Of Gifts, Birthdays, and Amsterdam

Draft one started off with snarky self-deprecation because sarcasm is refreshing and original. Draft two was not-so-funny bathroom anecdote from Amsterdam because those are delicate and tasteful. Drafts three and four were pretty much yapping Chihuahuas wearing doggie vests. I’ve written this post five times. Thrown out many little vignettes and quips. It has been written from so many angles, the post was becoming a crushed one…a rectangle. heh. Oh, sorry, that was horrible.

It’s my birthday. Well. Not today, but soon enough. And I thought I might as well write something completely unrelated to travel. You’ll have to wait on the Amsterdam story. I think today I write a letter to my huge, scattered, eclectic, and crackerjack family:

Dear family,

Sometimes I truly, sincerely, really suck. No sorry, using my college education here: sometimes I am an errant swag-bellied pignut. Why? Because I am a terrible flake and horrible at sorting out my priorities. Birthdays, anniversaries, award ceremonies, graduations, card company generated holidays, you name the event and you probably have an IOU from me from it.

I sorry.

I sorry.

Christmas Eve, 2008: I beg to be driven to Walgreens where I get Thomas a box of Q-Tips. I additionally wrap a piece of your own clothing (a pair of Spongebob boxers if I do recall correctly) and set that under the tree along with an IOU.

January 2013: Kalene and I are at Goodwill. I command you to pose with hordes of meaningless objects for reasons that I deem funny so I can surreptitiously post them on my blog. I suddenly remember that it’s your birthday the next day and so I grab the necklace that you were admiring out of your hands and deem it my present to you (my goodness! It has a pink tag! It’s half off! I can pay with my pocket change!). “What? You mean this?” you ask.  I later haphazardly wrap it in tissue paper a few minutes before the gift opening.

Goodwill scarves, how jovial!

Goodwill scarves, how jovial!

But, you are gracious and kind. You were grateful and happy that you even got a gift unlike when in…

October 2012: I stuff Shannon’s gift in a bag that doesn’t fully cover the gift. I’ve solved this by gingerly covering the top of the bag with my own scarf. Inside is an empty picture frame that I immediately take back from you because it was supposed to contain a painting that I hadn’t quite finished (*cough, started) yet. Months later, I arrive in Turkey and the first thing you do is ask me for my address so you can still send me a card for my birthday. What a saint you are.

These are just some of the ways that I have truly stunk over the years. And these are just the ways that I have reeked regarding gifts. And because I’m pretty sure none of you care much about gift receiving because YOU DO have your priorities in line, I just want to remind you that I also stink in other ways like: hardly ever calling or missing out on fun trips down south or missing baby showers or being horrible at driving that ’86 Thunderbird.

But enough. This is the year I get my ducks in line.

You know, now that I’m 5000 miles away. And now that I have a blog. And now that this stuff is on the internet and therefore valid.

In the best way I know how, I write to you and tell you that I think of you when I travel.

I think of my crazy and beautiful aunts trying to make me eat fish heads. I think of my uncles who are mentors and confidants. I think of my crazy relatives for still talking to me even as I roll on the floor laughing at the way they said, I don’t know, Doritos or something.

I think of my father making a joke and then quietly laughing to himself and thereby making us laugh.

I think of my mega rock star cousins who are journalists, and pop stars, and super athletes.


Greatness starts young.

I think of my little niece on one side of the country learning how to take a tumble as she begins to walk. I think of my nephew as he finishes up high school. I think of the new little one who I won’t get to see for a few months.

I think of all my siblings who are more brilliant than anything. I think of my two sisters who are mothers and are both some how the most thoughtful beings in the world (like seriously, how did I miss out on that gene?).

If she could have, she would have bought one for the whole place probably


I think of my grandma Yai winning beauty pageants in Thailand. I think of my two grandmas in Orem trying their hearts out to email me. I think of my two mothers and the love that only a mother can give.


Prom 2010 031

I think about you all and wish that I was better. I am trying to be better. I wish that I could better say to you all, if you missed my subtle gesture to you above, how much I love you. I write this so you know how much you have all touched and changed me. I honor you.

For my birthday, I can only travel so far knowing that I have a home everywhere in the world with you all. I love you.

P.S. You’re all insane.


6 thoughts on “Of Gifts, Birthdays, and Amsterdam

  1. Cookie, you are a beatiful soul. I think of when you used to bounce around and follow me everwhere, including the bathroom where I would yell at you for trying to join me while I do my business. And when you broke my home-made nunchucks, but I pretended not to notice because, well, I don’t know why. And when we walked around the woods of Silverdale, WA and I thought I was so cool (I really wasn’t). I still want you to visit me in San Diego sometime. Happy Early Birthday, Cuz. Love, Donna

    PS. Sorry for the potentially embarassing comment. I’ll try to keep them less personal from now on. 😉

    • Hahah, I cannot remember the nunchucks but I can imagine the bathroom thing. I still do that. That’s an anecdote that pretty much sums up all my relationships hah. You were and are the coolest. I pretended to like Le Tigre for a month because of you and I’m always in awe of you anyways! I am embarrassed by NOTHING! Bring it on!

  2. I’ll have you know i was honestly THRILLED when i got that extra picture from as it meant someday down the road i would FINALLY have a Cookie trout original! So though I’m still waiting…I look forward to it with excitement 🙂

  3. I’m sitting in the car laughing and crying at the same time as I read this. Of course it doesn’t help that I just watched Rose and the Dr. say good-bye while I’m on the elliptical at the Y, and trying not to make a spectical myself.

    We love you and your quirky gifts that always make the rest of the gifts appear banal.

  4. Dearest Cookie, thinking about you this morning as I changed my callendar. So happy to read all from you.HAPPY BIRTHDAY. We miss your quit little you. Love you much

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