this morning, my daughter’s playing video games (hey, she's got a Geek Dad, so this isn't a wholly bad thing), and I’m sitting down to an overdue
helping of Christmas writing leftovers:
My daughter and I spent a good chunk of Christmas Eve day rolling dough and baking and decorating cutout cookies while Jenn was at work. There was a moment or two where the huge pile of baked and still-bare cookies felt like a chore, but it passed quickly because I still love the whole process of putting the food coloring in the icing and mixing up the colors in different bowls and getting out the array of sprinkles and trying to make every single cookie different from the rest. Growing up, mom used to bake ’em, but it was Dad and my brothers and me who did all the icing.
This was probably my daughter's last “believing in Santa” Christmas. She’s 10 years old and awfully sharp, and the truth is, I’m pretty sure she was just playing along this year, not wanting to let go. Can’t say that I blame her.
So, Christmas Eve, she and I are getting out cookies and milk for Santa, and she says we should put out some carrots for the reindeer, too. I remind her that we are out of carrots, having finished them up at lunch over the previous day or two.
Screwing up her face and squinting with one eye, she points a finger and deepens her voice to an impressive Darren McGavin impression for a fifth-grade girl and hits me between the eyes with a “Christmas Story” reference: “Yoooouuuuuu used up….all the carrots….on PURPOSE!”
Seriously: Could a 1980s Dad be more proud?
Christmas Day was a little odd because Jenn had to work from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. She got up and left at 5:30, but my daughter and I got up at the same time because, duh, we were too excited to go back to bed. We headed down to Mom & Jeff’s about 6:45, when it was still dark. Along the way, we looked around and pointed out scenes we liked - houses or trees on hilltops silhouetted against the slowly brightening sky.
We started looking at the houses closer as we passed, seeing whose lights were on, who was up and in the kitchen or the family room, and who maybe wasn’t at home or was sleeping "late."
It was just
the two of us and Nick joining Mom & Jeff, so it was kind of a quiet, calm
morning of opening gifts, and Nick left about 9:30 to head home. After that, we mostly rested. My daughter crawled into a huge box at one point with Mom's new kitten, a pillow and a blanket and fell asleep for almost an hour.
We headed home at about 1:35 in the afternoon and got back just a few minutes after Jenn. It felt like a different day as we sat down to open our family presents at three o'clock.
We got a Nintendo Wii this year. Jenn & I decided it would be our big gift to the family. I haven’t really wanted a video game system since middle school, when I begged and begged for a floppy disk drive to go along with our Commodore 64. I had a Super Nintendo for a little while after college, but it wasn’t really my decision or my desire, and I never really got bit by the bug.
I wasn’t sure how my daughter would react to the Wii, since outside of the system and the games we bought with it, she got mostly clothes. But we saved it until the end of our gift-giving, and I was glad to see how excited she got.
We started playing it around 4:30 or so, and - wow. I was a little kid again, getting my original Atari on Christmas morning and just going insane with fun. I've never stopped playing video games, of course, but it's been a long time since I really shared the experience, since mostly I've played on the computer the last 15 years or so. But this, this jumping around the living room with my wife and kid and playing goofy games like bowling and tennis and baseball (and yes, on some level realizing how hilarious it is that we're having a total blast and yet haven't even ventured beyond the equivalent of "Combat" on the old Atari) and laughing and falling onto the couches ... this was serious fun.
last couple weeks, in addition to the hours we put in as a family watching all
the Christmas television specials we could, and even pulling out the VCR to
My favorite Christmas light display sits off Interstate 77 northbound, just south of mile marker 140. Trees and hills line both sides of the freeway, and though there are neighborhoods and houses tucked back a ways, it’s an unlit stretch of road.
But every year, someone who lives in one of those hidden homes hauls one of those three- or four-foot high plastic electric candles to the very back of their yard, which reaches the treeline near the road. They plant it on the top of their fence corner, beside a shed. There’s no other light in their backyard that I can see, no displays or ribbons or snowmen: Just that single plastic yellow flame.
I wonder if it’s meant as a special light for someone – a mom or a dad or a brother or sister on their way home, maybe – or if it’s just out there for everybody passing.
I watch for it every year in late November, and I get a little sad every January when it gets unplugged and put, presumably, back in storage.