With each new holiday comes new insights that last a lifetime

A Thanksgiving Tradition

My mother instilled family traditions in her children with an iron fist and demanded we follow, or else. One such practice required me to kiss my three brothers before bedtime. Traveling from oldest to youngest, I was to leave a peck on their cheek before I made my way to my bedroom. It was a ritual she thought cute and one I grew to abhor.

In the early years, it wasn’t too bad because I actually liked them, plus no one had developed cooties or […]

100% Irish and Proud of It

As I walked into a tiny boutique in Tahoe City, I was instantly swept back in time to when I was a child and being Irish meant I wore a badge of honor. Studying all the adorable decorations for St. Patrick’s Day, I saw smiling leprechauns, green shamrock encrusted plates and napkins, beer mugs sporting sayings like, “Kiss me I’m Irish.”

As a child, knowing I was Irish made me feel like I was one of the chosen ones. My father, born to Irish Catholic […]

The Strength of Life

The giant steel door cracked open and began to press on my back. A pungent smell, vastly resembling death, wafted overhead while cold, damp air seeped from the dark cavern within. As my rail thin body was forced to lunge forward, I saw my life flash through my mind. For a brief second, I thought this is it. This is the end. I was sure I was going to die.

It was a hot and muggy day in June 2002. I was in Los Angeles […]

Peeking, A Christmas Tradition

An earthquake-like tremor shook the floor as the sound of my pounding bare feet pummeled the hallway. Fearing the turbulent explosion I knew was about to detonate, I ducked behind the three-foot tall dollhouse and shielded my ears from the shrapnel of angry words that were about to spew.

“Jackie! How could you?” My mother screamed.

Peeking through the window of my new Barbie Dream House, I wasn’t sure what frightened me more— the punishment I was about to receive on that 1968 Christmas morning, or […]

Hairspray, the Perfect Christmas Glue

Walking into the closet-sized room, a sticky, gooey mist-fogged the area making it almost impossible to see. The smell of acrid chemicals permeated throughout and my eyes burned causing them to water profusely. Oh my God! I began to worry. Where are my daughters? Are they still alive in this hazardous waste zone?


“Lauren, are you in here?” I cried out in a panic, ready to call 911.


“Mom, I’m right here.”


“What about Michelle and Jenni?”


“Mom!” they all cried in unison. “What is wrong with you?”


Moving […]

Display of Affection

My mother watched as I sprayed my Farah Fawcett curls with an extra dose of liquid glue. I was just finishing my three-hour glamor preparation for the sophomore dance when she opened her crimson painted lips. I prepared myself to hear the usual, “Oh, honey! You look precious.” Instead, she said something quite different.

“Jackie, when you’re at the mixer tonight, remember – no groping.”


“No physical displays of affection!”

Turning quickly to confront her, the layers of thick shag locks whipped my face nearly knocking my eyesight […]