I have this theory about Christmas. It is, admittedly, not the best theory in the land, but it is one I am working on either proving or disproving. I hope you will all help me in my quest to find the truth behind this hypothesis:

People who have traumatic childhoods cling to the Christmas holiday and its season.

I can only go by my own childhood and the worlds other authors have created in books to either support or dis spell this theory, so forgive me for being so ill prepared. My sample group is small; however, I am hopeful it can grow.

I would like to say I am not saying if you love Christmas then you need to reexamine your childhood because you are repressing something. I am not talking about loving the Christmas season. I am talking about the wild hopefulness that seeps into ones heart. The constant look-out for that Christmas miracle. The hope and joy that maybe, just maybe, this year will be the one that saves you. People with traumatic and broken families tend to really gravitate to Christmas and I want to understand why.

At first I thought it might have something to do with the ideals of family togetherness. It seems Christmas is the time of year the family can pretend to be normal. The Christmas tree goes up, mom makes hot coco, and everyone gathers around the tree and just soaks in the lights and the love. Sure, dad is about a quarter way from knocking off the Jack Daniels bottle and mom is all coked up…but to an outsider looking in, for just that one moment, the child in that family has what everyone else (not counting the Jewish children) has…a family all together around a Christmas tree. There is no TV on. No one is fighting. Everyone is just sitting on the couch and the love that is always hidden by anger, drugs, and booze starts slowly dripping into the warm circle of the family. The child can breathe because for once the child is “normal”.

Also, distant relatives tend to start pouring into your living rooms. With them come strange, exotic gifts…like an MC Hammer tape (even though you have an IPOD) or a yellow jello-molded Christmas tree with gum drops for ornaments. These people come all together and gather around the tree and again, a sense of being normal flickers like the lights on the tree. Of course Aunt Norma is discussing her latest divorce. Aunt Susie has her bratty kids with her who have tricked you into allowing them to play with your new toys. When they leave your toys will either be missing because they stole them or broken beyond repair. You mom will just sigh and tell you they don’t have any manners and you have to forgive them because they are family.

Do people with traumatic childhoods cling to Christmas for the sheer normalcy of the holiday?

Or is it something else?

For me, the holidays are some of the only memories I have left of my parents. My dad died when I was nine and most of the memories I have of him fill my one cupped hand. About half of the memories of my dad are about Christmas and the times we were all together as a family.

My mother’s favorite holiday was Christmas. I never got to ask her, but I am pretty sure she had a traumatic childhood as well. For her, she needed Christmas to remind her of the happy times. For me, I need Christmas to remind me of her.

As I get older, my memory of my parents becomes broken. The times I can recall are ones filled with high emotions (good and bad). So, it makes sense I would hold on to the Christmas memories because for me, they were happy moments.

So, do people who have a traumatic childhood hold onto Christmas to remind them of the people who have passed on?

Maybe I am over simplifying things. When dealing with human elements, things are never cut and dry. There are always many what ifs and just becauses. I don’t know what makes us cling to Christmas so much. I think for me, it is the idea of hope. No matter how bad things were, Christmas was always the time to set down differences and become a family. Christmas was the time for miracles. Christmas was the time to look back at the past and remember fondly what was lost. There were traditions and stories passed down from generations. It was the time I felt truly apart of something.