The Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

Let me tell you, divorce with kids is no fun. In most traditional divorces the dad goes off and the mom keeps the kids. Now, many will say that the mom then has it the worst, for she has to take care of them without a dad around to help. Everyone knows that it is the mom who has to do most of the ‘ grunt work’ in raising her children, especially when they are very young. It must not be a lot of fun to say the least. Yet, the mom, she has one advantage over her ex: She gets to appreciate the beauty of the two of them- in this case ‘ Sons’. The dad, if he truly feels that special affection for his offspring, then he ‘ lights up’ each time they are with him. Maybe when they lie there asleep in his apartment, he just gazes at their faces and feels a tear or two running from his eyes. That is what love is.

The divorced dad sees them usually twice a week. He takes them to one of their ( the three) favorite places to eat. They sit there, or stand if it’s at their favorite pizza joint, and the world outside of them becomes a bit ambiguous. One time, to save on wasting food, the dad orders one slice for the two of them. The oldest son only wants the cheese. The little guy is not a cheese lover and likes the dough and sauce. So, the slice comes, the oldest takes off the cheese, and the little guy gets the rest. Not bad. If they go to Brennan & Carr Roast Beef, the oldest only wants a cheeseburger and fries with beef broth. Dad and the little guy go for the beef, fries and broth. It gets so that the dad cannot go to that place by himself anymore- only with someone else. Too many memories of the three of them that play with his mind if he sits there eating by himself.

When he takes the boys to his apartment, just an old attic apartment with two rooms and a bathroom, they have a ball. You see, Brooklyn hasn’t gotten cable television yet, and where he lives, Long Island, they have it. The kids just love MTV music video, and they go from song to song enjoying it like it was July 4th. The oldest climbs up onto the kitchen cabinet and sees what he can eat. Dad always gets Smuckers Peanut Butter.. while mom only buys the regular brands, Peter Pan or Jiffy. Dad eats Westphalian Pumpernickel bread, and the boys just love it with the Smuckers. Dad always wonders why mom cannot get the same for them. Oh well. One night the three of them watched a rerun of Rocky 3. During the scene when Rocky and Mr. T go at it in the ring, the three of them are pounding pillows into the soft couch cushions, and the boys jump up and down and yell for Rocky.

Dad can be very emotional. The oldest says he is ‘ Too sentimental’. He is. The little one, barely five, likes it when dad kisses him and hugs him. The oldest, well, he was born an old man. The clairvoyant friend of dad says that he and the oldest were brothers in a previous life. She tells him that he decided to leave the business they shared and go away , far away. His brother never forgave him for that. So, it seems that each time he has had an opportunity to get a job in another state, he nixed it. Karma? The little one just likes his dad nearby too. Sometimes he tells his dad ‘ Da, I cried for you yesterday.’ That’s tough.

The worst time of the year for a divorced dad is around Christmas. Especially when his ex finds another man to share her life with. He is actually happy for her, but now another man is living with his boys. That is difficult to handle, but he does. He recalls two Christmas memories he wishes he could forget. The first is when he found a job as a bartender in a giant German restaurant near where he lived. Being low man on the totem he had to work the Christmas Eve shift. He wouldn’t have the boys anyway, as she always got them on the eve and he on Christmas day. Her Italian American family always had this big fish dinner on the eve… with perhaps 15 or 20 people from the family there. He had been through many of those and her family and their food was top shelf! He did miss that. Now, here he was on the eve pulling in a shift in a place where everyone, excepting he and the staff, were having wonderful dinners and drinks. His parents usually celebrated the eve with a lobster dinner Italian style, and he just loved lobster. That was there and then, and this was now. Dad’s are usually great at self pity when it comes to broken families and kids. Boy, he could self pity with the best of them.

HIs second Christmas memory, not a happy one too, was a Saturday right around Christmas time. He had the boys for the day and was bringing them home. It was dark now, maybe 6 PM , and the streets in Brooklyn still had some snow left from an earlier storm. He pulled up to their house and you could see, through the window, that his ex and her husband were beginning to put up their Christmas tree. ” Look, they started already” , the oldest boy said. ” Come on, let’s go” to his little brother, as he scampered out of the car. Dad got out and went over to walk the little guy to the curb. ” Da, come walk me to the door. I want you to come see our tree Da.” His dad took his little hand, picked him up over the slight snow drift, and they walked holding hands to the front door. When they arrived at the door his mom opened it and said ” Come on in. We waited for you both to trim the tree.” The little guy said to his mom, as he still grabbed onto his dad’s hand ” I want my father to see our tree. Come on in Da” His dad stepped inside for but a few moments, told them how lucky they were to have such a nice tree, kissed his son and said goodnight….

He cried all the way home.

Philip A Farruggio is a contributing editor for The Greanville Post. He is also frequently posted on Global Research, Nation of Change,, and Off Guardian sites. He is the son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen and a graduate of Brooklyn College, class of 1974. Since the 2000 election debacle Philip has written over 400 columns on the Military Industrial Empire and other facets of life in an upside down America. He is also host of the ‘ It’s the Empire… Stupid ‘ radio show, co produced by Chuck Gregory. Philip can be reached at




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