Tag Archives: Christmas

Hallelujah Surprise!

I wish I had been there.

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Christmas Trip to California


We’re back home, as of last night. What a trip!

Three weeks ago, Holly took the kids to California. The plan was for me to get some work done and then follow on the weekend. But then Seattle got socked in with snow. I went to the airport three times and purchased five one way tickets before I finally made it down there with them. What an adventure! I am still fighting to get a refund from Virgin America, who took advantage of my plight and are only offering a credit. With the lousy economy, I hope they don’t go belly up before I can use the ticket.

I met up with Holly and the kids so late, I decided drive back with them instead of flying. I wouldn’t have been able to get much work done anyhow: the campus (as well as most of Seattle) was mostly shut down due to weather. Seattle grinds to a halt with an inch or two of snow. We had over a foot.

I enjoyed the time off. We took the kids to Disneyland, Hollywood, both of Holly’s parent’s house, Portland and numerous hotels between here and there.

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Holly and the kids outside of our Long Beach hotel. Aaron is wearing his Haunted Mansion hat from Disneyland.


We went sightseeing in Hollywood. The kids were amazed that Hollywood was even real.  Once they got a load of Hollywood and Vine, they were less so.


Holly’s Dad, Wild Bill.


The decorations on this house cracked me up. If you look closely, you can see Santa just kicked an extra point in the far goal (It’s good!). Around the corner (not shown) is a life-size nativity scene.


No trip to California is complete without a celebratory drop into Powell’s book store in Portland on the return leg. We can never get out of Powell’s without and armload of books.

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The Santa Claus Reveal


This year Holly and I told the kids that Santa isn’t real, but then the kids didn’t believe us.

I didn’t want to burst their Christmas bubble, but it seemed like the right thing to do.  Most of the other kids in their fifth grade class don’t believe in Santa anymore. Aaron has been pointedly asking me if Santa were real, and I’d been holding him off by shrugging my shoulders and telling him I believed in Santa. That’s not an entirely untrue statement either: I believe a little faith and imagination will take you places you can’t get on reason alone. I would have let the whole Santa business go right there, but then Kennedy started to draw some uncomfortable associations between religion and Santa. “Jews don’t believe in Santa,” she told my wife. The little kids celebrating Hanukkah were telling Kennedy that Santa isn’t real. She would drift toward her church friends on the playground and say things like “You’re Christian. You believe in Santa, right?” But this only elicited eye rolls and other reactions that Kennedy didn’t understand. Holly and I decided we probably ought to tell them Santa isn’t real.

A few weeks ago after dinner, Holly brought up Santa. The kids gave us their full attention. Holly said Santa was a legend, based on Saint Nicholas, who used to sneak around putting gifts into shoes that poor people left out at night. Holly talked about the Spirit of Giving.  Generosity. The Meaning of Christmas. That sort of thing. The room got quiet as a funeral.

“No North Pole?” Aaron asked.

“Nope,” Holly said. “And no reindeer.”

“I knew it,” Aaron said. His voice was even, but disappointed.

Kennedy surprised us by asking a bunch of questions. She wanted to know who bought the Santa gifts. And why the tags on the Santa presents were in a different handwriting than the tags on the rest of the presents. “And who eats the cookies, who drinks the milk?” she asked.

We answered her questions and then started to clean up. I felt terrible. While Holly and I loaded the dishwasher, I wished we could go back in time and do the last ten minutes over. A few days later, I forgot all about it. But then the strangest thing happened: Kennedy said she didn’t believe us!

At first she thought Holly and I were just pulling her leg. She kept asking questions and disbelieving the answers. Soon she convinced herself that Holly and I were out of our minds. It’s probably just a sign of how things are going to go as they get older, but it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Kennedy was planning to prove her theory by writing a secret Santa letter and then asking for something only she and Santa could know about. Fortunately Holly talked her out of it. 

Turns out, a little boy has been needling Kennedy about Santa since kindergarten. Her whole focus has been showing this kid up, proving to him that Santa is real. Holly suggested that Kennedy believe what she believes and let her little friend believe what he believes. A lesson that downplays proselytizing and promotes tolerance all rolled up in one. Can I get an amen?

Kennedy even brought Aaron around to her way of thinking. Earlier this week as we were saying prayers, Aaron blissfully slipped into full blown Santa denial and expressed regret for asking Santa for a 14 karat gold plated portable gaming device. I was pleased. Not just because he was believing in Santa again, but because he was showing contrition for being greedy. What kind of kid needs a gold plated PSP?

I couldn’t be more happy with how this year’s Santa reveal turned out. My faith in the unknowable mystery of life has been renewed.

And I hope Aaron and Kennedy believe in Santa Claus until they’re a hundred and fifty.

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Operation Christmas


I almost had an appendectomy for Christmas! Almost. Instead, I kept my appendix and got injected with a small amount of narcotics.

Starting last Wednesday, I got stomach cramps and low grade fever. I’ve been on a diet, so I thought that might have something to do with it. I hunkered down. Come Friday afternoon, I still felt lousy. I called the doctor at the health club and followed his advice. Didn’t feel any better.

Next day I went to see the on-call doctor at my doctor’s office. He felt pretty strongly it was appendicitis and sent me to the ER. The ER doc said it’s definitely appendicitis and asked me to sign some forms while he talked to the surgeon. The surgeon said he wanted me to get a CAT scan. The CAT scan said my appendix was fine.

So I ended up spending the whole day Saturday in the ER and then I got to go home with my appendix, some stomach cramps, and a small injection of dilaudid.

Not a bad haul.

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Kennedy’s Letter to Santa

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  1. Inline skates
  2. A good book (any book)
  3. My family
  4. A whole packet of those gang animals
  5. Some Adidas sneakers
  6. A kiss from Mom and Dad
  7. No Fights
  8. Love (insert heart here)
  9. An iPod Nano (“but I wanted You Tube”)
  10. Some division flash cards
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Christmas Spoilers

I hate spoilers. I was at a church social right after the last Harry Potter book came out. Everyone knew they had killed off a main character, but nobody knew who it was. I humiliated myself and my family by scowling at one of the church ladies who couldn’t resist spoiling the book. I expect more from church ladies.

Here is my favorite spoiler story: We were taking my daughter, who was 4 years old at the time, to a Christmas play and we had one of her friends in the car. My wife and I had just started attending Catholic church that year and my daughter was enjoying a mild surge of curiosity about Jesus. We played up the idea that Christmas was baby Jesus’ birthday and got a little nativity scene for the house. From the back seat, I heard my daughter start humming a little Christian tune, “Jesus Loves Me.”

Then I heard her little friend say this: “Jesus? He’s dead. They stuck pins in his feet and hands and killed him.”

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