Fishing The Coast, Oregon and Washington
December 2017
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

December 8, 2017
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I'm embarrassed! Whatever happened to "Happy December!" at the first of the month? Huh? Jennie?
And all of this time, I'm inspired like crazy.. like I haven't been in a long, long, time!
Things are changing deep in my soul. Finally! I feel something!
Frankly, I think I've been rather dead for a while. Maybe my soul died a bit, when my son died. Maybe I've said that I've cried in this column in the last four or so years, but the absolute truth of the matter, is that I couldn't. I couldn't cry! I didn't know what was really wrong with me, but... a week or so ago, while watching "The Holiday", I CRIED! Oh, boy, did I cry! I cried years worth of tears!
I could so relate to the characters in the movie, and especially Cameron Diaz. You know, I look so much like her... No. It wasn't that, and I'm just kidding. But, in the movie, she had been through some sort of pain/trauma and she couldn't cry. It was the first time I've heard of anyone else having that problem.
I used to cry at the drop of a hat. In fact, like the opposite character, Jude Law, who said, "I'm a weeper.", Well, I used to be that! A weeper! I'd weep over everything!
But, then... after Andrew died, I became like a block of cement. That's the only way I know to describe it.
Funny, odd, interesting how a silly "Hallmark" type movie can inspire so much, but after crying, something changed in me. It was like some sort of weird release, and all of the sudden, I became inspired! I was inspired to love, inspired to do something with my life, again... just inspired!
Funny. I asked my son, David what it's called when someone can't cry and he said, "Emotionally constipated?" Well, eh hem. That's not what I had in mind, but it does kind of describe it!
I've always been a doer. I have always set goals for myself, and darned if I don't set them pretty high. Probably too high. I kind of kill myself trying to do things I want to do, but I quit, after Andrew died. I gave up! I crumbled!
But, I thought about ifish and how after I sold it, I kind of crumbled, inside. Not only did I have the death of Andrew, but in a way, a sort of death of my career. Ifish was my career, and I took it very seriously!
The person I sold it to kept me in the loop and we worked together, but then, when he had to sell it due to his health, the new owners were much different, and it was clear that... how can I put this? Well, my opportunities to be creative and do what I wanted to do, were somewhat limited.
I had been so careful about choosing the new owner, because I still wanted to be a large piece of ifish. But, that isn't to be, now, so I ended up losing both my son, and in a way, my career. Not that they are doing a bad job. They do great with ifish! They just do things differently and my voice is a bit limited, and so are my finances! I can't just buy a bunch of hats and sell them, when I'm inspired. I can't even afford my decals to sell! LOL.
But, that's another story... this story is about new things!
I don't know what exactly I'm going to do, but I'm not just going to roll over and do nothing. I may be 57, but I can still do what I want to! I just have to put my finger on what is really inspiring me, these days, and go for it!
I may start a new website... I may do something totally different, but look out, world! I cried last week, and in so doing, I opened up a whole new mind set!

December 12, 2017home vid
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I said to Bill, "You know what's totally exciting? I have 2 whole weeks to stay home!"
Now, with two days to go before I drive back to Oregon City, it seems I've been here a day and a half.
Or less.
It seems as if the months get faster and faster as the year comes to an end. December, especially quickly!
When I was little, December stretched on forever, due to the wait until Christmas break, and then, the actual Christmas Eve and Christmas day. But when you are the flip side, the gifter, rather than the giftee, boy oh boy do the days fly!
I have personally flown right by December 1st, clear to the 12th, and not a darn day has gone by! How is that so?
Do I have enough wrapping paper? Do I have enough for Santa to fill stockings? Where is my list? Did I check it twice? Do I even know who is naughty or nice? (heh, heh, heh!)
And... fishing? Oh, yeah! Who has time? Instead, the fish that I could have caught weeks ago, are now dead or dying in the still pools where the current water has calmed and receded. Yep. Those were the fish! The very fish I could have caught and smoked or grilled, just two weeks ago!
And so goes my "fishing" life these days!
Ho! Ho! Ho! They aren't edible, any mo'!
It is kind of eery, as I walk along the river. There is dead water pools, where the river has receded, (and in this dry weather, keeps receding!) and in it, just maybe 10 inches deep, are dark shadows of decaying fish. Sometimes as many as eight or ten in a single pool. Half buried in sand, ghosts of the magical creatures they once were. It's haunting, against the clear blue skies.
I try to keep busy singing Christmas songs, as I walk, as to not stop and stare and get too involved in their situation!
There are some that aren't buried at all, and instead, lay open to the air where the seagulls and eagles are free to swoop down for a quick meal. Those are also fair game and attract the dogs, due to the awful smell. The dogs race over, and before I can stop them, drop their shoulders into the gooey grossness, and give their coat a definite need for a bath. Ewe. Why are dogs so gross? They know well our family name for dead salmon. We yell, "ACKY!" at them, and they know to move away, but they often can't help themselves. In fact, sometimes they take a couple nibbles, before we notice. Dogs can get salmon poisoning more than once and I know that for a fact, as I've had Willie treated three times, now. It is simply impossible to keep him away at all times, since this is where he lives. That's why our veterinarians give us a prescription for antibiotics that will kill the fluke, when the dogs miss dinner and don't look well. That's when we treat them, because if you don't catch it quickly, the flukes are fatal. We have been very lucky, but careful watching plays a huge role in our "luck".
I'll leave you today with a video I took yesterday. I'm very frustrated that cameras don't catch the sparkling of the ice on the vegetation! Why is that? I was so looking forward to viewing it again on the computer screen! You know, in a way, I'm glad that there are some things that you just can't capture on a computer screen! You just would have had to be there! It was gorgeous, yesterday!

December 17, 2017holly

I miss the river, and it's only been two days. I'm in Oregon City, trying to get some things done. Tammy, my roommate took a few days off so that we could do Christmas cooking, together. Fun! I've never done cooking with someone! How will this be? :)
Will we be elbow to elbow in my tiny kitchen, getting irritated with each other, or will it be fun?! Fun. That's the answer! I insist!
We don't have a tree this year in Oregon City. It's just too expensive! Oh my word! 75 dollars to cut a tree down? I don't like fake trees, and that's what we have at Bill's. But, even the idea of cutting down a tree is slightly offensive to me, as is having a plastic tree. So, Tammy bought some fresh garlands, so at least our house smells like fresh tree! That's what is important, right? The smell is lovely!
We are wrapping and placing presents under the piano, this year! Ha!
I want to go steelhead fishing, today. It's so weird to think I can't. If I were at the coast, all I'd have to do is grab the rod from the rack and walk a couple hundred feet. I now realize just how spoiled I've been for nearly 20 years!
And... it is free to do so!
This steelhead season, though, instead of being excited for fishing, I was getting excited to see Taylor Swift, again, live and in concert. The closest she was in concert is in Seatlle, but I was still going to go. I've been a dedicated "swifty" for many years. I've only seen her once in concert, but this year I spent some of my free time, (that I could have been fishing!) playing kid games on her internet fan site, in order to give me a boost to get better fan tickets.
I'm 57. Not wanting to pretend I was a kid, while doing these assigned tasks, I fondly named myself, "Swiftyoverfifty" on social media, and proceeded to do assigned tasks to boost her fame, by watching her videos countless times and putting her advertising background on my facebook pages. Each time, I got points for doing so.
Taylor, always a good business woman, was attempting to put a stop to bots and scammers buying her tickets, and then upping the price so that fans couldn't afford them.
Good idea, Taylor, but in so doing, you raised the prices yourself, so that your team gets the money! I don't understand how young fans, mostly under the age of 25, can afford $1000 dollar seats!?! Oh_my_gosh!
I was shocked, when I earned the chance to get into ticketmaster before public sales, and choose a ticket. She's doing all Stadium tours, so first off, there is little chance someone will get close enough to get a better view than you'd get on television. Second, Taylor! Your prices are out of this world! Yes. a Taylor fan can get a nosebleed seat for an semi affordable price. (if you call 200 and up, "affordable".)
Mind you, I paid a little over 100 to get up and close to Bruno Mars in Vegas. I had to stand, so I wasn't there long, but I could see him!
I gave up on Taylor. Most of the "good" seats were over a thousand dollars. Later, it was so odd for me to see all these young girls on social media, claiming they got "12th row from the stage!". Where on earth do they get their money?
And so, I'm off to Fred Meyers this morning, to get in on a bargain.
I was getting to think that fishing licenses were expensive, but man oh man... they are cheap, compared to getting a one night pass to see Taylor!
I'm getting a darned bargain! I can fish, any time I like and I don't have to drive all the way to Seattle to do it!
Thanks, Taylor for the attitude adjustment! It's probably the best thing you've taught me!

December 20th, 2017holly
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Thanks to Tammy, we have Nanaimo bars, lemon bars, and these really awesome chocolate/espresso cookies. They are all so good!
Last night, she was getting a little tired of cooking, and I heard an extremely disgusted "OH, SHOOT!" come from the kitchen. She was tired, as I said, and I wasn't sure if I should ask what happened... but I did.
"I made a big mess!" On further inquiry about what happened, she insisted, "You don't want to know!"
See... I'm kind of known by Tammy to be OCD. (OCD, and kind of freaky about it!) Because of the fact that she takes over the entire kitchen, counters, fridge, stove, oven, sink... I don't do well when she cooks, so I stay away.
She's not messy, by most terms, but I'm just... freaky.
I clean as I go. She is a flurry of mixing bowls, dabs of dough there, and splashes of batter over... well.... everywhere! Actually, I kind of admire this artistic approach and wish I could be more like it.
Opposite of my normal reaction, however, I approached said "mess" very calmly.
She had a 13x9 pan, half full of lemon bar batter, approaching the oven, when she spilled half of it into the hot oven floor and door, and drawer, below. That rhymes! But, whatamess! But, I was calm, cool, and kind. It is Christmas, after all! I knew how much that kind of mess would bother me, so I decided to help her be more calm, also. She had been cooking for hours! Days, even!
I was fresh on a Nanaimo bar sugar high, and feeling quite like superwoman!
I'll fix it!
It really looked worse than it was. A big wet towel, even on a hot oven floor, wiped that half baked cookie dough up with relatively little effort! No burns! Nothing!
Merry Christmas!
Oh! And hours before, the wonderful news weatherman came on, delivering exciting news! It may SNOW on Christmas Day! Can you imagine waking up on Christmas morning to a white wonderland? That, and piping hot, gooey sweet petals! (Those are my Mom's traditional sweet rolls that we devour on Christmas morning!)
Ho! Ho! Ho! That's what was said as we wrapped our presents in the freezing garage, and delivered them to the traditional Christmas piano. LOL. Yes. We have no Christmas tree, this year. Too darned expensive for my tastes! I have Christmas trees all over the Kilchis property and no desire to chop one down for my Christmas muse that lasts less than a month.
I stopped writing yesterday, as I couldn't recall the name of my Mom's sweet rolls. This is the main problem, I've found, with getting older. No brains, whatsoever. Just heard that eating my vegetables can reduce your brain age by 12 years. I'd better get on that!
So, now that I've found the recipe, and thank goodness the name of the rolls were printed in pencil scribbles on an old note pad, I know the name, above. Sweet petals! The recipe is somewhere on ifish, but the new search engine (darn that thing) just doesn't do what it should! Like find the name of my Mom's sweet rolls! Ha! Now, that's important stuff, Mr. Search Engine! The Search Engine should be eating vegetables, too!
I woke this morning to a frozen wonderland, and both Willie and I thought it was snow, at first. He bounded outside into the winter wonderland, and until he realized it wasn't snow, he was all bouncy and excitable.
Myself, I headed into the garage where I work to turn on the Kerosene heater. Doing ifish in the garage isn't bad for about 8 months out of the year, but in the heat of summer or the frozen months of winter, it's pretty uncomfortable and expensive. I have three sources of heat going, right now. A kerosene heater, a heated blanket over my lap, and one of those Costco type radiant electric heaters.
I've been doing research pretty heavily on propane heaters, right now. Do you realize that kerosene is now about 8.50 a gallon? Oh_my_gosh! Anything is less expensive than that! We need an emergency source of heat, in case the power goes out. So, if anyone has any great ideas, or sees a great sale on a propane or kerosene non electric heater, let me know! There are some great ones out there, but some require professional installation. I want something that we can do ourselves and that we can move from area to area.
Anyhow... I'm free feeling, these days! My Christmas shopping has come to an end, and I have four (count 'em!) days in which to cook, or clean, or just relax!
Ho! Ho! Ho!
I hope you can do the same!
And after Christmas, I'm headed straight to the coast, and I'm going to try out my new First Bite Jigs!
I bought them with my Ebates cash for the month. Wow! I can't believe what a great deal Ebates is, for shopping. I got 35 bucks this month, just for clicking on their site before going to any online store. They also add the coupons for you, that used to be found by doing online searches for codes. Like, Cabelas, you know? If you need a coupon, they usually have it for you! I don't know why everyone doesn't use Ebates!

December 24th, 2017holly
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Attention! All ifishers!! You must know all the verses, (in order) to "Winter Wonderland!" Are you prepared? I checked myself, yesterday, and I'm good.
That's your project, for today! :) Just be glad you aren't cleaning house!
I'm going to miss my little holly! I love all the decorations for Christmas! Even decorating the website! I used to be so much better at it. For years, I'd even decorate the bulletin board! What a lot of work that was! I'll never forget one year at Valentine's day, when I had changed all of the little graphics into heart related graphics. One of our members said, "Jennie never misses a beat!" That made me feel good. :)
At least when taking them down off the website, you don't have to wrap them in tissue!
I've been a mess of sugar and cinnamon the last couple days. My Mom never missed a beat at Christmas, and I have learned (to try) and be the same way.
Speaking of sugary/cinnamon... I have to do the floors, now. Christmas conjures up so many memories, and one of my strongest is, "Christmas is CLEAN!".
Christmas vacation from school was always so welcome! We'd stay up late, and try to sleep in late, too. But, my Mom often put a stop to that. I wonder if my brothers and sisters heard it coming, too. I always had trouble sleeping in. I'd want to, but I've just always been a morning person. So, laying in bed, I'd hear the steps coming, and I knew what to expect, next. She'd open the door to the stair case, and yell upstairs, where we'd be sleeping. All five of us. At the top of her lungs, she'd wake us with, "Christmas is CLEAN!" In this sing song, quasi merry jingle. It echoes in my brain, still in a half unpleasant, but kind of funny way. My kids learned to laugh at it, but let me tell you... back then, it was darn serious and Christmas was forced on us to be squeaky clean!
I don't know where she got the drill sergeant thing, but we had to get the shower squeaky clean, and the cupboards, and the floors and...everything!
Sometimes my older sisters got out of it by helping her in the kitchen. No fair!
Everything got done, though, and in the end, Christmas was fabulous! It took a village, which was our family of seven, but we got 'er done!
So, my excuse for a sticky floor, this Christmas? I have no village!
A couple days back, I was worried about making yeast breads this year, due to this house being so cold and dry. There is a feel to a house that you can make good bread in, and this isn't it! Sure enough... my sweet petals turned into a big crispy cookie the first day! It just wouldn't do the second rise, no matter what I tried!
Now, mind you, if you use the link I provided, there, our Sweet Petals are NOT "Mimi's" and they don't look the same as that link. We roll our snakes a bit thinner, and the recipe is a slight bit different. But, it's generally the same thing. Our recipe is the original Pillsbury recipe from years and years ago.
Every time my back starts to ache from standing and rolling those snakes of dough and then dip them in butter, and then cinnamon sugar/nuts, etc., after blessing my Mom, I also think of my Dad.
One of my last memories of my dear Mom was when she was very ill at Christmas. It was the saddest Christmas, ever!
She had cancer, and it was taking over. Everyone knew it in their heart. But, my Mother wouldn't quit. Christmas MUST go on.
Instead of resting, she insisted on all the traditional treats. Dad helped her with the baking, and when I walked in the house, he was standing, looking near exhausted, and just finishing the sweet petals with her.
He said, "Jennie, I don't know HOW many snakes I have made, today!"
From years of experience, YES. I know! "I know, Dad!!!"
I was so glad he finally knew, too!
There were Sweet Petal coffee cakes all over the kitchen counters. Must have been 8 of them, or more, and Dad had helped by rolling all that dough into "snakes" like you would play dough, and then dipped into melted butter, and then, finally, the cinnamon sugar/nuts. :) I think he learned to appreciate the work that my Mom had done for years, in that one afternoon!
Yes, Dad. Those wonderful cinnamon rolls that you had learned to love for so many years, the multiple loaves of Houska bread, the dozens of different kinds of cookies; the pfeffernusse and lebkuchen that ripened until they were perfect in the cans in the lower cupboards, the fudge, the divinity. all of that, Dad! They take a lot of time and work!
On top of all that, she raised five kids and taught piano lessons all afternoon, while dinner cooked on the stove! That's a fuller than full time job!
My Mother really set the bar.
I learn the same lessons, every year, and I only make one or two sweet petals, and maybe a few cookies! Is it any wonder I go around feeling like a failure, most the time? Compared to my Mom... Hoh boy...
But, if there is one thing I know for sure, it's that Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without scrambled eggs, Voget's sausage and Sweet Petal rolls in the morning!
So, yesterday I got up and made another batch of Sweet Petals. I had to have it perfect! I turned the heat up and put a pot of water to simmer on the stove for moisture. My dough raised perfectly!
Now we'll have one Sweet Petals for Christmas, and one for New Years!
The New Years one might be a bit crunchy, but, there is no chance that anything soaked in butter and sugar/cinnamon could be all bad!
If there is one thing I wish for you for Christmas, is that you relax the bar, and just RELAX! Enjoy your family. Enjoy the moment!
Merry Christmas to all! And may all your Christmases... be clean! (oops! I mean, CHILLAX!)

hollyhollyhollyhollyhollyholly
MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!
hollyhollyhollyhollyhollyholly

It's so... quiet! I am alone this Christmas until our family dinner. It's so strange not to be rushing around, trying to get the stockings out before anyone wakes! David had to work last night. He's beginning to really dislike working grave shift.
We held a sort of meeting in the night, to decide when we were going to do presents, and all the traditional stuff. I guess no one is going to be around for Christmas Sweet Petals, so I just may heat those up and have them, myself! :)
The last couple nights, I have been up late, worrying!
Last night, due to the weather, and never knowing when he is going to get off work.
David had the night before last off, and at about 9 PM or so, he said, "I'm going to go get something to eat. He usually gets up about 7 or so, has coffee, and leaves for work at 9. But, since he was off work, he was going to go get a bite to eat.
OK! I barely paid attention, as I was snugly tucked into bed. I try my hardest to maintain a regular schedule, despite Tammy and David's opposite schedule!
I watched TV, and about a half hour later, I was thinking, "Hm. Where's David?" Usually when you "go get something to eat", you go through DQ or Burgerville, and are back in minutes. But, the house remained quiet for an awkward amount of time. (Not a creature was stirring! Not even a mouse!)
So, as Mothers often do, I created scenarios in my mind, of what he was doing. "Oh, he probably stopped at work, and since he's such a nice guy, probably pitched in to help with something... or something like that..."
The half hour wait-increments turned to incredibly long-hour long waits, and the imagined stories in my head were getting crazier and crazier. At a little past midnite, the story went, "The car broke down! David got out, and with food in hand, began to walk home, since he didn't have his phone with him to call me. Two strangers hit him over the head, and he's blacked out on the side of the road, where the cops found him, and ... " the story got more and more bizarre.
Mind you, David is 28 years old, so when I called his work, to see if he was there, I swore the lady giggled when she said, "No. He has tonight off!" How embarrassing!
But, dangit, where was David, if not?
Kids! Why don't they let their parents know what's going on?!?
Willie was a mess, fully sensing my paranoia in the early morning darkness. He wouldn't leave me be, pawing at me for comfort. I wanted to paw at him!
Finally, David walked through the door, as casually as he walked out.
"David?!" I yelled out, breaking the stressed out silence of the long, quiet night.
"Yeah? Mom? 'You up, still?"
"WHERE WERE YOU!?!?!"
"Oh! I thought you'd be sound asleep! Fred Meyers was open till Midnite, and I got all my shopping done! I had the store to myself, almost!" He went on and on, about how happy he was about that. His story trailed off as I tried to wipe all the other crazy stories of what might have been, from my mind.
I was glad my son was safe and sound. It's scary when you lose a child, and realize that possibility is REALLY real.
The story of what happened to the son that I lost isn't much wilder than the imagined scenarios I created in my mind. I only have one son left, and by golly, I'm not letting him go!
This Christmas morning, I'm alone, but not nearly as alone as I've been since Andrew passed. I know that the rest of my family is around. I'm just not present with them, at this time, and that feels so good!
Bill decided not to try and travel in this icy mess, and I'm glad for that. I want him safe! I'm glad David is sound asleep in his bed. He is safe! Tammy is also asleep, as she also works grave shift. So, this Christmas morning, I'm by myself, but far from alone. There's a difference!
I'm thankful for so many things. I'm going to spend the morning in prayer, thanking God for all of the miracles that I have experienced, and all that life has given my family and I.
I'm so lucky to be one of five children that in our golden years, are all happy and healthy. We will soon be together and laughter will fill the air around a beautiful table full of bountiful food and delicacies!
Then, I get to go home to Bill and Revvie and Maize and we'll exchange gifts and go on with our day to day life on the river.
I'm ever so thankful for my eyesight this year! It isn't nearly as good as it once was, and it often frustrates me, but I can see! That, after 15-20 eye surgeries, many of them emergency, is a true miracle from above! Thank you, Jesus!
But, I thank God mostly for the 20/20 vision to see that even though I'm alone, this Christmas morning, I have so many, many things to be thankful for!

December 30th, 2017holly
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I'm back home in Tillamook, and man, has it rained! The river is bank full, and has gone down a little since our 4 inch deluge of rain in 24 hours.
Finally, all the dead salmon will be washed out to sea. No more yelling "Acky!" in a disgusted voice at the dogs who sniff and perhaps drop a shoulder to roll in them. Yuck.
Sometimes I can take a stick and skewer them enough to push them back in the water, but I can't get them all!
Willie doesn't take no for an answer when he begs to go out for a walk. I mean, it's written and highlighted into his busy schedule, so who I am to say no? Why he can't just go by himself is a mystery, but he wants his Momma.
There is just something about wanting to be with family.
I pull on my Frog Togs or my waders and longest 'Helley' and head out with him, into the pouring rain. He's actually right, as usual, as the fresh air picks up my spirits as we head to what's left of the river bank, or to our secret forts to dig in the mud. Pretty soon, I'm singing Christmas Carols and splashing in the puddles, and he's got a smile on his face as he barks into the wind.
Life is good on the Kilchis River.
Christmas was, as always, a mix of extreme highs and extreme lows.
As I last wrote, I was alone Christmas morning, deciding to eat the Sweet Petals all by myself.
As I was writing on Christmas morning, David popped in, awake and excited like a kid who couldn't wait to open his stocking!
I was so surprised, as he had taken a grave shift the night before.
Our plan had been that I'd wake him, right before the family dinner, and we'd do our immediate family Christmas, afterwards, in the evening.
Now things were a bit skewed, and I didn't know what to do when. Tammy was still sleeping, so we couldn't open presents and it wouldn't really be fair to eat sweet petals without her, either.
What to do?
Well? That was soon decided in a rush of confusion when David got a phone call from (bad drum roll) WORK!
It had already gotten to be 11:00 AM (somehow!?) and family dinner was at 1 PM.
I should be scurrying around, deciding what to wear, putting on makeup, trying to look special for the day of festivities.
I heard David kindly speak into the phone and agree to something. Ugh. I dreaded the explanation and knew what was coming.
"I have to work, today."
UGH. His manager's roommate suffered a critical illness and was in the hospital. David has trouble saying no, anyhow, but especially under these conditions.
So, that left us NO time, Zero time to do our immediate family presents and somehow time was creeping up to the time we'd have to leave for family dinner. David said he'd have to go back to sleep soon, since he had to work grave, so that meant I was going to family dinner without him.
I really didn't mind going alone, but David seemed to mind, and so much so, that I thought he was going to weep.
Christmas is just so emotional! Isn't it?
"I will call to cancel for you, so that you don't have to." David pleaded.
Frankly, I was afraid to call. I knew I would be met with total consternation. You just don't miss Family Christmas. You just... DON'T!
My sister Teri works for weeks, preparing for this special event all for a 20 minute beautiful sit down meal.
But, it's so much more than that. SO much more!
My brothers and sisters are all nearing the "golden years" and it's a miracle that we are all still alive and healthy. We are SO lucky to have all of us, healthy and happy, and on top of that, the little ones! The nieces and nephews! It's such fun to see everyone!
I couldn't miss family dinner! Could I?!
Now hear this. I do guilt like no one else. In fact, way back when I played piano for the opera singer, she gifted me with a t shirt that said, "I Don't Do Guilt!" All because she knew how hard I was on myself.
In fact, I am writing this long drivel, due to the fact that I am still suffering from the decision to miss family dinner. I am trying to work out my feelings so that I can move on.
By the time I had hemmed and hawed about the decision, it was too late to go to family dinner at Teri's. Afraid to call and face the music, I chicken-texted my brother, who I thought would be most understanding. I asked him to spread the news of my absence. I told him that David got called in to work, and I was going to enjoy my family at home, this Christmas.
I had the most wonderful Christmas!!!
Instead of the usual chaos and hurry on Christmas, everything was so chill!
Soon, Tammy got up. She also works grave, so it was fun that she was up too. We warmed the Sweet Petals and made the traditional scrambled eggs and sausage.
Then, we all gathered by our decorated "Christmas piano" (We didn't want to spend $75 on a tree!) and we began to open presents!
I had a Christmas like I haven't had, since I was a kid. We were all in our pajamas!
Usually, when you have kids, the presents are all focused on the kids. Right? But David had picked out so many presents for me that I was in shock! I had presents totally surrounding me!
Sometimes I think that the only person that understands the huge gap in my life that Andrew left when he passed away, is David. Christmas hasn't been the same for me, since Andrew passed, and David just gets it.
David and Andrew were a pair to draw to. But, mostly, they were a pair. One without the other just isn't right. They were 13 months apart at birth, and attached at the hip. (so to speak). They rarely if ever fought. They were best friends, forever.
David didn't let on for years, but he confided in me once that he always felt like part of him was missing during family Holidays like this.
I totally get it!
I can hear little Andrew's voice when he was young, when I'd have to go out to the car on Christmas, "I'll go with you, Mommy". Oh, sweet Andrew! Always Mommy's friend.
I often struggle on Christmas Day, missing Andrew. So, it was such a relief to be able to stay home, and not be afraid I'd cry in front of my brothers and sisters.
Well, an hour into our fun, I received a phone call that I let go to message. The message said, "Where are you!? We are holding up dinner for you!"
Oh, no! I guess my brother David didn't see my text, so I had to call and tell them. Ugh. The thickness in the air during that call! I was, in one word, a scoundrel.
But... But, but... I had the best Christmas, ever with my little family, all relaxed and cozy.. It was so nice! How could that possibly be wrong?!
"They say I did something bad. But, why'd it feel so good?" Thanks, Taylor Swift!
I can't say it was "worth it", because I missed my family Christmas dinner and I didn't want to miss it! But, I made a choice, last minute.
I disappointed my sisters and brothers and all my beautiful little nieces and nephews.
I haven't come to peace with it all, and I don't think I ever will.
Soon after presents at home with David and Tammy, they both went to bed to prepare for their grave shift and I was alone with my thoughts.
I lit a bunch of candles and spent some quiet time in prayer. Surely God could fix me.
My sister texted me after dinner, "Where were you!?" I tried to sound chipper in return, but she called me a "scoundrel". Now, I know that is a silly word, and she meant to tease me with it, but as usual, I took it badly. I so didn't want to upset my sister and I don't like that she thinks I'm a scoundrel. :( Teri is the patriarch of the family and I hold her on high.
For the next week, the name "scoundrel" echoed over and over in my head. I even looked it up. "a dishonest or unscrupulous person; a rogue.
synonyms: rogue, rascal, miscreant, good-for-nothing, reprobate;"
Yeah. I know... she didn't mean it that way, but I wanted to wallow in it, I guess. I needed to punish myself more and more!
But, the dam of damnation broke the day after Christmas. I had the best Christmas I have had since Andrew passed. I felt Christmas joy for the first time, since then, but afterwards, I paid that piper. Oh...DID I!
My brother sent me a message the day after Christmas that began with, "I hope this doesn't upset you."
Now, when a message starts like that, you know darn well, both as the author and the reader, that this is going to hurt!
His message reminded me of how hard Teri works for this event. It was a kind of "How could I?" kind of message. At least, that's how this scoundrel took it!
As if I had no cares in the world. As if my decision to enjoy my immediate (but broken) family wasn't wrought with indecision and guilt, already.
So, for the second time, total, since Andrew died, I cried.
And, oh... did I cry! Buckets! A stream of tears, that had not been able to come out since Andrew died came pouring out like a breeched and broken dam.
I cried for the first time at "The Holiday" movie, and the second time, the day after Christmas, when getting that message from my brother.
As Taylor Swift says, "I think I'm finally clean". I think I have no more tears to cry and that feels good.
You know, my brother really didn't mean to upset me. He's one of the kindest people that I know. It's just me. I wallow.
I_do_guilt. I need to get another T shirt that defies that.
The Holidays are just a tough time, when you have lost someone you love. I have memories of such joy and those same expectations are always to recreate those memories.
I wish I hadn't missed my family dinner, but then I would have missed that wonderful day with my immediate family.
This last Christmas Day is one of those days that in the future, I will hold high and try to recreate, again and again. It was pure joy.
We have decided to schedule our immediate family Christmas for Christmas eve, this next year. That way, we won't miss anything!
I so wish I could just say to my family, "sorry-not sorry"... but the thing is, I AM sorry.
It's too bad that there is any bitter sweet, mixed along with how much I enjoyed my Christmas, this year, but it seems that is just Christmas, for ya. Extreme highs... Extreme lows.
It's just life. Right?

 

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