What is your earliest memory? Describe it in detail, and tell us why you think that experience was the one to stick with you.
Daily Prompt: Childhood Revisited
I have to be honest with you. My earliest childhood memories are not very pleasant. I have some good memories, but you’re asking for my earliest childhood memory, and I don’t like that one. I didn’t take part in yesterday’s daily prompt, because I’m not ready to write my own obituary, and that just wasn’t something I felt like doing. 😛 However, even though it isn’t one of my fondest memories… (did anyone ever think about doing a prompt about one of our fondest memories?) I will dive in and take you back to another place and time in history…
It was Christmas time, 1964, and…
The children were nestled all snug in their beds
Though visions of sugar plums never danced in my head!
I’ve often wondered, what is a sugar-plum anyway? The plum in sugar-plum doesn’t sound very appetizing to me, although I have to agree with Mary Poppins, a spoonful of sugar does help nasty things such as medicine go down much easier… But I digress… okay, back to the topic.
It was Christmas time, 1964. My mother had just given birth to my sister on December 14, and I loved that little bundle of joy, but I was really excited about what was going on in my Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom, where I could hear them talking and laughing. I could hear the sounds of paper ripping, and Christmas music playing on the record player.
This was our first Christmas together as a family, and it was also the first Christmas that I had at least a small concept of what was going on. I knew that I liked the pretty Christmas tree in the living room, with the tinsel and garland, and its big colorful light bulbs. And oh! The shiny balls that hung from the tree were so pretty. There were red ones and gold ones and silver and green ones. I would have liked to play with those pretty shiny balls, but I wasn’t allowed to touch them.
Even though we only lived in that house a short time, and though I was only three when we lived there, I remember some of it vividly. It had quite an unusual set up, as I recall. I would love to visit that house again, to see how it compares to my memories of it, but it’s been through several remodels over the last forty-some years, so it probably wouldn’t be at all as I remember. Anyway, I digress again (do you get the feeling that I’d rather not think about this memory?).
To enter my little bedroom, you had to take one step up from the kitchen. There was a door separating the kitchen from my bedroom. It was just a small room, but certainly large enough for a little 3-year-old. Only a few feet away, on the back wall, was my bed. There was probably about three to four feet from the left-side wall and the foot of my bed. It was a twin bed, one side pushed against the back wall of the room, and the head of the bed was pushed up against the right-side wall, on the side farthest from the kitchen entrance. Beside the head of the bed was another door that led to my Mommy and Daddy’s bedroom. There was no closet in the little room, and there were no dressers either, as the room just wasn’t large enough for that.
Oh, and I remember that I really liked the door that led to Mommy and Daddy’s room, because it was one of those doors that was wooden on the bottom half, but the top half was windowed. This allowed the light from my Mommy and Daddy’s room to spill over into my room, which was wonderful, especially for a small 3-year-old with a vivid imagination, and a strong fear of the dark and being alone. Many nights, when I was frightened, I would stand up on my bed, and leaning against the wall by its headboard, I would peek into my Mommy and Daddy’s room, and seeing them made me feel safer. I would watch them for a while, until sleepiness would take over, and then I’d lay back down to sleep.
This night was different, though. There was excitement in the air, and as I heard the laughter and the music coming from their bedroom, I just had to look and see what was going on. So, from my usual perch, I peeked through the window into Mommy and Daddy’s room. Whatever it was that they were doing looked like a lot of fun, and I wanted to get a closer look, so, jumping down from my bed, I walked up to the window of the door, and standing on my tip-toes, I peeked into their room once more.
Oh my goodness! It was every child’s delight. There were bright shiny ribbons, and packages, and beautiful bows strung about the room. And there were Mommy and Daddy, laughing and dancing, and Mommy was singing at the top of her voice, each occasionally taking a drag of his/her cigarette, as they would wrap the beautiful paper around the boxes. Oh, it looked like they were having such fun! I wished I could join in their fun, but some instinct within me warned me not to let them see me watching them.
I only wished that instinct had warned me a little sooner, as the laughing and singing came to an abrupt halt they spotted me. I quickly jumped back into my bed, covering myself up, as Daddy, followed closely by Mommy stormed through the door and began yelling at me. My earlier joy quickly melted into fear, as Daddy grabbed my left arm and lifted me from the bed, beating me with his open palm, cursing and swearing all the while. And then Mommy, grabbed me and started beating me, threatening to take all of my beautiful packages back to the store.
All of those beautiful packages were for me? My confused little mind tried to wrap itself around the thought of it, but I couldn’t, as my Mommy and Daddy continued to beat me and scream at me, accusing me of ruining Christmas for everyone. I didn’t mean to spoil Christmas for everyone, but it was obvious that I must have, because they had so quickly gone from laughter and joy to bitterness and rage.
As they commanded me to return to my bed and not to get up again, I laid there trembling, trying to be quiet my breathing, which came in gasping little breaths. I could hear Mommy and Daddy talking in their room again, but their joyous laughter and singing had ceased. Their conversation now consisted of grumbling about the stupid little b@!&# in the other room. I knew that I was the stupid little b@!&# they were referring to, and I was so, so sorry for taking away their laughter and their joy, and for destroying their Christmas.
It was then that I began to believe that there must be something terribly wrong with me, and it wasn’t until many, many years later that I came to realize the truth. How sad that I don’t remember that Christmas, although I’m sure I still received presents, because old pictures show that there were presents. I only remember this sad event, and as I sit here writing this earliest childhood memory, I can look at the little girl inside of me, the girl that I once was, with love and compassion. And I remind her of the words our heavenly Father spoke to us, “Can a woman forget her child at the breast, not show pity on the child from her womb? Even if these were to forget, I would not forget you. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands, your walls are always before Me…” (Isaiah 49:15-16 CJB)
Little girl within, your heavenly Father loves you with an everlasting love, and He promises that even though your father and your mother may forsake you, He will always care for you, and He will never leave you or forsake you.
For any who read my earliest childhood memory and have their own sad childhood memories, I would encourage you to take time to talk to that child who still lives within you, and comfort him/her. Many times in our lives, people speak lies to us, causing great harm within us, and oftentimes, causing us to hate the children that we once were. I encourage you, to seek the truth about what God says about His children. He is the One who reminds us that we are not accidents, not someone’s mistake, but that we are fearfully and wonderfully made in His image. We are so precious to Him, that He carefully knit us together in our mother’s womb. He says that He knew us before we were even conceived, and He promises that He will not abandon us, but will be with us always, even to the end of the age.
I pray the Lord blesses each one of you, and that you can see that even in the midst of sometimes painful memories, He can do turn them into something good.
Cheryl A. Showers
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