Fear in the new year

Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce, by Jacki Michels

Two of the most dreaded words in the English language are, hands down, budget and diet. Each time I hear these words they immediately evoke a sense of stark deprivation and utter misery. Put these words together in the same sentence and, instantly, visions of a harsh task mistress named Helga fill me with dread.

“Butter? You say you vont butter on your bread crumbs? You vill eat them dry!” (Maniacal laughter) “Lights and heat? Did I hear you vine again about indulging your carnal lust for luxury?” (More maniacal laughter, followed by whip cracking.)

Fine, I’ll admit, I may have watched a few too many reruns of “A Christmas Story” over the holidays, and perhaps my imagination has run a bit wild since then.

Nonetheless, it is true. We ate too much, we spent too much and now we must pay for last year’s follies. Christmas was just the icing on the proverbial gluttony cake.

The new year always comes in with such sobering reality. The warm sweet melodies are no longer lulling us into a sugar-induced, credit-card coma. The statements have all arrived and I’ve weighed in on my merriness.

Final score, Helga owns me.

I’ve already begun my program of penance. To one full pound of (oh, yummy, deliciously sweet and heavenly scented) zucchini bread I offered up to the Tsalteshi Trails several hours of hard labor. To those last-minute gifts I’ve laid down my budget and now regularly stock up on day-old bread and discount-bin rejects. Sigh.

Several times since Jan. 1 I’ve given myself little pep talks, and replay new year classics with titles such as “Hell with Helga” and “Coupon Pergatory” in the YouTube of my mind. I remind myself that she really is there to help me, and that coupons are my friends.

Then, suddenly, like spying a shark in a tide pool, I see “THE BOX,” and shivers run up my spine. I want a pen so I can put my eye out as I stare at the horrifying sight of a year of paper droppings.

Yes, Helga, there is one more word that causes me to twitch, sweat and palpitate (theme music from “Jaws”): taxes.

Happy New Year, indeed!

Now I must wade through all those receipts, in the dark, while I starve.

Shhhh, quiet — I actually heard Helga laughing!

Author’s note: Fun and bellyaching aside, as I finished writing, the phone rang. Hearing the words “your son” and “accident” in the same sentence are the worst, in any language.  For our family, this is the second time hearing these words together in the past two years — different boys, same set of dreaded words. All turned out fine, thankfully, but it makes me want to remind everyone, once again (as I am wife-mom and nagging … er, REMINDING comes naturally) to please hug everyone you love regularly. Tell them you love them even if they are annoying. All the other stuff is only small, silly stuff.

Jacki Michels is a freelance writer who lives (and loves) in Soldotna.

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Filed under Fishing and Other Grounds for Divorce, humor

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