A Good Christmas
I’m not going to tell you any of the bad stuff that happened that Christmas, just the good stuff.
I suppose all you really need to know is that I was afraid my husband was going to kill me that Christmas. And so I left, and left in a hurry. I grabbed my son and fled for my life.
I ended up at one of the emergency shelters operated by Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region. They operate Anselma House in Kitchener and Haven House in Cambridge.
I was fearful, ashamed and upset. I’d wanted to spend Christmas at home with my husband and son, yet here I was, a stranger in a strange place.
That Christmas was a turning point in my life and in the life of my son. And I think I might have you to thank for it. If you support Women’s Crisis Services financially, that means you may have donated a gift that touched my life and the life of my son that Christmas. Thanks!
I’m writing because I want to invite you to be an angel to a woman and her child this Christmas. Please give a donation to Women’s Crisis Services so that they can give women and their children a safe and warm Christmas this year. I know your gift will make a really big difference at Anselma House and at Haven House. Here’s why.
I left my house that Christmas with nothing. All the gifts I had bought for my husband and my son, I abandoned under the tree. The turkey I was going to cook on Christmas day, I left in the freezer. All the decorations, the cards, the Christmastree, I left them all behind.
I was so happy when one of the workers in the shelter asked me and my son to help the other women and children decorate our very own Christmas tree. My son sat at a table with the other kids and made his own Christmas tree ornament, then took his turn to hang it on the tree. He wrote a letter to Santa and handed it to the staff.
On Christmas day, we sat down to a traditional Christmas dinner, with turkey and mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce and all the fixings. I can still taste it, and still feel the love around that table.
There was a holiday party for the kids. There was a holiday party for the women. We decorated, we chatted, we shared. It wasn’t home, and it was far from perfect, but I was safe, and so was my son. And that’s what mattered most to me.
My son unwrapped his gift and squealed with delight. It was the very same present that he had told me he wanted for Christmas. Only I hadn’t bought it, not this one anyway. This present was one that the staff had picked out especially for my son (they read Santa’s mail!).
That Christmas was tough. But amazing. The other residents in the shelter and staff joined together to be the family that we didn’t have at that moment. We were sad, but we cried tears of joy, too.
That Christmas, I was in a safe place, my son was happy, and I was learning, through counselling, group therapy and other services provided by the shelter, that the abuse I suffered was not my fault. That I had a voice. That I could move beyond the violence and the abuse and the terror.
I developed the courage I needed, and received the help I needed, to leave my abusive relationship behind. The staff helped me find a safe place to live. They helped my son transfer to a safe school. They helped link me to legal services and employment opportunities.
My life changed that Christmas because complete strangers thought of me and my son and donated to Women’s Crisis Services. Their gifts made Christmas bearable. Their generosity helped me understand myself. Their thoughtfulness helped me understand the destructive grip that abuse and violence had on me. And best of all, their donations gave me the strength to break free.
This is why I really, really hope you will donate to Women’s Crisis Services today. And thank you for your kindness and generosity.
(a grateful mother)