Category Archives: family

Black Friday: The Fun Room Revealed

“Oh my what? Let me see,” said Yo as he rolled in to the Fun Room.

“Wow, what a fun room,” said Yo.

“Hence the name ,” said Larry.

“Vow, that looks like quite a lot of fun,” smirked Jan peeking around the corner.

Sprawled before them lay a large room bounded by several chests of toys. At the center was a large, plush and inviting area rug. The wall at the far end was made up entirely of uniformly spaced book shelves. The uniformity was broken up by the center shelf which framed a large television.

“If Xena is here she may not want to leave,” said Yo.

“You think so?,” asked Larry.

“You think she would leave this room-o-fun to come to back to the Big Box. What do we have to offer,” asked Yo.

“Well, I’m part of the package,” replied a forlorn Larry.

It’s tough to tell when a box is forlorn but his corners were droopy and his cardboard top was a bit damp.

From out of the darkness the gang heard a sleepy voice mumble “Hey, could you newbies find a place to crash so I can get back to sleep.”

“Xena?,” exclaimed Larry.

Shining the bat utility light in the direction of the voice, Larry found himself looking at gleaming black box on a shelf below the big TV.

“Is that you Larry?”

“Yes, it’s me Xena but I don’t recognize you. If it wasn’t for the sweet voice of yours I wouldn’t know who I was talking to.”

“That’s right you’ve never seen me outside of a box.”

“Well, we’re here to rescue you from , um, what is this place?”

“It’s a homeless shelter for families Larry. Families stay here while we help them get back on their feet.”

“Oh. Sounds like a good place.”

“Oh it is.”

“So, you wouldn’t want to come back to the Big Box with me, or us ?”

“Which is it Larry? You, or us?”

“Well, I miss you, so me. They want you back also, so us too.”

“Larry, I’ve missed you and I’ve missed the rest of the gang too but I finally feel that I have a purpose here. The kids need me. I bring joy to them and I think they really need some of that in their lives right now.”

“Oh. Yea that sounds much more important than anything at the Big Box,” said Larry as his drooping corners became more noticeable.“

“Don’t be sad Larry. I have an idea. Why don’t you and the rest of the gang just stay here.”

“Is that possible?”

“Of course Larry. All kinds of things are always getting donated here, clothes , books and obviously toys. No one will be upset if more toys suddenly just show up.”

“Well, I would like to free my inner lego set and bring joy to some kids. This 10,000 piece puzzle box disguise is harshing my mellow,” said Larry as he
looked at Yo and winked.”

“Yea, I see what you did their said Yo.”

“What do think guys,” asked Larry.

“Well, I guess I can put up with tossing my string more often if I can bring some smiles to some kids,” said a smiling Yo.

“Why not my fine chums,” said Batman. ” The Batmobile needs a charge anyway.”

In unison they all nodded their heads and said yes.

Stosh was a little too vigorous in his head shaking but with a click Jan had his head popped back into place.

“Well it settled then,” stated Xena.

“Wait a minute,” said a new voice. “No one asked me.”

“Is that you Robin my fine feathered chum,” asked Batman.

“Holy short term memory loss, of course it is Batman.”

“Well is it ok with you chum?”

“Of course I can’t stay mad at you.”

“Well, I am glad that’s settled,” said Xena. ” Larry, when we get some alone time we should talk. I think we both have some unsaid things to be said.”

“Oh, yes I suppose we do.”

“Where has our coiled friend gone to,” asked Batman.

Yo rolled to the doorway, “He’s stuck to the carpet again. I think he’s going to need all of us with hands this time.”

Larry shrugged his corners and smiled, ”I guess that leaves me out.”
He shuffled over to Xena. “So, lets talk shall we.”

Xena looked down and smiled. “Yes, I would like that.”

A White Elephant Never Wears The Same Stripes (Family Christmas)

My family has a holiday tradition that we have religiously followed for as long as my siblings have had children. Since we were all buying presents for said children we decided that the gifts for the rest of the family would be part of a white elephant exchange.

Now, while we all thought that was a stroke of genius, I can’t quite recall whose idea it was.

I will admit that while it was not mine, I was quite happy with the decision. I was living in Northern Virginia at the time and spending way to much money on luxury items such as food and housing.

The tradition has become quite enjoyable and now includes all of the children. They did not want to miss out on the fun. Yes, we consider the verbal abuse of each other, in a structured setting of course, quite fun. Doesn’t everybody?

The gift exchange has become a time honored tradition. The rules however are not so much of a tradition but more of a yearly agreement.

I am pretty sure we have not played by the same set of rules in any one year let alone consecutive years.

Some of you may suggest “why don’t you just look up the rules on wikipedia or google them.”

For you I would have two responses: 1) Wikipedia, really, are you nuts? You are asking to crowdsource information on something no two people can seem to agree upon. 2) Where is the fun in that? Sure we spend at least a half hour negotiating the rules before we start the exchange but that only adds to the fun.

Among the usual topics for negotiation are determining who goes first. Yes, it sounds simple and we do draw numbers but after that the process is pretty much a crapshoot. We are a very creative family .

“ Is the lowest number first or last?”

“A reasonable question. Let’s do the opposite of last year. Does anyone remember what we did last year?”

“Do we weight the numbers with the age of the person and if so do the older or younger persons have more weight?”

Now these are the less imaginative of the ideas , with any large group of people the suggestions can get quite outrageous.

“Can we consider birth order?”

“We already discussed age of the person so we have covered that.”

“No, I mean by the month. Which month you were born in, so like January comes before February.”

“Interesting idea, So you being born in January has nothing to do with that idea?”

“Of course not.”

“Nice try. Next.”

“What are the rules of stealing?”

“Rules, You mean is it punishable by law? If so I am not sure you understand the concept of the white elephant.”

No, I mean is there a restriction on the number of times a a particular person can steal?

“You’re still angry at me for stealing your waffler last year aren’t you?”

“That was two years ago. Of course not.”

“There is not a restriction on the number of times anyone can steal.

There is only a restriction on the number of times an item can be stolen.”

“What if it’s a really good item? Shouldn’t everyone have a chance to steal it?”

“No. That would be a disaster of biblical proportions.”

“Ok, how about no gift can be stolen more than 3 times.”

“Sounds reasonable.”

There is a limit on the amount spent on the gift. That was set a few years ago and probably will not be up for renegotiation until all of the birds have flown the coop and are on their own. I for one hope that my fifteen year-old niece will be working on a doctorate.

Cruising With The Top Down

Steel repetitively cutting through white foam. Upon occasion the appearance of a red streak breaks the surface and is soon blotted by fluffy white paper. I look at the glass and the man that I have become looks back. He looks a lot like my father at this point in his life. I am just four years short of his last year ever. I remember watching him shave. At some time he switched to electric and it wasn’t as interesting to watch. I expect that if I had mentioned that he would have switched back, despite the cuts.

My fathers life was full of joy and pain, mostly of the physical variety and knowing what I know now, some fear. He had lived most of his life with type 1 diabetes.

I do not know what he was told upon diagnosis as to any limits his life had. I do know that he lived his life as if he had none.

It wasn’t until I was older that I noticed that time was imposing physical limits. Limits that would make sense had he been 25 years older. His eyesight was going. His peripheral vision was the first to go. Laser surgery could only prolong the inevitable.

Through it all my Dad woke up every morning and lived. He woke up, injected himself and went to work. Sometimes he woke up , injected himself, went to work, came home, slept, woke up and went to his second job. My Dad worked a lot to support his family.

I remember coming home for lunch and eating in the basement so as to not wake him.

It would be just a couple hours before he went to his second job. He had four kids by the age of 28. In those days that is what you did, although I am not sure that the schedule wasn’t accelerated. Time was not an ally.

Although he worked a lot I have plenty of memories of time spent with him. My earliest memory was of cruising through the sunshine in my Dad’s red chevy convertible. My brother and I were sitting in the back seat and it started to rain.

I remember my dad laughing and saying,“Its just a sun shower, we won’t melt.”

He kept the top down and my brother and I laughed. His life was like that. It rained sometimes but he laughed, kept the top down and cruised on.

Happy Father’s Day to all the Fathers and those that love them.

Yes, there is some sadness in my heart. But I can still hear my Dad’s laughter.

“Against the assault of laughter, nothing can stand.”
Mark Twain

Random Acts of Family

Some families are the Walton’s and some are the Sopranos. My family lies right in the center. We don’t share the same house and say good night to each other but we do not pay a visit to your house to say good night forever.

We are not involved in crime or violence* and are good candidates to be voted family least likely to tune you up.

We are not without our own issues. No we don’t have old disagreements seething below the surface resulting in long periods of incommunicado. We talk to each other quite frequently . The problem is that our conversation does not seem to to get the job done when information needs to be conveyed

One of the most common phrases uttered during our conversations is “no one told me that”. Of course the “no one” being referred to here is any person having come in contact with us.

Given our track record we consider family news from the Kwiki Mart clerk as reliable.

The information lapses that have occurred through the years have ranged from the loss of a favorite relative to “we’re coming to visit after Christmas”. The latter being the most recent incident and directly affected yours truly.

During a visit this past Thanksgiving, a casual conversation with my mom revealed she and my brother would be visiting after Christmas. “Oh, really. No one told me that.” I’m going to have to have a talk with that Kwiki Mart clerk.

A phone conversation with my brother on Thanksgiving day confirmed the rumor was true. “I guess we should ask if it’s ok.” he said.

Well of course it would be ok. To be honest this visit had been expected for sometime. I had hired my wildly talented brother to redo my kitchen over a year ago. Everything went smoothly until the flooring arrived. It resembled what I had ordered in the manner that I resemble Brad Pitt. Not so much.

I requested floor samples to make the right choice and my brother moved on to work jobs that he had lined up. Business was picking up for him and given the state of the economy I was perfectly satisfied with my temporary kitchen flooring of a sheet of plastic and a throw rug. Hey don’t knock it. Cleaning the kitchen floor involves shaking the rug out on the back porch and sweeping the plastic. No fuss, no muss. Too bad I was not still in college to enjoy the full benefits during after party cleanup.

The family visit was to finish up my kitchen. My brother was coming to finish the floor and my mom was going to make sure we didn’t kill each other. Truth be told my mom likes to organize and I don’t. She would be happy. I have plenty of things to organize.

After all was said and done I had a wonderful time with my family and my kitchen looks awesome.

My place had the crap organized out of it and most important of all I feel loved. I want to thank my family for that.

My bathrooms could stand to be remodeled. I’ll have to mention that to the Kwiki Mart clerk.

*Unless you consider the english language a victim of my writing.