There’s a happy feeling nothing in the world can buy

Dawn had to take Charlotte out of the restaurant for bad behavior while Lily and I stayed behind and split an order of deep-fried, green tea ice cream, reminiscing about Christmases past, starting with one in Ireland that led to another memory of Charlotte being taken out of a restaurant for bad behavior.

Lily liked how I always took her to Hobbit movies this time of year she said, but I only remembered doing that once. It must have made such an impression, she’s convinced we did it multiple times.

On Christmas Eve, we learned that Ginger has worms in the worst possible way you can learn something like that, in the yard at Dawn’s mom’s house while there was still enough light you could see them moving in her poop.

Dawn called the doctor, worried the kids could have it too: but the symptoms were itchy anus, weight loss, bad gas—with only the latter symptom attributable to me.

Desperate for anything that could bring us together as a family we bought a TV, our first, and got right into it on Christmas day with chilled prawns and pistachios, laid out like drug addicts in some alleyway stoned.

I’d never had a TV since my parents divorced, convinced they separated because my dad wouldn’t engage enough with my mom, instead tuning out to the TV—a memory I’ve come to accept isn’t real, but made-up: a too-convenient solution to a problem I couldn’t confront otherwise. It was easier to blame the TV, and resolve to never bring one into our house…until we each got tablets, laptops, and phones. And realized we were all watching TV, separately.

On Christmas, dad called to say he was thankful I sent that gift to his brother Jim, because that’s the only present Jim got this year. It made dad feel like a heel, the logic that if he gave a gift to Jim, then Jim would feel like he had to give one back, and doesn’t have a lot of money.

Dad and I talked for a good, long while and he gave me some advice about the kids, then asked if I’d read the article he forwarded to me (which I hadn’t). It wasn’t what he was saying as much as the fact I could tell he cared—and I asked if he’d text Jim’s number to me so I could call him later, but there wasn’t a good time and I wanted to be with the people right around me instead, like my mom, who was only with us another day before she had to fly back to Germany.

After she left, I washed and dried the sheets for my friend Brad, who’s coming to house-sit and care for our animals while we go away a few nights to Whidbey island. Psychologically, it feels good knowing we’re getting more light every day, but it still feels like we have a very long way to go.

Categories: Memoir, writing

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27 replies

  1. Loved the TV part. We’ve all got a long way to go, haven’t we?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I think children must inflate memories. Just last night, there was an Arcade Fire song, and Abby said, “Remember that song you used to play when you took me to basketball, and I asked you to play it every time?” I knew the song but not the name, and we had to hunt it down on Neon Bible. I can remember that drive to basketball but I think it was only one time. Strange how we both remember it at all, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. it is funny the memories that stick, and tend to twist into what we want them to be. interesting when later in life we catch a look into the reality of what they were. or not.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I just looked up Whidbey Island – what a place to spend a few days. Hope you enjoy it.
    I understand what you mean about TV separating people, but these days I think you’re right to draw the other conclusion, that in a weird way – if you don’t overload – TV can unify you as a family. We sit down together to watch Netflix (Stranger Things, comedies like Brooklyn 99 and Parks and Recreation which we all love) and terrestrial favourites like Dr Who. Something lovely in sharing them, talking them over, putting forward theories, discussing favourites.
    Have a lovely time away, with or without a TV

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Lynn I think you were my inspiration for that point of view, which you’ve mentioned before if I’m remembering right. Weird turn on connection, over entertainment, though it’s been that way for generations I think, since the 50s or so. Nice you looked up Whidbey, feels good to get away, always fun riding the ferry too, right? Hope you’re getting some good down time too. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

      • Looks like a terrific place to unwind and I love a ferry if it’s short. I remember travelling from the far north of England to Holland years ago on an overnight ferry, a huge thing with four engines. One of the engines broke down in the night, making the ship unstable. There were a lot of green faces at breakfast next day! Have a lovely time

        Liked by 1 person

      • We’ve taken the overnight ferry from Holland to Newcastle. Absolutely loved that trip, but sounds like yours was less “romantic.”

        Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t really mind a ferry – they’re rather exciting things. But that night was a rough one!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Your first TV?! I’m shocked! I’m wondering what someone who hasn’t had a TV is itching to watch now. What’s the first thing you fired up on the new boob tube?

    Liked by 1 person

    • We watched Ready Player One for a third time this year. And then, just now with Dawn and beers we remembered we did have a TV before in our first house. And forgot, like legitimately. Sad.


  6. This is exceptional. If you wanted to hold up one of your posts as “the best” which would it be?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Jeff, happy to hear you liked my recent posts this week…thank you! Great question, which one, “the best.” I think it’s the whole process for me, they’re all kind of sketches…maybe better cumulatively somehow. You made me think about that though and poke around a bit, but nothing came up that warrants that. I’ve got more than a thousand now I think! Ha, life is good. Cheers to you and yours. Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  7. I was a little kid when we got our first TV … black and white … put a damper on the colorized Wizard of Oz which was still black and white for us. Watching TV (back in the day) was a real family affair even though people were already starting to worry about long-term effects. With one TV we had to negotiate some of the shows. My brother was all excited about Star Trek (William Shatner version) and I was bored. I had a friend whose parents refused to get a TV so he watched what he could at his girlfriend’s house. I remember she used to get miffed about that. Years ago our house was broken into and the guys stole our TV. No loss to us. For two or three months we went without a TV and didn’t miss it. Then our insurance company said they had to give us a TV as compensation. We let them pick it out and ship it to us. This is all before streaming and smartphones and iPads. I still have fond memories of when we (my husband and I) would watch Mystery Theatre or Masterpiece Theatre or Star Trek: The Next Generation or Sledgehammer. We had a schedule, we felt we were in control. But at some point, the powers-that-be decided to run marathons (Masterpiece Theatre three nights in a row instead of once a week). There were more and more commercials, fewer and fewer episodes in a season. Now we just stream what we want to watch. We feel like we’re back in control … to a point. Enjoy your TV. Have a Happy New Year 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had a B&W tv in my room as a kid, a hand-me-down when my parents upgraded. I used to fall asleep to it, to the sound of baseball commentators. And then the pledge of allegiance would come on at midnight, and it would just go black. Weird to think, right? And I was actually there, live, when VH1 played their first video. But now I can’t remember what it was. And it wasn’t that Video Killed the Radio Star song, that was MTV. I think it was Hall & Oates for some reason. Now we can look that kind of thing up, voila.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Great article!


  9. It sounds like a wonderful Christmas, have a wonderful year!


  10. My 17-year old said we “ALWAYS” watch ‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ and drink eggnog together. I do like eggnog but don’t recall this being a tradition. Do they make this stuff up?


    • Isn’t that our traditions and our pasts, all the made up pieces we want to believe comprise perfect? Ha, no different. And you should ALWAYS watch that Charlie Brown movie and drink eggnog together. That’s perfect…


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