The other reason had to do with my father's mind. He was a very, very, very smart man. I can't stress that enough. I have been trying to catch up to his level of genius my whole life and failing. Yet, when it came to his disease, he was a bit dense. He used to pick days, (Sundays or Christmas day or other holidays) and abstain from alcohol on those occasions as if that somehow proved he was not an alcoholic. He did this with a straight face and expected us to buy it when even as kids we knew better.
Why he even bothered is something I still ask myself, and no answers come to mind. Maybe he thought if he could do it he could retain (or later on, regain) our respect or maybe he did it to prove to my mother that he was capable of controlling himself or of changing (both of which turned out to be untrue).
Regardless, the end result was that for 24 hours straight we had very near a normal life. Which was very cool. My mom could love my dad (which she really did, with all her heart) and he could give her presents and shower her with affection (to the best of his ability).
Which was great because my mom lived for the holidays. She was an awesome cook. The best. I have yet to eat the better of anything made by my mother and, even though I may be a bit biased, everyone else who ever ate her cooking agrees. My mom cooked professionally. She had all the latest pots and implements, she made EVERYthing from scratch and would never think of using a "mix" of any kind.
I don't mean that she made regular food that you'd expect a housewife would make, no no, she made CUSINE. My mom made stuff that could have been made in top city restaurants. She never took a cooking course. EVER. Yet she made food that was to die for. She never rushed, she took her time in all things. She never sat down at any of her own parties, but was constantly in the kitchen.
At Christmas, she was a whirlwind of activity. Not only did she buy ALL our gifts and decorate the ENTIRE house herself, but she cooked 65% of every holiday meal, even if it wasn't being held at our house. Plus, her birthday was Dec. 30th and, it being so close to Christmas, none of us ever remembered it without a subtle reminder from her. That must have sucked. Having to remind your kids when their own mother's birthday is. She did so much for all of us and got so little in return, but it was in her nature to do that much and she certainly couldn't rely on my dad, who's presents always came unwrapped with a "here ya go" and a grin.
It was my mom who made Christmas so special for everyone, especially her kids. I think of her whenever I put up the tree.