Smorgasbord Christmas posts from Your Archives – The Significance of Christmas by Chuck Jackson


Delighted to welcome Chuck Jackson with his Christmas post from 2016. He shares his experience of Christmas through his childhood, parenthood and to the present time.

The Significance of Christmas by Chuck Jackson

I am not sure when we age if the Christmas holidays become more or less significant. As a child, I couldn’t wait for December 25th. It seemed after Thanksgiving, it would never get here. The excitement was waking up Christmas morning to experience what Santa Claus had brought. Even when I knew about Santa, my family continued to celebrate his arrival. We exchanged gifts within the family, but Santa still took center stage.

When I became a parent,Christmas excitement returned. I was just as excited as when I was a child to give my daughter that magical time of Santa Claus’s arrival. Sitting next to the tree until late hours, assembling those toys, bicycles, etc. was never a chore; it was fun. I always made sure I consumed the milk and cookies she set out for Santa. I always left one cookie with a bite taken out as evidence of Santa’s arrival. To watch the excitement on her face when she saw what Santa had brought created memories never forgotten.

When my daughter left home, my Christmases changed and we created new traditions. Mid-night Mass took precedence over anything else. A Christmas without going to church seemed empty and incomplete. Waking up Christmas morning without Santa’s visit also left a void. Not every year did she come home for Christmas, yet when she did those seemed extra special.

Next, were the years when my daughter became an adult and she lived in the area. Christmas tradition changed again. Church services on Christmas Eve remained foremost. Nevertheless, we always shared Christmas dinner with her. When she became busy with her friends, she often cooked the dinner and she invited us. If she had a special person in her life, Christmas dinner was at our house and we invited him.

A few years ago, my daughter married and she now lives a distance that makes it difficult for her to return home. To visit her is equally problematic. Christmas tradition has changed once again. What hasn’t changed is going to Mid-night Mass. We still feel it isn’t Christmas without attending church. Christmas Day finds us having dinner at a friend’s or our home, and sometimes we go out. The exchanging of gifts is now absent.

The money we would spend, we use to buy something special we both want.
This year, my daughter and her husband have a new son. It will be interesting to see what traditions she chooses. Will she carry those traditions I experienced as a child and carried forward to her childhood? Will she create her own? When my grandson gets a little older, that excitement of Christmas morning will return and maybe I might get to experience it with him.

For the last 33 years, what has been significant is the person I share Christmas with. My life partner and now husband has been that solidarity in my life that was missing. Beginning with our first Christmas, what contributed to making them special was sharing them with him. He adapted to the changing traditions as I did and we made each Christmas that special time of the year. Spending a Christmas without him is a tradition I hope I don’t experience for a long time.

Now I ask again, does the Christmas holidays become less significant as we age? For me the answer is no. Our traditions have change, but the significance never wavers. Santa through the years took on an important role. However, celebrating the coming of Christ each year by attending Mid-night Mass will always be a significance and a tradition that will never change.

May the Blessing of Christmas be with you and your family. God Bless.

©Chuck Jackson 2016

Chuck Jackson shares his story of child abuse at the hands of his parents and also the damning statistics that identify that little has changed in the last fifty years. What Did I Do was published on July 4th and is a memoir that lifts the veil of secrecy about not just the American family but the Universal family.

About What Did I Do?

The veil of secrecy over the American family prevails and the covertness of child abuse continues. According to the National Children’s Alliance, approximately 700,000 (683,000 in 2015) children are abused each year. Child Protective Service (CPS) reports they investigate 3.4 million children and place them under the care of the CPS. These are frightening statistics attesting that child abuse is not in decline, but rather the opposite.

Child abuse or child maltreatment is physical, sexual, or psychological mistreatment or neglect of a child or children. Have you ever suspected or even witnessed child abuse in public or in a home? If you did and did nothing, you are condoning the act and its effect on the child. Child advocacy groups are begging for the public involvement. Yet, little is being done.

What Did I Do? is Chuck Jackson’s true recollection of the abuse he received from both his parents. It is a story where he spent years struggling to please them without succeeding. It is a story where they told him he was irredeemable and unworthy of being their son. When he saw love and happiness in other families, he wondered why not his.

Chuck came out of the darkness to expound on the stigma attached to child abuse. He admitted to the affects of shame, anger, guilt, and depression that he and so many experience. He tells the story of survival where he felt invisible. Follow him where he sought a warm touch and a kind word of praise. Follow his desperation for love from anyone. Follow Chuck’s story and help answer his question, what did I do?

Two of the recent reviews.

This story is a remarkably sensitive account of how a young man who travels on his own personal journey of acceptance while dealing with his own parents’ prejudices and bigotry. Any person coming out of the closet and any parent dealing with a child who is different need to read this book.

Knowing the author and then reading his story is incredibly enriching. That anyone could go through what Chuck Jackson went through is a miracle in itself. It is a powerful and fascinating story that parents AND children of age should read. Abuse seems to seep from generation to generation and it destroys lives in the process. It has to stop. Books like “What Did I Do?” help immensely. I feel enriched that I have heard his story.

 

Read the reviews and buy the memoir: https://www.amazon.com/What-Did-I-Do-Memoir-ebook/dp/B073R2B3RK

And Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Did-Do-Chuck-Jackson/dp/1548327166

Also by Chuck Jackson

Read all the reviews and buy both books: https://www.amazon.com/Chuck-Jackson/e/B01IX2PBEG

And Amazon UKhttps://www.amazon.co.uk/Chuck-Jackson/e/B01IX2PBEG
 

About Chuck Jackson

Chuck Jackson is a retired accountant living in South East Florida. He graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio with a BBA in Accounting. He spent the last 25 years of his career working as the Budget Manager for a Special District in Palm Beach County. He was a member of Government Finance Officer’s Association (GFOA) and Florida’s GFOA.

He is a two-time cancer survivor and draws his strength from his faith and church activity. He is his church’s Treasurer and serves on it’s Vestry.

Since his retirement, Chuck has spent his years studying and enhancing his love for writing. In June 2016, he released his first e-book: One Month, 20 Days, and a Wake Up. In July 2017 he released his second book: What Did I Do? that is available as an e-book and paperback. He continues to work on his memoir manuscript, in anticipation of releasing a third book in 2018.

Chuck is an avid golfer and a member of a local golf club. He is married to Anthony, his partner of 33-plus years. He has a daughter and a new grandson.

Connect to Chuck Jackson

Website Blog: http://www.chuckjacksonknowme.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/chuck_cljjlk
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/cljjlk/?ref=bookmarks
Google Plus:   https://plus.google.com/105624026158453424361
Flipboard –  https://flipboard.com/@ChuckJackso2017

Thank you for dropping in today and we would love to get your feedback.. Thanks Sally

Smorgasbord Christmas Posts from Your Archives – Christmas Past by Pete Johnson


Delighted to welcome Pete Johnson back with two posts for the Christmas archive series..one this week and the other just after the big day. Today Pete shares the happy memories of his childhood Christmas day, and also those which have been less happy and more stressful since. I do empathise having been in a similar situation. and we need to remember that when we are dispensing festive cheer, to remember those who are not as commitment free as we are.

Christmas Past by Pete Johnson

I have to confess to not being a great fan of the annual festive season, at least not in adult life.

When I was younger, I anticipated the avalanche of gifts, as any child would. I used to equally enjoy the celebrations at my grandparents’ house, where the whole extended family would congregate. This was a real old-fashioned Christmas; everyone eating together on long trestle tables, the women busy in the kitchen, the men recovering from a lunchtime drinking session in the local pub. In the evening, a seafood tea would be served, to line the stomachs for the return to the pub, later followed by a family party, carpets rolled up and stored away, to avoid damaging them.

The parlour would get a rare use during these few days. This decorated and adorned large room that was almost never entered at other times, as life was lived in the kitchen and scullery of the house most days. Souvenirs from military travels overseas, or shell-covered trinkets from seaside towns nearer home. They all fascinated me as a child, and this was an opportunity to examine them. The upright piano had pride of place in the corner. My aunt could play, and the semi-professional pianist from the pub would also come and help, after closing time. The party would be based around the piano, with everyone singing the standards of the day, drinking and laughing until it was almost light outside.

Us children would have long been in bed by then. Beds covered in piles of heavy overcoats, fur stoles smelling of perfume, the unheated rooms and unfamiliar beds, added to the raucous partying, all made sleep hard to find. Eyes stinging from tobacco smoke, bodies fuelled with too much food and sugary drinks, it was such a unique time, and something to really look forward to.

Then I grew up. My Dad left home, and suddenly there was Mum to worry about. The large family was now a little smaller, and spread further afield, no longer all living within the same small area of London. I soon had girlfriends’ families to consider, followed by in-laws after marriage. The planning became a chore, the distances involved greater, and trying to please everyone in the space of a few days was a puzzle that I couldn’t be bothered to solve. With Mum on her own, the main Christmas Day meal always had to be taken at her house, at her insistence. She didn’t like to travel anywhere, to be in an unfamiliar house, but didn’t care who else had to.

Thus began decades of uncomfortable meals, eaten on laps, television blaring. Surrounded by pet dogs and cats, food overcooked and unappetising. I went every year. She was on her own, so what else could I do? Some wives and girlfriends tagged along, others chose to spend the time with their own families. This created atmosphere and tension, and ended up spoiling the day for everyone. Everyone except Mum, of course. I mean no criticism of her. She only understood family at Christmas, and just her own family at that. She decided that she had done her partying, travelling to relatives, and served her time helping to prepare food, and clean up after a lot of very drunk men. I couldn’t blame her for that.

During all this, I worked shifts for over thirty years, always desperate to get the day off, like everyone else. Sometimes, I had to work. Up all night, then over to Mum’s on three hours sleep, and back into work at 10 pm that night. Hardly conducive to feeling festive. Then Mum got much older. She spent her first Christmas in hospital in the year 2000, and almost every year after that was spent visiting her on a ward, or sitting in the relatives’ room in the emergency department, as she fought for her life on a trolley bed somewhere. Calling ambulances just as dinner was served, getting home at some unearthly hour, once they decided to admit her. Not her fault of course, she was ill. Christmas made her worse, it seems. Perhaps worrying about sending cards, getting the dinner right, or whether or not I could spend the whole day there. Any increase in her stress levels exacerbated her condition.

I began to hate this time of year, and to dread it coming around. By the time November appeared on the calendar, I was posting cards and wrapping presents. Anything to get it over and done with as soon as possible. Since Mum died in 2012, I have lived in Norfolk, and been able to spend the time at our own home. There is less stress, and life is undoubtedly easier. Maybe one day, I might learn to love Christmas again. Who knows?

©PeteJohnson 2015

I am sure you will join me in wishing Pete another Norfolk Christmas that is as good as those he has already celebrated.

About Pete Johnson

I retired in 2012, then aged 60, and moved from a busy life and work in Central London, to Beetley, in rural Norfolk. I thought I would start this blog to share my thoughts about life in general, and my new life in Norfolk in particular. My wife Julie is still working in a local bank, so I am at home most of the day, accompanied by my four year old Shar-Pei dog, Ollie.

My interests include local and global history, politics, and cinema and film. I also enjoy music; Motown, Soul, Jazz, along with many modern singers and styles.

After 22 years as an Emergency Medical Technician in the London Ambulance Service, followed by 11 years working for the Metropolitan Police in Control Rooms, it took some adjustment to being retired, and not working shifts.

I am updating this info on the 6th of July, 2017.

Ollie is now five years old, and is still a great dog to own. The blog has continued to grow, and I have now posted over 1330 articles. I currently write a bit about films and cinema, mostly short reviews and suggestions; and I did write a lot of anecdotes about my years in the Ambulance Service. I have written a lot about past travel and holidays, and also about architecture. I also post a lot about music and songs, those that have a significance in my life for one reason or another. The core of the blog remains the same though; my experiences of my new life in Norfolk, walking my dog, and living in a rural setting.

During the past year, I have been adding a lot of photos, and they are always popular.

I have had my blogging ups and downs; attracted some followers, both loyal and fickle, and gained a great deal from the whole process. I have written articles that were published on other blogs and websites, as well as trying my hand at more than 60 fictional stories. I am pleased to report that I have had two of these published in a magazine.

If you are considering starting a blog, I would suggest you give it a try. I really would. It may not change your life; but then again, it just might.

Get in touch with Pete

Blog: https://beetleypete.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/beetleypete

I am sure you have enjoyed this post as much as I have and I hope you will consider commenting and sharing… and heading over to Pete’s blog where you will find even more of his entertaining posts. thanks Sally

 

There will be another series of Posts from Your Archives in the New Year… keep an eye open for the submission details after Christmas. Thanks Sally

 

Smorgasbord Christmas Short Stories – Alexander by Sally Cronin


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The submission for the Christmas Short Stories is now closed but I hope you will enjoy one of my short stories from my latest collection due out in the New Year..

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Alexander by Sally Cronin

When Joyce Briggs was sixteen years old, her boyfriend at the time Ernie Winterbottom, took her to the cinema to see the latest epic to hit the silver screen which was Alexander the Great with Richard Burton. His aim was twofold. To impress the curvy Joyce with his intellectual prowess by choosing a film that was a bit la-di-dah, and to get her into the back seats of the cinema for a bit of you-know-what!

What Ernie did not take into account was that Joyce was besotted with Richard Burton. The sight of him in his armour as the great Alexander, not to mention his bare knees, had her more of a quiver than the prospect of a kiss and a cuddle with a spotty Herbert of a lad.

In fact she barely acknowledged Ernie’s presence throughout the action packed two hours and twenty-three minutes. Not only did he not get to snuggle against her ample proportions in the back seat, she talked non-stop all the way home on the top of the bus despite his best efforts to silence her with desperate kisses.

Finally, they arrived at the door of the flat that she shared with her widowed mum and he was just about to turn away and wend his lonely way home when she fluttered her eyelashes at him.

‘Me mum’s away at my gran’s for the night,’ she puckered her lips at him suggestively. ‘Do you fancy coming in for a cuppa?’ Thankful that the evening had not been entirely wasted, Ernie was in the flat as quick as a ferret up a drainpipe.

Nine months later to the night, Joyce Winterbottom welcomed her son into the world and announced to the rather reluctant and bemused young father, that he would be called Alexander Richard Winterbottom.

Over the following years Alex, as he liked to be called, often contemplated the fact that he was not living up to his mum’s lofty expectations of his illustrious name. Those few friends that he had at his first school shortened Alex even further to Al, but it was his surname that was to his main cross to bear. He was physically rather puny and the resident school bullies referred to him as Frosty Bum as they nicked his lunch money.

At home it was a different story as Joyce regaled him with the legendary tales of his namesake she had discovered in a book from the library. To be kind to his mum; Alex did his very best to look enthusiastic. Even at an early age, he had a sneaky feeling that he could not compete with the legend of the great man, who conquered half the bleeding world before breakfast over 2000 years previously.

His dad had done a bunk when Alex was three years old and Joyce had lavished all her attention on her beloved Alexander/Burton substitute. Times were hard but after a while she met a plumber called Percy Shufflebottom when he came to fix a leaky pipe. After a few months of courtship they had set up home in his semi-detached house with the now five year old Alex in tow.

Percy was a kind and considerate man and had been a good partner to his mum and step-dad to Alex. When Joyce eventually managed to get a divorce from the elusive Ernie, it left the couple free to tie the knot in the local registry office. At the time, Alex was offered the opportunity to change his name from Winterbottom to Shufflebottom. At eleven years old, Alex knew that moving into secondary school with his current surname would be tough enough, so declined the offer.

Five years later and Alex had grown to a decent height but was still on the runty side. However, he had excelled at sports including long-distance running and football. He was not a duffer but preferred the physical activities rather than sitting in a classroom. After consultation with the headmaster and his mum when he was sixteen, it was decided that he would get an apprenticeship with a local garage.

So here he was aged twenty and sitting in his pride and joy, a rebuilt Morris Minor, wondering if he would ever get the grease stains from under his fingernails. The rain was pelting down the windscreen and the inside of the car fogged up. He and his mate Stan had been out to the pub and had fancied some chips and curry sauce on the way home. It would stink up the car but to be fair he was not really bothered. In fact he found he was not particularly bothered about anything these days. He worked hard; lived in a bedsit a few streets from the garage and went round to his mum’s on a Sunday for a good feed. But if he was being honest; essentially he just existed.

He wiped the inside of the windscreen with a cloth and looked over at the chippie to see what was holding Stan up. He couldn’t see clearly because of the pouring rain and the dim street lighting so he got out of the car, locking the door behind him. He joined the back of the queue which stretched out the door of the cafe and several feet up the pavement. People huddled under their umbrellas and Alex tried to see around them to find out where Stan was in the line. As he did so his eyes were drawn to a large poster in the office window next to him.

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It was December of 1982 and Joyce and Percy waited anxiously in their immaculate living room. Only used for special occasions; it was decorated with the Christmas tree that Percy had picked up at the market and streamers stretched across from each corner of the room. Percy clasped one of his wife’s hands as the other fingered her string of pearls around her plump neck.

‘Don’t worry love, he will be here soon,’ he soothed his nervous wife.

The clock on the mantelpiece chimed and they both looked across at it for the tenth time in the last hour.

Finally, they heard a car draw up outside and voices talking in the street. Joyce heaved herself out of her chair and pushed past Percy to get into the hall… She tentatively released the catch on the lock and opened the door to face the visitor standing there.

She had not seen her son for two years and she looked at him in wonder. He had filled out a great deal since joining the Royal Navy six years before. He looked so impressive in his new Petty Officer uniform with his cap tucked under his arm. She put her hand to her mouth and then launched herself at him sobbing as he put his strong arms around her.

Behind them Percy looked on proudly. Alexander might not be his son by birth but he was bloody proud all the same. They had waited for days to find out if the lad was safe. Like the parents of those on both sides of the short conflict; they had been glued to the news on the television every night. Huddled on the sofa together, they watched anxiously as naval and land battles had been fought so far away in the Falklands. It had been absolutely terrifying when Alex’s ship had been hit several times in an air attack.

They were finally told that the lad had been slightly wounded but would be on his way home on leave in time for Christmas. Tears filled his eyes as the two people he loved most in the world each took a hand and led him into the festively decorated living-room. For a moment or two he stood looking around at the streamers and welcoming banners.

Joyce smoothed her hand over her son’s gold braid on the sleeve of his uniform and looked up at his handsome face.

She laughed delightedly. ‘Well I never love; you look just like Richard Burton….’

©sallycronin2016

 

Buy Music for Christmas – Garry George Wilkes – Rock and Classical composer.


This Buy Music for Christmas is promoting an extraordinary man, Garry George Wilkes, a Rock and Classical Composer, Lyricist and Musician. Garry has been diagnosed with a number of mental health issues over the years and more recently, at only 60 years old the onset of vascular dementia.

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His story is one of survival, triumph and also achievement. It also highlights the role that is played by those who love and care for a person with mental illness. A support team that has to bend to accommodate the needs of a person who is driven in many ways to perform but has to live their lives with a strict code of conduct and routine.

A few weeks ago Garry talked about his childhood and young life and the traumatic events that led to his breakdown in his 20s. He also shared his music which encompasses many styles including Rock, Classical ballet scores, musicals, and as a talented lyricist. He is very honest about his mental health issues and the effect on his family and friends. He understands very well that the restrictions that he puts on himself impacts heavily on those around him. He shared his highs and lows, his passion for music and through his photographs, his life until now.

His latest project, co-written with his talented composer/musician nephew, Jameson Tabor, is a musical about his life. ReAwakeningis an opportunity not just to communicate openly about mental illness but to illustrate how it does not always define you, or prevent you from achieving success.

He is helping to fund this musical and get it in production as quickly as possible with the sale of his haunting song It Swallowed Me Whole for just 99cents. I have put the links for Amazon and also CD Baby.

It would be great if we could help this happen so please share the post. Thank you.
Website:garrygeorgewilkes.com .
You can buy Garry’s Single It Swallowed Me Whole on his website for $.99 USD and at all the major music outlets like iTunes, Amazon, Spotify, and dozens of other music stores around the Web.
http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/garrygeorgewilkesworld.
http://www.amazon.com/It-Swallowed-Me-Whole/dp/B00NMI7Z0A
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Swallowed-Whole-Garry-George-Wilkes/dp/B00NMVIIBC
Twitter:https://twitter.com/garrygwil
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/garrygeorgewilkes
Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-Zj8ZkPNQI

For the five interviews with this exceptional man please click on this link.
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/dementia-interview-garry-george-wilkes/

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Buy Music for Christmas – Egokillers – 52 singles in a year for charity.


I have family and friends who give to charity in my name each year. I really do not need anything else to wear, dust or any more handbags (so my husband tells me!). I love books especially now that E-books can stock my virtual bookcase for the whole year on one device and they are always welcome.  But, to think that someone has thought enough about me to give to a worthwhile cause is twice the gift.

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The subject of today’s Buy Music for Christmas are a band who have put their music on the line to increase awareness of the growing homelessness on our streets in addition to many of the social issues that impact many of us at some point in our lives.

Some people mutter about charity overwhelm and complain about big charities who are run more as businesses with high salaries and reduced commitment to those they were set up to help. There is still some great work being done every day on our streets and behind the scenes. There are also hundreds of thousands of caring individuals who do what they can to help people, animals, environmental causes and equally importantly their own families who might be struggling.

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These guys hold down full time jobs, are carers within their own families and also spend many, many hours recording and travelling to gigs to promote their cause.  They have received some terrific press but the message can still get lost as all charities vie for whatever contributions we can make.

Buying Egokiller’s charity CD for a £5 goes into the pockets of the charities they support not their own… you can also donate any amount you wish and you will find the links below. Here is the week one single of the 52 singles that they produced over the year. Harms Sway

Any individual or group, who off their own back, decide they will undertake a challenge that others think is impossible or downright crazy, will get it. Those of us who normally stand by and feel helpless at the enormity of the social issues facing us will find it awesome. Those who are supposed to be handling and resolving those social issues need to be inspired.

Here is their Christmas single preview from last year.

Further listening and reading and to donate and subscribe to the charity singles see – www.egokiller.co.uk
Buy the Egokiller Charity CD for just £5
http://www.egokiller.co.uk/buy-charity-cd.html

Latest Interviews
http://issuu.com/northleedslife/docs/2014-march-a/49?e=1601484%2F6816894
www.wharfedaleobserver.co.uk

OTHER LINKS FOR THE BAND.
www.egokiller.bandcamp.com
www.facebook.com/egokillerband
www.twitter.com/egokiller
www.reverbnation.com/egokiller

The two Sunday Shows featuring the band.
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/07/13/the-sunday-show-egokiller-a-band-committed-to-52-singles-in-a-year-for-charity/
https://smorgasbordinvitation.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/the-sunday-show-part-two-the-egokiller-release-52-singles-in-a-year-for-charity/