Friday, December 10, 2010

Sizing up the Year - Greene Family Christmas Letter 2010

Have you ever tried to type anything over, say, 50 words in length on one of these fancy-schmancy new “Netbooks”? The keyboard’s slightly larger than a microchip but smaller than a deck of cards. Who invented these things? And you can’t say elves, because I’ve seen their fingers – they’re like little sausages. Speaking of fingers, let’s just say I wasn’t born to play the piano or palm a Nerf basketball, but even with my girlie digits, this isn’t the easiest task in the world. Granted, giving birth and passing kidney stones still rank higher on the list of difficult tasks – you will have known that if either you’ve read some of our past Christmas letters or you’ve given birth (to a human being or a kidney stone – I wouldn’t recommend both at the same time, although reading this letter may feel like that). Take a Percocet, sit back, and enjoy!

Sam has become quite philosophical this year. As the date approached for our church’s annual children’s program, one of the women helping put it together asked Sam if he would prepare a short speech. His topic: Jesus and His miracles. Erin and I knew that Sam had reached the age that he needed to put the majority of the effort into preparing this speech, so we adopted a “hands off” approach to be sure he only came to us if he REALLY needed help. The “hands off” approach worked perfectly – we completely forgot about it until the night before the program when we came home from a date (with each other – it’s too complicated any other way) and he announced that he had already written his speech. He handed us his copy and asked us to read it. My favorite part – and I believe Erin concurs – was when he wrote, “To me, Jesus is like a superhero; just he doesn’t have a secret identity. That’s one of the things I love about Jesus; and about miracles.” Later, as the mid-term elections and all the attendant rhetoric were raging, Sam was watching the news with Erin when he turned to her and said, "So Republicans are like your friends, they don't really care what you do and you can do whatever you want. Democrats are like your parents. They want to boss you around and tell you everything you have to do." Take that, McLaughlin Group!

This was the year that Jack became a teenager. As a way of appropriately ushering in this new chapter of his life, Jack and Erin organized an “Amazing Race” themed birthday party. While I can assure you no yaks were harmed in the ensuing melee and the naked flamingos were a bit unnerving, everyone had a great time. Even Colonel Sanders made an appearance (and you all thought he was dead – yes, it was THAT good of a party)! With the teen years has come a keen interest in rocket-propelled flying objects, setting fire to anything that we will allow him to burn, and cooking. Honestly, the cooking thing has been with him for quite some time, but he’s really spreading his wings and taking on new and interesting challenges – and in the process, he’s become very good at it. Now, if he could find a way to cook a chicken by engulfing it in flames and shooting it into the first layer of the stratosphere and cooling it on its descent, he’d be in heaven! There’s probably a Discovery Channel show in there somewhere. In those odd moments when he hasn’t been filling his time with culinary terrorism, Jack’s been actively involved with Boy Scouts (where I believe the campfire was the origin of his fascination with burning things) and is within a hair’s breadth of getting his Eagle (fortunately that particular bird is both revered and protected by law so Jack can’t subject it to his proclivities). If any of you may be wondering how much a hair’s breadth equals, it’s exactly halfway between a skosh and a tad – see, this is both fun AND educational!

As for Erin and myself, when we’re not busy fighting crime in our secret identities (don’t tell Sam) as Carpoolio and Hairboy (you can guess who’s who), we fill our time raising pygmy goats that resemble reality TV stars for state fairs across the country – it’s extremely rewarding.

As I’ve written in the past: our door is always open for you (I made sure of that just recently by replacing the dead bolt that had us trapped in the house for four days – fortunately, we didn’t have to resort to eating each other). The weather’s great here (for about three more months), so come on by and sit a spell – that’s an ephemeral amount of time really, but it’s longer than a moment but shorter than a coon’s age. Happy holidays!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gettin' 'Up In' Religion

I'm "monitoring" Sam's getting-dressed-for-church progress yesterday morning. I note that he's wearing black suit pants (that he inherited from his older brother, Jack) and a white shirt (not my choice). I tell him it's time for us to leave for church, and Sam jukes over to his closet for what I presume is going to be a tie - while he's only 10 years old, he's started to have a fascination with wearing "the noose". At any rate, as he comes around the corner I see him shrugging on the matching black suit jacket, no tie. This prompted a bit of an argument as Sam REALLY wanted to wear the jacket - crazy kid, it's 105 degrees outside. I finally "won" the argument with this little gem: "Sam, you can't wear a suit without a tie to church. It's either what you're wearing now - no jacket, no tie - or you have to wear a tie if you're going to wear the jacket. If you were going to go out and hit a couple of night clubs, wearing the jacket without the tie would be fine."

Fast forward to our drive home from church:

Dad: "What did you learn about in Primary today?"

Sam: "We learned about the afterlife."

Dad: "So tell me about the afterlife."

Sam: "In the afterlife, cheetahs and lambs will hang out and run around together."

Dad: "I think you mean that the lamb and the lion will lie down together - it's a prophecy from the book of Isaiah."

Sam: "No. The lions will be someplace else eating straw. And guess what: in the afterlife, a kid will be able to put his hand 'up in' a serpent and not get hurt."

Dad: "I think you mean that a child will be able to place his hand in a snake's den and not be bitten."

The son's patience is wearing thin at this point with the father's complete lack of understanding of all things Biblical.

Sam: "No, I mean a kid will be able to put his hand 'up in' a serpent."

Dad: "'Up in'? What exactly do you mean by 'up in'?"

Sam: "The kid will be able to stick his hand up a snake's butt and not get hurt."

My thought, while making sure I don't crash my car, was I'm not too sure the snake would agree with that.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Pregnant Woman (NOT ERIN) with a Sense of Humor

You can believe this or not, but I was at the gym tonight lifting weights. I'm not going to tell you how much weight I was lifting for fear you might think this thing is total fiction.

At any rate, near the end of my workout, I approached the free weights area and happened upon a pregnant woman doing dumbbell curls. Given her dimensions and proportions, there was NO question that she was pregnant - take my word for it on this one.

As I passed her, she had just finished the set she was doing and let the weights and her arms hang down on each side. I looked at the weights in her hands and then said, gesturing to her belly, "I think you're lifting those dumbbells wrong."

She paused for a moment, got a funny look on her face, and then she laughed - fortunately.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

The Porcelain Year

While chatting it up with a couple of people at work the other day, I announced that my wife and I were about to celebrate 18 years of marriage – with each other. The discussion turned to what each anniversary represented. The easy answers, of course, were 25 years is the Silver anniversary; 50 is Gold; and 75 is Diamond. What was 18? The first thing that leapt to mind was “origami” (most likely something in the shape of either a gnu or a 1964 Chevy Impala), but one of the members of this discussion quickly reminded me that paper – origami’s material of choice – was the first anniversary. Paper? Clearly that doesn’t mean “get her a card and call it good” because then there would be no second anniversary. I honestly don’t remember what I gave my wife for our first anniversary – all I know is that I’ve been lucky enough to have 17 more.

At any rate, Paper Person proceeded to Google the question on her BlackBerry (I believe this very moment was the single reason God invented both Google and the BlackBerry – everything else we do with those two pieces of technology are just gravy) and found that “porcelain” is the traditional gift for an 18th wedding anniversary. I mulled this over quite extensively: do I buy my wife a toilet or a sink? Which one says “I love you” and “Happy 18th, Foxy Mama” more than the other? Given the fact I had already established the Divine origin for Google and BlackBerry, I decided not to chance it by seeking help in answering these questions using those avenues. So, I decided on my own: I booked a room at a local hotel for an evening.

The gentleman at the hotel seemed a little bewildered when I asked if our room would have both a porcelain sink and toilet, but before I let him get too worked up over it, I reminded him this was for our 18th anniversary. Silence on the other end of the phone – obviously the import of my question was suddenly crystal clear.

Fast forward to yesterday: After checking into our room (and confirming that both the toilet and sink were porcelain – I played it smart and didn’t make a big deal of it as I was sure my wife would make the connection and see me for the die-hard romantic that I am), we made our way to dinner. Here’s the problem with going to a fancy restaurant when you don’t drink alcohol: When the server asks you which wine you would like to begin your meal, you say, “May I have a Coke, please?” At that point, I would imagine, most servers are tempted to card you to see if you’re really a 13-year-old kid with premature gray hair and the unfortunate beginnings of a double chin. Although the server knows that since you’re not ordering alcohol and her tip will be relatively lower due to the smaller tab for the meal, she takes solace in hoping that you truly are 13 years old because your bedtime is 9:00 p.m. so you won’t be sticking around too long – more time to bring in a patron who will order enough booze to float a small navy.

As we took a short walk on the hotel grounds after dinner, we passed a wedding party. These kids were JUST staring their lives together – the seven years they lived together before “getting serious” don’t count – and here we were celebrating 18 wonderful years. These kids have the paper anniversary next year, along with cotton and leather after that, respectively. Who in their right mind came up with these gift ideas, Eli Whitney and the Marquis de Sade? All I know is that I truly look forward to our 19th and 20th anniversaries. I believe they are, respectively, “world domination” and “kittens” – and I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else. I love you, Erin!