Special Delivery: A cautionary Christmas tale

A blogger friend named Randall Willis once posted a beautiful poem that I’m always reminded of this time of year. In his poem, he used snow as an analogy for the magic that is constantly swirling around us — and how, like snow, it can quickly melt away and go unnoticed unless we make an effort to see it. What follows is a Christmas tale based on a true-life experience that I tell each year around Christmas. It’s a mixture of fact, whimsy, hope and my belief that a heartfelt wish is the cornerstone of life’s most important magical moments.

That said, my sincere thanks to all of you for sharing the magic in your own way, every day…
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imageHe looked very out of place sitting alone in the flight terminal, his arms folded over a Superman backpack, and large brown eyes peering out from beneath his baseball cap. A few seats away, a keyboard recital was being performed by a businessman wearing Bluetooth headphones and chastising someone at “headquarters” about overspending.

“I said gifts for the immediate staff only. That means Carl, Jody, Jessica and what’s-her-name — the gal we hired last month,” he instructed, keyboard clattering continuously. “Yeah, her — Loni. But that’s it. I never said anything about the sales department. What? Of course you’re included with the immediate staff. Get yourself something.”

The boy shifted, causing his plastic chair to squeak a bit as he leaned toward the businessman. “Hey, Dad…”

For the first time, the man’s fingers left the keyboard, just long enough to wave his son to silence.  Continue reading

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Turning 49 doesn’t matter much when you don’t act your age anyway

image Last night, a good friend suddenly and without warning offered a pre-emptive toast to my turning 49 next week. I call him a “good” friend because, until as recently as last night, I considered him a “great” friend. But I honestly can’t remember his name now.

Haha! Just kidding!

We were actually never very close.

Ok, in all seriousness, until his good-natured ribbing about turning 49 (I still can’t stop laughing!), I hadn’t given it much thought. That’s because I don’t really think about myself relative to age.

Relative to the nearest strip of bacon, coffee shop and my wife, sure.

But age?

Not really. Continue reading

Rule number one to coaching kids: Never, ever forget the jelly donuts

(I’m sure a lot of you have been wondering, “Where is today’s Flashback Sunday? It’s always posted at 6:30 a.m.!” Ok, fine; only one of you was. Regardless, like many Americans do this time of year, I completely forgot about the time change and, as a result, didn’t remember to set my clock back by … uh… 12 hours. I know we’re actually suppose to gain an hour, but seeing as how every clock in our house has a different time, I’m sure you can understand how this could have happened. My apologies to everyone. To avoid making this mistake again in the spring, I will be posting my March 9 Flashback Sunday in an hour…)

Going downtown for a hail Mary pass into the bucket.

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not very athletic. I made this realization in the third grade, when I was knocked unconscious 32 times playing dodge ball. After that first game, I remember waking up in the nurse’s office and being told of a special program for “gifted” athletes who were so special they got to wear a football helmet during recess.

Of course, I eventually figured out there was no “special program,” and openly expressed my feelings of betrayal when I slammed my helmet on the desk of my high school counselor.

After which I was taken to the hospital with a broken finger.

I live with the memory of being an unathletic child on a daily basis. Particularly when I look in the mirror and see a man whose head still fits into a third-grade football helmet. For this reason, when my daughter asked me to coach her fourth-grade basketball team, I smiled, took her hand, and began faking a seizure. I panicked at the thought of providing guidance to a team of fourth-grade girls, any one of whom could “take me to the hole.” Continue reading

Today’s Halloween costume is tomorrow’s therapy session

(Welcome to this week’s Flashback-Flashback-Flashback Sunday! No, that wasn’t an echo, or the remnants of a hangover. You read it right; this week’s post is an extremely rare flashback within a flashback within a flashback. OK, just to clarify, that wasn’t an echo either. It’s just that this week’s post covers three generations of Halloween costume traumas. In short: a Halloween flashback Tri Fecta..! Tri Fecta…! Tri Fecta..!
Ok, that time really WAS an echo…
)

They may not look traumatized now, but I’m saving up for my children’s therapy sessions anyway — just in case.

It was a conversation that I had been putting off for as long as possible, even though I knew it was my responsibility as a parent to sit down and have “The Talk” with my daughter.

It’s better that it come from me rather than her getting crazy ideas from someone at school, I told myself.

So I sat my daughter down, held my breath for a moment, then and asked:

“What do you want to be for Halloween?”

For some of you, this is an exciting time that allows you to bond with your child by making their Halloween-costume dream come true.

For the rest of us, it’s a time when we cross our fingers and pray that our child’s “Halloween costume dream” is hanging on a rack somewhere at Wal-Mart. Because if it isn’t, we’ll have to make something, and therefore put our child’s emotional health at risk by creating a costume that could potentially scar them for life. Continue reading

Parents: Lung capacity is key when choosing inflatable toy

(Note: Judging from the response to last week’s launch of “Flashback Sundays,” I think we’re on to something! Or at least many of you were on something at the time. In either case, with spring break on the way, here’s another post from the early archives, back when I thought “Freshly Pressed” was the tagline for a fashion blogger…)

Inflated whale We live less than 15 minutes from our favorite lake. The problem is, it also happens to be everyone else’s favorite lake, which means in order to get a spot within the vicinity of actual water, you have to be there when the gates open at noon and participate in something similar to the Oklahoma Land Rush. It’s not uncommon to see small children strapped to inflatable toys and tossed ahead of the crowd in order to claim prime territory.

As a parent, it’s not a gamble I’m willing to take with my child. Especially since, as a general rule, it only counts if your child is in an upright position once they skid to a stop.

The good news is that once the initial pandemonium is over, things generally settle into a state of peaceful co-existence as, one by one, parents begin passing out while blowing up inflatable toys. Sadly, the evolutionary process has not been able to keep up with the growing demand for larger and larger inflatable animals. Unless you are a pearl diver by trade, chances are your lung capacity is nowhere near what it needs to be in order to fully inflate your child’s favorite water toy. Continue reading