"And I knew that the look in her eyes was the fear that, like my father, I should turn out mean and common and a drunkard". From "Christmas Morning.
I admit I never heard of Frank O'Connor until I noticed Mel u has posted on a number of his stories. He is from one of the world's great literary cities Cork, Ireland.
"Christmas Eve" was first published in The New Yorker in 1936. I read it in Mel's copy of The Collected Stories of Frank O'Connor published by Open Road Media.
The story is told by a young boy maybe nine at the most. He has a younger brother that is the bane of his existence. His mother puts a very high emphasis on education even though he hates school. His little brother, a consummate suck up excels at school and always parades his success in front of their mother. He has to constantly hear "why can't you be like your little brother". Their father is a drunk. On Christmas Eve he brings home his pay and begrudgingly gives his wife a little extra for the holiday. She tells him she knows most of his pay will go to "publicans" for his drinks. The boys are arguing about Santa Clause, is he real, how do they get in touch with him? Older rough neighbor boys have told them Santa Clause is a fraud, it is your parents. The boys still cling to Santa Clause.
I don't want to tell the very sad ending of this story. O'Connor in his spare prose compresses years of misery in the close and we see the narrator learn something no boy should have to, at any age.