I miss Cienna. Carlos and I are too much alike to be productive. We're a sinister combination, Auld Lang Syne-speaking.

We have all our Christmas shopping to do and instead yesterday Carlos and I drove around, eating candy and joking about what we could buy The Relatives.

“I'm know what I'm going to get Aunt Judy….”


“A cornsnake.”

“Why a cornsnake?”

“She can't regift it.”

Every year we see someone else in the family receive what we got the previous year for Judy or her husband, Spence. Last year I got them a calendar. I can hardly wait to see who gets it this year.

Judy and Spence are wealthy beyond common sense, but usually mad at some or all of the rest of the family for some odd infraction.

A couple years ago, they each came to me, separately and apologized for being mad at me, apparently for years.

“I'm sorry I've been so mean to you,” Spence said, trapping me in the kitchen where I was mixing lemon drops for everyone. “I'm not mad at you anymore.”

I do make a mean lemon drop.

“I didn't even notice…” I said, laughing. I truly hadn't. I had no idea what he was talking about. I assumed he was drunk.

“Yes. You did. I was awful to you and now I see how good you are, to your Mom and Chris…how you took care of your Dad…..and I'm sorry.”

“Okay,” I shrugged, “Sure. All is forgiven.”

A little while later, in comes Judy, again, while I'm mixing drinks.

“Katy, I want to put the past behind us. I'm sorry. I've forgiven you and I want you to forgive me.”

“Why are you sorry? I HAVE NO IDEA what you are talking about!”

“Yes you do. I know you do. I don't want to get into it, let's just move on.”

“Judy, seriously, what are you talking about?”

“Katy, let's not rehash it. I know you know, how could you not, only a monster could be so callous…” she stopped to shudder visably, while I studied my reflection in the window behind her. My eyebrows, which I'd attempted to tweeze, were horribly uneven. I'd only finished part of one before getting bored. Maybe I should wax, I considered.

“Anyway,” she continued. “Clean slate! Are we good? Can we move on from the terrible past?”

“Absolutely. Finally I can drink with a clear conscious.”

I still have no idea what either of them was talking about. Neither does my Mother or anyone else in the family. I don't know what I did or what I was forgiven for. I never noticed anyone being unkind to me.

That year I got martini glasses and the little polish pottery dish I'd given them two years previous. To forgive is divine, alright.


Occasionally Carlos and I would pull into a parking lot, leave the engine running, and sigh.

“Too crowded,” I'd pronounce. “I don't want to go here.”

“Me either. Let's go down town. Let's drive to Kellogg or something. Stop and get me another Mountain Dew….”

This is the sort of behavior Cienna would never allow. She would insist that we go into shops and make purchases. We'd get the shopping done and have plenty of time for other holiday-themed things. Cienna would also know why someone had forgiven her. This is our first Christmas without her. We'll end up doing something wildly inappropriate at the last minute.

“I'm getting everyone nametags.” I decide. I pull in to Office Depot. There are pictures of red and green Hello! My Name is:  tags.  Santa and Rudolph are written in gold script. 

“That say 'Judy'?” Carlos asks. “You should! I'd wear one!”

I buy one of those gold pens, too.

At least next year I'll know who I pissed off and why. I like the clarity of this decision.

“What about you?" I ask Carlos, "What will you give everyone?”

“Forgiveness….and a baby shark for Aunt Judy.”

We laugh and laugh. All the way to Kellogg.