Emily

When I think about Christmasses in the past, what I remember the most vividly is not Christmas itself, but after. I remember how bare the walls and the rooms looked without the tree and decorations; I remember playing with my new toys or, as I got older, listening to new CDs or watching new DVDs in my room; I remember the sadness that came with the lack of lights and festivities, and the knowledge that soon I'd be back at school. And I remember how, after Christmas, things went back to normal. My parents let the angry words escape in hisses and snarls, no longer trying to hide them because it's Christmas. The false smiles and forced pecks on the cheek and the biting of lips to keep back the flood of words was gone; no need to pretend, not when it's not Christmas anymore.

You might think that I hated that. Most people would assume that Christmas, and my Mom and Dad pretending they were happy together, would have made me happier too. And what kind of person would prefer to hear their parents yelling at each other rather than making polite conversation? Maybe most people would prefer the quiet and the smiles, even if they never reached their eyes. But not me. I'm not saying I liked my parents fighting, I'm not saying I enjoyed being caught between the two people I love most in the world, I'm not saying it was a happy environment when they were in the middle of one of their bitter feuds. But those were the times when I had something that has become very rare in my family, something which I cling to desperately: the truth.