Journal, December 27, 1976 AM

Now that “Happy Days” is over I will attempt to write a few sentences. My time is not my own here, especially now that more of the family is here for the holidays. From the time I get up to go to the barn in the morning, until I go to bed, I figure in other people’s plans to the extent that I feel I have lost control of me. I must discipline myself better if I hope to get things done which I have set for myself as goals while home. I’ve already developed a singular dread of going to the Congregational Church to talk with a pastor I don’t know.

We went to Neenah {WI}, to Jaime’s patents’ farm. It couldn’t have gone much better or much more predictably. Mom & Dad found the Olsons extra-especially good folks, as I knew they would. Dad talked farming at his customary rapid rate, leaving poor Mr. Olson just a bit dazed I suspect. Mrs. Olson keeps a fine house, is a fine traditional wife, like I expect Pilar will be. My folks liked Pilar & were impressed with the way she is standing the cold & learning English.

Bruce is sitting on the other end of the couch, checking out “The Odessa File,” and Tom is at my elbow in the lounge chair starting on “Walden.” Marcia brought a pile of books up with her from Nashville, including the {Lord of the Rings} trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien. She arrived last night. We are a family of readers & investigators! Even Donna, who I used to think of as the least analytic, was impressing me yesterday with her powers of reasoning. We were driving back from Madison in the pickup after taking Jan some wood we’d chopped. She’s sharp in the business sense of that term. She can spot a fast-talking salesman or a charmer, & she has her own immediate future plans so well laid out as to put old “methodical Dean” to shame. She has the man she wants to marry, has known him for 5 years, and is satisfied with him. She plans to take driving lessons, get her license, & get a car this spring.

Donna’s very open, which makes her pleasant to be around, but her personality is still fragile. You have to be supportive, which I’m usually talented at, though being on her own has done absolute honest-to-gosh WONDERS.

Mary is the most disappointing to me, I guess. She’ll never learn to appreciate her youngest siblings as people / equals! Even Marcia claims she is treated like a child by her. Mary & David came with kids, stock & barrel on Christmas Eve & spent the night. The tension was so thick in this house at times it resembled the fog of Ken Kesey’s novel, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” However, not even Jan blew up when Mary said, “I thought I looked bad!” in response to Jan’s modeling of her new army pants, and it passed. Everyone but Dad thinks Mary & David should start their own Christmas at {their} home. They both do make overt (& unfunny) verbal jabs at the rest of us kids. It was painfully obvious this Christmas, but damned if it makes any sense.

Merna came for a night & a morning, and was OK, but what do you say to a smart, slick, good-lookin’, fine-dressin’ businesswoman in a sports car? The rest of us have so little in common with her & boyfriend Greg Friday. Warren Barnes, a local boy now living in Florida (former boyfriend of Marcia), is their friend, and provides the closest link to us. He is very down-home friendly.

I feel like one of the clan at home now, you will note. I even use “us.”

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