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Truth or Beware?

How Christmas Shifted My Life

By Emily Marie ConcannonPublished 2 years ago 6 min read
Truth or Beware?
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash

This is a collection of Christmas memories. They span from childhood to young adulthood. They remind me of how much things changed and how Christmas stopped being a significant day for me.

Memory I:

"To every thing there is a Season, and a time to every purpose under the Heaven."


I stayed up all night watching the cold winter's sky. Something inside of me told me that the cold sky was the most honest. There was something the sun tries to hide behind its burning brightness. But the night sky was baren and naked.

I was so young, but something in me was not so young. I don't fully understand it, but I always felt a part of me was old and already saw the world's evil.

Anyway, that night I stayed up with my two older sisters. We played a fun game where we pretended our room was full of glowing bugs. I felt sure I saw lightning bugs dancing in our room.

I know now that they weren't real, but at the time, I felt so sure!

That's one of my earliest Christmas memories. I remember being younger than six. I got a doll, but my favorite toy was a black toy horse. I loved that horse and played with her every day.

I remember that night I tried to see the lightning bugs again but could not. My sisters told me it was because Christmas was over and they had to go away.

I never saw them again, though.

Memory II:

"A time to be born, and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to pluck up that which was planted. "


Now I'm older. I believe I was eight this year. We were visiting grandma Mary on my father's side after spending the day at my other grandma's home.

She had a small studio apartment that smelled like stale cigarettes. I was playing a Pokemon game on the Nintendo 64 with my younger cousin. It was a lot of fun.

When we joined the family in the kitchen, I spotted my grandma's Irish Blessing plack on the wall.

May the road rise to meet you,

May the wind ever be at thy back.....

I asked my aunt what it meant to have the wind on your back. She told me that it was a blessing that asked for your road of life to be smooth. That the wind always push you forward rather than drag you backward.

I wondered why anyone would want to move forward? Life was so beautiful, I didn't want it to move forward.

I'd change my mind day, though.

Later that evening as we walked to our car I saw a large black crow. I'd never seen one before, so I let out a small cry.

"What is that?" I asked my father.

"Just a crow," you said with a grin.

Why was the black crow following me, though? Why was it watching me that night on its perch in the tree?

Memory III:

"A time to kill, and a time to heal. A time to break down, and a time to build up."


This year we were all gathered at my grandmother's farm with some of my cousin's friends from school. We were climbing the sled hill that led into the snow-covered sheep pasture surrounding the farm.

I walked alone because my cousin was riding with his friends. I believe I was 11 years old that year. My body was starting to change and I felt like he was beginning to realize I was a girl.

Being a girl was like being a disease.

I walked up the hill alone, carrying my sled. I put my sled down beside his and asked if he'd like to race me. But he looked away from me and started to grab his friend's sled to pull him closer.

I started to feel tears in my eyes but wanted to remain strong. So, I went down alone.

That wasn't how it used to be, though.

I told the adults later that day about how it made me feel. The resounding message seemed to be that my cousin was too cool for me now.

"He's trying to impress his friends," they'd tell me.

But why would that matter? He was my best friend, why would I be too lame for him all of the sudden?

I decided to continue riding down the hill by myself. Towards the end of the day as the sunset, I walked up the hill alone for one last time. I overheard one of your friends teasing you.

"Hey you, knock it off," I found myself shouting at them. "He's my best friend."

You didn't say anything. In fact, you seemed to be angry with me. I never understood that, but I was proud to stick up for you even if you hated me for it.

Memory IV:

A time to cast away stone, and a time to gather stones together: a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing.


I was much older this Christmas. I believe I was 12 years old now. I recall watching the sunset red, highlighting the barren tops of the winter trees which surrounded mt grandma's home.

We already ate Christmas dinner with my aunts, uncles, and cousin. We already opened are gifts. Everyone was acting so happy, but there was a small twinge inside of me that year.

So, I decided to watch the red sunset. I wanted to burn the memory into my mind so that I could always access it.

I'm going to watch this so that I will always remember it.

I recall feeling that the city was slowly encroaching on my grandma's farm. It was creeping ever closer, and the forest surrounding her home was growing thinner and thinner.

That's how I felt about everything that year. So much was happening, changing, and shifting. It was occurring faster than I was able to stop it.

Instead of trying to stop it, I just watched the sunset. Things were spiraling, and Christmas was shifting.

Memory V:

A time to rend and a time to sew. A time to keep silence and a time to speak.

A time to love, and a time to hate. A time for war, and a time for peace.


I was much older now. My awkward body was finally beginning to shape into a woman's body. I still wasn't confident, but I was 15 and feeling less peculiar in my own skin.

It was Christmas time at Church. We were supposed to be singing in the Christmas cantata. I didn't even know what a cantata was, but I do recall wearing a black dress with white lace and a black veil over my hair.

I didn't feel particularly jolly that season. I looked in the mirror and thought I looked a lot like the barmaid Suzette in Manet's final painting. That was how I felt, though.

The whole holiday was one of loneliness and sadness. When I saw the massive cross on the back wall of our protestant church, I felt it was insufficient.

The Crucifix at my Catholic grandma Mary's church was far more accurate. The agony in Christ's face and remorse in Mary's eyes really hammered home what Christmas came to symbolize for me.

It was an end.

The end of the season.

The end of childhood.

And, perhaps, the end of magic.


I do apologize that this entry into the holiday hijinks wasn't more joyful. But, when I began reflecting on my memories, I felt there was more pain than celebration linked to the holiday.

I went through many fazes until I've reached where I am today (which might change again). In my teen years I began secretly practicing Messianic Judaism, where the holidays focused more on feelings of penance and repentance than celebration.

At the time, I told myself this was because my religious convictions drove me to believe this was how we should celebrate holidays. But I've since come to think the idea of a Holyday which revolved around loss and repentance, suited my personal journey closer than a holiday of celebrations and feasts.

I hope you enjoyed it, though! As always, much love and light to you all!

"The Stoics define wisdom to be conducted by reason, and folly nothing else but the being hurried by passion, lest our life should otherwise have been too dull and inactive, that creator, who out of clay first tempered and made us up, put into the composition of our humanity more than a pound of passions to an ounce of reason; and reason he confined within the narrow cells of the brain, whereas he left passions the whole body to range in."

Desiderius Erasmus

Short Story

About the Creator

Emily Marie Concannon

I am a world nomad with a passion for vegan food, history, coffee, and equality.

You can find my first novel on Kindle Vella here: :) I appreciate all your support and engagement! :)

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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  • Kris Concannonabout a year ago

    Very profound. I enjoyed reading this account It touched my heart. You have a wonderful way of putting memories into words to create pictures in the readers mind. Well done.

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