White Knuckles: Welcome Back, Brendan

January 28th, 2011 by Brendan O'Hallarn

WhiteKnuckles
For two years in this space, I wrote Tunnel Vision, a weekly column that chronicled my frustrations trying to cram my vehicle through the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel twice a day as I commute to work.

I realized something recently. The rest of my life is kind of like that, too.

I’m 39 years old, married, with a mortgage I can barely afford, two kids I can’t afford, and I’m wondering how the heck I got here. Is everything always this hard? I grew up in a family of four kids. My parents were wizards, I’m discovering.

To cope, I tried punching myself in the face. That doesn’t work. So I laugh at myself.

That’s what this column, White Knuckles, is all about. Just one guy, struggling through life’s silly, daily challenges. As Tunnel Vision readers know, I frequently veered wildly off-topic, discussing everything from Emilio Estevez to Thomas the Tank Engine.

Expect more of the same. Call it a problem of focus that I’ve always had.

I have no idea what I’ll write about from week to week. But I promise it’ll be light-hearted, and hopefully will remind you readers of your own, daily foibles.

For example…

This week, I’d like to tackle a myth that has been propagated ever since kids started to make out like bandits at Christmas.

A little less than six years ago, my wife and I got the happy news that we were going to be parents. Our visit to the doctor in Winnipeg revealed an interesting twist to parenthood.

“How do you feel about a Christmas baby?” our doctor asked. Our daughter was due Christmas Day.

As soon as that information came to life, our future offspring received tons of pre-natal sympathy. “Oh, that poor kid! A birthday at Christmas. That’s horrible. No one will remember her birthday.”

My friend Tom at the Winnipeg Sun warned me not to believe a word of it. “Trust me,” he said, having become a parent the previous Christmas Eve, “you will be amazed that everyone remembers her birthday. She’ll get bigger presents! Double-sized ones.”

Well, five years later, our daughter couldn’t be luckier. Not only do she and her younger brother clean up on Christmas Day, every single relative also remembers her birthday because it’s so close to Christmas. My mother, who has an incredible talent at forgetting the birthdays of her four children, called me to say she was sending our daughter’s birthday present in January. “I don’t want her to feel neglected,” she said.

The kid’s wise to it, too. The second she had opened her last Christmas present, my daughter started prancing around singing “It’s my birfday!!” like a miniature 50 Cent.

And we’re suckers, also. Since the Christmas holidays are insanely busy, we’ve started throwing our daughter’s birthday party in the summer. More time in the spotlight, for a kid who loves being the center of attention.

Oh, and more presents, too.

White Knuckles is a column about nothing, er, about Brendan O’Hallarn’s busy life. If you have a story you want to share, a lesson to impart or just want to commiserate, write Brendan at Brendan@wydaily.com. Believe us, he needs all the help he can get.  You can also reach him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/#!/White__Knuckles

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