A Christmas Story

December 24, 2009

This picture and article appeared on the front page of the Burlington Daily Times on December 24, 1985, in metropolitan Boston.  My mother died in the year 2000, at the age seventy-seven connected in the heart, soul, and mind with the joy of His peace.

~

A Christmas Story

A man painfully remembers: years of confusion, guilt, and learning to survive in a world where hate and fear consumed his childhood.

When he was six years old, his mother stood on the hood of the car, kicked the windshield in and cursed the boy’s father to hell.

When the boy was eight, divorce and alcoholism robbed him of his mother.  The parent’s failure, anger, and hate tore the relationship apart and another family unit fragmented.

This is a story about a mother and son coming together after eighteen years, and about the One who stirred their hearts into a love that brought healing and hope to a once broken relationship.

~

Carol, Sid, Mama, Robert and Terry

~

I had always wondered about her.  She was beautiful, but many of my memories were painful, reinforced by my father’s hatred for her.  While I was growing up, he cut me off from anyone who cared about her.

Then during my last year of graduate school, I found where she lived, discovering that in a city of 600,000 people, I was driving past her house daily.

Should I go see her?  What would she be like now?  She would be forty-five years old.  Could I understand this woman who left four young children, never again to be involved in their childhood?

She didn’t know who I was when my wife and I knocked on her door in October of 1968.  But a new journey began.

Her story was hard.  She had married at sixteen, had three children before age twenty-one.  She married five times, was an alcoholic, and currently was living with a man who was not her husband.

She hated herself.  She had attempted suicide by cutting her throat, jumping out of a car going eighty miles an hour, and by putting a gun to her head and pulling the trigger.

But, the gun misfired.  It fell on the floor, blowing a hole in the wall.  She lived!

The reunion with her son helped her to realize she could start over again.  She began to fight!  But it was like trying to climb a greased slide.  My family — a wife and two babies — now included this woman, my mother, who, after wanting to die all these years, now had a desire to live.

The failure I experienced in my childhood caused me to pursue the field of counseling to learn how to live in relationships, and not make the same mistakes my parents made.   There had to be a way to live in this world and not be victimized by failure, anger, insecurity and guilt.

People can come back together and healing can take place in relatiionships.  But how?  How could this woman ever have forgiven herself for leaving her children?  How could the children have ever forgiven her for abandoning them?

As a family counselor in Burlington, I have chosen, for a model, one person in history who knew how to love and treat human beings.  I find very few people who have read his life.  Not many are willing to give and extend mercy toward those who hurt them.  Not many are willing to say: “I am wrong!”; “I am sorry!”; “Forgive me!”

The little baby whose birthday the world celebrates at this time of the year grew up to be a man.  He met a woman at the well who had been married five times and was living with a man not her husband.  The man at the well treated the woman with dignity, respect, consideration, and compassion.   It changed her life.

The angels announced at his birth that he has come to bring good tidings of great joy.  The woman at the well experienced it the day she met him.  I have tested it on the streets of the twentieth century and it holds today.  My mother found hope, forgiveness, and new beginnings because this man’s evaluation of human worth represented by the heart of the God and Father of us all.

Our challenge at this season is to look past the commercialism of Christmas.  To look beyond the religious ritual, and to sense the mystery of the One who came among us to demonstrate and to give a new quality of life.

I’ve just returned from a family wedding.  It was the first time in thirty-five years the family was together.  My mother flew back with us, and will celebrate her first New England Christmas with me and my family.  We realize that we owe this reunion to the One whose perspective on life continues to bring into a dark world hope and light.

Our hearts are full of thanksgiving as we celebrate the reality of his presence.

~

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5 Responses to “A Christmas Story”

  1. Susan Hodges said

    What a wonderful story and so very well put Terry! Thank you for sharing it 🙂

    Love you bunches!
    Merry Christmas!

    Susan

  2. Carol Smith Woods said

    God is good!

  3. royalston said

    What a great story of hope, Terry! Thanks!

    Merry Christmas,
    Roy Alston

  4. Terry, I never tire of hearing your mother’s story of redemption. Merry Christmas, Sarah Rummage

  5. Hischildever said

    Thanks for the wonderful story, Terry!! It brings a lot of hope and the real essence of Christmas!!

    Wish you, your lovely daughters and your grandchildren a very happy new year!!

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