AM, very, very AM.

Can't sleep. Random thoughts running through head. Can barely breathe sometimes. Need fluids. Insomnia is starting to rear it's ugly head once more.

It's the day after the day after. Christmas is an event that just doesn't hold any lusture for me anymore. I try my hardest to muster up the energy to look happy and excited, but the stark reality is that a grinch didn't steal Christmas, my father did.

My old man left us as a family back in 1976. He never looked back, just walked down the driveway and wandered off to join the new family that he'd started over a year previously. The irony was that after his new girlfriend gave birth to my first half-sister, my old man wanted to bring her home so that my mother could raise her as her own. Give my mother full credit, she told the bum to get out and live up to his obligations - he made the mess, he'd have to clean it up on his own. So off he went. I have a vivid memory of standing with my brother watching him walking out of the driveway and never looking back. I didn't see him again until 1986, and even then I regretted it. Still, he left us a nice Christmas present.

My mother used to save up all the fifty cent pieces that she got. It's a practice that I still do, only I save all my silver in a jar on the fridge, once it's full I count it out, bag it up and take it to the bank - usually I get anywhere from $50 to $100 out of it, found money, money to spend when times get tough, money to spend on something that I'd not normally buy otherwise. No matter how well off I might get, the days of poverty that I endured whilst growing up aren't that far from my mind. I can remember the days when we ate once a day, the days when we didn't eat at all and how the stomach would growl and prevent any decent sleep. Does Bono want to end world poverty, or just poverty in South Africa, because there's a fair bit of hunger that goes on every day in countries where society should know better, including his own back yard in Ireland.
So once the old man left he stole all the money in the house, including the stashed fifty cent pieces. What it meant was that we got no Christmas presents that year, let alone a Christmas dinner. We got nothing at all - it was just another day. Another day, separated from others by the fact that we could hear other kids racing down the streets ringing the bells on new bikes, playing with toys and the deafening silence come 1pm while we sat there waiting for something that would never come. That memory, along with others like it, are permanently seared upon my brain. They keep me awake at nights.

To this day my father, who is dying far too slowly, fails to understand why my brother wants nothing to do with him, and fails to understand why I've turned my back upon him. The fact that my father has made it his goal in life to ignore me and abandon me at every turn escapes him. He believes that he can do such things and I'll always forgive him because he's my father. As I've told him, biologically he's my father, he's nothing to me in all other ways. I don't hate the guy, I just have an empty hole where any emotion towards him should be.

And it'll always be that way. Thus Christmas is a hard time of the year for me, because, at the ripe old age of 9, Christmas was stolen from me by one person who should have been there making it special, instead of setting up house with his new wife and kids.

My Christmas spirit was finally crushed beyond all repair in 1983, when I was sixteen, when my uncle, who raised us all and was my father in all the ways that count, died a month previously. That pain still hurts, no such thing as closure, just an empty part of my being that throbs with the hurt on a daily basis. Christmas that year was a drunken blur for all of us - we did our best to avoid each other so we wouldn't be reminded on who was missing. I don't blame my uncle for leaving us, just that the timing was pretty damn poor.

So, now instead of enjoying myself and being caught up in the magic of the day, I found myself sitting there thinking of how much work I could be getting done, how peeved I was because the post office doesn't open until Wednesday, how is it that some people just can't buy me decent presents (I must be a bastard to buy things for) and why do I have to drive for over three hours in traffic full of arseholes on Christmas day. There's got to be something better. Jesus died so Santa Claus and a pagan ritual could live. Hooray! I used to like Christmas in the '90s because it meant I always got a decent movie at the video shop. However it's time to remove Christmas from the calendar and think it all up again once more.

So what's on the agenda for 2006? All going well we'll be in America in June or July. I'm writing another book - this time about Jim Mooney. I interviewed Jim ages ago and we've kept up a correspondence ever since. When the opportunity arrived, once I'd wrapped up the Andru/Esposito book, and Jim asked me if I'd be interested in writing his biography for publication I leapt at the chance. So far it's going great - 40+ pages and another 45 minutes of tape to transcribe. I'm going to enjoy this one. After that, who knows what the future holds. All I know is that this time next year I'll be having the same emotions. People who tell you to just let go are usually people who've never had to deal with what you're going through. The best you can do is deal with it.

Roll in 2006, and may it be a damn sight better than 2005.


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