Christmas Miracles

Merry Christmas From Our Home To Yours

I grew up in a French Catholic home. Religion was a part of our lives every day but even more so at Christmas. For weeks before Christmas, we were put into super drive preparing for the big day. We scrubbed our home from top to bottom, cooked and baked, shopped and wrapped, we prepared for our school Christmas concert (which centred around the Nativity story in those day), we decorated our home and of course we attended choir practice and church services six ways to Sunday. My older, married sisters would arrive with husbands and children and gifts.

By the big day, we were ready for the MIRACLE OF CHRISTMASπŸŽπŸŽ„πŸŽ†

And then, my mother would crash and burn. The exhaustion and the stress of weeks of preparation, topped off with a couple of hours at midnight mass, would finally get the best of her. By noon, Mother would be in full meltdown, babies would start to cry, men would start to drink, sisters would start to fight. No Christmas miracles in our home, just bitter disappointment and the obligatory Christmas pictures to prove that we had the happiest of timesπŸ™„. By supper, we had all thrown in the towel and spent the evening working at jigsaw puzzles and playing cards.

Once I had my own family, I pretty much carried on the same tradition with a few extra perks thrown in. Christmas in our home was never done until someone had the flu or a case of pneumonia. The epitome had to be the year Danny puked on the Christmas tree. That was a classic. The year my Dad died days before Christmas was memorable. I was almost ready to give up on the MIRACLE OF CHRISTMAS by 2003. That was the year our precious Genie was born. We left the hospital at 3:30pm on Christmas Eve with love and joy in our hearts. We were so close. We got home to find that my Mother had decided to place a box of chocolates under the Christmas tree, inspite of our asking her repeatedly not to do that, inspite of our moving them sixteen times. She had no idea our dog would eat them. Good grief! What dog wouldn’t eat them? Really hard to hold onto the Christmas spirit, when you are sitting in the vet’s office on Christmas Eve. 🀦

My family grew up, in spite of our annual Christmas debacles. They all have children of their own and their own Christmas stories to tell. For many years we have been going to my daughter’s for Christmas. I have powered through shopping for gifts and food, while my husband kept a running total of the cost. I went to Christmas concerts, which always seem to be held on December 17th 😒. My daughter would bake and clean. We were always ready for a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE that never quite made it. There was tears, disappointment, arguments, melt downs, way to much noise and just downright unChristmassy behaviour – but we kept powering through and I kept doing my damnedest to aim for a CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.

This year my sons are with their in-laws, my husband is at work, my daughter is at her home with her family and we are not there because she has shut me out of her life and banned me from seeing my grandchildren. My father and mother are both gone. I am alone for Christmas Day. I went into this season with no expectations or hope of making this the year of the CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.

Honestly, I am having the best Christmas ever. My sister and her husband were here for an overnight visit a few days ago. We sent out for pizza and had wine. So nice. My sons are coming with their families on the weekend. I have done a bit of baking – some good, some not so much, but whatever. It was Christmassy. Genie’s stepfather dropped her off for a quick visit on the 23rd. She brought us some gifts she had made for us. There were a lot of tears but it was all good. I cooked a ham last night, destroyed the scalloped potatoes but the broccoli was great. After supper, we opened presents. We cried over Genie’s. They were so special. She painted us a picture and wrote a book for Grandpa, telling him how much he meant to her. She gave me a sparkling elephant pin. Today I made myself Pillsbury cinnamon buns for breakfast. I have a turkey in the oven for when Dan gets home from work. I am relaxing by my new fireplace, ready to start doing a jigsaw puzzle. I am happy, at peace, and full of love and good wishes for my family – all of my family. I feel really good. This is is the year of my CHRISTMAS MIRACLE.

The thing is, you can’t make miracles happen. You can’t force them or fake them. Miracles just happen when you let themπŸ•ŠοΈ

Peace on Earth – Good Will Towards Men πŸ•ŠοΈ

This year, for the first time in 42 years, my nest will be empty for Christmas. I somehow thought this would be a time to dread but to be honest, I am quite enjoying it.

I am sorry that my husband has to work all Christmas Day, but I will spend much of the day making us a beautiful turkey supper. We will have time together in the days before Christmas and over New Years. My sister and her husband will be here this weekend and my sons will be here with their families after Christmas.

We will have wine & treats

I have done some baking and set out minimal decorations. I am picking up a couple of gifts for my husband. The kids are getting cards with enough cash to take their families on a special outting.

My Christmas Tree

For the most part, this will just be a nice relaxing time off from work. This year I will have time to enjoy the winter wonderland outside our door – without actually going outside of our door. This year there will be no fussy babies, fighting siblings or arguing couples. There will be no whining, complaining, or crying. And there will definitely be nobody getting the flu and throwing up on the Christmas tree.

Little bits of Christmas

This year there will just be peace and goodwill! The way Christmas should beπŸ•ŠοΈ

National Ambrosia Day

Danny & Lucas

Today is National Ambrosia Day. I can’t believe that of all the salads that could score their own day, that the honor would go to Ambrosia Salad.

Ambrosia Salad is a mix of fruit (typically orange sections as the base), creamy milk product (yogurt, whipped cream or sour cream) and mini marshmallows. It is not my favourite food – so not my favorite since it is a combination of my three least favourite foods. In the eighties it was super popular, particularly with my mother in law who served it with disturbing regularity.

My son Danny loves food – eating it, preparing it, discussing it. A couple of times a year we travel across the province to visit Danny and his family and a couple of times a year they come home. Every trip is preceded by a discussion on the food that will be served. Danny threatens me with Ambrosia salad. I threaten him with tomato aspic (which probably does not get it’s own national holidayπŸ™).

Peace

There are a lot of posts on social media these days about the power of happiness. Happiness is today’s key to prosperity, health, love – all that is to be strived for in this life. I have nothing against happiness. Being happy is pleasant, but personally I am a huge fan of peace, above all else.

I love silence. There is nothing as soothing and spiritual and beautiful as silence. Peace exists in silence.

I love the infinite depth of peace, that feeling of absolute immortality.

I love the security of peace. I cherish opportunities to spend peaceful, happy, quality time with loved ones.

I love the kindness of peace. I love those moments that touch your heart with sweetness.

I love the simplicity of peace. I love how easy it is to focus and think and create when there is peace.

I love the strength and power of peace. I love the ability to rise above all challenges to the place where everything is natural and stress free.

Wishing all a beautiful, happy and peaceful dayπŸ’–

PTSD

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I know that in its worst form it destroys lives. I have struggled to deal with anxiety issues throughout my life and a lot of them are much improved. It is only recently – last December actually – that I realized that my worst anxiety issues now are a result of a mild form of PTSD.

The month of December has been difficult for me since 1993. That is the year my father passed away on December 17th. I was very close to him and it broke my heart, which would be expected. But it was so much more than that. My father had been dealing with cancer of the sinuses for five years – it was a horrid ordeal. Despite working and raising three pre-teen to teenage children at the time, I did everything I could to help my parents through these years. I was the youngest of the family, I was living the closest to my parents, and much of my dad’s medical attention and treatment was done in Regina, where I live. I have five other siblings, all of who did everything they could for our parents, but a lot of it fell on me. It was incredibly hard.

But, there was so much more. I was married to my first husband at the time. The first eleven years of my first marriage were dysfunctional. The last seven years were violent, abusive and traumatizing for me and our children. There was seldom a day when there was not a violent or hateful outburst. To say that he was not supportive of what I was dealing with was an understatement. I had decided that I had to remove my children and myself from the situation a couple of weeks before my father’s diagnosis. After that, I felt compelled to stay until he was gone. My husband felt compelled to take advantage of the situation and make our lives a living hell.

Five months after my father passed away, I told my husband I was done. A few weeks later we moved out.

I was worn out. We moved into a small three bedroom basement apartment. I slept in our kitchen/livingroom so the kids could each have their own bedroom. I worked eighty hours a week and spent the rest of my working hours being a full-time home maker. It sounds rough, but we were really happy and starting to heal. Things got better, we got a better car, we moved to a nice little duplex. I met my current husband and my kids grew up, moved out and started their own families. Life still has its ups and downs but I am okay.

And then there is another December. The decorations go up, the carols start playing and my heart breaks. This week we had an incident at work. One of my co-workers had a violent outburst. He slammed through the shop, swearing, kicking things, having a man size tantrum. I have been shaking ever since.

The thing is, it’s okay. I get that my physical and emotional and mental reactions are about my past, not my present. I know I am in a safe place now. I also know I am stronger for having been through my past. In December, I have a really deep compassion for those who are dealing with the loss of a loved one or any of the other heartbreaks that are worse in December. When I see someone being a bully, having a man size tantrum, I am reminded how very fortunate I am to be with my with my current husband. I have the courage to stand up for those who are being bullied and I am proud that my sons and my daughter do as well.

As difficult as these episodes of PTSD are, I know they make me a better person. As long as good can come out of the worst times of my life, I am okay with that.

Family

My Parent’s 50th Anniversary

My parents were both born into large families. My father had twenty siblings and my mother had nine. By the time I was born, both families had scattered across the country, but they kept in touch. They would visit back and forth, celebrate holidays together and have family gatherings They were there for each other during good times and bad – always.

My parents had five daughters and one son. I was the youngest. From the time I can remember, my two oldest sisters were married and living away from home. My brother was ten years older than I, so he was in highschool when I was starting grade one. Regardless, I always knew all of my family. The older siblings would come home with their famlies to visit and we would go to visit them. I saw them regularly. Once we were all grown up, we were widespread, but we kept in touch and got together. We would gather on a regular basis. We all spent time with our parents and they would come to spend time with us. As our parents aged, and their health failed, we were there to support them, and each other. To this day, we keep in touch via social media, we call, we visit. We were, and we still are, family.

Back in my day, family meant something. Family was a commitment. Family was loyalty, respect, shared memories and a shared unconditional love for our parents and each other. We are not always super close, geographically or otherwise. We have our differences and we certainly all have our faults, but we would never deliberately or spitefully hurt each other. There is always a line of consideration that we do not cross as family. Family, and extended family matters.

Nowdays families are shattered on a regular basis. My own sons and daughter have little love or respect for each other. Their love and respect for me only goes so far. They certainly do not maintain peace in the family for my sake or anyone else’s. This has caused me much grief over the years. I have come to accept it, not because I want to, but because it is not my choice.

Our family is hardly unique. This is the norm for many these days. Family or not, you disagree with me, you cross me one way or another and you are toxic and you are out. There is no going back. I know sisters and brothers in their eighties who have nothing to do with each other, parents who won’t speak to their children, children who will not speak to their parents and children who do not know their aunts or uncles or cousins. Many, if not most, of these family breakdowns could have been resolved with a reasonable conversation, but people don’t want to talk and they certainly are not willing to listen.

It is a shame and it is beyond sad, especially during the holiday season, that families cannot set aside their differences. It is a shame that family members are strangers, that memories cannot be made or shared, and that traditions are lost. It is a shame that generations of children are growing up without the stability and security of extended family. It is terrible that such selfishness and disrespect shatters so many families.

It is not a wonder that there is so much conflict and violence in the world. Love and peace and respect and kindness are learned at home. If this is not what we are teaching our families, than what are we releasing into the world?

Shingles Vaccine

Feels A Lot Worse Than It Looks

I, like most parents, made sure my little ones were protected by the vaccines available for them. I have gotten flu and pneumonia vaccines to protect myself. But shingles vaccine, pfft. This weekend I got an education.

Shingles is hell – I would think it would be hell anywhere but I have it across my face and through one eye – which has been found to lead to dementia (Yay). Elderly people with shingles are subject to stroke or heart attach. If I am fortunate, I will just have a rash comparable to having acid poured over my face, stabbing pains in my head (think icepick) and constant nausea for a week or so.

Shingles will not cause shingles but it can cause chicken pox in anyone who has not been vaccinated – because they are too young or were from the pre-chickenpox vaccination days – like my husband and adult chicken pox is terrible.

Bottom line, if you are fifty or over, have had chicken pox, have not gotten the shingles vaccine – get it now. Protect yourself and your loved ones. πŸ’ž