my mom’s birthday (December 19th), he said he wasn’t feeling well, promised her he’d make it up to her, and went to bed. Three days later, he was still in bed and stopped being responsive so we called an ambulance.
On Christmas Eve, the hospital called in two neurosurgeons for an emergency surgery to remove a brain tumor the size of a golf ball. They told me he might not make it out of the operation.
On Christmas, our family learned that he had lymphoma which could have been detected and treated if he went to a doctor regularly. He passed away shortly afterward. The saddest part was when we were cleaning up his belongings and found handfuls of over-the-counter painkillers in all of his pockets and in his car. It seemed like he was in pain for a long time but refused to get it checked out. My mom doesn’t celebrate her birthday or Christmas anymore.”
She Did All She Could To Help Her Grieving Friend
“My best friend’s little brother died of an overdose on my birthday, which is December 20th. I woke up to her phone call at 7 am with, ‘Girl, I know it’s my birthday but it’s too early!’ and she said, ‘Buddy died.’
There are five kids in their family, three of whom were under 12 at the time. While my friend and her parents spent the next few days arranging his funeral, I hung out with the kids on the floor in front of their Christmas tree coloring in as many of those mandala coloring books as I could find at Michael’s. His funeral was held on Christmas Eve. The next day, his mom gave all the presents she had bought her son to his best friend. That should never have to happen on Christmas.”
No Child Should Have To Field This Phone Call
“This happened on Christmas when I was 12 years old. My grandmother had recently been suffering from chronic issues like strokes and dementia. It wasn’t looking too good and the last time I’d seen her had been two years prior after she had been put into one of those old folks’ homes, which was enough to depress even 10-year-old me.
We had a whole bunch of family over at our place for Christmas and I, being the 12-year-old-on-Christmas-morning, was up at like 6 am raring to get to the gift giving. Everyone else was still asleep when the phone rang. I picked it up so it wouldn’t disturb their rest.
‘Is this the (my last name) residence?’ I had a rather deep voice for a 12-year-old girl, so I guess she didn’t figure I was really young when I said yes, with no idea what was about to hit me.
‘Yes…this is (old folks’ home) and we regret to inform you that (my grandma) passed away early this morning. If you could call back at your earliest convenience, that would be great. Happy holidays.’ She hung up and then I had to tell my dad that his mom died on Christmas morning.
His Mom Wanted A Christmas With No Ho Ho Hos
“My parents split up when I was 3 but on Christmas, my mom would go over to my dad’s house so we could spend it together. My dad was a major piece of garbage and had a soft spot for exotic dancers. Well, one Christmas morning when I was 6 or 7, my dad invited one of these dancers over while we were there. My mom was obviously livid and told her to leave, but my dad told her to stay. Thus began a very awkward standoff. My mom said, ‘It’s her or me!’
To which my dad replied, ‘If you could suck me like she can, you would still be here!’ My mom flipped out, grabbed her keys (this mass of keys that must have weighed a few pounds), and punched my dad right in the face. Because he drank/smoked for years, his teeth weren’t in the best shape and she ended up knocking out about 10 of them.
The dancer bailed, my dad bailed (which was weird because he used to beat the snot out of my mom so I’m surprised he didn’t), and my mom and I went and ate Christmas breakfast in the only bar in town that was open. I don’t really care at all about Christmas and I’m sure this incident is why.”
It’s Hard For Him To Keep Christmas Special
“My dad was like Father Christmas to me. He struggled a lot with depression and Christmas was one of the few times in which my family was really happy, so Dad really loved Christmas. In September, he would start preparing ideas for foods and making preserves. He would even put together a menu for our dinner.
When I was 16 years old and woke up on Christmas morning, I don’t know why, but everything felt off. Nothing was really unusual; Dad was being his silly self, calling my brother and me down to see if Santa had come even though we were both way too old for it. I was walking out of our living room as he walked in and collapsed into my arms. He died of a massive heart attack.
A few days before his death, he told me that no matter what, I should always keep Christmas special. It has been 10 years and I feel guilty that I can’t keep that promise. When shops start selling Christmas products in September and people start posting countdowns, I just see him trying to hold himself up before collapsing into me.”
It Was A Really Rough Christmas For Both Of Their Families
“On Christmas Eve two years ago, my boyfriend picked me up to go to his family’s get together. They’re all very close and a lovely family, so I was excited. I was all decked out in a new sweater and brought a bottle of Merlot to give to his mom. Then on the drive there, he said, ‘So…today might be a little sad. My uncle was hit by a car about an hour ago and has a lot of brain damage. He was flown to a hospital.’ I was immediately sad, as was he.
It was terrible and tragic, but I had hope that he would pull through and survive, and that we could still have a decent day. Then as we were about a minute from his house, he got a call that his uncle didn’t make it. My boyfriend stayed strong, said, ‘Okay,’ and didn’t break down or anything as he said he’d be home soon. He told me he wanted me to stay with him and support him and his family during this awful day. It was really, really hard and the whole family was upset. The man was a great guy. It turned out he was intentionally killed by a man on some substance who swerved to hit him from the other lane while he was out walking.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, the next day was Christmas and I was at home with my parents. My elderly grandmother (my mom’s mom) was the only other family member we had, and she lived alone in her house about 10 minutes away from us, as she valued her independence. The sweetest and most selfless woman I’ve ever met.
My mom made a phone call to her to wish her a merry Christmas. She didn’t answer, so my mom thought maybe she slept in. She tried to call again an hour later, but still no answer. As my parents were finishing up the cooking for our holiday meal, my dad called and said that if she didn’t answer, he’d drive down and go inside to see what’s up. Third phone call, still no answer.
I stayed home with our dog while my parents went to check on my grandma. I called my boyfriend and he came over while I prepared for the worst and put away the uneaten food. About half an hour later, my mom called and said they were in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. They found my grandma face down on the kitchen floor but still breathing. She had a broken hip from her fall and suffered two heart attacks before passing away in hospice a few days later.
Overall, it was a very terrible Christmas. However, it made my boyfriend and I super close, given our shared tragedies and days of endlessly comforting each other. Christmas is a tough subject for both our families now. We’re really not looking forward to the holidays this year.”
Her Family Should Have Handled This Revelation Much Better
“I was severely depressed from the ages of 10-17. When I was 13, I began self-harming. I had kept it hidden well up until Christmas Day of 2013. I was wearing a bathrobe while opening presents, and at one point my sleeve came up to reveal dozens of cuts up and down my forearms.
My family became hysterical as they had no idea. It was the first and only time I saw my dad cry. My brother blamed himself for weeks. My mother told me I ruined Christmas. Every Christmas is just a painful reminder of how I messed it all up. They haven’t looked at me the same since.”
He Remained Calm In The Middle Of Calamity
“Every year my mom’s grandma stays at our house for Christmas. Her husband passed almost 30 years ago and most of her/our family is estranged after fighting pretty nastily over details of his will. The year this happened, she was 85 and super proud of her excellent health. She would always brag that she never had to take medication other than a multivitamin.
Like usual, great grandma came to our house and we made fudge, listened to Christmas music, and did other holiday stuff. She loved games (for decades she started out each morning with a pastry and a round of solitaire) and we were all gathered around the table playing one of her favorite card games. I was sitting to her left and my mom was sitting left of me around the dining room table.
We were playing the game and I looked over at her and she was weirdly frozen, a faint smile on her face. I was confused and shocked, just staring at her. My mom looked at her and screamed, jumping over me and grabbing her. She yelled, ‘Gram! Gram!’ and started sobbing. My brain connected that something awful was happening so I called 911.
I was so calm, I don’t know how I did it. My mom was literally screaming next to me (her gram is the only family she still speaks to). I told the dispatcher that we needed an ambulance because my grandma had had a stroke or something. As I was giving them information over the phone, I knelt down next to Gram, who wasn’t moving. She still had this frozen half-smile on her face and her eyes were glazed over.
I looked in her eyes, put my hand on her hand, and mouthed, ‘I love you.’ I watched her eyes unglaze, like for a second they looked like someone was behind them, and she mouthed it back: ‘I love you.’ Then she went completely unresponsive again. I kept talking to the dispatcher, but it was just so surreal. I thought those were her last words to me or to anyone.
It turned out her blood sugar had gone out of whack and she had an unresponsive episode. After Christmas, she started having more of them as her health began failing. She’s not allowed to eat her morning pastries and she doesn’t have the energy to play solitaire anymore. There’s not a whole lot she can do.
It’s really hard to watch and we think this might be her last Christmas, but we were really lucky to have gotten her back that day. I will never forget how it felt to watch her come out of the episode for a few seconds to tell me she loved me.”
For This Family, December Means Sadness
“Every year between the start of December and Christmas, one of my family members dies. Since I’ve started paying attention, it’s been 8 out of the last 10, but my family says it started happening years before I was born.
When I was 13, my mom woke me up at 6 in the morning on Christmas and said, ‘Merry Christmas, great-grandpa died,’ and walked out. The man ran a farm his entire life with his wife and kids until they divorced. Then, he fought in WW2 (I have some of his medals.) Once he came back from that, he bought a boat and became a fisherman. He lived a tough, hardy life. What killed him? Lung cancer. The man was 98.”
The Brother Sounds Like A Real Punk
“My family has had a lot of issues with each other due to years of hate and loathing that were escalated by my brother dropping out of school after years of legal trouble, helicopter parenting, and divorce.
My younger brother was getting married December 27, just after turning 18. The only people from our side of the family that were ‘allowed’ to go were me, my sister, our mom, our dad, and our dad’s mom. Everyone else at the wedding was family, friends, and neighbors of my sister-in-law.
I was part of the wedding, so I was upstairs when I heard that there was a commotion downstairs, but I wasn’t told what was happening. My mom and dad had brought my mom’s mom, who was turned away at the door and told she was not allowed to be there and had to go home. So my mom and dad left to take my grandma home and missed the wedding.
When they returned, my brother went off on them for missing his wedding, and my sister-in-law’s mom said to me, ‘It’s okay, you don’t have to be a part of that family anymore, you can be a part of ours,’ right in front of my mom. We left. My mom, my dad, my grandma, my sister, my sister’s girlfriend who had to wait outside in the car, and I all left.
It took over two years before my brother would speak to us (even then it was only certain people) because he was going to have a baby. They wanted to ‘fix things’ before bringing a child into this world.
My niece recently celebrated her first birthday and she is one of the biggest balls of joy my family knows. However, my brother and his wife are getting a divorce and my brother still doesn’t treat our mom like a person even though he lives with her for free.
I personally still have issues with the fact they got married two days after Christmas, knowing that our family wasn’t even welcome there. That Christmas was such a huge mess and I’ve been very wary of any holiday gatherings with my family since then.”
She Was Able To Rebuild Her Life After Such Tragedy
“I met a girl online in an army wives forum whose husband was deployed in the same unit as my (now ex) husband. We had a lot in common, including sons that were both toddlers. We were also both staying with our families until the deployment was over. We planned on meeting up and hanging out once we moved back to post.
Christmas day came and I learned from her that her husband had died from an IED during his morning patrol. My ex worked in central command doing radio dispatch and told me he had watched the whole thing unfold on a screen. Nobody could really help him and it was one of the worst ways to die. As if this story couldn’t get any worse, our husbands were due back in only a month. She was also pregnant with their second child.
She still came down when the unit was back since they wanted to include her in some memorial ceremonies for her husband. We did still meet up and she was the sweetest person ever. Her son was adorable, too. She moved back home shortly after everything was settled, and she remarried and had another kid. We eventually fell out of touch, but I still think of her a lot, especially on Christmas.”
A Terrible Familial Betrayal
“This particular Christmas in 2009, I had just finished legally changing my name as I’m transgender and had come out a year prior. My grandparents weren’t supportive at all and basically ignored it, but I still went to family events because we had always been super close. I’m talking every weekend spending the night at their house, my grandma going as chaperone to my field trips, once a week movies, etc. My family has always been tight.
Apparently, changing my name was the last straw for them. Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, my grandparents had given each child and grandchild a $100 bill in their Christmas card. That year, my Christmas card was a check written out to my birth name, which I couldn’t cash. Everyone else got their $100 bill as normal.
I was extremely hurt. It wasn’t the money (I couldn’t have cared less about that), it was the humiliation. I just looked up from my card at everyone and started crying before leaving the room. I couldn’t breathe.
It was the most hurtful thing they could have done. It was the last time they spoke to me other than when I emailed them telling them how much I missed them and wanted them in my life, to which they basically replied that they never wanted to see me again. They’ve missed my wedding and the birth of their great-grandchild, and now my aunt is actively dying and they still do not want to see me.
To top that all off, I don’t expect my aunt, essentially a second mother to me, will make it past this Christmas. She’s got lung cancer that has metastasized in her brain and bones and is now in hospice at age 56.”
They Just Wanted To Find Their Cat
“My boyfriend and I visited family over the holidays two years ago. We left our cats at home and a friend of mine stopped in a few times to feed, change litter, play with them, etc. Her last visit was the day before we got home. She texted me and said she couldn’t find our more skittish cat. We figured she was hiding in a cupboard somewhere and didn’t really think anything of it.
When we got home the next day, we couldn’t find the cat either. We searched the whole apartment, put out treats and food, but no kitty. We figured she must have slipped outside when the sitter was tossing the dirty litter.
We walked miles around our complex, calling her name. We put out missing posters. We left out food and stinky litter to remind her where home was. We set out humane traps, as we were convinced we saw her hanging out with some feral neighborhood cats. We never got her. We caught 36 other cats, including a tabby we’d thought was her, but not our cat.
Two months later, there was a smell in our apartment. One day my boyfriend shined a flashlight behind the water heater in the closet and found my cat’s body. It was not in good condition. Christmas will always make me think of her; of the hope of her return, the sad acceptance that she was gone, and then the despairing realization that she had never left.”
“Christmas Has Never Really Been The Same”
“My grandma died on Christmas Day. She’d had cancer for about 18 months, and at that point we’d long since known it was terminal. My dad, sister, and I were at our house (we were teenagers so mom and dad wanted to keep Christmas as normal as possible) and my mom was with my grandma 50 miles away.
For whatever reason, I woke up around 3 am and went to get a glass of water. When I got downstairs, my mom was in the kitchen just staring at the kettle. I said, ‘She’s gone, isn’t she?’ and she burst into tears. Christmas has never really been the same since.”