The Boyz Christmas

This years Christmas would have been like any other Christmas. Thankfully, we had the  boyz to lighten and brighten our day.

Jimmy and Sherlock are our boyz. I purposefully end it with a z so people don’t think we have ordinary kids. Our kids are so much more than ordinary! For starters they have four legs. Our family doesn’t have some weird genetic anomaly that makes that happen, unless you would consider a love for dogs as a weird gene. Yes, our boyz, Jimmy Dean and Sherlock Holmes,  are dogs. Really, they are so much more than dogs, they are Wired Haired Dachshunds.

Their actions, on a normal day, brings a smile to my face for some of the things they do. It could be Sherlock falling to sleep on his back as he so often does or Jimmy for not yet learning that it helps to get his butt off the blanket if he wants to get under them. It could be the way they are  sentinels and do not let anything happen in front of our house without us knowing. Jimmy has his sentinel position and Sherlock often finds his own tower. They are but a whiskers hair away from letting out a shower of barks to anyone that happens to walk in front of our humble abode. I pity the person who happens to have a dog at the end of a loose leash as they are showered with an incessant stream of rapid, forceful barks. This lets the unexpecting canine know that their presence has been duly noted.

This Christmas started as many Christmas, waking with presents under he ornamented tree, knowing what hid behind the cheery paper of some, but not others. Mary shared with me early that morning about a new found bag of unexpected gifts on the front porch, an unanticipated arrival from a dear friend.

Shotzie, our last dog taught us about keeping or not keeping doggie presents under the tree. One year, we left a present of hers under the tree. Needless to say, returning from a short trip to somewhere, we returned home to shredded paper and one less present.

The next year, we got wise. When her present from her auntie arrived, we kept it top of the entertainment center.  Much to our surprise, after another short trip to somewhere, Little Shotzie had ripped into a couple of presents, the ones that had traveled with her gift in the package from Southern California. That day, we learned about guilt through association; no gift that traveled with a pooches gift could be safely stored under the tree.

Those draconian rules, a least in the dog’s eyes, have been in place ever since. Because of this year’s events, radical rule changes may have to go into effect. Let me tell you why.

The season started with the boys wondering what all the nicely wrapped gifts were under the Christmas tree. They had never bothered the presents before, but for reasons unknown this year their behavior had changed. Sherlock, fitting his name and being more inquisitive, got caught under the tree a time or two sniffing presents. It got a little bit more strange when jimmy, the more reserved one, got caught under the tree, also. We just kept a close eye on them to make sure no additional funny business occurred.

Then came Christmas morning. I opened a couple of gifts while the boyz, patiently, or not so patiently waited. Jimmy does a little bit better at waiting. Sherlock kept lunging a the still unopened gift, wanting it before it could be unwrapped. Eventually, I finished unwrapping the gifts and gave them a taste of their treats, and they were happy. They showed almost more join in the anticipation of the unwrapping of the gift as they did in finally getting the treat hidden behind the wrapping paper.

I knew they were unlikely to tear through the inner package of the next gift, so I  opened a couple of flaps and just let them go at it. They did a pretty good job of getting it open. By the end of that opening, it became obvious that Sherlock had quickly developed a great interest in the paper, far greater than the contents, even though the present enclosed had edible treats.

He quickly became picky about his paper. Glossy paper did not turn his crank. He would grab it, and then let it quickly fall to the floor, kind of like the underwear the six year old gets at christmas time. But, he developed a lust for tissue paper or some of our rough paper having a three of four newspaper sheet thick feel to it.

As Mary and I open subsequent gifts, Sherlock would sit at our feet, panting, and waiting for the gift to be open. At that time, he would grab the now discarded paper and happily take off with it to all four corners of the house, tearing it to tiny shreds. One time he could not wait; as I explored my newly open gift, he jumped up and grabbed the paper from my hand. I am sure, a Jack Bower thought ran through his head, “Give me that paper! Now! Or i will Kill you!”, as he sprang for the paper.

Soon, all of the once, perfectly wrapped gifts had lost their thin shell to be appreciated for their content, at least for Mary and Jimmy and I.  Sherlock had found joy in he remnants of paper now found here and there.

At times, the frugal side of me comes out and I try to save some of larger sheets of Christmas paper. Not this year. As we cleaned up the living room, Sherlock still lusting over his new found friend, we would be lucky to find a piece of paper big enough to wrap a ring box or maybe a singular mini Christmas Bulb. But in short order, the room had been returned to its previous state. As Mary wandered away, she kept finding paper here and there, first in the dining room and then the far end of the hallway. It appears Sherlock had a grand time taking his “gifts” were ever he wanted to.

So, next year we are left with a dilemma. We know that doggie gifts can not be kept under the tree, for curiosity would over take the dogs and would need to find out what dog treat lurked behind the pretty paper. I fear for next year year surround Sherlock’s new found love for most wrapping paper. I can imagine come home from a short trip to somewhere with many of our gifts open and paper found in all four corners of our house. We have created a MONSTER!

As you can hopefully see, the boyz helped to make this Christmas anything but plain and ordinary. Their zeal for life and gifts, in what ever form they came in, have made for a unforgettable day. It will be a memory I will cherish for ears to come.


Meowy Catsmas

The damn cats have been here for exactly a year. Oh, joy! And tomorrow is also the 1st anniversary of the release of my first kidney stones. Thank God that’s over.

My little Grinch didn’t want to put up a tree this year. She was concerned for her cats. I was concerned for the glass ornaments.

We managed to get our 5 foot, fake, pre-lit tree out of the box today. I usually set it on top of a small skirted table. An accident waiting to happen, right? My brilliant idea was to screw the base of the tree to the cheap table. That was a small project. (Never the right tool when you need it.)

Later, as we worked in the other room, the meowing turned to crying. “Go check on the cats, please,” I said. Moments later, she screams from the living room, “Dad. You have to see this!” The tree looked like a blind man trimmed it with a chainsaw. One cat was on the skirted table, at the base of the tree looking up at his brother. Oh, brother. The other one was tangled in the wires, hanging upside down from his haunches.

It took the two of us, one at each end, to push him backwards past the wire to freedom. He wasn’t grateful. He was still trying to hang on.

The tree stands sturdy, all lit, gathering gifts in its entire naked splendor. (Ornaments would be too risky this year.) A full, plastic, quart-size squirt bottle stands nearby to defend the tree from would be feline climbers.

Damn Cats and Meowy Catsmas.

ciao, Pete

Efficiency Expert







Christmas Lights!

Each year I look forward to the Christmas lights.  I like to drive around observing how people have decorated their homes and their yards.  I’ve really enjoyed the experience each year.  I believe that I’ve probably become a little bit jaded by seeing some of the homes that are set to music on the Internet.  You can see dancing lights that go completely around the houses and throughout the yards.  They’re beautiful, yet I feel that we are becoming so commercial that it’s losing its impact and beauty.

I was driving home yesterday evening when around the corner comes a bicyclist completely decorated with Christmas lights.  Wow.  It was awesome!  The wheels had lights.  The frame had lights.  His body had lights.  His helmet had lights.  I stopped the car, rolled down the window, yelled out “Merry Christmas” and gave him a thumbs up.  It is restored the beauty of Christmas lights in my mind.

Whoever you are, thank you!

PS I found a news video of him!  Excuse the ads from King 5 and just Enjoy:

Mommy, Does Santa Claus Know Baby Jesus?

We rock back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Mommy, does Santa Claus know Baby Jesus?

Yes, honey he does.

Mommy, do they both live in the North Pole.

Well, no.  Let’s just say they are neighbors.

Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Mommy, does Santa bring Baby Jesus presents?

Well, in a way.  We celebrate Jesus’s birthday, called Christmas and we give gifts to each other.

Mommy, does Santa watch Baby Jesus?

Kind of.

But Mommy, how can Santa see in my heart?

Well, he knows what is happening in your heart by watching the choices you make.  You have such great ideas and make great choices.  He loves watching you.

Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Mommy, did you call Santa on your cell phone today?

No honey, not today.

Mommy, I was upset earlier today but I calmed down real good.

That is great news.  I am sure Santa saw you.

Mommy, can you call him and tell him?

Sure, I will call him in the morning.

Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Good, ‘cuz I want Optimus Prime. Can you tell Baby Jesus to make good choices so he gets presents, too?

Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Sure.  I’ll give him a call, too.

Time to sleep now.


Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth.

Sweet Dreams, sweet boy!

Round Robin-the Original Tweet

I am not talking about the rosy-breasted, first sighting of the spring. I am talking about the season’s last holiday event in our family. On the Sunday after Christmas, or the following Sunday if it was too close to the big day, the aunts, uncles and cousins had a big party. It was a moveable feast. Correction, we were the ones who moved, not the feast itself.

Each family was in charge of one part of the meal. The first family provided the before dinner drinks. This was still the era of cocktails and Mad Men. Second family had the salad course, third family hosted the main course. Dessert came next and was the responsibility of the fourth family. And finally there were the after dinner drinks supplied by the fifth family. Which part of the meal you hosted was rotated each year.

The outstanding feature of this get together was that each course was held in a different house, hence the term round robin. As you can imagine, it was an all day affair even though we all lived in the same metropolitan area. I heard this week from the son of one of my cousins that this tradition remains alive amongst his friends as the Christmas Tree Crawl.

Unlike the night before Christmas, this party centered around eating and drinking. It is cold in Wisconsin and folks enjoy a good meal. You might think that all this drinking and driving would be a problem. But actually everyone was pretty moderate, so worry not. And there was plenty food and time between each house.

When the cousins were all young the parents must have had quite a time bundling, unbundling and rebundling everyone in their snow suits to travel from place to place. We however, didn’t think about such necessities as a problem. It was always a great adventure for us. What a relief it must have been when we could all take care of our own bundling.

One of the best parts of the day for us kids was the travel between homes. You would rarely travel with your own parents. If you did there would always be a cousin with you. We sang Christmas carols at the top of our lungs as we drove to the next house. Our hot breath frosted up the car windows. Then we would draw pictures on the windows, snow men, angels, our names, messages such as Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. The red, green and amber of the traffic lights glowed in the frost. We judged the displays of holiday lights as we passed.

When we arrived, each household would show off what had been found under the tree from Santa. One family always had a train around the tree which was great fun. Most everyone had a piano or accordion in the house (this was after all, Wisconsin) and there was more singing and dancing too, by the end of the day. And of course there was the eating.

By the end of the day the parents were exhausted. Us kids were totally wired from all the Christmas cookies. The only thing left of the feast was dirty dishes and our full bellies.

Eventually,  as we all grew older the round robin ceased to exist. But it continues to be a favorite memory for all of us. Actually the essence of round robin still exists. Every summer as many cousins as are able, get together at a lake side retreat for a weekend of fun.

Long live the Round Robin.

 originally seen in Suspended Soul

Light Em if You’ve Got Em

It’s time for me to start decorating for Christmas.  I love Christmas.  Always have.  It would take….oh, how about a Christmas Miracle…to sour me on Christmas.

As a teenager I found a few strings of the giant old fashioned christmas lights and somehow convinced my parents to let me decorate our porch.  I did it every year, sometimes with more lights.

I investigated those plastic shingle anchors when they came out.  I invested in some chaser lights when they were brand new.  And of course I ran every possible combination of extension cords that I could.  And then, when I’m done and it’s completely dark, wander across the street to glance at it and behold my glory.

Some years it looked flat out terrible.  But I had fun.  And I enjoyed taking the dog for walks at night and turning the corner to see our house with the front porch lit up, sometimes with snow to sparkle upon, sometime just light rays caught on my foggy breath.

Later I graduated to being allowed to string lights on the tree.  Since I’m actually headed back to my folks house for Christmas this year, I just might be recruited for that again.

I have not yet personally done the outside lights here in the burbs of Seattle, but this year I will.  Still kind of deciding if the boy and I will go cut down a tree – – we should – – or just go grab a small one at a lot.  We’ll catch a plane on the 20th and return on the 2nd, so I don’t want to go too far overboard on something that we won’t be around to enjoy.  …and I did leave that spot for the tree when I rearranged the living room.

But first and foremost, putting those lights up outside (and not channeling Chevy Chase)!

Scott Bell

The most loving and inexpensive Christmas gift in the world.

Certificates of Loving-Kindness.

How often have we heard your partner something like “If they would only listen; or, I would just like a break from the kids; or, I’m too tired and I just don’t feel like cooking; or, My feet are killing me.”

Show your love and support by printing up a set of “Certificates of Loving-Kindness” and place them in a decorative envelope beneath your family’s Christmas tree.

Your certificates would read something like “Good for One Night Out by yourself; or Good for One Back, Foot, or Neck rub of your choice; or, Good for one listening session.” You get what I mean. Be creative.

How do Certificates of Loving-Kindness work?

They let your partner know that you do hear them, that you have been listening, that you care, and that you want to be a loving partner to them.

If you don’t know what they want, ask them. Just asking lets them know that you are aware of their needs and that you care.

This is a great way to gift children, too. Their certificates could read, “God for one extra hour of computer time or video game; Good for one hour past bed time; One certificate good for cleaning and putting away the dishes; One certificate good for leaving you room a mess; doing the laundry, and so forth. Basically you are letting them know that you care, and that you are willing to work with them, and that you may be a little more fun than they give you credit for.

You can’t lose, it won’t cost you a dime, and your payoff is millions of dollars worth of love and intimacy.