Three Tiered Dish

I’ve written here before that Christmas is not my favorite holiday at all.  With past family tensions from when I grew up Christmas brings up more ugly memories than happy memories.

The short version is something like this- I’m the youngest of five kids.  My sister is 16 years older than me and there are three brothers in between.  My parents were awesome at Christmas when I was little.  It was all the fun and magic- Stuffed stockings, fun presents and they’d even set up a treasure hunt for us with clues to find some of the presents.  It was wonderful!  The presents were always things I loved and it was so fun.  I’d go to candle light Christmas service with Dad too.  I loved it all.

Then 3rd grade came…that was end of Christmas as I knew it.  My sister (along with her husband and family) changed from Catholic to a different religion that didn’t recognize Christmas.  It was awkward.  My parents couldn’t buy them gifts so they just bought nobody gifts.  My sister wouldn’t come home if there was a tree so no tree…the only thing that didn’t change was that there was still fruit and still Christmas candies-Dad still went to candle light Christmas service.  I no longer got a present…no stocking…no family get together-no joy-just another day all because my parents let my sister’s beliefs rule the house.  It was always super awkward when asked what I got for Christmas and I’d just say nothing.  When I got older and could drive I’d buy something for myself just so I didn’t have to say nothing when people asked.

For some reason, it’s been hard for me to get over….My sister has since changed and now celebrates Christmas in a polar opposite way…..for me Christmas is still a little hard.  This year was way better than most-I think the hoopla with the new house masked it- but still, that sorrow of Christmas’ missed is always a little hard for me.

When I was about 22 my mom was cleaning the cupboard and asked if I wanted a three tiered dish that she had.  I immediately said yes.  I hadn’t seen that dish in years….MANY years…not since Christmas of second grade.  It was the dish that my mom put out Christmas goodies on.  For me, it represented happy Christmas’ before my family fought over religion-when Christmas still held joy.

I took that three tiered dish home and vowed I would try to make Christmas hold some joy for my family.  I put the dish out each year and filled it with goodies.  The act was always hard for me…it was a huge reminder of the responsibility I had as a parent to bring joy or sorrow to the season.  I admit, sometime the sorrow side won…but sometime the joy side won.

Fast forward to about five years ago Christmas.  Kalissa was getting the dish out of the cupboard for Christmas and the middle tier of the three tier dish fell to the floor and shattered.  I did too.  The one thing I had to remember happy Christmas’ was gone.  I know it’s silly but that’s the way I looked at it.  I was angry.  I was upset.  I have never been so emotionally screwed up as I was that day-all because a dish broke.  I yelled and didn’t act much like a parent should.

Time passes and of course things do get a little better…For me I don’t know that Christmas will ever be picture perfect.  I’ve learned that that’s okay too.  I’ve learned that my kind of Christmas is okay.  Christmas Eve candlelight service and a big meal with family is a fine way to honor Jesus’ birth.

So as I was packing I came across the now two tiered dish that came from my mom.

I’ve kept it with the hope of someday finding the middle tier at an auction or flea market.  The bottom of the big dish says  CALIF  USA 8020.  The little one says 3018.  So far, no luck.

It’s something that I’ll keep looking for..just like I’ll keep looking for a way to feel happier about the whole Christmas season.  I do know now that the dish isn’t the thing that adds or takes away the joy of Christmas.  I’d still like to replace it though.

I’d love to be one of those people who claims that a person’s childhood doesn’t affect them as an adult..but from personal experience, I know that isn’t true.  It does.  I am a lucky one though, I have more good childhood memories than bad ones…it just that most of my not so good ones all fall around Christmas.

If anyone can tell me about this three tiered dish, I’d love to know more about it.  The information just might help my hunt be a little more successful.

32 thoughts on “Three Tiered Dish”

  1. Hello, Jo. I read your blog fairly often. About your precious three-tiered server: if a matching middle tier is not found, why not use something different? You will have two of your mother’s pieces plus something new to tie in your own life to those memories. It would be original and a conversation piece and you would not have to keep the unused parts waiting in a cupboard. Use and enjoy them in a slightly modified form. However, I hope you will not need ideas like this, but will find the matching piece.

  2. Debbie Leschisin

    Wow Jo, this post brings tears to my eyes as I am reading it. I too have some difficulty at Christmas, mainly due to past and ongoing family dysfunction of another type. I’m actually relieved when it’s all over. Your frank discussion is much appreciated! I sure hope that you can find this three tiered dish! Surely someone reading this post will have some ideas.

  3. I feel your pain Jo but Kalissa won’t have a fond memory of that dish. I’d frisbee it out the back door and take her and get a new tiered tray that will only have new happy memories for you both!

  4. I did some searching on internet. Found a 2 tier on etsy with a 10″ and a 7″ tray. What size are you missing? Also on ebay I found a 10″ tray but no hole in the center.

  5. I hope you find the tier you are missing. I agree that ‘things’ sometimes can mean so much… so much more than the ‘thing’. Valuable to no one else, but ourselves.

  6. I was going to tell you that I’ll keep an eye out, but it looks like Ana found it! How awesome are blog readers! You are building new treasured memories every day!

  7. I’m glad you have some happy memories of Christmas before your parents let your sister ruin it for the rest of the family. I’m sure it injured the relationship you and your brothers have with your sister as well. Too many people let religion screw everything up. Read history and you will see what I mean. Now, most of your children are married or about to be. That means grandchildren in the future, so that can mean new traditions and celebrations. I guess what I’m trying to say is let the past go and concentrate on giving those grandchildren some really good memories like the ones you remember from your early years. This year our two youngest grandchildren were fifteen months old and Christmas was more joyful than it had been since the older ones were little. Just watching their little faces light up as they opened their gifts made it special.

  8. Jo,
    I just had to race to the bathroom, so no one would see the tears running down my face at my desk. Christmas is very hard on LOTS of people. My family has a different dysfunction also, that surfaced after my dad died (he would not have put up with it). It makes it difficult for my mom when certain people won’t come to Christmas if others are going to be there, blah, blah, blah…I know I have to do “what is right” by my mom and they have to deal with the consequences of their actions.

    Thinking of you and can relate (in a sense). It’s easy for others (me included) to say look forward…

    Love the house project and look forward to the updates:)

  9. Linda in NE said exactly what I was thinking. You were very young when you lo

    Linda in NE said exactly what I was thinking. I’m shocked your parents let their adult child dictate how the rest of the family celebrated holidays. How selfish of your sister. It makes me sad and angry to think about the pain you have suffered because of this. Traditions are very important to children.
    It looks like someone has found a replacement for your broken dish.
    Hopefully you can begin some new traditions in your new home. I can’t wait to see How everything comes together. :-)

  10. It is hard to let go of those things that shaped us…and still do shape us. I tell myself my parents were doing the best they could and try to forgive. I hope I did better with my own kids, time will tell! HUGS!

  11. What a story from your heart. Every family has its issues, my sister wouldn’t even put up a tree one year when she was hosting Christmas, I ended up buying a tree, dragging it over to her house and I put one ornament on it, The Grinch! As for the 3 tiered tray, I think you have a match and I’m very happy for you. Somehow you have to mend the situation with your daughter though, so she will treasure this as much as you do. I relate, because I have my Mom’s 3 tiered goodie tray, it’s green with a pearlized color coating. One thing is that I never let anyone take it out, put it up, take it apart, wash it or put it away. I too, would be so upset, so if it gets broken, it will be from my hands. It survived another Christmas and for me, there would be an empty tiny part of the season if I did not have this tray out for guests/family.
    Take care, remember the reason for the season and find the “new normal” for your family.

  12. I so hope you find that tier—and can use this piece in your new home….Your new home will be a new start in whatever memories you want to make there….I can see you as a little girl with those magical Christmas days…

  13. I can see why it was such a life-changing event when it came at such a young age. I hope the future Christmases spent with your lovely family can bring the joy of Christmas back in your heart.


  14. your story made me sad for you. I love Christmas so very much. I have found my old dishes matched up at replacements , inc. they might have a plate they can change into another plate layer for you
    My dishes are family heirlooms and some got broken, found them there and they also made me a set like yours. I sent them broken pieces of my dishes and they found them for me. I was so thankful for them helping me. Am praying for you and your upsets at Christmas and that yours will turn into Merry and bright some day.

  15. hi jo, i just want to say i hope you can find some peace within yourself about this issue. you can start (and have already) over with your family and make Christmas what you want it to be. take it from someone who came from divorced parents and had to remember all the rules in all the different places every year… haha. i started a couple silly little traditions with my kids – making cloth bags for their gifts each year, and putting a can of that squirty cheese in one kid’s bag and crackers in the other kid’s bag. again, find some peace about it and allow yourself to let go. :)

  16. My brother years ago married a lady who didn’t celebrate any holidays. Mom told them both that she was buying them gifts but she would wrap them in newspaper and they could unwrap when they chose to. They accepted this.

  17. Please tell me you got it off of the eBay link posted above. . .know that you are not alone in suffering from bad childhood experiences. I hope that you have found some comfort in knowing your blog readers’ comments are meant to ease your soul. You are a good mom who had a bad day, Kalissa will also have moments like that in the future; we are all human. Forgive yourself. Know that you get to create new memories and traditions in your new home. My thoughts and prayers are with you to find peace.

  18. Thank you so much, Jo, for sharing such personal feelings with us. I feel so much better for my sad feelings at Christmas due to the loss of my Dad this past year. It helps to know that there are families like mine… not like Ward and June Cleaver… and we do loose our tempers and we are sad on Holidays. I hope you find the evasive middle tier and it will help bring memories of the happier times.

  19. I come from a very dysfunctional family and joined a support group to get over it. Well, I am still getting over it and realize it will take the rest of my life. It is sad to have memories that aren’t so great, but try and live in today. I think you do from what I read in your blog. Make new memories for yourself and your family in your soon to be new house. Sure hope you find that plate, it’s a beauty.

  20. Rosie Westerhold

    Oh, Jo. Reading this post brought up so many of those same, ugly Christmas memories. I remember one year that my dad threw out the Christmas tree because he couldn’t see the television from “his” chair! Try to get over THAT one! And later, having another dysfunctional part of the family who wouldn’t let ANYONE be at their house or come to our house because they wanted to have their own Christmas memories. Geesh. It’s a wonder I have ANY joy around the Christmas season. I feel you pain, though. And, yes, how our parents react in any given situation can have a long-lasting influence on our lives. When I met my husband’s family, I actually found out Christmas is FUN!!! Never realized that before, and I was nearly 30 years old then. Create your own family memories, and that will go a long way.

  21. OMG I find that so hard to read….. I hope that you were able to buy that 3 tierd dish, and we will read it in a future post. I was going to buy it and send it to you! even if it wasn’t the same…. People are just so DANG wierd!!!!!

  22. Jo I read your Christmas thoughts earlier & I feel so sad for you, so sad that I couldn’t respond. Now I can respond & hope this helps. Please know that your tiered dish is just a thing & even if replaced is truly not Christmas for you. I do think you & your family know & feel Christmas ~ you celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus, by attending the Candle Light Service at church and a big family meal together ~ truly Christmas!

  23. Hi Jeanne
    Just read your blog I remember all that and remember how you felt yrs ago……kind of for got all that til I read your blog…yes things were different yrs ago and a memory is a memory and if that dish reminds you of your mom/good/fun Christmas’s that is ok ….Hope you find your dish and start a “new ” tradition w/all your kids in your new house ….Take care and Love to read your blogs and keep up on your family Love Ya Judy

  24. Thanks for all you share, I appreciate your honesty. Life is not fair sometimes, it is not what happens but how you deal with it. I personally think we all need to shift from the big present giving, something is wrong when the Christmas stuff is all out before Halloween!! Your tradition of the Christmas Eve service and a nice dinner family time together is perfect. Hope you find the dish which is a little bit of your Mom and her tradition. You are very special…..Marlene

  25. Like the other ladies, I hope you got that matching server on eBay!! If not, I found these on Etsy – – honestly, I really like the ones that have a different middle dish or three different dishes, but I know that your heart is involved with the matching server. Amazing how selfish some people can be, isn’t it? Your heart is so big and welcoming…how could your sister be the polar opposite??? I am looking forward to your descriptions of Christmas with the grandkids and the joy that all of you will have together!! ((((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))))

  26. Yes, Jo, a very hard one to read. I’ve lost everyone around Christmas, my dad, my husband, son, and they all died under 40, so it’s been a hard holiday for me too, but I do it for the rest of my kids & family. If it were me I’d pitch that sucker of a dish, even if you think it is of good times it has to remind you of the worst. Start now, go buy something that you REALLY like and love and make that a part of your tradition….for YOUR family. Wow, glad sis is having such great days now. Forgiveness goes a long way too.

  27. I don’t know anything about your dish, but I’m a licensed clinical psychologist and I KNOW you can get some help for the left over Christmas feelings that tarnish your life. Find someone in my profession to talk with. I promise it can’t hurt any more than you already have hurt.

  28. As I’m reading your post my heart goes out to not only you but Kalissa. How awful for her to know that she was a part of destroying your happy memories of Christmas. We all have a past, but the wonderful thing about life is that we are able to, if we choose, to correct the mistakes that were made and move forward. You have a beautiful, loving family which is all the more reason to the celebrate the joys of Christmas. Although you might not have the material things that are important to so many, you have the love and joy of a family, your faith in the Lord and your health. God’s blessings comes in so many different ways. As you will probably soon have grandchildren, the most joyful Christmas’s will be ahead of you making new memories, and leaving the bad ones behind.

  29. I agree with Becky, 86 the dish. We can never move forward until we stop looking back or try to recreate the past. I lost my husband on Good Friday 2014 so I was dreading Christmas. My husband and I had created some special traditions for Christmas eve and Christmas morning after the kids moved away. Grief counselors recommend creating a few new traditions and maybe a few old ones if you like. I did that and enjoyed my Christmas and could face the new year with some hope. Maybe you are grieving those lost Christmases and now need to create new memories/traditions with your family. Your future is not in the past. God bless you and yours.

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