Speaking of it being a strange year, just recently we went to purchase our Christmas tree at Home Depot and found the outside nursery entrance closed. The guy in lumber explained this was because they were anticipating a higher theft rate this year. While our sons almost ripped Erin’s arms off to get back to the nursery because she just wasn’t running at the speed of light, I followed behind musing on this little twig of information snapped off and offered up by this loquacious lumberman: did someone really go to the trouble to research a report on Christmas tree theft – is there big money in this – or was the guy just making stuff up? (If it’s the latter, he’s my kind of guy!)
Not finding anything earth shattering, we made our way to Target to peruse their selection. Surprisingly quickly, Erin found THE ONE and we were ready. Slight snag, though, they didn’t have any twine to tie the tree to the top of our Urban Assault Vehicle – our Honda Odyssey, Hugo. This was all part of their fiendish plan to force us to purchase some rope, which we did. I found the rope held far better than the twine ever did. With twine, I always drove home very gingerly to assure the tree’s safe arrival. This year, though, I had ROPE! So, we covered the five miles between Target and home in three minutes flat. On the turn into our neighborhood, we got Hugo up on two wheels. A group of kids on skateboards and BMX bikes applauded as we passed them – one of them saluted. We pulled into our driveway with the tree still affixed to the top of the van and all the needles on the tree still intact. (Be sure to purchase a fresh tree – with one that’s too dry, the drive home turns it into a replica of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”.)
Sam turned 8 this year and was baptized. We’ve learned that he has a penchant for 80s music that’s “funky and fresh”, and he’s fascinated with afros. Soccer is fast becoming his favorite sport, and he’s still in the fundamentals stage of learning the difference between a fullback and a sweeper and how to kick the ball directly into the face of your opponent – that’s coming to him quite naturally, though. Given enough time, we hope he’ll learn how to start soccer riots at the level you see in Britain. Dare to dream!
At 11, Jack’s choice for this year’s Halloween costume epitomized his two loves: creativity and building stuff. Constructing it completely out of cardboard, he was a human traffic cone. At the beginning of his summer vacation, he underwent a tonsillectomy and did fairly well in the recovery process. However, on Day 10 – the day you’re supposed to be determined “better” – he started coughing up blood and had to be rushed to the hospital to have that area re-cauterized. And then he had 10 more days of recovery. That was one riveting “What I Did Over Summer Vacation” essay!
Although another year has gone by and Erin still hasn’t realized her dream of traversing the globe in a lawn chair tied to one thousand helium balloons, she’s still feeling fulfilled through her work at school and church. A few months ago, we decided to get some of our tax money back, so Erin went to work part time at the boys’ school as an aide. She came home after her first day and said, “What a glorious scam! I just got paid today to do the same stuff I used to do when I volunteered for free!” From that point on, you know she secretly sneers at those other parents at the school who are still volunteering: “Suckers!”
As for myself, I’ve recently learned that it’s hilarious to put clothes on a dog. Seriously! I’m not talking about the whack jobs who dress up their pets and take family photos with them because they think they’re cute. Put a sweater that has a big puffy collar on a dog, and you can’t help but laugh – what’s even funnier is the look on the dog’s face because she knows on some level that she looks ridiculous and that the other dogs are going to make fun of her. Earlier this year, before discovering the hilarity of dog dressing, I left the sexy world of selling crumpled-up Kraft paper, thus giving up a life of intrigue and travel to exotic locales like Fernley, Nevada, and Beaver, Utah. Now I work for a packaging company in Arizona, so I’m home practically every night. The dog’s not altogether happy about that, I’m imagining.
If there’s six feet of snow on the ground where you are, come visit us. Here in Arizona, around Christmas time, we walk around all day in t-shirts and thongs – you can decide if I mean sandals or not.