Jsack's Mom's Blog

Welcome to my blog where I share my special needs parenting journey with my heart, truth, and love, one story at a time. ❤️

Christmas traditions

Hello my name is Jsackmom and I’m a “Christmasholic” There I finally admitted it, I get very excited about the prospect of celebrating as I’ve always been fascinated with the magic of Christmas. I remember traditions from when I was a little girl and being at my Grandparents with their ceramic tree with plastics lights all lit up. 
It would sit on the china cabinet looking so tiny but beautiful, while I sat on the floor looking up at those lights twinkling in the evening glow. We would help my Mom and Gram prepare for dinner and get our pyjamas on then my sister and I would get our snack ready for Santa with our Mom’s help. We would put out the homemade shortbread cookies, carrots for the reindeer, and a cup of nice tea to wash it down with. My Gram would help us hang our stockings on the towel rod in the kitchen while my Grandpa looked on with a mischievous smile.
 You see those stockings were his socks that he loaned to my sister and I. Next we would go off to the living room and magically there would a present there on the floor for each of us. We would open it up knowing each year it would be the same, pyjamas, slippers, or a house coat. We didn’t care though it was the excitement of getting to open a gift on Christmas Eve that made the holiday more special. 
We would sit on the couch in our new sleepwear and sip on our hot chocolates while we sang Christmas carols and then my Mom and Gram would tell us the Christmas story of baby Jesus and the Nativity. I had always loved the story and still tell it to my children as our tradition. Then we would get sleepy, rubbing our eyes, and toddle off to bed. My sister would have the couch and I would have the blue cot that folded out. My Gram would push the coffee table up close do I wouldn’t roll out of bed. 
Sleep would find me late into night as the visions of sugar plums, turkey with all the trimmings, and toys to be had, would dance in my head. The next morning I would be bouncing around waking up my sister as I was delirious with excitement and more of a tough and tumble Tom girl than sliver bells and cockleshells and we would race to the kitchen to open our stockings. We would dig in and find candy, nuts, mandarin oranges, tiny little doll toys, and whatever else Santa could stuff in a men’s sock! 
Next we would go to the living room and see what else Santa brought us. There would be a Barbie for my sister and I would have a doll complete with accessories of a hair brush, bottle, and outfit. We would also open clothes, books, more candy, and always a religious item of a holy statue. My Mom always made sure we put the Christ in Christmas as to never forget the true meaning of the holiday. 
We would say Grace and have a hearty breakfast as we would go off to our relatives to visit and play with our toys with our cousin. We would always have baking, copious pots of tea, and plenty of singing and dishwashing. We would return back to my Grandparents while my Grandpa would shovel the sidewalk and make his strong coffee in his special pipe whistle cup afterwards. We would help in the kitchen preparing dinner as my four other siblings would join the festivities. My Gram and Mom would fill the coffee table full of appetizers, fruit cake, cookies, a mixture of nuts, hard candy, and liquorice. 
The teapot would never be empty long and we would start preparing to set the table while setting up in the living room with my Gram’s fine Christmas China that would be laid out on the table. There would be at least ten people there and my Gram would say the blessings and my Grandpa would carve the turkey. I would marvel at all the delicious food and watch one of my brothers say “pass the buns” while my other brother would throw him down one at the end of the table. I would laugh and have my bowl of tossed salad mixed with croutons and olive oil. I loved how my Gram would make that for me. 
My plate would be heaping with mounds of mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, Brussels sprouts, veggies, dark turkey meat, a little gravy, and I would eat my weight in my Gram’s homemade stuffing. After we would clear the table, drink tea, and enjoy pumpkin and lemon meringue pies. My Mom loved the lemon so it was always a staple at the dinner table. After us kids would go out to the foyer and play and have our pictures taken on the steps to the upper floor in the apartment building. 
Then the night would wind down, my older siblings would leave for home, and my sister and I would be getting ready for bed in our new Christmas pyjamas. We would lay there as sleep would come quickly after a fulfilling and wonderful day. We would fill that tiny two bedroom apartment with presents, laughter, decorations, Santa with his sleigh full of toys, and most of all the presence of our love for each other. As we got older and Santa came to the houses of younger children we would go to midnight mass with my Mom and Gram.
 I remember seeing the church’s alter glowing with all the lights. I would listen to the priest speak of that first Christmas Eve when baby Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Then the choir would rise up in voices of pure love and sing O little town of Bethlehem. My voice would ring out with them feeling exalted on high like nothing could touch me, as my spirit was raised to the heavens. I wept in those moments as my earthly vibration would thunder through my body like I was floating. There was magic in the air on that night and I’ve never felt more loved or connected to God, Saints, and all his angels. Being raised that way was a gift, and one I will continue with my children as they grow in the love and spirit of Christmas. To think it all started with that one little ceramic tree perched up high. 

Stock photo provided by the internet

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Before

I’m sitting here trying to think about how my life was before mental health disorders became an issue. I remember being very young and watching scary episodes in my family play out before my eyes. I was scared and sensed there was danger so I just stayed clear and pretended I was sleeping while chaos ensued around me.

I had an interesting childhood, a very loving and devoted Mom and five siblings. Four of them were a lot older than me, and graduated or were in high school when I was born. My parents had a loving marriage before reality crashed in and my Dad found someone else. That time in my life was heart breaking and unpredictable, as I was sent to stay with my Dad and his new family that belonged to his girlfriend. I seen and heard things I didn’t want to know about.

Alcoholism was predominant in my family tree at that time. So I saw adults behaving badly fighting, cursing, and other drunken behavior. I never saw that with my Mom. She was very religious, honored God, and we went to church every Sunday with her. Every second weekend I would be in the middle of these drunken debauchery nights and feel so confused. I would wake up on the Sunday and there would be no church.

At first the thought of sleeping in was exciting to me but there was always work, and plenty of it. My Dad was raised to believe that idle hands were the Devils workshop. So if he had to work then so did his kids. We had chores to help out with the household and other outside ones. My favorite thing to do was help my Dad in the garage working on his logging truck.

I would spend hours with him cleaning the cab, greasing the axles, and operating the tire gun. I loved those times because we would talk and the stereo would be blasting Charlie Pride, Conway Twitty, and George Jones. He loved the old classic country and I would entertain him with my singing and dancing to Glen Campbell’s Rhinestone Cowboy.

I was only four when my parents separated and I was your proverbial people pleaser, trying to make them both happy. My Mom’s heart was broken as she tried to pick up the pieces of her failed marriage and move on and raise my sister and I. I was her friend and confidant helping her through and remaining loyal and steadfast. She suffered from anxiety and depression throughout my whole life.

I always prayed to God to give me a magic wand like the a fairy Godmother in Cinderella, and make her fears disappear. My Dad had told me he just wanted to be happy so he chose a different life with a different family. This was something that was very difficult for me to except, but I really tried for my Dad’s sake. I think this is where these adult situations gave birth to my anxiety. A monkey on my back today that I still have to control.

I never planned on having to make everyone happy, but somehow I felt like it was my job. What was life like before my parents separated? I have no clue, I was too young to remember. I have a few memories and some involved traveling , visit my Grandparents, and meeting lots of different people. My Dad and his girlfriend were in the process of building a house so there was always people coming and going. My brothers helped with the construction, my brother in-law with the electrical wiring, concrete mixers and painters.

I still remember placing my hands and carving my initials in the cement. Before I knew what divorce meant at five, I was a product of it. My parents never officially did that paperwork, it just felt the same as if they did. My Dad never did remarry as my Mom wouldn’t grant him a divorce. Yet they both moved on, my Mom found solace with raising us and being devoted to her church.

My Dad worked a lot and took us traveling to the United States. I’ve seen the open skies of Montana, driven Route 66, had my hands, feet, and legs in all four corners, and spent time wishing upon a star in Disneyland. I look back fondly on those family vacations with a smile. My Mom never got amazing trips like this so I always made it a big deal to find her a souvenir. I remember when we would make phone calls home to her, how lonely and sad she sounded. My Mom’s children were her life.

My oldest siblings were old enough to have their own lives and two were living on their own, and two still in high school. So having my middle sister and I filled up that void she felt with the empty nest syndrome. There was happiness coupled up with the confusion, and I spent a lot of time with both sets of Grandparents.

Before I was even six years old I knew what the classic black and white movies were, how to plant and maintain a garden, and every tune of an Irish song lovingly sung by my Mom and Gram. I still remember hearing stories of the old country(Ireland and Scotland) and how my Great Grandparents came over to start a new life after surviving hardships in their countries.

What was their life like before they ventured to take a boat to the new world of New York and later Western Canada? I often pondered this in my head as I read stories of Charles Dickens. I’m grateful for the lessons I learned from my parents discussions of my ancestors. Knowing I come from people that are so resilient, has had me rely a lot more on my intuition then people’s versions of the truth.

This has served me well from the past to my present. Today I work through my own mental health issues and my children’s, keeping mindful of who I was before, and who I am today. That scared little girl who loved to sing and dance grew up to love to write, and express herself authentically. And if there’s anything I learned in my childhood was be true to myself before trying to please others.

This is my Sunday confession to Ash’s http://www.morethancheeseandbeer.com. Today’s prompt was the word before and I chose to write about my childhood. Please check out her Sunday confessions on her Facebook page, and all the other talent that link up. Thank you. 😊

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