Today is a special day–one that honors not just Fathers, but one that also honors my mom and my gramma (who have birthdays today). Sounds like a lot? My late grandfather’s birthday would be tomorrow. The O’Neals are an efficient bunch…we like to knock our holidays out all at once.

I can’t laugh and cook and eat with my family this Holidays, but I can tell stories at basically any time (a trait learned from my father’s father and my father).

This is the only time you’ll ever see my Dad, a die-hard Aggie, in orange.

Things My Dad Taught Me That I’m Thankful For:

-How to shoot. Also, my kick-ass dad once gave me a rifle for my birthday, in preparation for the upcoming hunting season. We spent weeks customizing the rifle to my not-so-typical-of-a-rifle-owner frame, and more weeks practicing at the local shooting range. My father-daughter dates were cooler and louder than your father-daughter dates.

-How to clean a fish. He also taught me how to cook up a rainbow trout on a campstove, which is, I swear to everything remotely special, the best breakfast ever. He also gave me a fillet knife (again, for a birthday) which was a gift he got growing up from his father. It was a great gift because it was useful, but also because I’m the first girl to own it, and I really like that my dad didn’t see my gender as a barrier to using or having it.

-How to smile in photos so your eyes scrunch up (he didn’t actually have to teach me this…but it’s all his fault that my face does that).

-That you can’t grow up too fast, or all at once. This is one of the few lessons in life he spelled out explicitly…he’d just come home from taking my brother to football practice when my mom was in the hospital when I was 14 to discover that I had done every piece of laundry in the house, meticulously set the table, and promptly burned dinner. It was a good thing to remember, then and now.

-How to make Bachelor Pie and Sink Salad, both of which he made up back when he was a bachelor. I’d tell you the secret recipes, but then I’d have to kill you. Both dishes are like, super-elegant.


Reasons I Am Grateful My Mother Was Born:

-She’s sort of the textbook example of an independent woman: she put herself through school (on the 9-year bachelor’s degree plan–and I thought 4 years was long!), deliberately chose a career she knew she’d be able to support herself in, and spent most of my boy-crazy middle school years demonstrating all the reasons I didn’t need a man in my life to be worth something  (which I mostly ignored at the time…but it stuck, mom! I promise!)

-My mom was born with excellent genetics, and even more excellent wrinkle-resistant skin…which, as her daughter, I’m looking forward to enjoying when I’m much older than she is now (which is 29…as of today, she’s totally 29). She totally held out on me with the dimples and dark hair…but that’s beside the point.

-She’s been around to (try to) teach me how to not sweat the small stuff…which she acts like she needs to work on, but I think she’s totally got it down more than most people. One of her favorite mottos is “everything washes”. And it totally does. And if it doesn’t, it’s probably not that big of a deal. Stains happen.

-She’s always been supportive of me, even when I was doing things she didn’t like…maybe because one day, a really long time ago, she did things people in her life didn’t like? I don’t know where she got the perpetually-supportive role model…but I do know that she’s really good at it, and that I’m super-glad she’s always been there for me, even when we both know I was being a big dumb idiot.

-She had me! I like being alive–and I like that I was born to my mom. I’m totally biased, but objectively, I think she’s the best mom (objectively. With some bias). The best.


Reasons I Am Grateful My Gramma Was Born:

-She raised my dad to have good manners, which undoubtedly helped him woo my mother, who likes good manners.

-When I was younger, she definitely gave me cookies every doggone time I came over, and taught me words like “embellish”, which made me sound smarter than all the other 6-year-olds (this may also have been for entertainment value…but I totally didn’t know that at the time). She also let me watch TV, which was kind of a really big deal, because I otherwise didn’t have cable, and cable TV is AMAZING when you don’t have cable.

-For every summer, from age 8 to age 15, she and my grampa took me to Colorado for 1-2 months…and I know I wasn’t always fun to put up with. Goodness, that woman has been patient–and she’s given me a good example of patience to look up to. Also, without this, I wouldn’t know anything about running a campground…and now I’m pretty sure I could do a decent job.

-She is such a great example of never being to old to learn new things–at 78, she started a jewelry business, selling out of a salon, and sold out nearly every week. She’s still taking custom orders. What are YOU planning on doing at 78?

-Without her, I wouldn’t have had the social finesse I did at 10 (which I’m pretty sure was my peak…I’m much more awkward now). She and grampa carted me all over the country and made me speak to all sorts of people I was shy about speaking to. It was a good thing.


And so, oh my family: Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday, and Happy Father’s Day! You guys are a better family than I would ever hope to ask for. I’m so lucky to have yall in my life…wish I were there to celebrate.


Categories: Big Dreams | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Holidays

  1. Doris O'Neal

    Tears on my face…Thank you darlin’.! Looking forward to your homecoming.

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