Thanksgiving with the parents

The last few days have been crazy. We have been cooking and cleaning non-stop to get Thanksgiving Dinner ready. I have cut, sliced, and chopped everything from mushrooms to walnuts. I have really enjoyed helping out in the kitchen this year, and I think it is mostly because my stress levels are at an all time low. In past years I've just crashed on the couch, and haven't had the energy or motivation to help with all the prep work.

Everyone back home has said "you look really good!" I'm impressed with the fact that people can see that my stress has diminished.


Everyone knows family can push your buttons best: they installed them! I was apprehensive spending so much time at my parents this last couple of days. Honestly, though, things have gone quite well. Nobody has given me grief over my career, studying to take the bar, or anything of the sort. I feel like my family has finally decided to leave it alone. It has been incredibly nice to feel like I can just come home and enjoy spending some time with my family. I still find myself apprehensive though. The longer I've stayed home the more I worry about there being a confrontation.

If I can get out of here after our Thanksgiving leftovers dinner without a fight of any kind it will be the first time in probably four years. I don't mean just Thanksgiving, I mean any time I've come 'home' to Mom and Dad's. At some points even phone calls go sour within thirty seconds.

I've learned in the last year that I have to be pretty mean about standing up for myself in order to get my family to back off from me. I've always tried to be more laid back, and it has bothered me to have to stand up for myself so vehemently. The effects have been amazing though, I have to say. To put it bluntly: basically it isn't worth screwing with me anymore.

My stress and anxiety dealing with family are much better now even if the feelings are still present.

Dad made a surprising announcement to the family the first day I got here. He said that he wanted to cut back on Christmas this year. His suggestion was that no one buy presents for adults this year, and that only the younger children in the family should expect to receive gifts. I am glad to hear this from him. The last few years Christmas has been almost embarrassing. The number of presents given and received made me uncomfortable. It seemed a huge waste, and has led to a change in the way I approach Christmas myself. I refuse to give someone something that will just end up in the garbage or a closet.

I've missed home since I left earlier this week. I did not expect to feel homesick, I was going to see family after all. Mostly I think the feeling has been brought on by worrying about my fiancee and her mom. When I first came back from trail they really didn't seem to be taking very good care of themselves. Remembering how they were when I came back has made me feel like I should be back there already. Everyone told me to avoid driving on Friday and Sunday this week, though, so I stuck around. It turned out to be alright. I had the opportunity to see some old friends since I stayed an extra day.


The day before Thanksgiving one of my oldest friends came over and hung out with me. She, my sister, my brother-in-law, and I played poker for sips of beer bets. Later we played hearts and golf. Playing cards has been very enjoyable to me since learning Hearts on the Appalachian Trail from my friend "Stride".

I went over to the same friend's house to hang out with her and her brother last night. Instead of spending hours watching tv or playing video games we played cards. We played golf and hearts with three players. We each had a couple of beers while playing, and it was very enjoyable.

I think I'll have to write something about card games.


Family and friends have taken up much of my time the last week. I have not taken the time to write Esmerillon or any other writing project. Oh, by the way, I've named my fantasy book! "Esmerillon - the first wizard" is the name. It is a story about how magic first came to be in my fantasy universe. 

While writing has fallen by the wayside, I have been reading. I think of myself as fairly introverted. I find that I need a lot of time alone away from all the hustle and bustle of big groups of people around the house. Reading lets me hang out in a corner near my family without being picked on for being "asocial".  I'm about three quarters of the way through an epic fantasy book called "The Legacy (Darkness Within Saga Book 1)". The beginning quarter of the book was fairly slow, but this was because the level of detail and world-building in these first chapters was extreme. This, again, made the book slow to read at first but has contributed to the rest of the book being excellent. I've found several typos, but it hasn't been too bad. After having to edit my own writing more thoroughly, I find myself much more forgiving of typos. I have been hi-lighting typos on my kindle, maybe I'll send a list of page numbers to the author. I wonder if you could do that for pay like a kind of free-lance editor.

Having decided to hike the last 500 miles of the AT this coming season, I'm beginning to get excited about heading out again. 500 miles will probably end up taking me two months or longer in the wintry conditions at the very beginning of the season. I have started looking at my winter gear-list to see if I can make any changes from last spring's cold weather setup. Organizing and packing my hiking gear always gets me going. I've been thinking about making some equipment myself to bring my winter weight way down and get a more customized setup. I want to make a cold weather sleeping bag, a winter weather bivy sack, and a summer bug mesh bivy sack. 

I don't think I'm going to be very good at it, but I'm excited to try making my own gear. I think I will be able to turn out some serviceable equipment. I'm a little worried to mess up making something, but I'll have to try to start out anyway. I've heard that making your own stuff-sacks and food bags is the best way to start. Maybe I can make a couple to give out as presents. I have a friend going to Japan on a ski trip, and he could probably use a couple little stuff sacks to organize his belongings. That's actually a really good idea! I think I'll get started soon. :)

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving break. I know that sometimes the travel and strain between family members can be hard. Taking little sanity breaks to read in a quiet corner or get out and take a walk has helped me a lot! If you get to where you are feeling overwhelmed maybe you could try it?