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Don't wait around for other people to be happy for you.  Any happiness you get you've got to make yourself.

-Alice Walker


My new copy of "O" magazine


More John Denver Christmas CDs


Breakfast:  Instant strawberry oatmeal

Lunch:  Spinach salad with mini bagels and red pepper humus

Dinner:  Buffet offerings


Grey and wet.  A big storm is supposed to move in tonight for most of the weekend.




12 December 2003

A familiar family story is that when I was a baby, one year I received as a gift a set of toy wooden ducks–the kind with the mother at the front, and babies connected behind her. It was a pull toy. Her feet paddled as you pulled the toy and it made a quacking sound as the line of ducks waddled back and forth.

I called it "the old waddle family."

In truth, I do not remember the original old waddle family, being too young to hold memories at that age, apparently, but throughout my growing up years, whenever you asked what you were getting for some gift-giving occasion, in an attempt to get some sort of clue about what you’d find under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning, the answer was usually the same "an old waddle family."

In 1959, I went hunting for an "old waddle family" and actually found one. I was so tickled to give it to my father that year.

1959.jpg (69450 bytes)

I don’t really remember what his reaction to it was, but this posed picture always gets me because this was the year he was having a massive nervous breakdown. He was always one to get a laugh, and so he posed for this photo, but he is much more pale than his boozy Irish face usually appeared and in retrospect, I remember that he kind of went through the holiday in a daze.

His job had recently changed. He had worked all of his married life on a train mail car, going from San Francisco to Los Angeles, working the mail on the train, tossing off bags of mail at railroad stations and having adjusted to an odd schedule which had him gone for 3 days at a time, and sleeping during the daytime the days he was home.

But the Postal Service ended railway mail delivery and put the mail on trucks and in planes and that left the guys who worked on the trains without an "office." My father went into the main post office and worked normal hours, inside a building, and he hated it. It was a big factor in his nervous breakdown.

In the months that followed Christmas 1959, I remember two things most strongly. He would sit in the living room, with all the lights off, the only light being the glow from the tip of his cigarette. We knew not to go near the living room (kind of difficult in a place that small).

I also remember that he would hang on my mother. No matter where she was, he would drape himself across her shoulders, look helpless and just stand there, sighing. I can remember the helpless, trapped look on her face at those times.

He went to a therapist for a couple of sessions, but quit because the doctor "just sat there," expecting him to do all the talking and he felt that was a waste of the $2 co-pay he had to ante up.

I don’t remember when he pulled out of the depression, but it was not a fun time for any of us.

But we continued to have fun with the notion of an "old waddle family," a tradition that came down even to my own children, who may never actually have seen an "old waddle family," but knew that this was the thing you told people you were getting them for Christmas.


1959a.jpg (89427 bytes)

This is the same Christmas, part of the family group.  That's me and my sister in front
on the couch, left to right, are my godfather (and great-uncle), my grandfather,
my grandmother, and my father. 
(God how creepy--I just realized that I'm the only one of this group who is still alive!!!)

I notice that the table set behind the couch is the same table that now sits in
my dining room, the same one I will be setting for our Christmas dinner here.

For more photos, please visit My Fotolog and My FoodLog

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Weight Lost to date:  48.6 lbs

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Created 12/08/03