The Ghosts (nice ones!) of Christmas Past .......... and Christmas Future.


As a child and young adult, I've always loved Christmas. I loved the excitement as a child. The magic. The waiting for Santa to come! I remember the last year that I believed. Well, the last year that I pretended to believe that is! I reckoned if I curled my legs up as I lay sleeping, Santa might think I was younger and leave me more pressies! You see I wasn't fully convinced either way of Santa's existence, so I was taking no chances!

As I grew older and became a working adult I still loved all things Christmassy. I loved Christmas shopping    ( that was then...NOT now!!) going out for Christmas drinks and parties with friends. What I really loved on Christmas morning was when my dad, brother and I would set off on foot (we didn't always have a car in our house) to visit our nearby relatives. We'd call to both our Grannies and maybe 1 or 2 aunt's houses as they all lived fairly close by. I really loved meeting up with all our cousins, we've a large extended family, and this was usually the only time we'd get to meet up.

We'd then trot off home, where my mam (if she hadn't joined us on our visiting trek) would have our lovely Christmas dinner ready for us. Of course, what I didn't fully appreciate at the time was that my dad had an ulterior motive on these Christmas Day visits. Alcohol. He'd have at least two drinks at every house.

As I grew older still, I loved the new traditions added to the mix. In particular I LOVED going to my local pub on Christmas Eve. The place would be  packed to the rafters and I'd get to catch up with friends I hadn't seen all year ....... particularly those who had emigrated to find work. A few of my friends would stop by our house on the way home and my wonderful mother would sacrifice some of the Christmas Day ham which she had just cooked. There is nothing like hot "real" ham sandwiches after a couple of drinkies!! Mmmmm...... I can taste them right now....seriously yummy!

It's only now, when I'm all "growed up", married and have a child of my own that I realise the stress my mam was under! I now realise why both my mam and my Granny always said they hated Christmas!

I now find myself saying the same thing every year! But that's a shame. And it isn't really technically true. I mean, I DO love Christmas. Honest, I do! I love the tree and the Christmas decorations. I love the presents wrapped under the tree..... I just don't like the shopping for and wrapping of them!! I love the Christmas dinner and I don't even mind cooking it, even though I'm not the best cook in the world!

I just hate all the stress involved .... and the running around, doing everyones Christmas shopping etc ..... all the madness for just one day!

But, I can cope with all that really. What I think I find most stressful is the "where are you spending Christmas Day?" question. Over the last few years that's been a major problem and at this stage I just say "Dunno". Or ignore it completely. Or, better still get Mr Jazzy to deal with it!

Of course most families experience this and I know most of you definitely have, as it's not easy spending Christmas Day in someone else's house when you have an Autistic child (that's if your child can tolerate the Christmas celebrations in the first place.) We had the visiting problem when WiiBoy was younger. The main problem was that he wouldn't eat which would make the tantrums even worse.

However, the main problem  now is actually my mam! That sounds truly awful, I know. She's given us wonderful Christmas memories and I want to do the same for WiiBoy.

Let me explain though, before you think that I am truly the most awful person ever!

My mother has Bi Polar Disorder and Dementia. This condition hits her ( and us ) regularly and hits like the Roller coaster ride I talked about here. In that post I described how she can (on occasion)  chose to be unwell, I also referred to previous horrendous situations and dealing with the HSE. One of these situations occurred about 5 years ago.

We decided to have Christmas Day with my mam, my brother and his then girlfriend in my mam's house. My mam had been  temporarily released from St Ita's Psychiatric Hospital for Christmas. Unfortunately it soon became apparent that this was a very ill-advised decision. Christmas Day was spent running up the stairs trying to get her to come down and eat and to stop tearing things into little pieces (a lot of old family photos were ruined that day.) I would then come back down ( while my brother took over upstairs) and deal with WiiBoy who was having his own Autistic moments. The funny thing was I was actually saying similar things to both of them!! To cut a long story short we tried to get her back to hospital that evening, but as she wouldn't get into the car we called an ambulance. She refused to go so the Ambulance guy said "sorry missus...nuthin' we can do as she's refusing to come with us" and they left!!. Seriously... that's what happened!! If you break your leg .... or are lying unconscious in the gutter they'll get you to hospital. But, mental illness?? Pfft .... you are on your own. My brother eventually got her back 3/4 days later (seriously dehydrated) by slipping a Valium into her tea.

Anyway, as you can see that was a very difficult Christmas and I swore I'd never put her, or us through that again. My mam is in a nursing home since then and I only take her home on the day if she's well enough. For all our sakes. That decision can only be made on the day though so we have to stick around. That's why I hate other family members putting us under pressure to decide where we're spending Christmas!

But here's the thing ......... why is it wrong to want to spend Christmas Day in your own house??? 

Why the pressure to go somewhere else???

I mean, once you have a child (or children) have you not got your own family? Do you not then begin to create your own family traditions and memories for when your children are older??

None of my childhood memories are of eating in any house other than my own so I want WiiBoys to be the same. I don't want his memories to be of being dragged from pillar to post on Christmas Day. Let's face it, like most children he prefers to be home with his Santa toys and like most Autistic children, he eats and behaves better when he's at home.We can visit Christmas Eve or St Stephens' Day . Why does everyone have to be visited on Christmas Day??

We have very few Santa years left, if any, with WiiBoy as he's already questioning his existence. Well, he questions it one minute and then the next minute he asks how Santa will find the Christmas tree as we have it in the new extension this year and the chimney is in the sitting room! However, he has solved the problem. He's going to make signs ..... "Tree this way Santa" and put them up!! Ahh.....bless!




 So, we're making our own family traditions starting with our first real Christmas tree in years!!

You have no idea how much I love this tree!







........This picture of last year in our unfinished house might give you some idea though!







Of course the best thing about this year's tree is that it was chosen and purchased by Mr Jazzy and WiiBoy! The only Christmas job I have not done. Now, that's a tradition I'm definitely going to retain!

We are having Christmas dinner at home and WiiBoy has even asked to try turkey this year!! My brother and his wife are coming  (they've no children) and my mam too. If she's well enough. The rollercoaster named The Bi Polar Express commenced it's ride yesterday so who knows whether or not she'll be well enough by next week. The trigger this time, unfortunately, was the  Nursing Home's annual Christmas party for patients and their families. It was held, as usual at 2pm! WiiBoy finishes school at 2.30pm so I can never go (no family nearby to help out). Have to say, even though I explained to her AND the staff, why I couldn't go I was put on a bit of a guilt trip by their comments. What can I do?? I can only make so many bits of myself.

Maybe it's not the stress of Christmas that I dislike. Maybe it's the guilt trips.

Or maybe it's both.

I have finally come to realise that the answer lies in acceptance.

Accept  the decision we make to have Christmas at home and advise others politely of our decision and leave it at that.

Accept that  mam will come if she's well enough.

Accept that I have no control over her mental well-being.

Whatever happens, I am creating a nice Christmas Day and nice family traditions for us .... come what may!! Then we will nice and calmly, visit Mr Jazzys' family in the Wicklow hills on St Stephens' Day where WiiBoy can get to meet with his cousins, aunts and uncles!

Whatever way you and your family  do (or do not) celebrate Christmas Day, I hope that December 25th  is all that YOU want it to be for YOUR family.

xx Jazzy.

P.S. Oh, by the way, WiiBoy wants to post the above Christmas tree photo and say a few words over on his blog. I've no idea what he wants to say, so ..... stay tuned!

12 comments:

  1. WELL DONE JAZZIE

    you are dead right, you do it your way mrs, christmas is about your family as in you hubs and wiiboy, no one else, these are the years where our precious memories are made.

    we have two xmas days, the german day 24th and irish 25th
    i hate the 25th as yes its in my mums (guilt driven) with all the famiily and neices and nephiews where they all watch tv, ignore their kids and read a book grrrr grates on me big time

    the 24th is just us and kids, games, toys, food prep and food, we all help out, kyra and guido do loads of prep, i cook and we all eat lol. i love that day, the only bummer is no present opening till 6pm but we changed it to 4 this year as boys are in bed by 7 hehe

    enjoy hun, hope you have a lovely day at HOME xxxxx

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  2. I absolutely love this post jazzy. the stress it can generate is bonkers. Your memeories are so clear, and different slant hindsight can bring to them is a reality check.
    Love the tree doll!! have a great Christmas....jazzy style! XXX

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  3. We made a decision when Firstborn was 2 that Christmas would be at home and thats it. It was actually my mother who 'sorted me out' and told me not to be putting myself under that kind of stress of going out. We always stayed at home when I was young and I have to admit to absolutely hating the tradition of visiting on Christmas Day. My husband did it growing up so that is what he is used to. I don't get it tbh, there are 364 other days in the year!! We stay at home and if we want to be in our pj's all day then thats what we do. I love it:) My parents join us every second year. Its hard to break tradition and go against the 'norm' but each family has to put themselves first. Great post Jazzy, I agree with every word:) I hope Wiiboy has an amazing day. Is Santa bringing the new mario game? Jen xxx

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  4. Thanks Coolkid. I'm so glad you get to have YOUR family day, thanks to the German tradition. Good idea in changing the pressie rules tho'..... we are allowed to change the rules to suit our circumstances!

    Thanks Jean! It is absolutely bonkers, so it is!

    Thank you too, Jen. What an amazing mum you have! Sounds like a lovely day in yours.

    It's my mam and Mr Jazzy's dad that put the pressure on a little. And his brothers.... but neither of them are married so that colours their perspective a little. His married sister with 4 kids only comes every 3 years or so! Oh....WiiBoy getting the Mario game from us as Birthday pressie on 22nd! Santa is bringing all things electronic and Yu-Gi-Oh!!

    Just got the call from the Nursing Home....My mams mental health has deteriorated. As expected. So as no-one else will visit when she's like this I'll have to try and get in every 2nd day or so:(( I don't blame them. It's too far for them and she won't remember anyway. Plus it is terribly upsetting to witness. One day I'll write about it. Not quite ready to share those experiences!

    Thanks for reading and commenting :)) xx Jazzy

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  5. Just seeing your blog now Jazzy and I love it, You should have your christmas your way, after all Mr Jazzy and Wii boy are your family now and really that is all that is important. I am sorry to hear of your mum's illness, I really feel for you. Unfortunately my Christmases have consisted of having my MIl who I detest for the last eighteen years, just one year I would love if it was just us and I didn't have to entertain anyone, I would dearly love my parents to spend Christmas with us too as Santa will be numbered in this house soon and I would like them to share that magic before it goes but they won't come when she is here as she is bonkers and likely to try and attack one of them. Love your tree too. Have a great xmas.

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  6. You are so right Jazzy to make your own traditions at christmas. I fully plan on letting Munchkin eat the decorations off my mums tree this year if thats what makes her happy. Have stressed too much what others think in the past but this year is different. Munchkin is who she is and I'm not going to try to make her adjust to our traditions, if she wants fishfingers instead of turkey, then fishfingers it is. If anyone has a problem with that they can take it up with me lol.

    Hope you have a lovely Xmas and Santa is good to you all

    Petunia xx

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  7. Thanks Jazzygal for this blog - I too have a mother with dementia in a nursing home and I struggle with guilt that I can't do everything for her without my kids suffering, and I am now choosing to put my kids first so they have good memories of Christmas but the guilt is huge...you are right, acceptance is the key thing and something I know I struggle with - resulting in me running away from it and hiding.

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  8. God Andra...that's a tough one. You deserve to have a christmas YOU want every so often. I guess MIL can't go anywhere else Christmas?? That's hard on you all. Thanks for comment.

    Thanks too Petunia. Fish fingers are perfect for Christmas Day...so too are decorations! Perfectly acceptable.

    Thank you Una. So good to meet someone who is having the same experiences. I may easily type the word "acceptance" but hard to live up to it...I still feel the guilt!
    I too put WiiBoy first...I had to. And that's the main reason my mam went into a Nursing Home at age 66. I'm not too well thought of on my dad's side of the family for it either. But my work with WiiBoy has paid off and that's paramount! xx Jazzy

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  9. How right you are. The lucky thing about living overseas is avoiding the "my/his family" routine. Welove having Xmas at home. I remember the first year we had Xmas at a friends house( was 23 months pregnant with the midget and could not face the cook/clean etc) the face on eldest adored one("but we always have Xmas at ours". Since then(2002) we have spent 2 ( including this year) at a close friends house-eldest adored one has best friend and math boy and midget have a trampoline to bounce on incessantly(and you know how they enjoy that).Hairy Mclary fits in wherever he goes and I can just relax and drink the bubbly- and you know how well I do that!

    Have a seafe and blessed Xmas...hope Santa is good to Wii boy and you

    love
    S xx

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  10. loved reading your blog and you are dead right bout xmass, people should spend it where they feel happy and comfortabe as a whole family.....im spending it in my mams as charlene can loves it there but we only stay from bout 2 - 8 as il be back out st stephens day and other days as my husband is working over xmass and i dont want to be home alone.......so i hope you and your family have a lovely christmass where ever ye stay xxx

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  11. Hi Sandra! Thank you so much for commenting! Overseas seems to be the answer alright. Myslef and my cousin L (whom you know) have always said we'd love to go away for Christmas just to get away from all the hassle.....some year we'll do just that!
    Love the pseudonyms...know exactly who each is! You know....they're very bloggable names....hint, hint!!

    Love to all over there and have a fab Christmas...hope santa makes it over there too!

    Welcome Autimom and thanks a mil for comment! Hope you and Charlene have a wonderful Christmas.

    You know, I wish I'd raised this issue ages ago....didn't realise how many felt the same. And there was I feeling guilty!!

    HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL.

    XX JAZZY

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  12. My SIL's sorted this out for us years ago - when our second boy was born, my MIL phoned a couple of weeks before Christmas and asked whether we mind going down (they live 200 miles away) after the day since there is no place for us in the house with everybody else staying there. I doubt it it was her idea, since my boys are her only grandchildren, but caught the chance with both hands. We've stayed home since, and do our own thing (no turkey to say the least). Enjoy your Christmas the way you like it!
    xxx Truf

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