November 29, 2016

It was pretty easy to spend Thanksgiving mostly in denial. It was a beautiful day in Hawaii, and the girls spent a good part of the day frolicking in the ocean and squealing every time a massive wave nearly bowled them over. They had enough sand in their swimsuits at the end of the afternoon that we almost could’ve made another beach.

We shared a leisurely breakfast with Daddy-o, and met up again for a sunset dinner in Lahaina, which was an ideal situation, since he could indulge in his beloved turkey dinner and I could thoroughly avoid eating it. We reminisced about Thanksgivings past, and I reminded him of the year Mama forgot about the pot of boiling turkey stock on the stove. She’d left the pot on full boil for nearly an hour as she busied herself with setting the table and laundry, and all of a sudden, she heard a sharp crack and a loud boom! The pot had boiled dry and gotten so overheated that it (and the ceramic cooktop on the range) cracked and exploded, sending remnants of vegetables and turkey parts airborne all over the kitchen. Insurance ended up covering it, but boy, was Mama mad! Daddy didn’t remember the incident until I reminded him what she’d said to the insurance guy when he came to look at the mess.

“This whole mess is due to sheer stupidity,” she said, chagrined.

“That’s okay, ma’am,” he replied. “We cover stupidity.”

There was also the Thanksgiving that we had a huge snowstorm the day before, and subsequently, our refrigerator died. Mama and I trudged through knee-deep snow, arms laden with casserole dishes of stuffing and Waldorf salad to the next door neighbors’ house, and what we couldn’t store there, we stuck in the snow in the backyard. Snow makes an excellent impromptu chiller for chardonnay and champagne.

It was lovely to laugh together about those stories, but there was definitely sadness there, too. Daddy admitted that it had been a hard day. Thanksgiving has always been his favorite holiday, and Mama always worked so hard to make him his favorite things and make the day special. This first one without her, even in a setting as lush and breathtaking as Maui, stung deeply.

We came home the day after Thanksgiving, while Daddy headed to Kauai for an additional week of warmth.

Then it was my turn to face reality, and boy, did it ever suck.

Perhaps I didn’t do myself any favors by insisting that we decorate the house for Christmas so soon after Thanksgiving, but in all honesty, I just wanted to get it over with. I wanted to do it for the girls, because they love the way the house looks all gussied-up for the holidays. It made sense to do it early, so they could enjoy it longer. It also made sense because my husband was post-call Monday, and offered to help me with the task (proof again that he’s a keeper).

What didn’t make sense?

How terribly, horribly, monstrously mean I felt on Monday.

I woke feeling growly and bitter, and the day went downhill from there. The microwave, which had been acting spooky for several weeks, decided to short out yet again. Hubs went down to test the Christmas tree, and only the top half of the tree would light. It’s one of those pre-lit jobbers and it did the same thing last year, but after some tinkering, we got it to work last Christmas. No such luck this year. The thing was a dead horse.

“Jesus, does anything fucking work in this house?” I grumbled.

Off to SuperTarget we went, in search of a new microwave and crummy, pre-lit tree. And while I should have been grateful that my husband was on hand to help me haul two giant boxes onto carts and into the house, I was foul. Just refer to me as She Who Seethes Through the SuperTarget.

“You’re being awfully quiet,” my husband said to me in the car.

“What the Hell do you expect me to be chatty about?” I snarled back.

We got home, got the tree up, and I went downstairs to gather the rest of the holiday decorations. I could only find half of them. This happens to me every year. I think I’ll remember where I’ve stowed every Christmas knick-knack, but inevitably, I forget. Usually, it’s annoying. This time, it threw me into a full-fledged rage. I slammed through the house, cursing mightily. My husband wisely hid out in the study until I’d located the elusive box of stuff.

A few hours later, my husband looked at the freshly decorated tree and said, “That’s a good lookin’ tree, honey.”

“It looks ragtag as shit,” I spat. “But to Hell with it. I. don’t. care.”

While my  husband picked the girls up from school, I unpacked the new microwave. I wrestled the behemoth thing out of the box, stripped away all of the styrofoam and packing material and…no instruction or operating manual in the box. Nowhere to be found.

This was the last straw.

“AAARRRGGGGG!” I hollered, and began kicking the old microwave out of frustration and spite. Kick. Kick. Suddenly, I couldn’t stop. Kickkickkick.

Which is how my kids found me when they arrived home from school. Yelling like a lunatic and kicking the heck out of a defunct kitchen appliance.


The girls looked at me, wide-eyed. They exchanged a sideways glance and hustled outside with the dog.

“Honey, it’s okay,” my husband said softly. “It’s okay. We can take it back. We can do that. I can do it right now. But…I bet I can find the instruction manual on the internet though, okay? If you want me to try to do that first?”

Suddenly, all of the steam and fury seemed to leave my body and my brain in one big whoosh. I leaned into the kitchen counter, exhausted.

My husband crossed the room and wrapped me in a hug. “You miss your mom, huh?” He patted my back. “I’m so sorry you’re missing her today.”

Cue the waterworks.

“I’ve been ROTTEN today,” I sputtered. “I’ve been rotten and an absolute beast and I’m sorry. I’ve just felt so mad–so mad!–today. And I’ve just spent all that time feeling mad and being awful when what I really was is sad. God, I’m so stupid. How hard was it to admit I was sad? I wasted all day being mad instead. I wasted…a whole day. Jesus.”

“Maybe you had to feel mad first, before you could feel sad,” my husband said.

“You’re just being nice to me,” I sniffled.

“Well, whatever it is,” my husband said, “It’s okay.”

And maybe it is, but why did I have to make things so hard?

Are things always going to be this hard?

Am I going to have to exhaust a bunch of other emotions before I can actually reach the one I’m really feeling?

How many bloody carcasses am I going to leave in my wake this holiday?

Don’t know. Can’t guess.

I guess we just have to sit with this, this first year. To hope that we can feel what we need to feel, and still try not to ruin everything.

So we go.

Hoping for the best.

Expecting Humbuggery.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Biz November 29, 2016 at 9:41 pm

Of all people you know I felt every word of this post Dana. The year of firsts is really really hard. The only thing that is saving me this Christmas is that Tony was NOT a fan of Christmas – he hated the cold weather, the pomp and circumstance, all the hoopla, where I in fact love it for that reason.

So I am about to snowman the life out of my house because I won’t have to hear that it’s too much.

Sending love your way – to you and your Papa too!


Annie November 30, 2016 at 7:57 am

Sending you all my love. It’s ok to be mad, sad, mixed up and even glad. Nothing will be “normal” this first year but you will wade through it to the other side. You have lots of us who will be with you through it all.


Mary Lee November 30, 2016 at 5:19 pm

Oh, Sweet Girl, I did not know! I am so, so sorry. Over the years I learned that your mother was a very special lady. You had her longer than expected, which is no comfort, of course, but that gave you and especially your daughters a cache of more memories to treasure.

So your sexy, good -looking husband is astute, understanding, and sensitive, too? Sheesh!

Love you!


Dana Talusani November 30, 2016 at 8:05 pm

My Sweet Mary Lee,

Thank you, and so good to hear your words. And yes, you are right–that MAN. Don’t know how I managed that one :)


Abbe@This is How I Cook November 30, 2016 at 7:12 pm

We all have those days. You are one of the lucky ones that figured out the reason why. And the husband…well we all need one like him. I must admit though that being Jewish and only having candles to worry about is a whole lot simpler. You and I should have lunch one day.


Dana Talusani November 30, 2016 at 8:02 pm


I would lunch with you any day. I can’t even explain how my husband was able to talk me down…I was kicking dead appliances. Not good marks for me in the sanity department.


elizabeth November 30, 2016 at 7:20 pm

Oh, TKW. Remember that one of the most satisfying scenes from Office Space (a movie you need to watch post-haste if it’s been awhile or God forbid, never) involves a fax machine and several baseball bats, so it’s OK to take out some rage on non-functioning appliances. (Just don’t take a baseball bat to the microwave, because that seems…dangerous.)

I think this season it’s paramount to be kind to yourself and to let yourself feel. You’re going to have crap days, but it’s better to let it all out than try to repress it as that’s SO much worse. XOXO lady!


Dana Talusani November 30, 2016 at 7:59 pm

Yeah, I totally went office space on that fucking microwave. It remains one of my favorite movies in the canon of discontent. I love you.


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