Christmas Wishes with a Crayon

(Spoiler alert – Santa is discussed openly in this blog. Young children should be excused from the room.)

Well, the Holidays are upon us once again. Time to trim the tree, plan the recipes and write the Christmas cards. By show of hands – who still writes Christmas cards? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Yet another joy Facebook has robbed from us. Burn, Mark Zuckerberg! Personally I love receiving Christmas cards. I think it’s a long-time tradition that is rapidly taking a backseat to social media. I enjoy seeing pictures of people throughout the year on my smart phone, but come December I want a card in the mailbox. I feel the only letters I get these days are from bill collectors and my mother. I have many bills and only one mom, so the odds that I want to actually walk to the mailbox are very slim.

In 2015 the Greeting Card Association reported that over one billion Christmas Cards were purchased. I got 37. I feel that’s fair, as there are well over 100 million households in America and I’m not terribly greedy. Plus, this stat doesn’t take into account the millions of letter kids write Santa Claus each year. I stopped writing Santa two years ago, but the idea of Santa still makes me happy.

When I wrote Santa as a child, it was with the mindset that if I put it down on the paper with my crayon, it would appear under the tree. Simple enough. Hey, isn’t it interesting that we write letters to Santa for what we want, but we don’t write thank you notes back to him? Do you think this feeds into the “expectant attitude” Americans have now? Just thinking out loud here.

We didn’t have the internet when I was 7, so we would get ideas on what we wanted from Santa by looking through the biggest, best book in the whole wide world – The Sears, Roebuck & Company Christmas Wishbook. Oh, I remember what a special day it was when this 500-page literary masterpiece would arrive in the mail. This was back when I enjoyed getting the mail.  Back before car payments and overdraft fees.

I couldn’t wait to look through it. I would need complete privacy as I submerged myself into another world. There was a full two-page spread of Star Wars figurines. I’ll need five, please. There were Batman vehicles with movable wheels and opening doors. I’ll need that. Don’t forget Flash Gordon and his inflatable rocket ship, which parents could air up and suspend on a string from the ceiling. Amazing!

Transformers and Go-Bots made the catalog in 1985, waging their own war for the attention of the youngest generation. I don’t have to tell you who won that major conflict, as today no one owns the Go-Bot Trilogy on Blu Ray.

Over the years I’ve lost track of the Sears Catalog. By the time I was in high school I was looking at the ads for stereos and these new computers everyone kept talking about. My “Wishbook” eventually turned into real cars and real life, but I look fondly back on the winter afternoons I spent on the shag carpet circling wishes with a crayon.

So, what’s in your Grown-up Wishbook this holiday season? If you had a magic crayon, what would you circle? You know, if you write it down with expectation, you just may get it under the tree.

Beaten by a Butter Knife

“Give me your knife,” she said. My wife was standing above a box that had just arrived at the house and was having trouble with the packing tape.

“A knife?” I replied.

“Yeah, your knife.” She chuckled. “All real men carry knives. Where’s yours?” I was caught off guard.

I don’t have a knife. I mean I do, but it’s up on my dresser in my jewelry box, with my pinky ring and my ID bracelet. However, I didn’t want her to think her rough-neck husband was a Mama’s Boy. So, I did what any other honest, self-respecting husband would do. I faked it.

Thinking that I was about to have my Man Card revoked, I patted my pants like I was trying to identify which pocket I had slid my knife in, as if I had just used it to remove a tick from my bicep. Honestly I was just killing time, hoping a knife would magically appear in my “wrinkle resistant slacks”. Perhaps, when I wasn’t paying attention, my iPhone and car keys conceived a knife-child. I checked my suit pockets while praying to St. Al Buck, believing he could magically make a Wal-Mart run and slide a Buck 210 into my vest pocket. Nothing. I feigned surprise but was inwardly embarrassed. With an air of disappointment, she shuffled off to the kitchen to get a butter knife out of the dishwasher. I was beaten by butter knife.

I haven’t carried a knife with any kind of regularity since the 90’s. And if I recall correctly, it was because I was deployed in Saudi Arabia during a war! Are we at war in Knox County? No. Will I be jumped by guerilla rebels while carrying Gouda Dip from Fresh Market to my car? Unlikely. Will I need to defend myself against an actual bear while picking up takeout at the Panda Express? Of course not.

My father however has been packin’ heat for years. Actually, he is a walking Swiss Army Knife. Growing up under this Boy Scout/Vietnam Veteran, I was instructed to carry a multitude of items including a comb, a pocket knife and a handkerchief. A handkerchief? You want me to blow my nose into a cloth and then stick it back in my pocket for later??? I think I just answered my own question.

Additionally, Pop’s car has an Emergency Supply in his trunk: a shovel, a gallon of water, and a blanket. “Because you just never know, son.” You just never know…what? Are we preparing to dig ourselves out of a snow embankment, using the water for hydration and the blanket for warmth? Do we have to trek through the snow, following the stars back to civilization? I know how to follow stars–OnStar and Starbucks. And I never leave the house without either one.

I can’t make too much fun of my father, without inadvertently poking fun at my wife. It is her belief that we can put anything in the trunk of her car as long as it is preceded by the word emergency. We have our emergency dog bowls, emergency swim trunks and emergency snow boots. “Sorry, Dad, but there is no room for blankets and shovels with these emergency travel board games in the way.”

At any rate, after losing to a butter knife that night, I carried my Starbucks up the stairs and dug through my jewelry box. There, tucked nicely between my pocket watch and a movie stub from Die Hard II, was my thin, locking blade. I slipped it into my pocket and instantly became more like Clint Eastwood and less like Woody Allen.

So, what’s in your pocket?


Kids are Puppies, Too

My wife and I have no children at home so like many of you, we have given personalities to our pets. We’ve rescued two mixed-breed dogs from the shelter: an Australian Shepherd named Gracie, and Billy a Sheltie Mix. Carol claims that Billy is a purebred, he just doesn’t have papers. (Yeah, and I graduated from the French Culinary Art School in New York, I just don’t have my diploma…but, I digest.)

If we wanted to know for sure about Billy’s purebred status, we could enlist the services of a web-based laboratory to find out. They say that by being aware of what your breed’s makeup, you will be better equipped to understand your dog’s needs. I kid you not. So, with a sample of Fido’s saliva and 80 bucks, you can learn exactly what kind of dog you have. For example: 40% Labrador, 40% Shepherd, 15% Akita and a dash of Cocker Spaniel. Mix well, walk often, enjoy.

In my eternal effort to create a stream of income without actually having to perform any work, I thought I would start a business like this. However to cut down on overhead, I would conduct no actual testing. What I would do is request a picture of the K-9 in question and using only keen eyesight and my stellar powers of observation, I could determine gender, color(s), and the weather conditions in the immediate area around the dog. For an additional fee, they could subscribe to my virtual mailing list (where I send virtually no mailing) and would receive an autographed picture of me and my neighbor’s dog.

At any rate, in this fantasy world Carol and I have created our dogs talk to us, walk on their hind legs, talk on their own cell phones, leave dirty socks on the floor and stay out late with their friends. It keeps us busy. Surely we’re not the only people who do this, right? Right? Anyone? Beuller? Taking in account that dogs age faster than humans by 7x’s, Billy and Gracie are 17 and 20 years old, respectively.

Gracie works at the library part time and is attending the University of Tennessee on a soccer scholarship. Billy cannot spell scholarship, although he’s dated numerous sorority girls. (Are you following?)

Gracie has applied for the foreign exchange student program so she can study abroad, preferably somewhere in the Mediterranean. Billy also wants to travel to the Mediterranean, but only because he heard from a Chihuahua that there are topless beaches. Additionally he would like to travel with many women, not just a single “broad”.

Now I’ve got to tell you, we’re not the only ones who humanize their dogs. Our good friends the Massaglias have a black and white Shitzu named Cosmo. Cosmo is a distinguished, 60-year-old gentleman who speaks with a British Accent. He spends most of the afternoons in his private, two-story library wearing a smoking jacket, reading The Count of Monte Cristo and enjoying a good Scotch. On the weekends he takes his vintage Aston Martin to Cades Cove. It’s a gorgeous convertible; he wears goggles.

Truthfully, pet ownership can be good for your health. Studies have proven that pets can relieve blood pressure and reduce stress levels. Pets provide exercise, companionship and can even get you dates. I’m serious! When was the last time you saw an available woman avoiding a puppy? Not that there’s anything wrong with unavailable women, they’re just harder to date. I challenge you to borrow a puppy from a friend and take it to a greenway on a sunny day. I am willing to bet that you will meet at least one woman who could potentially turn into a solid relationship. …That is until you have to return the dog and come clean that you scammed her. Chics don’t like to be scammed.

As a bonus, if you send me a picture of the potential date and $80, I’ll tell you what type of women they are. For example: 40% Scottish, 40% Irish, 15% Italian and a dash of Russian. Mix well, walk often, enjoy.