I have told accounts of my father’s ability to single-handedly foil Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy. While presents were always under the tree, eggs hidden, and money under our pillows, their intended joy was usually staved off by my dad’s usual antics: a drunken tirade or foolish act causing an embarrassingly new low for the family.
We carried on with cautious optimism that, just maybe, this year would be different. If only one of those beautifully wrapped gifts, one of those pastel eggs, one of those dreamful pillows had contained the true magic of healing — not a normal childhood wish but one we made repeatedly. They never did, and so magical childhood moments were consumed by one man’s “consumption.”
You may remember one such account involving a Christmastime trip to Seattle, during which my father drank from his roommate’s expensive wine collection, became suicidal, induced a police invasion into the apartment, and caused the family to spend Christmas in the hospital.
Below is his side of the story, copied from his journal.
It was the morning of December 24, 1997, and my kids had come to visit me in Seattle. Again, I was trying to control the drinking. I awoke at 6:00 A.M. and couldn’t fall back asleep, only they were still asleep. So I walked to the 7-Eleven to buy two quarts of Mickey’s Malt Liquor. My mind was telling me to only drink a half quart and hide the rest for later that night. However, I drank both quarts and then some, probably at least three bottles of wine that I took from my roommate.
I woke up Christmas Eve, but my kids were gone. I felt guilt and shame for what had happened; those feelings gave way to suicidal thoughts, so I called 911 but got scared and hung up. But the damage was done.
I bolted the door when the police arrived. Needless to say, that doesn’t keep them out. They had to use an ax to get in, busting through the door and frame to take me to the hospital. My brother had taken the kids earlier in the afternoon, after they had discovered me passed out on my bed holding a wine bottle.
When they returned that night, it was after the police, ambulance, and fire department had been there. And being Christmas Eve, few people were around, so my brother and kids didn’t have any idea what had happened.
If you struggle with the tempting allure of alcohol, walk into your child’s room right now. Watch him or her sleeping, eyes twitching as dreams sweep the creative mind. A truly precious, irreplaceable moment.
Then ask yourself, “Is it worth it? Is even one savory drop worth risking your family’s happiness, your child’s memories of you?” On behalf of scarred children everywhere, now fully grown to remember the terrorizing effects of alcoholism, put down the bottle, no matter the hour. Hug your child instead. Let Santa, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy be symbols of a happy childhood. More importantly, be an ever-present parent.