Christmas is about Jesus and not presents, but I keep remembering that my opa (grandpa) gave me a 10-pack of popcorn one year for Christmas. I would not complain if he was a poor man doing what he could for a grandchild, but he stole my father’s inheritance and traveled the world with the money. I received a box of popcorn.

My opa left Germany to attend Columbia University. His mother was well-to-do living in Manhattan. My father would visit her as a young child, and she would take him to a bank to see things that were to be his one day. Her husband became sick and they spent most of their wealth on his care. However, there were still valuable items in the bank. Her husband died and she did as well. Upon her death, my opa had power of attorney and claimed all items in my father’s name, with his name.

He then traveled the world, seeing and doing things he desired. Once a year I would see him. He smelled of cigars and spoke with a thick German accent. I would get a bar of Belgian chocolate, and one year he gave me a box of popcorn. That is my fondest memory of him.

My father had a different story.

On a particular day, my father was showering and grabbed a bar of soap. That night, my father was awakened by his dad whipping him with an electric razor. With the electrical cord ending wrapped around his strong hand and the razor flying, my grandpa began to whip my sleeping father because someone had touched his soap.

There were other stories of abuse while his mother stood in the background. “Son, you did not go through the things I did. You should surpass me, and your son should surpass you.” An expectation was placed on me, that I was to be a better husband, a better father, financially stable, etc.

Perhaps we were petty, but my opa eventually died and I don’t know if anyone attended his funeral.

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