A snowball effect….

images (27)

The other night after a long day of he said, she said, don’t touch me, and leave me alone along with all the other phrases (both appropriate and inappropriate) reverberating through an active family household.  I found myself stressed beyond belief.  My chest hurt, the lungs yearned for air, a mildly cold sweat lay across my brow and my stomach hurt.  The only thing I could ponder was how much longer until they all were grown.

Of course I have no room to complain because there are the 48 hours straight I am at work, holed up in my firehouse the last bastion of supposed sanity from the trials and tribulations of being a full-time parent! My poor wife does not enjoy such luxury.  But then again aren’t all us firefighters really just kids with badges and super cool toys we use to help the public?  Anyways that night had taken quite the toll on both my wife and I.  All we could think about was the peace and quiet that came with bedtime.  Then something wonderful happened that brought me back to reality.

We baked cookies…

Yep that’s right its Christmas time and nothing says “I care about you” more than fresh-baked cookies! It really is the best Christmas present ever! I would personally take 20 tins of delicious cookies from loved ones over someone spending money on something they hope I will like!  Cookies, chocolate, brownies, mince pies they all say “hey buddy its Christmas and I was baked just for you” enjoy! But these cookies, oh these cookies are super special! Every year we bake these little doughy droplets of gold and place them in specially purchased Christmas tins then set out across town “ to snowball”.

Definition: To Snowball; During Christmas time only, place a tin of cookies with an anonymous uplifting note on the front porch of an unsuspecting family.  Ring doorbell, knock loudly on door and run!!!

Snowball has become a very special part of our Christmas traditions! The children look forward to it every year almost as much as Christmas morning itself!  Snowball is treated like a covert mission, complete with blacked out car, dark clothing and squealing tires. Giggling is inevitable as mishaps are also a part of the fun.  Falling over hedges, tripping before reaching the car, only to beimages (29) grabbed by an older brother and pulled in as the car rips away from the scene! No man left behind is our motto! On one occasion one of the boys had to hide under a hedge just feet from the front door as it was opened by the homeowner before a full retreat was completed! It’s just plain, good old-fashioned Christmas fun! We hand out yummy goodies; hopefully make someone’s night with no expectation of reciprocation.  Then hope it leaves a snowball effect on its recipients, passing good cheer forward for the holidays. This is the way we enjoy observing Christmas, it truly feels better to give than receive!!

As we are preparing for our night of Christmas ninja stealth, the children all do something unheard of lately.  They begin to get along, working together as one to complete this monumental task.  My wife and I step back out of the kitchen and even though the urge to take over and correct small mistakes is astronomical we don’t.  She moves into the family room to watch TV, and I hover around the front room images (28)tending the fire and staring in awe.  My oldest works like a baker, carefully tossing out flour, and rolling the dough out to perfection while the others take turns cutting out cookies made of angels, snowmen, stars and mistletoe.  The middle boy handles placing them carefully on cookie sheets and transfers them back and forth from the oven only asking that I place them inside while removing the cooked ones.  It was seriously the happiest, stress less, most magical moment I’ve had around our children in a while.  It truly made our night.  My wife iced them with green and white frosting then placed them carefully into round Christmas covered containers.  She wrote another fantastic letter and we all called it a night with smiles upon our egg-nog covered faces.

One simple act of doing for others as a family can erase hours of selfish bickering.  I am often reminded of a very simple saying; you only have one childhood with your children. Enjoy it!

When things get stressful, bake some cookies together and let them be children.  All will look better in the end and your stress will subside. I promise…..

Merry Christmas!

images (25)

Advertisements

My Words of Wisdom for the Day

images-21

Mamma always said life was like a box of chocolates; you never know what you gonna get……

Bullshit!

Because once you open it all your friends will pounce on it and then you damn sure know what you gonna get! That little Peanut Brittle nugget, cause in a box of chocolates no one wants the god damn Peanut Brittle!!

images-22

So unless you are willing to eat peanut brittle all Christmas long, keep your box of chocolate to yourself.  Just saying..

Carry on that is all…

Santa Claus or am I really baby Jesus?

christmas vacation

Ah the tinsel, the lights, Christmas music flowing from every car, coffee shop and grocery store around; People buzzing about trying to find the perfect gift for that special someone. The season is here, like it or not, we are enveloped in the Christmas season, may joy and laughter fill the air.

Sooooo on the topic of gifts let’s just take a moment to recognize the mangermain man by saying thank you baby Jesus, cute little baby Jesus all cuddly and snuggly in his precious little wool wrap, perfect in his Jesus like way. For if wasn’t for your birth on that magical manger morning sire, three wise men/kings wouldn’t have traveled from afar (really afar?) to bestow three (Super Lotto of the period) wonderful gifts of Gold, Muir and Frankincense! Whew, HELLLLOOOOO; can you say JACKPOT!!!! Cha-Ching!!

What’s that my little snow angels? Santa is the sole reason we receive gifts on Christmas you say? Not the baby Jesus you say! Well myimagesCAI541T4 misguided little peppermint elves how wrong you are! The jolly red man wasn’t always jolly and he certainly wasn’t always fat! He was a man like any other, only he did what any good christian would do, stole the concept from religions much cherished three wise men! Seeing a definite need (oh yes his heart was in the right place) he practiced giving (gifts, shoes, dowry’s, food etc..) for a while selling the image santaof nobility to the masses. Eventually he was sainted and became forever known as St. Nicholas! Flash forward 1,669 years, St. Nicholas’ image has passed from generation to generation evolving into the much celebrated fat man in a red costume, driving a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer! No really they are tiny! You would think they were huge with all those gifts and all but really they are tiny!rudy

Upon seeing positive results within multiple test markets (Poland, Turkey, the Netherlands) the idea of a St. Nick or Santa Claus was marketed to the right folks, obtaining copy writes to his likeness and catchphrases then sold, sold, sold and sold again slowly evolving into the much celebrated fat man in a red costume, atop a shiny red sleigh! Happy picture huh?

imagesCAADHFQO

                                         Wrong sleigh… or not?

imagesCA92O9RJ

There we go that’s better….

Not being the greatest of mathematicians, I took it upon myself using the internet, ABC NEWS, and a few simple formulas to help me determine the sleigh was obviously developed by aliens or possibly held in captivity at Area 51 until our government could extract the compounds used to make this bitch fly! You see, Santa’s sleigh needssantas sleigh to travel 175 million miles in just under 31 hours (time/Dateline, staying under the cover of darkness and all), Santa himself needs to visit 1,178 homes per second-every second of those 31 hours.  That means when the “big” man arrives he has just 8/100,000ths of a second to park the sleigh, shimmy down the chimney, stuff the stockings, eat (what is hopefully delicious) cookies, drink milk, shimmy back up the chimney, get his parking slip validated, tip the valet and go! boltHusain Bolt I think you have a second career waiting for you when this whole world’s fastest Olympian runner thing doesn’t quite pan out anymore!

How about the gross weight of the sleigh? I mean a rig like that needs to be agile and light! Made from the finest carbon fiber money can buy right? Someone must know the overall gross weight of this vehicle at the very least possibly California does since knowing means billing for registration and new registration leads to another source of revenue. Well don’t let the snowflakes melt from your cap just yet! Yes there is a calculation for this as well! Let’s say every child receives one two-pound toy,(hahahahahahaha one toy, that’s a joke) multiply that by 330 million children under the ripe old age of 18.  That’s 660 million pounds of toys! No wonder Rudolph’s nose is red! The lad needs to drink like a union dock worker after moving that much weight in one night! Wonder if Rudolph receives sopranoskickbacks to pad his stable when bags of toys mysteriously fall off the sleigh while flying over New Jersey? Aye yo Vinnie that damn reindeer dropped us another load! Youz better have is cut ready or your kids won’t be seeing any evidence of the Fatman on Christmas morning!

So there, the baby Jesus is the reason we have Christmas! The Santa story is absolutely charming and I truly don’t mind playing the big guy every Christmas morning! The straight up fact is it brings endless joy to all the little boys and girls across this wondrous globe of ours. With or without the help of Macy’s, Target and Wal-Mart. But doesn’t someone think maybe lying to our children about a fictitious person, from a make-believe place, who brings toys and gifts to all the “good” little boys and girls after making a list (segregation) and checking it twice might really be sending a bad message? Plus how do you explain the whole “he bad santa 2sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake” bit? Sound like someone needs to be registered on the Meagan’s law web-site! Creeper!

 

I have decided since I receive gifts on Christmas morning I need to work on tricking my children into believing I am the baby Jesus instead!  Pretty sure I can pull of the three wise men part with a little help from my friends. Someone know where I can get some Frankincense? Maybe three camels????

 

is Santa a Lady?

images-20

is Santa a Lady?.

via is Santa a Lady?.

Is Santa a lady??? I have often pondered this very question! I mean the organizational skills alone are mind numbing!  There is not a man alive that can hold a candle to Santa when it comes to logistics.  Yet there are several ladies I know who could handle it quite well, all while still holding a second career, writing a thesis for their Masters degree and schooling their children on homework!  Could it possibly be the woman in red is standing behind the man running everything quietly, out of the spotlight, using the “its a mans world” theory to sell the notion of masculinity when it comes to delivering toys to all the good little girls and boys???  HHHMMMMM???

Anyways that is my question but please check out this blog (click on “is Santa a lady?”link above)  as I found it to be quite humorous.  Then ask yourself, could the man in red, really be the woman in red? Or is it a front?

Black Friday is just the Beginning…

 

Black Friday is just the beginning!

Without so much as a decent burial to Thanksgiving the nations marketing firms have once again proceeded with a full frontal assault upon your financial statement or loss thereof.

Christmas past

As a child I would count down the days towards Thanksgiving (purely due to my mass enjoyment of gorging delicious holiday food), then the day after would begin another count down towards Christmas.  Lying in bed at night thinking 29 more days, then 28, then 27 and so on until Christmas Eve was upon me! During this period I looked forward to Christmas activities at school, Church, Christmas lights hung around the town square, cold wet weather, Christmas music, all the holiday specials (Rudolph, Frosty,  the Grinch and so on) and yes even a little Christmas shopping.  You see when I became a little older my mother would drop me off in town to spend some time Christmas shopping on my own.  It was fun, made me feel as though I was becoming an adult and there was always just enough money left over for a one pound bag of M&M’s that inevitably made it home to my sock drawer where I would gleefully shove handfuls into my face when no one was around! Christmas was fun, easy and all within the context of roughly 30 days.

The marketing guru’s of the time, while still looking to vie for every penny you held, hoping to help adjust their year-end statements; held to Christmas being a sacred, specified period of time.  Values were still present and accounted for; family was still a number one priority!

Christmas Present

Today my children can’t wait for Christmas! Which in today’s  high stress, high pressure environment astounds me! They chomp at the bit in anticipation of that glorious morning when their year-end performance reports come back.

Dad: Hey little Peter wont you step into my office? 

Peter: Sure

Dad: For this year end review which qualifies your interests (Santa’s wish list) to be forwarded upstairs, I am trying to get a feel for how you spend your day … so, if you would, would you walk me through a typical day, for you? 

Peter: Yeah. 

Dad: Great. 

Peter: Well, I generally wake up at least fifteen minutes late, ah, I use the side door – that way mom can’t see me, heh heh – and, uh, after that I just sorta space out for about an hour. 

Dad: Da-uh? Space out? 

Peter: Yeah, I just stare at the ground outside; but it looks like I’m working. I do that for probably another hour after lunch, too. I’d say in a given week I probably only do about fifteen minutes of real, actual, work

(In case you didn’t notice that was an obscure “Office Space” reference)

But those 15 minutes of actual work pay off as little Peters Santa’s list makes the grade and is pushed up the ladder to corporate! Santa will be placing little Peter on the nice list today. 

Today Christmas is filled with pressure! Pressure brought to you courtesy of the retail industry! It’s not enough to have a wonderful Christmas surrounded by family and friends. It’s not enough that you live on a fixed a budget and are doing the very best you can with what you have.  It’s not enough to be thankful for your health, a roof over your head, well adjusted children earning a great education. It is not enough; it’s not enough it’s just not enough! No! During Christmas you are supposed to stand in long lines, maxing out every credit card, singing Christmas carols, sucking a Starbucks while getting shoved to floor during a Black Friday event. Buy, Buy, and Buy! Who cares what the economy is doing! Just ask the car industry! Buy a Lexus! Who cares that you are on welfare! Purchase a 52 inch TV that you can never pay for! Who cares that your family is now down to one income! Its Christmas Damn it and for it to the very best Christmas ever you need to outspend, outlast, and overcome all financial obstacles for people to still love you!  Just ask the talking navigation system in the Jarrod commercials.

What exactly is the message most marketing agencies are passing along today? Holiday cheer? Uh no. Betterment of mankind? Uh no. Helping your fellow man? Uh no. Nope its nothing more than buy, buy, buy! My littlest reminded me yesterday that Black Friday is the only true savings day! It seems that it’s perfect for all parents to score really cool toys! Who are ad executives speaking to again?

Apparently Christmas is so all encompassing within our lives that it needs to be celebrated starting in October! Visited a Wal-Mart lately?  That’s right, over by the gardening section; nothing says chrysanthemum like a new set of Christmas lights and a blow up Santa! Scare the Halloween right out of Halloween by spending Christmas dollars now! Santa knows how to make Halloween its bitch!

(Actual picture taken at a Wal-Mart in October)

The phrase “holiday season” has been stretched to its useful limit when Target starts advertising the “holidays” during the World Series!  Snowflakes, Christmas Presents, couples hand in hand walking blissfully through the snow as a big white dog with a target on his eye (presumably an injury from the war) strolls down main street spreading Holiday cheer that can only be obtained after spending all of your hard earned money at Target! Also from watching this commercial, when you shop at Target in the snowy regions you don’t get wet or have a runny nose! Just an observation.

Back to Black Friday.  Marketing genius I tell you!  Not only have you stressed every shop-o-holic to the limit by announcing this day of spending infamy, but ad executives have created a self generating existence that will go generation after generation! No longer, on the day after Thanksgiving will the sound of father bellowing down the hallway; let’s all climb in the mini-van and go get the Christmas tree, be heard! Or the family tradition of pulling Christmas boxes from storage to decorate the house! Nope the marketing gods have ensured that over time, one mom will take her kids to Black Friday, a couple of moms friends will do the same, then their children will start participating in this yearly purchasing orgy, before long they will tell two friends, then they will tell two friends and so on and so on… Eventually they all will succumb to this newly created family tradition of unbridled consumerism on the day after Thanksgiving! Death to the old Christmas period, birth of a new! Maybe it shouldn’t be called Christmas anymore, I mean it is after all a religious undertone and we all know how well that flies these days.  Maybe we should call it 30 days of debt? National pay down the nation’s debt day? Giving day? Giftmas?

Yeah Giftmas! GIFTMAS, that’s the ticket!

Christmas Failure- ahem! I mean Future!

I can see it now, no longer does our country celebrate the birth of Christ, and no longer do we recognize three wise men bearing gifts for the newborn son. Our Nation, an enlightened nation now only recognizes Giftmas. A day that every faith, and culture and stand behind! Giftmas is 90 days of advertising, 14 days of Black Friday style shopping, 10 days of ridiculously low internet specials, 7 days of no credit report checked credit card offerings and two days of amnesty for people who are a little behind in their credit card payments but want to apply for more credit.

The new Giftmas will still be held on the same day as Christmas, Santa will remain as patron saint of gifting, he mastered this thing a couple a hundred years ago when as little old Saint Nic he left shoes outside the windows of those who had none! Talk about a long range growth plan! So let’s not mess with a good thing, all though I am pretty sure that once Giftmas has gone corporate the elves will unionize and then pension costs will drive up prices, but hey that’s in the future and if the present has taught us anything it’s that pension money left in the right hands is always the culprit of greed, dishonesty and theft. Which means it will be dealt with long after it’s too late.

No more Christmas trees in the household, there will instead be a Giftmas stand! That’s right a 6 foot, 8 foot or 12 foot stand with multiple levels and platforms to place your gifts upon or under.  The Giftmas stand will be lit from every angle with computerized lighting.  It will spin 360 degrees to show off every side, so even the smallest of presents look great!  And best of all its fire safe! No more worrying about a tree going up in the middle of the night!

Want to place lights on your house to celebrate the season! Great! Advertisers will do it for you! All vying for the chance to display through electronics their personal holiday message designed just for your neighborhood! Live in a gated neighborhood? Great! An electronic, flashing Mercedes Benz ad will now be running along your roof line   Live in the country? Tractor Supply will be dancing in holiday spirit as it advertises this week’s feed specials along your fence! Genius really, the same effect as Christmas lights but with a message!

The morning of Giftmas should remain relatively the same as Christmas used too.  Wake up; tear through presents then lay in a gift induced coma after eating breakfast and watching “A Christmas Story” to help you remember the good old days.  In a few hours the whole family arrives and more gifting carnage ensues! See it really isn’t all that different! No more silly religion to get in the way, no more thanking God for all that has been provided, no more needing to pray at dinner.  Just good old fashioned greedy consumerism to hold dear for generations!

Yes sir, Giftmas will ring true in the hearts and minds of every little boy and girl! Sleigh bells ring, are ya listening, it’s the UPS truck bringing your Amazon order! In the lane snow is glistening, that’s just low blood sugar! A beautiful sight, the shopping’s just right, walking through a Macy’s once again!

Happy Black Friday Shopping!!!

The Future is yours!

 

Versatile Blogger Award

I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect. The first time I didn’t feel it, but this time I feel it, and I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”

You really like me………

I have been nominated for the Personal Blogger Award by Vanessa Chapman http://vanessa-chapman.com 

This is an award bloggers award to each other as a way of showing appreciation for the blogs they enjoy. I am humbled and honored.

(I plagiarized the rules from Vanessa as I feel there is no reason to re-invent the wheel.)

The rules for accepting this award are as follows:

1. Thank the award-givers and link back to them in your post. Easy-Done

2. Share 7 things about yourself. Ok hope I don’t scare anyone, but easy-done.

3. Pass this award along to 15 other bloggers. Fail! Only could nominate 13! 😦

4. Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award. Will let them know as soon as I’ve posted this

Seven things about myself;

  1. I am 45 years old and I can’t wait for retirement. When I refer to retirement it is not in the sense of me walking away from a career, gold watch in hand to sit on some god forsaken island, smoking pot until I die.  On the contrary, I cant wait to start the second half of my life.  To re-invent myself and live life twice.  I have had a stellar first half, the second half can only get better.
  2. I can walk into a burning building, rescue people from a crushed or damaged vehicle, repel off a 5 story building with confidence and walk under a ladder without fear of superstitious reprisal.  But I cannot, and I mean no way, no how can I stand being in the proximity of a spider.  Those eight legged little freaks get me every time.  You want to hear a full-grown 200 pound man jump and scream like a 6th grade school girl then toss a black widow my direction.
  3. My ability to tell the dimensions of something from sight are frustratingly astounding.  Spatial relations are my thing and I am borderline “rainman” about it.  Have a picture to hang, I can tell you one side is off 1/2 inch any direction just by looking at it.  Just had your new bookshelves installed, I am the guy who within 20 seconds of being in the room knows exactly where the carpenter “cheated” or “shorted” you on material.  It makes me crazy and it makes my friends crazy as well.
  4. Scary movies are stupid and a waste of time.  I laugh through them which annoys everyone.  I can tell exactly what is going to happen when it is going to happen. 
  5. 1950’s pin-up girls are awesome.  You can have your skinny, anorexic, vegan, boney butt tooth picks.  I like my women with natural curves, and clothing that leaves something to the imagination. 
  6. When I was 10/11 while walking up my long driveway (we lived in the country) a car pulled up with a creepy guy in it who asked me if I wanted a ride.  Then told me to get in the damn car. He had one hand on the wheel and one in his trousers.  Thank god I had enough sense to run.  I still have nightmares about that guy even at 45. 
  7. I am terrified I will fail as a father.  I put up a good front, but deep down inside I always feel as though failure is right around the corner.  It’s why I write this blog.  It allows me to laugh, vent, and share my experiences.  I can look back on it when I am feeling low and remind myself of all the good I have done with my children.  I know they will laugh looking back on all this as adults.

15 bloggers to pass this award along too.

Soshi-Tech- http://soshitech.com

More valuable information in one blog than should legally be allowed in the states of California and Utah.  Everyone else is OK!

A Detailed House- http://adetailedhouse.com

I love houses and the fine art of decorating them in some of the finest trim.  If you are a closet design geek such as myself who also thinks you can take on any project, than this is the blog for you. The photography is very well done also.

Raising a Realist- http://raisingarealist.com

Scott is a mild-mannered high school English teacher. This blog is his attempt to capture all of his daughters moments.  As a parent of four, I can relate with his tag line. “126 kids but only one will wipe my but when I am old”

Mayahood- http://mayahoodblog.com

Adventure seeker, world traveler turned mother.  She has a mixture of her views on motherhood along with guest posts.  It is an entertaining blog.

Bucket List Publications- http://lesleycarter.wordpress.com

This one is near and dear to me as it is a blog that completely follows the premiss of getting out there and doing all those things you keep putting off.  They even pick some of your bucket list suggestions and through donations make it happen for you.  It’s quite the premise and I enjoy reading it immensely

A Confederacy of Spinsters- http://confederacyofspinsters.com

This is one of my favorites!  Three women from Texas, each one taking a turn writing about life trials and tribulations all under pseudo names.  Grace, Mae and Kate.  Its is always witty, relevant and fun!  I look forward to new postings they way one waits at the window for a long-awaited package from UPS. 

Musings of a stay at home Jewish Father- http://stayathometatte.wordpress.com

Another blog dedicated to a male role model at home raising his child.  Its funny and real with great pictures as he chronicles the day-to-day life of a stay at home dad.

In My Opinion- http://diane-ownes.com

Diane is on a quest to ask a different, relevant question everyday for a year. Interesting concept and I find the answers entertaining.

Debut Dad- http://debutdad.wordpress.com

Brenden is a first time dad who lives in Australia.  He blogs about juggling the changes in his life with the birth of their first-born child. Good luck Brenden and keep em coming. 

Vanessa Chapman- http://vanessa-chapman.com

Vanessa nominated my blog,  and although she is already nominated I enjoy her blog and look forward to every new edition she puts forth.  From superstition to the purchase of a new pair of boots.  She is funny and I find her blog to be a good way to blow a little time at work! Ha!

365 trinkets- http://365trinkets.wordpress.com

This blog is a reminder of how much crap we accumulate as adults.  His mission? To get rid of 365 trinkets he has stored as treasured keepsakes over a 25 year period.  The blog revolves around taking pictures of each one (for memories sake) then getting rid of said item. 

maggiemaeijustsaythis- http://maggiemaeijustsaythis.wordpress.com

A blog dedicated to writing poetry and personal trials and tribulations.  I enjoy the freedom with which she expresses herself.

Take a shower- http://takeashower.wordpress.com

A blog about Eloise and the raising of her five children.  She writes about the past and present, reflecting on the moments in time with the raising of her five children.

I am sorry to say I only have 13 to nominate for this award.  I fail!  But the thirteen I have chosen I follow with great intent.  I enjoy many other blogs but they are new to my collection and I havent gotten the chance to know them well enough yet for a nomination. 

Vanessa you were right, I also anguished over my choices.

The Morning After

The morning after Christmas has found me standing in the living room looking down upon my children as they stare off into the distance. Minds blanked out and traveling to places unknown. Some are wide eyed and lost in the unreal, reality world of television while others are still mezmorized by the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree. I wander in and ask each one individually whats happening, only to get the obligatory “nothing”. Followed with a heavy sigh and them returning to the “lost boys” stare. What is this delema they are in mentally, why have they completely tuned out and are on another planet? I mean come on, this is the day after Christmas, arent there toys to be played with, games to be won, new clothes to wear, friends to deliberate with over their new found fortunes?
I sit down and travel back in time to when I was there ages. The days before Christmas always felt like an eternity. We were constantly staring at the calender, counting down the days until the “big guy” was due to arrive. To make matters worse my mother was always fond of putting the tree up as soon as possible to help instil the “Christmas Spirit” in us all. We loved the tree a true symbol of Christmas staring at us in all its luminous glory, every morning when we awoke and every evening as we went to bed. I can remember getting up several times a night to stare in wonder at all its colors, blinking,twinkling and shining throughout the house. It was speaking to me, echoing in my head that I needed to be patient, Christmas day would come soon enough.

My sister and I on the other hand had a different plan. We treated Christmas day like an upcoming battle. We were warriors, soldiers on the western front, we had work to do, only 18 days left and a battle plan had yet to be formed. Everyday we would go out and count the number of presents under the tree, this helped to gauge the excrutiating amount of time we had left till “D” day. 18 days, 4 presents, 15 days, 8 presents, 9 days 15 presents and so on. The more presents we had under the tree, the closer we were to battle. Our battle plan revolved around my parents inability to tell time. You see the rules were very simple, no one could get out of bed until 8 am or as my father put it “there will be no Christmas”! Yet my mother would follow that up with a stern, “no getting up until 8 when the sun comes up” wether this was a slip of the tongue or done on purpose we didnt care. We were shrewd enough to know that was the loophole we were looking for! The faintest crack of dawn and the presents were ours. We divided the room accordingly, I would come in from the north, she from the south. I would handle quieting the noisey birds, she would sooth the dog. Then like Navy Seals we would descend upon our prey and make haste with the civility. Treasure was ours!!

My parents would join us eventually and we would get the obligatory butt chewing from father for not following the rules. But it was worth it, by 7:15 we had our first round of candy devoured, by 8 presents were demolished and more candy was fueling our rage! By 9 breakfast was just the foundation for more sugary bliss! By 11 we are headed to our relatives house where our wild eyed obsessions (candy and more gifts) would be fulfilled. Most kids would crumble under the pressure, but we were strong, we knew the stakes and we had trained for battle. We would prevail.

By 10 at night the carnage was complete, the candy was gone (my parents feeble attempt to keep the candy in moderation was always a failure) food had been devoured, and all gifts had been opened, played with and reboxed for transport. Sure a few good men perished on the battle field that day (our cousins who couldnt handle the pressure) but we were still alive. We would sleep like a rock that night, like angels, the campaign finished, its warriors triumphant.

So as I look upon my own brood I realize that they are suffering from a condition. A condition that we never recognized in the old days. Post Traumatic Christmas Syndrome. As adults we forget how much work Getting to Christmas day really was for us. We have forgotten about staring into the belly of the beast and winning the battle. We forget about the ones lost on the battlefield of elves, Santa and reindeer. Why because we are adults. We have sadly turned that part of brain off for the trappings of the real world.

So let them stay in their vegatative state. Recognize the battle hardend thousand mile stare, and have sympathy, for after a couple days of re-hab they will be back. And they will start planning again, for next year the battle will always be bigger and better in their little minds. And you will be left once again staring at them on “The Morning After”.

Another Christmas Eve

As I am in the process of tying up any loose ends this Christmas eve, I find myself thinking about Christmas eve last year, and the year before, and the year before that, to the point that I have now whipped out the photo album and I am looking at photo memories from Christmas past. I notice the obvious right away with the expected “holy crap” the kids have grown, and the obligatory “I cant possibly have looked that young”, but what has really amazed me while gazing upon these frozen moments in time is the fact that they are coming to an end. Now I don’t mean Christmas is coming to an end, or my life is coming to an end I mean quite simply, the days of Santa are fleeting, the days of all my kids still living at home are winding down. My job as a parent is coming closer to full circle with my oldest. Then in the blink of an eye it will be the next child and so on and so on..
Parenting has its privileges!
One of the biggest privileges known to every mom and dad is the role of Santa Claus! The first year is really scary as you hope and pray they don’t catch you in the act. The next year is a little less stressful as you slowly develop your own style and develop certain techniques. Every year after that just gets better and better until you feel as though with the wink of an eye and the twitch of a nose you could rain presents upon the tree and be gone in a flash with nothing more than a cookie crumb left swirling on the floor.
But life is always changing. Before you know it, one heads off to college, then two, then four, and the house is empty. There is no one left to play Santa for(yes even though the older ones know the truth they still love to play along). What the heck! You are at the top of your game, in the big leagues, and now the coach cant even call you up. Its back to riding the pine for you big boy! Skills or not this has all accumulated to you not being needed anymore. The house is empty, no more giggling, no more running off to bed because Santa Tracker says Santa is in Chicago! No sneaking, prying little eyes laying in the shadows of the hallway. Its all over. Done! You find yourself all alone watching “A Christmas Story” sulking. Suddenly all the struggling and frustration that often accompanied the holidays doesn’t seem like it was that big of a deal after all.. All the times the kids got on your last nerve, pestering and bugging you, fighting over really stupid stuff, makes you realize you would give anything to have that time back. Yeah that moment in time. Just once more…
Like I said parenting is a true privilege! Christmas Eve is a fantastic moment in the life of any parent. One that we hold in our minds and relive over and over again. Its pure, its true love for your kids, its joy, its one of the few times you get to be a super hero, and when your kids faces light up on Christmas morning at the sight that beholds them you wink your eye, and twitch you nose, then lock away another memory. You are only Santa for a little while and I thank god for every chance I get to be him, for someday my kids will experience the same emotions, the same feelings, they will accept this fantastic gift that has been given them and hopefully they will sit back and remember all the fun they had and smile at the thought of their father playing Santa on just another Christmas Eve….

Christmas Caroling

I love Christmas caroling! The hot chocolate, the camaraderie, seeing the shocked and happy faces of the unknowing victims that happen to be home. I especially like the smiles we put on the faces of the elderly! As we are singing you can see them travel back to a day when they were younger and surrounded by family.
My kids run from house to house with their friends arguing (playfully) over who is going to ring the doorbell, who is going to knock the loudest, who is going to start the singing. They love this time of year and I love giving them this gift. A gift they don’t even know is being given them because they wont have the ability to unwrap it until they too are parents.
We arrive at our last house and as we had done so many times before we encroached upon a lawn, knocked upon a door, huddled together and with our absolute best voices sang three glorious songs. The look upon this elderly mans face as he gazed down upon me from his front porch gave me chills. He wasn’t dreaming of days gone by as some would do at such a moment, no he was wishing for just one moment he could throw away his walker, push his in home care nurse aside, stand up straight and trade places with me. With me? I think he was seeing me as a 45 year old version of himself. He gazed as though he longed to be young, surrounded by his kids, sharing the joys of heartwarming song given so freely this time of year.
After we finished we smiled, said Merry Christmas, and we all headed to the street where our cars were parked. We gathered one last time saying our thank you’s and good nights! The kids piled in the car and laughed all the way home. Another year of caroling in the books, another year of memories they won’t forget, another year till the tradition is passed on to their kids, and another year till I am that old man wishing for a moment that I too could trade places with the 45 year old dad singing to me on my front porch right before Christmas…

Christmas Shopping with your kids

Christmas shopping is always a memorable experience, I used to go solely by myself, engrossed in the mash of humanity, panic, greed, and disdain. (that’s just dealing with the holiday sales people). But life is not lived unless you grow as a person, giving of yourself to others, sharing traditions like some would share a sandwich or a cold.
I am now Christmas shopping with my kids! It sounds like a great idea, Christmas lists in hand we all load up in the truck and head off to retail land, stopping and lavishing ourselves with a mocha or hot chocolate to get us in the mood. Our heads will soon be swimming in a sea of holiday spirit as Christmas music floods the confines of our vehicle en-route to the retail orgy! Singing, smiling, laughing, guessing who is going to get what for Christmas, it all has the harmonious ring of perfection.
And yet….
When arriving at a retail shopping hub (the mall) one must first learn the art of distraction, for it takes the cunning of a Survivor contestant to not only locate but manipulate their surroundings to acquire a parking spot before another shopping contestant does, there bye forcing you to be voted off the isle!
Soon we were kicked to redemption island parking facility, after several jarring and stealthy attempts we made it back around and found a spot on the backside of the East entrance, just West of one store, South of another that we planned to visit and of course North of the trolley that would drop us no where near where we really needed to be.
Entering the Mega structure, we planned our attack, first shop for mom, then for the grandparents, ending with being split into teams of two that would alternate upon completion of each mission. All this is happening while I am shuttling gifts under cover to the car so no one can see or guess what the other purchased.
None of this happened. Not one person could agree on anything. The budget I had set for them was in danger of being busted on just mom alone! Apparently the corporate machine that is the retail system had infiltrated my little angels and warped their already deranged minds. You see unless it cost a fortune or was recommended by Jared my kids would turn their noses at it! Are you kidding me, we live a modest lifestyle, a majority of our everyday clothes come from thrift shopping, we drive well used cars, nothing in our family wreaks of this materialistic coma my shopping zombies are in! After an hour of arguing and feeling my Christmas buzz burn off I made an executive decision. Without haste I loaded up the 4 elves into my red sleigh. I willingly gave up my hard fought position in the parking lot, and drove to the other side of town. My children were in shock! Dad had cancelled Christmas, or so it seemed. How could he do this to us, was the longing look on their faces.
I pulled into the parking lot and found a space right away. We walked in the door and Christmas music was playing, there were no lines, and people seemed happy. We split into two groups, no hiding here, the cap was set at $10 dollars a piece. They grumbled at first but within a few minutes I could hear the teams giggling and laughing as they worked their way through the massive isles of Chinese crap! You see it wasn’t just any store, it wasn’t a retail giant or box store selling items in quantities no one really needs. Oh no, our Christmas shopping may have started in snobby, I’m better than you retail Hell! But it finished at the 99 cent store. My kids were happy, their presents represented what they felt about each other and at the end of the day they were relishing in the fact that not one of them spent that ten dollar limit, but came home with a boatload of stuff. Sure it’s cheap crap! Sure I caught one of them bragging they bought 14 things for 8 bucks. But at the end of the day, when Christmas is over and family has gone home. How much of that over priced stuff gets returned? How much is re-gifted? This way everyone is a winner, everyone is happy and really it’s hard not to learn the value of a dollar at the .99 cent store…..