Family gifts cause anxiety and guilt

HodgePodge By Charlie Hodge

Well the final missing piece to the puzzle has been put in place. (Leave it to a parent to figure it out.) My rec(reation) room is complete – sans a welcoming ceremony.

Chances are good that by the time this rag hits your hands I will have appropriately navigated the initiation. If not, the scenario will certainly be resolved by the end of the weekend.

There is a bar fridge in my hockey room. That’s right – hockey room.

Better yet, said bar fridge (a.k.a. beer fridge) was free and comes with a pedigree.

Mom gave it to us. Technically, Tez’s Mom gave it to us. Regardless, a bar fridge is in the basement rec room where my hockey memorabilia is strewed around like a little boy’s bedroom – and seems appropriate and comfortable placed in its corner. Even if it does come with some pressure and expectations.

I find it amazing the various sacrifices one is often prone to endure in an effort to maintain tradition – and also pay tribute to family members. For instance I spend a couple of weeks every fall torn between two family traditions honouring my parents.

The first timeline tradition is making sure we get the yard and garden prepared for winter – planting fall crops, covering gardens, putting away furniture, turning compost. (Tez does ninety percent of the work – I play wounded Director of Operations). Gardening is a healthy art form I learned from my mom. It’s even healthier when someone else is doing it.

The second tradition I learned (mainly from dear old Dad) often clashes in timelines with the first. By genetics and years of training I am now annually absorbed with hockey. I learned from father all the necessary skills of watching hockey – controller in one hand, beverage in the other, a tilt proof TV table nearby, and the inherent ability to scream at inanimate objects such as a television screen.

The mere fact that these two important events take place at the same time tells me one of three possible things about God: God has a twisted sense of humour, God DOES want the male specie to learn how to multi-task, or God is not a hockey fan (we know he is big on gardens because of Eden – however we only suspect he loves hockey because otherwise … explain Bobby Orr).

So here is my pending dilemma that is causing my much consternation.

What to do?

Tez’s mom had to downsize and decided to pass on a few gems from her house. While Tez largely desired to scoop up a variety of weathered yet nostalgic garden ornaments, it was the bar fridge that intrigued moi. As we headed back home one of the last things Mom said to us was, “Well, enjoy the little bar fridge.”

Being the sensitive and intuitive fellow that I am, I immediately felt the pressure of making sure the fridge not only arrived safe but was carefully relocated to a safe spot in the home. However time has slipped by and I have failed Tez’s Mom.

The garden ornaments are in the yard – but the beer (err, bar) fridge remains alone in the corner of a dark, quiet rec-room while I struggle to do my little bit in the yard.

It’s not right.

The guilt and pressure mounting.

I am feeling strongly compelled to simply have a cold beverage from that fridge while sitting down and watching a hockey game. Problem is the garden and yard keep joyfully getting in the way.

I am being torn between loyalties to my mom – or my dad, and I feel like I’m letting down Tez’s Mom.  The fridge has not been utilized of appreciated.

Likewise I’m feeling conflict between my own passions. Which to do – pull dandelions or drink wine, plant beans and potatoes or cheer for the Leafs?

A couple of years back I actually solved the yard-hockey dilemma by bringing a small portable TV out into the yard and playing the game in the background while working in the soil. When a goal was scored I would check it out briefly and then return to the play by play in my potato patch. However, Teresa and I were only dating at that point and so the slick move was deemed ‘cute and creative’ back then. Now, I am not convinced it would go over so well, especially if I moved the bar fridge outside as well.

No, suffice to say I will have to obviously give up a bit of my beauty sleep to satisfy all my desires and fill my role as a responsible dedicated family man. I’ll have to get up earlier in the morning or attach miner’s lamp to a baseball hat and work outside in the garden late at night after the games are over.

As big of a sacrifice as that plan is – it works.

And the neat bonus is that Tez won’t be able to get real upset with me because by sitting down and enjoying the bar fridge and helping it feel welcome in its new home I am really just ‘taking one for the team’ and honouring all of our parents.

Can’t say I’m not a team player, not to mention loyal, and family focused.

Could you pass me the clicker?

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Charlie Hodge is a best-selling author, writer, a current Kelowna City Councillor, and a Director on the Regional District of the Central Okanagan Board. He spent more than 25 years as a full-time newspaper journalist and has a diverse background in public relations, promotions, personal coaching, and strategic planning. A former managing editor, assistant editor, sports editor, entertainment editor, journalist, and photographer, Hodge also co-hosted a variety of radio talk shows and still writes a regular weekly newspaper column titled Hodge Podge, which he has crafted now for 41 years. His biography on Howie Meeker, titled Golly Gee It’s Me is a Canadian bestseller and his second book, Stop It There, Back It Up – 50 Years of the NHL garnered lots of attention from media and hockey fans alike. Charlie is currently working on a third hockey book, as well as a contracted historical/fiction novel. His creative promotional skills and strategic planning have been utilized for many years in the Canadian music industry, provincial, national, and international environmental fields, and municipal, provincial, and federal politics. Charlie is a skilled facilitator, a dynamic motivational speaker, and effective personal coach. His hobbies include gardening, canoeing, playing pool, and writing music. Charlie shares his Okanagan home with wife Teresa and five spoiled cats.


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