Stepfamily Issues

Personal stories about stepfamilies, childhood and general family issues.

October 20, 2014

Santa stepdad was a common thief

While he was alive, Annette would never say anything bad about her stepfather but his recent passing acted as a floodgate for her feelings about him. The man everyone knew as the jolly giant - the guy who always played Santa at Christmas - was nothing more than a common thief whom her siblings had protected for all of his life, mainly for her mother's sake.

"My stepdad was always bringing things home," says Annette, "and I always thought that all dads, real or step, did the same thing - and that there was nothing extraordinary or criminal about him - until one day I heard him arguing with mom about a suitcase he had given her."

"I was about eleven years old," explains Annette, "and old enough to understand what was going on."

"Bringing home surprises like a new television set, a set of wrist watches, or a crate full of fruit or canned food wasn't suspicious," says Annette, "but a suitcase full of soiled women's clothes was something else."

"My stepdad worked on the railways and was away quite a bit," says Annette, "and I suppose his job brought him into contact with lots of freight and baggage."

"He argued with mom that the suitcase was lost property," says Annette, "but she didn't want a bar of his latest gift and demanded that he take it back and hand it in to the lost property office."

"After a while, he cajoled her into accepting the suitcase," says Annette, "and I watched as she sorted through its contents. The woman who owned the suitcase must have just returned from a holiday because it was full of crumpled summer clothes and swimsuits."

"There was a funny smell on the clothes and mom was disgusted."

"Nevertheless, she put everything into the washing machine and started wearing some of the better dresses."

"I couldn't imagine how my mom could wear something that belonged to another woman," says Annette, "but she had married a man who once belonged to another woman, and my real dad had done the same with a new woman, so I don't suppose it bothered her too much."

"I often wondered what would happen if she bumped into the suitcase owner when she was wearing one of the stolen dresses."

"Dad moved from the railways into insurance when I was older," says Annette, "and he'd often boast about scams that he operated."

"I'm no angel, "admits Annette. "I stole a few things from supermarkets when I was growing up - and took money from my mom's dresser - but there was always a line, if only a fine one, between what I did and what my stepdad did."

"He was a professional thief, an habitual thief, a scammer and a fraudster," explains Annette. "My thievery was just a kid thing, something that was a bit exciting at the time, but that's all."

"I could no more steal someone's suitcase then I could scam someone out of money," sighs Annette. "And I don't mean to say that my stepdad was a bad man. He wasn't. He was a good father. But his values were different to mine."

"Had I not seen those clothes in the suitcase and imagined how I'd feel if someone had stolen my clothes I might never have seen my stepdad as anything other than Father Christmas."

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