Home » A Wasted Life » One Thanksgiving Long Ago

One Thanksgiving Long Ago

It was that time of year again.  The little girl was told that she would be allowed to go back home, although it would only be for a limited stay.  She would of course have to sign an agreement, stating that she would obey all the rules that had been set down by her mama and older sister, but she didn’t care what she had to sign.  She would be at home!

The rules were strict.  She wouldn’t leave her room unless she was told that she could.  She would ask permission before she ate or drank anything, even if it was just a glass of water.  It would be her job to wash the dishes after every meal and if she didn’t come to a meal immediately when she was called, she didn’t eat.

She would go to church.  That was absolute law and she was not to question why she was the only one who had to go.  It had been explained that she needed to go, so that maybe God could help her become a decent person.

It would be her duty to get up and fix her daddy his coffee every morning and make sure that her older sister got up in time to go to school but under no circumstances was she to enter her sisters’ room.

She was not to complain.  She had willingly and eagerly signed an agreement and she was being given a gift.  She should be grateful, she was told.

It was the only time of year when kinfolk would invade the house.  Her mamas’ half-sister and brother-in-law would drive up from Florida.  Granny would also be there.

Her daddys’ mama and papa wouldn’t be invited because her mama didn’t like them.  Even though the little girl lived with them, she was too young to understand how sad they must have been to have Thanksgiving by themselves.

The kitchen would be a flurry of activity and wonderful smells would begin to waft through every room of the house.  Her mama would be busy fixing turkey, dressing, sweet potato casserole, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, macaroni and cheese, and there would be cranberry sauce.  Cranberry sauce was her favorite.

There would be apple and pumpkin pies and this year, there was going to be an added desert…one her older sister loved.  Divinity fudge.

The table would be set and everybody would gather around to take their places.  Her uncle would say a prayer.  He was a Hell fire and brimstone Baptist preacher and acted the part, at least in front of the family.  After everybody filled their plates and sat down, she would be allowed to fill hers.  She wanted a taste of everything except the apple and pumpkin pies.  She had never liked either one of those.

After her plate was filled, her aunt would say “your eyes are bigger than your stomach, I’ll bet.  You should put some of that food back and not be so wasteful.”  The little girl would put some of the food back and then sit outside the kitchen and eat.  Her mama was a marvelous cook and everything was perfect.

She could hear chattering around the table.  She could hear everybody laughing and heard her older sister ask if she could have some more turkey.  She heard her daddy say “why, sure youngun’.  Help yourself.”

After the feast, she was told to do her job.  Everybody else went into the front room to chat a little more and savor some freshly brewed coffee.  There would be moans and groans about how they were as full as a tick and praise for the wonderful meal they had just supped.

The little girl would take the wooden ladder that her daddy had cut in half and put it in front of the sink.  Standing on that ladder was the only way she could reach it, and she had to wash the dishes.  That had been in the agreement she signed.

On one side of the huge farm sink, pots and pans were stacked so high she could hardly reach them.  On the other side were the dishes, glasses and silverware.

She carefully washed all the dishes, glasses and silverware and then dried them.  They were put away in the Hoosier cabinet and she needed the ladder to reach it, too.  The pots and pans were put in a drawer under the stove and it was to be done without making a “racket” as her sister had instructed.

It took hours to wash everything and by the time she had finished, her aunt, uncle and granny had left.  None of them had come into the kitchen to say goodbye to her.

After the last pot was put away, she walked into the front room and asked if she could have a piece of fudge.  Her sister looked at her and asked if she had paid for any of the ingredients.  The little girl hung her head and said no.  Her mama looked at her with an icy cold stare and asked her if she had helped in any way to make it.  Again, the little girl said no.  Her sister spitefully said “well then, you can’t have any.”

The little girl decided to break the rules and went into her mama and daddys’ bedroom without permission.  She humbly asked her daddy if she could have a piece of fudge.  When he asked her why she was asking him, she told him what her mama and sister said.

Her daddy got up and went into the front room and said “I pay for the goddamn groceries in this house and if this youngun’ wants a piece of fudge, she can have it.”

She knew she had angered her mama and sister and she knew that she would pay dearly for it later, but that piece of fudge was the most delicious thing she had eaten all day!  It was even better than the cranberry sauce!

She received her punishment the next morning, when her mama woke her up by throwing the drawer of knives, forks and spoons in her face.  She had left a piece of food on one of them, she guessed.  After the little girl gathered up all the silverware and put it back in the drawer, her mama dragged her by the hair into the kitchen.

When she got there, every pot and pan and every dish and glass was sitting on the sink for her to wash again.  The little girl guessed she had left a piece of food on everything.

She got the ladder out and put it in front of the sink.  As she started washing them, her mama while sitting in the chair with a switch, snarled at her and said “if you’d use your right hand, maybe you could get something clean for a change.”

The little girl quickly switched the dishrag from her left hand to her right hand.  She was careful to inspect everything she washed before she dried it and put it away.

When she went back to her room, all she could think was…Christmas was coming soon and she hoped that she would be allowed to stay until then.  She prayed and asked God to make her mama and daddy let her stay.

She believed in Santa Clause and Christmas was her favorite time of year.

 

 

51 thoughts on “One Thanksgiving Long Ago

  1. Damn Laurel. This was absolutely heartbreaking. I can’t imagine. How could anyone treat a child like this? You were an awesome mom in spite of your parents treating you like crap.

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  2. I was just about to ask if the little girl was you, until I saw your response to a comment. This post was from the heart. It couldn’t be written like this if you hadn’t experienced it. To put it bluntly, it broke my heart. Good Lord, I am so sorry.

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  3. I read this yesterday but was rushing out the door.

    Now that I’ve had time to process this it’s clear to me you are not to blame for this event.

    A responsible parent does not give a toddler a bottle of aspirin to play with!

    Answer me this, what would have happened if both you and your brother had died? Who would be blamed then?

    It’s terribly unfortunate that these events were your life. No child deserves this. I’m truly sorry. Hugs🌷

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  5. I can’t like this I just want to cry. I just want to hug that little girl and tell her just because those people were such assholes doesn’t mean she didn’t deserve to be loved. Goddam people. You did so well for so long with so little backing. I think you are an amazing woman, when I think of all you’ve been through, from them until now. Big hugs to you, my friend.

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  6. Im sorry for the emotional and physical pain you went through and the memories that are still vivid. I hope it will be exchanged for something beautiful one day.

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  7. Oh no, I was hoping this wasn’t you! Bless your sweet little heart, Laurel. Tears streaming. Your mother did NOT deserve you. I hope you have been able to recover from her awful treatment. I can only imagine your mother was jealous of something very beautiful and outstanding about you. She was sick and I am so very sorry that you were treated so poorly. Hugs, hugs, BIG hugs to you. How brave you were to go ask your daddy for that special dessert. That one thing shows how strong you were, even then. Thank you for sharing this. I hope it allows you to let some of it go. I know these terrible memories are in you and make you doubt yourself but I hope you see that it was never you something was wrong with. It was always her. Much love to you!

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      • Whatever happened to your little brother, you DIDN’T intentionally do. I’m sure of it. Oh you sweet, sweet, soul. What a load you are carrying around. I wish I could help you release it. What happened to your brother? If it’s not the time or if you don’t want to talk about it, I understand. Don’t forget you were a child. Your parents were the adults. Whatever happened, they were suppose to be supervising you. My heart hurts for the confused, hurt child still living in you.

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        • Mama gave him a bottle of aspirin to carry around with him because he liked the way it rattled. Being a year older, I figured out how to get the lid off. He ate them and died. I don’t remember him except seeing him lying in his coffin. They had given me to my grandparents and they brought me to the funeral home. I was confused about why he had on no shoes. I remember everything he was wearing and he just looked like he was asleep. Even after I was grown, nobody ever talked about him. I didn’t find out what I had done until after mama died and one of my kinfolk told me. It was almost comforting because at least I knew then, why she had hated me so much. It made sense.

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          • You know you didn’t do that don’t you!? That was not anything you even understood. It could’ve happened to anyone and you did not kill your brother. You DID NOT! I’m absolutely positive you loved him so very much. I’m sorry, so sorry, that happened. If you look at it from a different angle, why would any parent give her child a bottle of pills to walk around and shake like a rattle. She could’ve put rocks in it or beans or anything else. It was a bad idea, however I don’t believe accidents are anyone’s fault. Heartbreaking but not anyone’s fault. She should have never treated you that way. That wasn’t your fault. I could totally see my daughter opening a bottle like that and her brother getting into it, when they were younger. Children aren’t responsible for things like this. You were still a child! I feel like your mother was angry at herself and taking it out on you because admitting that she made a mistake, however wrong that was, was harder than blaming and punishing you. I really think that was the case. Seeing you only made her remember the mistake she made, letting her little boy play with a dangerous bottle of aspirin. She was wrong to put that on you. It wasn’t your fault. It was an accident. You were just a smart, curious little girl who figured out how to open a bottle. It was as innocent as that. Take that burden off you and breathe. Make this Thanksgiving a wonderful time full of all the things you love. Release the guilt and blame, Laurel and remember you were just a smart, curious little girl who loved her brother. Lots of hugs and love to you.

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            • I know I was a child. I was 3 1/2 years old. She used to say “you’re so smart.” LOL I wondered why she used to say that. I mean, I was no idiot but now I know. The worst thing was that it spilled over to my children. My middle daughter is named after my daddy and he didn’t even remember it…because he didn’t care either. My youngest daughter has always been called my “clone” and the first time mama met her (when she was about 3 1/2 years old) she just glared at her. My youngest never forgot it and to this day, she hates my mama. It’s okay, though. She has a relationship with the other abusive drunk grandma that treated me even worse than my own mama did. Go figure.
              I got the double whammy. I went from an abusive family to an abusive family-in-law. One funny thing…my mama and daddy never met his mama and daddy….after almost forty years of marriage. Kind of says something, doesn’t it? LOL

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                    • Oh, they know who he is. They call him a piece of shit. They know what that WTC is but they don’t care because they”want dad to be happy.”
                      He has told them that I am clinically insane.

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                    • Oh, no. They are 39,38,35 and 33. They all live in Florida. They are coming up to spend the holidays with him, the WTC and the drunk this year. You have to remember…this is the man who was hardly ever around and when he was, he didn’t have any time for them. The only attention they ever got was him yelling at them…or when they were scoring soccer goals. (He was then a proud papa and they obviously got their skills from him.)

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                    • Well my only thought on this is for you to write them letters often, without expecting a response, reply, or mention, that just says you love them, you were thinking about them, and miss them or that you thought of a happy memory of them as a child, describing that joyful memory. No mention of anything bad, no mention of their father, and nothing else. This way, no matter what, they’ll know that you love them. That’s what I would do.

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                    • I sent them letters when I first left. I never got a response from any of them. My son eventually told me that they all felt like I had deserted them. None of them could understand that I was trying to save myself after their precious daddy actually thought he was going to bring that tramp down to Florida, stay at my house and sleep together in my bed together while I slept on the sofa. He saw nothing wrong with that concept at all. When I told him I wanted a divorce he said “no. I cannot imaging not being married to you.” LOL But you can imagine bringing your tramp down to spend time with your wife? I went off the deep end and my children didn’t understand why.

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                    • I talked to my middle daughter when I was stuck in Florida for the hurricane. It was the first time in two years. I didn’t get to see her children (one of whom I have never seen but once, right after she was born.) A few emails but she is defensive of her daddy and if I can’t deal with the fact that they love him and want him to be happy, then it’s just tough. The oldest one, I haven’t seen in a year and a half and the last time I saw her was….well, not something she should be proud of. My youngest daughter…I haven’t talked to in six months. My son…God love him. I heard he was back in the hospital because his withdrawal was so severe. He took after his daddy and his daddys’ mama. He’s been a drunk since he was 12. (But…being a tee-total-er myself, and having a mama and daddy who never had a drink…my son got his alcoholism from me, of course…per Loser.)

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                    • Send the letters. Only loving, sweet stuff. Even if nothing changes, you know that they always knew you loved them. That is something hey can keep forever and something they can look back on when they’re weak. Just send them love.

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                    • I’m not going to send anymore letters. They’ve all had their chance and they’ve all made their choice. They chose not only to believe Loser and that WTC who told them that I was insane, they treated me like I was.

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                    • Wow. What a trigger. I remember after having had three daughters (and being blamed by the drunken MIL for their sex because I didn’t know how to cook and was too thin), Every fucking day, MIL would call me and say “you have to have a boy and name him after (Loser.)
                      I finally was going to have a little boy (because I could tell by the way I was carrying him) Loser and I would have screaming matches because I had been threatened so many times by MIL. (She didn’t like what I named the girls either.)
                      One day he said “you have to decide whether you love me more than you hate my mama.”
                      They got their way…and I have regretted it ever since.

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                    • That’s a lot of conflict. You should go to a spa and relax 🙂. Would be nice if it was that easy. I’d never leave the spa😂😂😂.
                      Surround yourself with positive people and try to remember all the good things even if the bad ones are all bigger and more present. It’s all we can do.

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        • Again, I don’t know how I would have reacted if one of my daughters had killed my son. There was no money or help for her back then. She did what she could. She, like I said, was a wonderful mama to the rest of them. That’s says something about her, I think. What I wouldn’t have given to have had my mamas’ love, though. She was a remarkable woman and passed on so many of her talents to me….and nobody else.

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  8. Laurel this was so heartbreaking to read but again your writing is incredible. I can’t even express how I felt reading this but it kicked me in the gut and broke my heart to even imagine the sadness and pain that went into the voice of the little girl.

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