My Christmas List

I’ve written a little about the practicality and usefulness of Christmas lists in the past – https://chroniclesofdad.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/christmas-lists-2/

I’ll never understand why some of you deliberately avoid using a list whilst purchasing gifts and/or are offended when someone provides you with a list.  The list maker obviously put thought and effort into the construction of the list because not everything makes it onto the list.  That means it was done in a thoughtful manner.  By shunning the list, the message you are sending is that you are trying to one-up the list maker because you not only know what they’d like but what they need.

Anyway, I think as we get older our Christmas lists get shorter but more expensive.  For example, I’d like a new mower.  Preferably one with a much more reliable self propelled drive mechanism.  But nobody is getting me a new mower.  Mostly because it’s way too expensive and I really want full control over all aspects of the decision making process when it comes my mower.  So it is not on my list.

The other thing about lists is that as we get older I think, if we’re being honest, they become a bit impractical.  Which, as we know, is the opposite of what the Christmas list is supposed to be.  The list is there for the ease of the user.  It should make the gift purchasing process easier to understand.  Like the rules on what a legal catch in the NFL should be.  I mean if it’s a catch in flag-football, high school football and college football, it’s probably reasonably a catch in the NFL…unless you’re wearing #81 for the Steelers and playing for the Patriots. Anyway…

Here’s what I mean by our lists getting impractical.  I’d like a million dollars cash, tax free.  Right now.  But I doubt that’s going to happen because I don’t really know Santa’s relationship with the IRS.  While it undoubtedly is better now than it was under Lois Lerner, I’m guessing that big bags of cash are out as a potential gift under the tree.

But here’s what I’d really like this Christmas:

1-A channel on Direct TV where I could watch Scooby Doo, Thundarr the Barbarian, Johnny Quest and Schoolhouse Rock.  And the Superfriends.  Yes, I realize there are variations of what I’m describing here on Hulu, Amazon Prime and Netflix.  But none exactly as I’ve described.  And it’s my damn list.  So instead of dismissively shaking your head at me, think about the awesomeness of what I’m describing.

Scooby EbenezerScooby, whether you’ll admit it or not, is definitive cartoon of Generation X.  It was on Saturday morning. It was on after school.  It taught us problem solving skills, perseverance, and teamwork.  And there are so many versions of it.  There’s the original series Scooby-Doo Where Are You?  Favorite episode?  Close race between Go Away Ghost Ship with Redbeard the Pirate and Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Werewolf?  Then there was The New Scooby-Doo Movies.  Kinda hard to pick a favorite here.  But Jerry Reed played Snowman and had  a dog named flash in Smokey and the Bandit so that kinda gives him a leg up.  Then we had The New Scooby Doo Show and the High Rise Hair Raiser and the Headless Horseman of Halloween.  Both of which were legit scary-ass creepy episodes for a third grader.  Of course it wasn’t too much longer until the eventual, although regrettable, introduction of Scrappy Doo.  Next to the implementation of the federal income tax, the casting of Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker and the decision by the Steelers to take Gabe Rivera instead of Dan Marino #1 in 1983 this is likely worst decision in American history.  Realistically you probably have to count those Scrappy Doo shows as actual Scooby episodes.  But I refuse to count the Laff-a-Lympics.

superfriends1Also, it’s not really Saturday morning in the late 70’s without the Challenge of the Superfriends.  Loved the battles with the Legion of Doom.  Didn’t love the Wondertwins.  And everybody loved the narrator…”Meanwhile at the Hall of Justice…”

 

johnnyquestThen there’s Johnny Quest.  I have this memory of waking up early on Saturday morning back in the fall of ’78, hopping on the couch under a blanket and watching Johnny Quest as I got ready to watch whatever college football game ABC decided to force feed us because there was literally no other choices.  Besides being the lead in to college football, Johnny Quest had two other things going for it; 1) Race Freaking Bannon.  Everybody who watched Johnny Quest learned how to be cool by watch Race Bannon, 2) They used guns.  In a cartoon.  While they helped America fight criminal warlords, terrorists and other agents of evil during the Cold War.  Really – along with Star Wars – it was everything a Gen X kid could ask while forming his idea of values, morals and ethics…although I pretty sure catholic school had a lot to do with this too.

thundarrNo cartoon channel worth a crap could ignore the coolest Saturday morning cartoon of the 80’s.  “In the year, 1994. From out of space, comes a runaway planet, hurtling between the Earth and the moon, unleashing cosmic destruction. Man’s civilization is cast in ruin. Two thousand years later, Earth is reborn. A strange new world rises from the old. A world of savagery, super-science, and sorcery. But one man bursts his bonds to fight for justice. With his companions, Ookla the Mok and Princess Ariel, he pits his strength, his courage, and his fabulous Sunsword, against the forces of evil. He is Thundarr, the Barbarian!”  Seriously, I’m getting all geeked up just thinking about it.

adverbsFinally there is Schoolhouse Rock.  Without which I would not have learned the preamble to the Constitution, the correct use and identification of adverbs, interjections and pronouns along with tricks to master the multiplication tables.  I think the lack of exposure to Schoolhouse Rock is among the key reasons as to why millennials suck so much.

But that’s just me.  And that’s what is on my Christmas list.  Right now.

 

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Christmas 1983

Heard Owner of a Lonely Heart by Yes on the radio a couple days ago while driving the 8th grader to school.  Turns out that despite the weird freaky video this was my favorite song back in December of ’83 during my 8th grade Christmas.  Other things going on in December of ’83?  I was wearing these:

8th grade shoes

Big Country was shooting up the charts while P.Y.T. was sliding down, Eric Dickerson was setting a rooking rushing record wearing rec specs and Olivia Newton John was not only caught up a in a strange Twist of Fate she was killing it with this hair:

ONJ Two of a Kind

That’s a lotta hotness for a 13 year-old boy to deal with.

Not totally sure of what I was asking Santa to leave under the tree that particular December.  Cool BMX bike accessories?  Terry Bradshaw’s elbow to heal so the Steelers wouldn’t be subjected to Cliff Stoudt’s affinity for interceptions.  Actual brake dancing abilities.  Parachute pants.   A higher appreciation for Journey’s Ask the Lonely.

Bails wants a cat.  And candy.  But mostly a cat.  I’d probably be down with getting her a cat made out of candy but she’s not getting an actual cat.  I don’t want a pet.  I don’t need anything else to take care of.  I have a mortgage and three teenage daughters.  Three teenage daughters who routinely engage in petty sister on sister apparel thievery and depending on their position in the aforementioned thievery feign innocence or demand retribution.  Plus there is the rampant dismissive sarcasm which gives me a full tank when it comes other living things that ignore directions.  I don’t need a cat looking up at me after it pees in the corner of my office the same way Jake Tapper looks at Kellyanne Conaway.

conwaytapper

Now don’t misunderstand me.  I don’t dislike cats.  We had cats my whole life growing up.  We had Thursday, Bandit, Smokey (see what we did there), Spooky, Sneaker and then there was Muffy.  I liked all of these cats.  Well except for Muffy.  Nobody liked her.  Which seemed to suit her fine since she also disliked all the other living things in the house.

But I don’t want a cat in our house.  We have dark wood floor for pete’s sake.  Do know what kind of havoc cat hair can wreak on dark wood floors!  Trust me, it’s gross.  That stuff starts blowing across it like tumbleweed.  And I like clean floors.  Everybody has their weird stuff and one of mine is clean floors.  Cats are the sworn enemy of clean floors.  Like bumbling villains and meddling kids.  Like Lynn Swann and George Atkinson.  Like B.A. Baracus and flying.  Plus, despite all the girls’ assurances that they will take care of the cat, I’m pretty damn sure it’ll be me who makes sure the cat not only learns to use the litter pan but also cleans it out.

Yeah, I’m not doing that.  I did poopy diapers for about 5 years.  I’m done dealing with poop.

If I were to ever agree to a cat, I would never, ever, never, ever, never make it a Christmas present.  That’s crazier than pretending to be a native American to land a spot on the Harvard faculty.  Why would I attach the sentimentality of Christmas, of all holidays, to a pet which I have clearly explained is only around to cause me grief.  That’s not very Christmasy.  Also if I was somehow duped into getting a cat, it would be an outside only cat.  The kind that hangs in the garage, kills rodents and scares away rabbits.  The kind that rains death upon the interlopers in my yard that eat the plants.  We could name it Van Damme…

More Complicated?

Was Christmas less complicated when we were kids?  I mean pretty much all you did was agonizingly count down the days before Christmas Break, watch the Bob Hope Christmas Special and wait for Santa to deliver the loot.  Now it seems we either get overwhelmed or it sneaks up on us.  Although to be honest, if Christmas sneaks up on you there is really no one to blame but yourself.  C’mon the decorations are up in October.  It’s not like Christmas arrives all stealthy.  The songs have been on the radio since before Thanksgiving and the decorations are up in all the stores minutes after Halloween is over.

I think what really happens is we let it overwhelm us.  Every year we vow to shop earlier, get the Christmas cards done over Thanksgiving and to help Mom wrap the presents.  Well, that last part is a complete falsehood.  I’ve never done that.  I stick the labels on the gifts.  That is extent to which Mom trusts my wrapping skills.  I’m a strong proponent of the widespread use of gift bags.

Now I’m must spitballin’ here but I’m pretty sure my appreciation for gift bag usage is based in the Christmas story.  And I’m not talking about the 1983 movie in which Ralphie told us, “”Christmas was on its way. Lovely, glorious, beautiful Christmas, upon which the entire kid year revolved.”  No, I’m talking about the traditional telling of the actual Christmas story…updated for levity during this busy time of year.

Feel free to let me know if you remember it a bit differently.

According to yuletide folklore, Mary and Joseph traveled a long way to Bethlehem, inadvertently obligating couples from thenceforth to the customary holiday journey to visit family and friends while dealing with delayed flights, snowy roads and impatient whining children.  Or, depending on your current parental situation, know-it-all, eye-rolling teenagers.  Nary a mention of wrapping gifts.  Also no condemnation of the rampant use of gift bags in place of traditional wrapping.  Go back and look.  Pretty sure the Biblical scholars are going to back me up on this.   Mary made a list of what they needed and Joseph stupidly viewed the list as suggestions and instead only brought egg nog, chips and a list of where all the rest areas were located.  Thankfully he was smart enough to observe a star in the sky which guided them to the Inn where they were told their reservations had somehow been lost and had been “upgraded” to the stable.

Anyway, Mary and Joseph, settled in next to the manger in which they placed the baby Jesus.  Next to the manager was a small conifer.  In this case, a fir.  Possibly a spruce.  Biblical arborists disagree.  Regardless, Joseph, having driven the cart all the way from Nazareth to Bethlehem, suggested that they just put all Christmas gifts for family and friends in gift bags.  After all it would be quicker and the important thing is the gift not the wrapping paper.

Thankfully, the three Wise Men also saw the star and began their trek to see the baby Jesus.  Lesser known is the story of the Wise Men.  They saw a star and began a trek to bring gifts to the baby Jesus.  This, of course, began the age-old practice of dudes everywhere driving aimlessly through mall parking lots searching for open spots whilst their wives and girlfriends incessantly sent them pics asking which gifts they should buy.  Unbeknownst to them at the time, the three Wise Men doomed husbands and boyfriends throughout the ages to consistent criticism for the gift decisions because of their weird gifts choice of gold, frankincense and myrrh .  Maybe some 0-6 month onesies or some diapers?  Or even a gift card to Rock Bottom for Mary and Joseph would’ve been nice.  I mean they are going to want to get out of the stable for a few hours here and there.

Anyway, key thing to remember is the story does not include anything about:  1) wrapping gifts, and 2) saving Christmas cookies for some unnamed post-holiday reason.

So, feel free to use gifts bags for any type of gift and don’t worry about saving any Christmas cookies for later.  Nobody makes New Year’s cookies…unless they help with hangovers…

 

There’s No Diet Pepsi

There are some things that are omens, they portend bad things.  In late 1991 Nirvana hit the charts with Smells Like Teen Spirit.  It seemed like a pretty cool song from a band of stinky homeless guys.  But it was just the bugle call signaling the end of hair metal.  In the 1990 the FCC implemented the educational/informational mandate and unfortunately killed Scooby Doo, Thundarr the Barbarian and Spiderman & His Amazing friends along with the rest of Saturday morning cartoons.  In week 6 of the 1980 NFL season the 1-4 Bengals came into Three Rivers Stadium to play the defending Super Bowl Champion Steelers.  The Bengals lone win and the Steelers lone loss was the result the first meeting between the teams in week 3.  The Bengals won again and it seemed like an unfortunate upset but it was really the beginning of the end for the 70’s Steelers Dynasty.

I show up at the gas station Wednesday morning as I normally do on my way to work.  I head over to the fountain pop and grab the big 44 oz. styrofoam cup.  If I have the option, I always pick styrofoam and 44 oz.  52 oz is too much and 32 is too little.  One place has a 42 oz and I’ll go with that when I stop there.  But it’s always styrofoam.  It keeps the pop colder than plastic.  Plus, and I’m just going by some extremely lazy research, styrofoam is not biodegradable or recyclable while plastic is recyclable.  So I figure walking around with a big styrofoam cup makes the PC enviro crowd irritated.  Good enough for me.

Aside from that small and extremely petty victory, I just like cold fountain pop in a big cup.  Irritating the left is really just a unintentional bonus.  Not that I’m dismissing lefty irritation but if we’re all being honest with ourselves, irritating the left isn’t especially difficult.  They’re offended by almost everything.  And if somehow you come to a non-offended conclusion, they will explain why you should be and twitter shame you into being offended.  Regardless, I really like Diet Pepsi in the big cup.  It’s the official soft drink of the NFL.  Plus fountain pop tastes different the can pop.  Not that I’m against can pop.  If I’m ranking them, can pop is a solid second to fountain pop.  Plastic bottle pop is last.  I’m not drinking that if I can avoid it.  It’s like Bud Light.  I’m not avoiding it at all costs, but I’m grabbing can of something else first.

But on this particular Wednesday morning, as I fill up my big Styrofoam cup, the liquid coming out of the Diet Pepsi dispenser is alarmingly clear.  Like it could be Sprite.  Nobody wants Sprite in the morning.  But I don’t have a lot of options.  There’s only one Diet Pepsi dispenser.  So here’s the situation…I can leave the gas station and drive to another gas station which really isn’t that close and is in the opposite direction of my office.  I can get a crappy plastic bottled Diet Pepsi.  Or I can bite the bullet and fill up with…Diet Coke.  I know.  It’s a lose-lose situation.  Probably a lot like the Democrat’s presidential primary choice.  Luckily for me I’ve faced this situation before and I went with the driving to another gas station option.  But that was on a Saturday morning and I still have to get to work.  So I filled up Diet Coke.  I wasn’t happy about it.  I got to work and yeah, I drink the whole thing.  But as soon as I finished it, I went down and got a can of Diet Pepsi to wash the taste out of my mouth.  And then I get my arse kicked for about 6 hours in meetings.  Clear liquid outta the Diet Pepsi dispenser…bad omen…

Hello Christmas My Old Friend

I like Santa.  He’s a jolly old fat man with a snowy white beard.  He’s about giving, hope and faith.  He represents the best in all of us and asks nothing in return.  He shows up regardless of the weather, regardless of how you voted in November and regardless of whether you believe in him or not.

Christmas is the season, to paraphrase Frank Cross, when we’re all a little nicer.

Theoretically anyway.

Mom was in Omaha and Lincoln for most of last week. And her side of the family came to the house over the weekend to celebrate an early Christmas.  Plus Rogue One came out Friday.  Yeah, so Friday morning was pretty much shot when it came to cleaning up the house and making food along with all the other related holiday preparedness chores necessary to accomplish when family is about to arrive.

So that means it fell upon me to get the place ready.  I unilaterally modified that task to mostly ready.  Why?  Because I’m a simple dude.  And a lot of stuff that some people think are necessary, I don’t.  But listen, we kicked Christmas’ ass decorating this place.  It looks freaking awesome.  Our family room looks like HG-freaking-TV was here.  Chip and Joanna, when they’re not fighting off the leftwing twitter lynch mob, would be proud.  The house smells like a yuletide log filled with mistletoe and sugarplums, delivered to the house by a one-horse open sleigh driven by eleven lords-a-leaping, exploded leaving an exquisite ensemble of poinsettias, silver bells and a sea of swirly twirly gum drops.   It’s like Santa himself detailed the Seal Team 6 of elves to come get the place ready for the holidays.  So I figured as long as the house is clean, the beer is cold and there is enough food to prevent starvation, we’d be set.

Yes, there were a few things left to clean up after we got home from watching Rogue One.  But it was Rogue One.  What the hell were we supposed to do?  Wait until next weekend to see it?  Here’s a pic of me getting ready to watch.

theaterrogueone

First one in the theater baby!

Regardless, I was on top of making sure the house was ready.  Thursday night, whilst cleaning up the basement, I thought I’d get all the laundry done too.  Seemed reasonable.  However, there are three teenage girls in the house.  Things which are of deathly importance to them do not always rise to that same level with me.

So, I’m doing the laundry and various clean up related tasks.  I’m about done and getting ready to call the evening’s prep work a win and just go to bed when Rye comes into the bedroom.

“Dad, when you were doing laundry did you go into my room and take anything?”

“Are you asking did I pick up any of the clothes that were strewn about your floor?  No, I didn’t.  I asked if you had any laundry you wanted done and you specifically said no.  I chose to believe you.”

“Ok, well it was Kinsey then.”

“Wait, what was Kinsey?”

“Well, my Lulu Lemon tights got washed in the washer and they are only supposed to be hand washed.”

Quick point of context – Lulu Lemon is the brand that sells tights/leggings that are about $700.  I’m kidding but Rye did save up a bunch of money this summer specifically to buy leggings that were about $100.  Yes, $100 American dollars.  They are so precious but also evidently constructed so poorly that they can’t cannot survive a routine cycle in a washing machine and instead can only endure 19th century clothes washing technology.

“Sorry about that kiddo but I just put whatever whatever was in the darks pile into the washing machine.  I didn’t look to see what was in the pile because I figure if you guys made the rare decision to put your own dirty laundry in the laundry room I was just going to go ahead assume you were serious about that stuff getting washed.  I just unloaded the washer and hung up 3 or 4 pairs of black tights or leggings or whatever.  Nothing like that got put in the dryer.”

“Okay, well, Kinsey must have put them in the laundry on purpose.  I hate her.”

Then she went into Kinsey’s room, blamed her, and then went back into her room and started crying.

So much for there being a feeling of Christmas in the air.  But that is how the mind of 17 year-old upset about her ridiculously expensive black leggings being washed glitches when upset.  She doesn’t think that she may have inadvertently put them in the wrong pile, or absent mindedly picked them up with something else off her floor, instead she tried to pin the blame on me.  When it was obvious that wouldn’t work, she seamlessly transitioned to blaming her sister, for no other reason than malice, for trying to purposely ruin them.

I mean what was Kinsey’s motive?  What did she have to gain by going into Rye’s room, searching for the Lulu Lemon leggings and then sneakily placing them in the pile of dirty laundry in the laundry room.  Where’s the payoff?

After getting blamed, Kinsey comes into my room looking like the media on election night.  She confusedly asks me if I knew what Rye was talking about.  We went through a quick recap and Kinz says, “Why would I do that? That literally makes no sense.”  Aside from acknowledging her use of “literally” in a relatively appropriate way, I just told her to ignore Rye and go to bed.

Which, if I’m being honest, is my go to strategy when dealing with the three teenage girls in my house…

Christmas and…beer

Nothing goes together like Christmas and beer.  Well, yes, family and friends, the baby Jesus, and large conifers placed inside your house are all more important than beer.  But does anything feel more yuletidy than these:

 

 

 

Published in: on December 15, 2016 at 4:51 pm  Leave a Comment  
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He’s Nothing Without His Choppers

Remember that story I told you about my two front teeth getting knocked out by a line drive off my daughter’s bat about 16 months ago?  Not really?  Okay, quick refresher – took a line drive directly to my face, just below my nose and just above my front teeth.  I assume what I felt was similar to what Hollywood felt when they called Pennsylvania for Trump.

No bone fractures, no cracked teeth, just quite a bit of blood.  And swelling.  Pretty gross.  Also my face is evidently made out of high grade steel.  Not that I’m bragging or daring you to test that conclusion but its pretty amazing that my teeth were fully intact along with the rest of my face.  Anyway, went to the ER and then to the dentist.  After their unexpected exit from my mouth the fugitive teeth were transported to the ER in my pocket and then to the dentist in a cup of milk.  For teeth, milk is apparently like a defibrillator.  After about an hour of being as toothless as Hillary’s appeal in the upper Midwest, the dentist replanted the teeth using sheer brute force.  Afterwards it was clearly explained to me that they had no idea if the replanting would work.  Replanting normally only works in teenagers.  Dudes in their mid-40’s eventually come back in to get permanent replacement teeth because we do not have the bloodflow necessary in our gums for a complete healing process to succeed.

Yeah, so here’s the update.  I had a dentist appointment last week and it was time for x-rays.  By the way, does it cause anyone even the slightest bit of concern that your protection against multiple invisible radioactive x-rays is a flimsy apron infused with lead or a lead equivalent?  Or that the lead apron covers you from mid-thigh to your neck…but they are aiming the radiation at your mouth which is unprotected and, if I remember human anatomy correctly, is really damn close to your brain.

Anyway, I had a new hygienist working on my teeth.  She didn’t know the whole backstory.  I suggested she read my dental history before working on my teeth.  I think she took the comment as skepticism of her ability to her job.  Which, in retrospect, is silly.  If you’re going to pick a fight with someone, it sure as hell isn’t going to be a person armed with sharp pokey things and the legal protection to cause significant dental related pain.  But she still looked at me the same way I looked when the Steelers were eliminated from playoff contention in 1980.  Then she went back to the chart and after about 30 seconds, she turns toward me and says, “So, those are your real teeth back in there, huh?”

Is Samantha Bee a hypocritical condescending douchelord?

After she’s done cleaning my teeth, she grabs the x-rays and calls for the dentist to take a look.  They’re laughing as they come back to my chair.  Dentist says, “I was just going over our, um, history.”  Turns out getting your teeth knocked out by a softball moving faster than the Milennium Falcon making the Kessel Run then salvaging them quickly enough that they can be shoved back into your sockets isn’t something most hygenists are taught to deal with in school.

Dentist holds up the x-ray of my front teeth and describes that inexplicably the gum tissue surrounding my teeth is not only healthy but it appears as if nothing ever happened.  Additionally, the ligaments appear to have reattached.  But mostly importantly it looks as if the roots of the teeth and the bone are fusing.  This is a condition called ankylosis .

So sort of a double edged sword here according to my dentist.  Chances are, as long as things remain healthy, these teeth aren’t coming out again.  They are pretty damn secure.  Which, again, she can’t believe because dudes in the mid-40’s don’t have their teeth replanted, they have them replaced.  But the downside is that if they ever need to come out for some reason, it’s kind of a big deal.  The dentist’s conclusion?

“You’re are an amazing healer.  Your gums are as healthy as can be, the teeth look completely normal and they are really, really secure in there.”

My response?

wolverine“I might be off base here but what I’m hearing you say is that I’m Wolverine.  I have extraordinary healing powers but instead of retractable adamantium claws, I have beaver teeth.”

Dentist didn’t totally agree, but also didn’t completely reject it.  So I’m counting that as win.

Christmas Lists

Growing up we made lists.  We’d wait for the JC Penny and Sears Christmas catalogs to arrive with a feeling of anticipation only a Gen Xer can truly appreciate.  When those 10 lb. bundles of wishes arrived it was magical.   We’d grab a pencil and a legal pad and get to work.  I’d roll through several versions before finally whittling the list down to those things that I desperately wanted and felt comfortable submitting to the powers that be.  I’d always chuckle softly inside when I’d see my sister’s lists.  They’d have 45 things on there.  I’d think to myself, “you simpletons, interest rates are like 20%, there’s no way you’re getting all that stuff.”   My list would be narrowed down to 10-12 specific items.  If you wanted Santa, and later your folks, to get it right you needed give them clear and unambiguous instructions.  Because nobody wanted to end up with this:

1980SearsCatalog8

If you wanted Chopper Command for your Atari 2600, you needed to spell it out.  Now, as I’ve become older, it has come to my attention that there are some folks who don’t appreciate getting lists.  If fact, they will ignore the list.  These individuals will go and buy something that they think you’ll like despite having an actual list of things they know you’ll like.

This makes no sense.  Like Bernie Sanders’ view of economics.  Or casting Hayden Christensen as Anakin Skywalker.

It’s not that I view it as disrespectful or dismissive of all the work I, or someone else, may have put into building the list.  I simply do not understand why anyone would intentionally choose to make their own life harder by ignoring the list.  And make no mistake, that’s what you’re doing.  You might church it all up by convincing yourself that you’ve thought about it and have really come up a sincerely heartfelt and profoundly meaningful gift.  But you’d be almost always wrong.

Sure I get a benefit from you choosing something from my own Christmas list.  I put it together therefore I obviously have a fairly high level of affinity for everything that made the final cut to get on the list.  But the real beneficiary is you.  The real advantage is the simplicity for you the buyer.  The time saved.  The hassles eluded.  The avoidance of that awkward realization that the gift you gave someone has become a garage rag or been returned for store credit.  Why in the name of all that is holly and jolly would someone purposefully choose to add needless decisions to a time of year that is already overrun with extra stuff?

Especially when you were given a list!  A Christmas list is a yuletide map to joyous merriment.  Literally the only decisions you have to make, outside of how much beer you’re going to drink during the period of time when everyone else is still shopping, is which store to visit first and whether or not you should pity laugh at all the holiday shoppers without lists to guide them.  Do you really think the three Wise Men showed up at the stable in Bethlehem with gold, frankincense, and myrrh because they had spent most of the summer and fall contemplating the perfect baby gifts for Mary and Joseph?  They are dudes.  And dudes need a Christmas list to go shopping or they will always – ALWAYS – come back with a six-pack, a gift card and a t-shirt with the logo of their favorite NFL team.  Because they want you to be happy while you’re watching the playoffs drinking the six pack.  To remedy that, the Angel Gabriel showed up one night and gave the three Wise Men Jesus’ Christmas list.  Scholars still debate why Jesus chose those things.  But its in the Bible so who are we to question it.  So if you still want to be one of those people who ignores the biblical foundations of Christmas lists whilst deriding the gift choices of the three Wise Men, go ahead, but don’t expect me to follow along.  The Angel Gabriel and I will be at the mall with our lists shopping for gifts…

I-76 Christmas

Every other year we travel to Colorado for Christmas. You could do worse. Colorado is cool place. It has mountains, a crap ton of microbreweries and both of my sisters live there. It was also 65 degrees in the middle of December. Not too shabby. This trip not only gives us the chance to spend time with my side of the family but also affords us the opportunity to really evaluate the interstate system, grade the exits and their dining opportunities along with the scenery along I-76.

So, Colorado, you have legal pot now. I am sure this reality has drawn a certain demographic to settle within your borders. Congrats, I guess. But you did not have to hire all them to work at the Department of Transportation. Because one of two things is happening as a result. Either the Colorado DOT forgot to take care of their roads because they got hungry or Colorado isn’t using any of the pot tax revenue on its roads. Granted, you probably have other needs which need funding. Off the top of my head, I guessing more law enforcement. But geez, c’mon Colorado, you suck at highways. Badly. It’s like you deliberately laid each concrete section of I-76 a half inch off of the last one. Describing it as washboard effect does not do washboards justice. The right lane going west was like driving on the brain waves of Nancy Pelosi. So we switched lanes to the less annoying but still shoddy asphalt in the left lane. It was like we were driving on pillows. And not the crappy Wal-Mart pillows, the expensive ones at Pottery Barn. Regardless, how about throwing some of that new drug money at the interstate?

Now, if you find yourself traveling on I-76 in eastern Colorado, here’s a few things to remember:

First, your cell reception will be as reliable as a French armored division in the spring of 1940. Two, if you enjoy watching barbed wire fencing, cattle and a complete lack of trees, you’re in luck. If you’re driving west and you forget to get gas in Ogallala, here’s a rundown on your options just over the pot frontier in Colorado.

Julesburg. We’ve never made it past the Shell station or Wagon Wheel right at the exit so I can’t comment on the town itself. The Wagon Wheel has more room and nicer bathrooms. Also it has an impressive about of trinkets and baubles.

Segewick. I’m not sure what Segewick looks like or actually entails. Lucy’s Café is right off the interstate and had a couple gas pumps. Lucy also had a General Store. I assume the General Store sold more than gun powder and sasparilla. But one thing Lucy’s didn’t have was pavement. I don’t want to cast aspersions upon Segewick or Lucy’s Café and General Store but we haven’t been back since we stopped there in ’08.

Sterling. I recommend stopping here. Although we never have. It appears to be the biggest small town you’ll pass until you get to Ft. Morgan. So I guess there’s less chance you’ll be mauled by a rabid elk or something.

Atwood. There’s a Sinclair station. We stopped there on our way home. It looks like its located on the moon. And there was a small café-type restaurant attached. We were there pretty early on a Sunday morning so it wasn’t real busy. Not that anything is busy at any time anywhere on I-76 in eastern Colorado.

So, in conclusion, getting gas before you cross the Nebraska-Colorado stateline is a good idea. Also having a large capacity bladder.

Uptown Funk’s Parental Application

Nothing brings teens and soon to be teens together with their folks better than Mom and Dad liking the same songs they like. This also gives you the chance to introduce your kids to your stuff. Mom, the girls and I have been bonding over this song:

It is impossible not to like that song if you’re a Gen Xer. Might not be your favorite, but you like it. Not as much as a 15 year-old girl, but you still like it. Why do you like it so much?

This is why:

Morris Day and The Freaking Time. This dance ain’t for everybody, just the sexy people… Uptown Funk clearly has drawn some influence from Morris.

Furthermore, somewhere deep down in your childhood, this song has taken up residence:

I got bodyguards, I got two big cars, That definitely ain’t the wack, I got a Lincoln Continental and a sunfoofed Cadillac. You’re welcome. Bruno Mars is awesome and everything, but let’s not forget Sugarhill Gang cause Bruno obviously hasn’t.

I really wanted to add Parliament Funkadelic but I don’t think Bruno Mars really sounds like them. You don’t remember hearing P-Funk. But you did. You were over at the neighbor’s house and their teenager had it going on the record player and without you knowing it, you identified this stuff as cool because you were 8 and a teenager was listening to it. And teenagers could drive. And swear.

Yeah, Merry Christmas. You’re going to be singing this stuff all day.