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Joy and peace unto mankind

Updated: Aug 28, 2023

It’s Christmas Day, and everyone is visiting the matriarch (AKA granny). Sally’s parents were bickering before leaving home. Maybe things would settle down, now that they were in company (Sally’s fingers crossed behind her back).

The grown-ups were drinking lots of beer and whisky in the front room, while the children played in the bedroom. It was a tight squeeze, with ten of them (all the grandchildren) in the tiny bedroom, and it wasn’t long before they were fighting over which game to play, or who was the boss.

It was very similar in the front room, where voices were raised higher with each measure of alcohol. Sally’s parents could be heard shouting at each other, and the fight was taken into the back yard, for all to see. Mum was armed with a glass squash bottle, and dad had his fists up in defence, and granny was watching helplessly from her window. She knew it was pointless to send anyone down, as it would only make matters worse. Everyone sat in silence, wondering how it would end this time; it was always the same, food, festivities and then a fight in the back yard.

‘You dirty bastard, every pal I make, you try to shag them, and I’ve just about had enough!’ Mum shouted.

‘That’s a lot of nonsense; you shouldn’t believe everything your so-called pals tell you. It’s the other way round; they’re the ones who make the moves, and then get pissed off when I say no,’ replied dad.

‘So, let’s get this right, more than ten women are making up the same lies about you? There’s only one common denominator in this story, and that’s you, you dirty whoremonger! You’re an apology for a man; you spend all your money on booze and gambling, and I have to work in the car wash, and clean offices to put food on the table. A man who doesn’t provide for his kids, is no man, as far as I’m concerned.’

She smashed the bottle over his head, and started to punch him, tears smearing her mascara. The next thing the onlookers (most of the tenement residents) saw was mum flying in the air, landing on her back, inside the midden. She was that intoxicated, that she bounced back up, preparing her next move, but as she ran towards him, her new stiletto shoe suddenly found itself without a heel, causing her to fall to the ground.

Dad walked away in disgust, only to feel a set of long nails attach themselves to his back.

‘Right, that’s it, you stupid fuck, you’ve gone too far this time. You can go back to that shower of in-breeds you call a family; and don’t think the weans are going with you. You’ve done enough damage, ruining their Christmas, and giving yourself a

showing up. I’m going to the pub, and don’t try to follow me, or the next punch will be worse.

At this, she suddenly sobered up and ran upstairs to clean herself. Sally was first to reach her mum and she tried to help her. As she stumbled on the broken shoe, her mum pushed her away and gave her brothers a big hug.

‘Get me cup of tea and get your brothers some juice. We’re going home, and your father can go fuck himself, for all I care.’

As Sally watched mum hug her boys, the feeling of despair she felt rendered her unable to move; through the despair, she could hear muffled sounds, and she felt someone shake her.

‘Did you hear me lady? Get me a cup of tea. In fact, don’t bother, get your brothers ready. You can stay here with your precious granny! You’ve been nothing but trouble since the day you were born. Your da ran away to the army to get away from you, and came home a different person, the drunk and philanderer that he is. If I didn’t know better, I would say that they gave me the wrong baby to take home. Your dour wee face really gets on my tits, and all your smart-arse comments about those stupid books that you pretend to read drive me crazy. I wish they had kept you at that residential school, instead of ruining our Christmas, by sending you home.’

As the tears ran down Sally’s face, she felt the warmth of her granny’s arms enveloping her. Granny’s kind eyes conveyed a message of hope to Sally; maybe it wouldn’t always be like this, and she retreated into her land of fantasy, where she stayed with granny, and every morning granny gave her a cup of tea and a hot roll,

straight from the bakers.

‘Why is life so unfair?’ If mum doesn’t want me, why do I have to live with her? I’m fed up being the reason for her bad moods. If I’m so bad, that even when I just look at her, she swipes me across the face, and sends me to that cold bedroom for the rest of the day, why do I have to stay there? The only time she doesn’t treat me badly is when dad is at home. Then it’s happy families for a while, until he storms out or goes to work. I must be a terrible person, if I cause mum so much misery.’

As Sally dared to hope that she would be staying with granny for the rest of the Christmas holidays, she heard dad’s voice; he had calmed down, and was back to take the family home.

‘The taxi’s ordered, so hurry up and get these kids ready, or I might change my mind. You’ve got 10 minutes to get everything together; Sally, you too! You need to learn how to ride your new bike. I’m off work for a few days, so I’ll be there to help you.’

Although Sally was disappointed that she wasn’t staying with granny, at least she wouldn’t get smacked for a few days if dad was there. Maybe it would be a good Christmas after all.

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