A Game of Dad-and-Mice

{ The lovely and talented Green Study recently hosted a Christmas story contest on her blog complete with prizes.  It was a gutsy move, as she announced the contest right as most people in the blog-o-sphere were finally abandoning their computers for a few days of holiday cheer and dealing with visiting relatives.  I’m certain there weren’t as many entries as she had anticipated.  As proof of what must have been a sparce turn-out, I was able to score 3rd place (1st place would have required at least two less entries).  My prize booty included a generous donation to the Red Cross made in my name, and a snazzy postcard featuring the Metrodome in Minneapolis.  More importantly, I snagged a few new followers, which are worth even more than postcards in my book!  To those new followers and anyone else who may have already seen this post, I apologize for reposting it here.  For the rest of you, here’s a little Christmas story to make you glad it’s January. Also, Green Study was nice enough to come up with the title of the post for me, so you’ve already read the best part.}

Shake the box all you want.  I hope you don't mistake the sound of those little pie tins rattling around for Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots! (Image from theblaze.com)
Shake the box all you want. I hope you don’t mistake the sound of those little pie tins rattling around for Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots! (Image from theblaze.com)

There was a magical time when I believed in Santa.  It was too long ago for me to recall.  In retrospect, I was such a scaredy cat as a child, I was probably terrified of the jolly fat man.

I come from a family of four boys – each of us only separated by a year or so from the next oldest or youngest.  Since we were so close in age, if one of us found out anything juicy, we’d all know within minutes.

Once we discovered that Santa was actually Mom and Dad, everything changed.  From my parents first unexplained shopping trip after Thanksgiving until sometime Christmas Eve, there was an elaborate game of cat and mouse between us boys and Dad.  I’m sure my long-suffering mother played a role, but we knew that Dad was the strategic mastermind.

The game was simple.  Dad hid our presents until he and Mom had a chance to wrap them.  Then he had to re-hide them until Christmas morning at 2 A.M. when we’d finally be asleep, and he could put them under the tree.

The re-hiding of the wrapped presents was critical, as my brother Chris had nearly psychic abilities of interpreting the contents of a given box merely by shaking, listening and smelling the wrapping paper.  My approach usually involved a slight corner-tear and then clumsily covering my tracks with scotch tape repairs.

Dad had relatively few options for hiding anything, as my brothers and I had the run of the house, and there wasn’t a single locking door.

My parents’ closet was the first place to look.  Between Dad’s sports jackets, garish wide ties and Mom’s “stuff”, there wasn’t much room.  As the only female among us, Mom’s clothing items defied more description than that.

The attic was prime hiding real estate as was the spider-filled closet under the basement stairs.  Due to my lack of bravado, both were good choices.  Still, the lure of toys-to-come could overcome my fear of tarantulas and man-eating, dusty boxes from Nanny’s house.

One year we stumbled onto the motherload.  There were piles of bags from toy and department stores.  We couldn’t believe it!  The old man had really slipped up this time.  There wasn’t even a hint of wrapping paper.  My brothers and I strategized on how best to unload the bags without leaving clues.  We carefully lifted out the first item – an EZ Bake Oven!?  Beneath that was a doll.  We glanced at each other as we slowly realized that these gifts weren’t ours.  We put the girlie gifts back and left, confused and defeated.

We later found out that a coworker of my Dad’s had a bunch of daughters who were probably looking at our baseball gloves and GI Joes a few towns away with similar confusion.  The two evil geniuses had conspired to hide the booty at each other’s homes.

We’d made a classic blunder and under-estimated our opponent.

Dad seemed especially jolly that Christmas morning.

A New New Years Eve!

Don't get all nostalgic for the New Years Eve of yesteryear - this kid is wearing a cloth diaper and is likely wearing a Depends by now!  (Image from pinterest.com - first New Years Resolution - stay off of Pinterest for another year)
Don’t get all nostalgic for the New Years Eve of yesteryear – this kid is wearing a cloth diaper and is likely wearing a Depends by now! (Image from pinterest.com – first New Years Resolution – stay off of Pinterest for another year)

New Years Eve is poorly scheduled.  Someone had to say it, so I did.  New Years Eve can’t come close to beating the anticipation, pageantry and greedy hype of its gorgeous step-sister, Christmas.  Now that Dick Clark has passed, we’re free to think outside the box.  We need to seriously consider changing the date for bringing in the New Year.

Stop for a minute and try to name your favorite claymation New Years Eve TV special.  That’s right, there isn’t one (unless you count Don Ho’s New Years in Hawaii: So Long 1972 – Aloha 1973!– which was panned by the critics and technically only included a brief clay-mation segment featuring the voices of Jim Nabors and Larry Storch).

Let’s face it, New Years Eve showing up just after Christmas is like lighting a 10 cent firecracker right after the finale of a 4th of July fireworks extravaganza.

What’s the big lure?  Counting backwards to zero from ten and then yelling “Happy New Year!” ?!  Seriously?  The space program pretty much trumped the whole countdown thing years ago.  NASA gets to zero and then hurtles human beings and monkeys into outer space in giant rockets!  What does New Years Eve do when it gets to zero?  It drops a big ball a couple of stories over the course of ten seconds.  Technically, it doesn’t even drop the ball, it lowers slowly on a pole.  When the ball reaches the bottom, it doesn’t even smash or explode or anything.

We're gonna shoot this cute little guy up into space in a rocket when the countdown gets to zero.  What are you gonna do at zero?  Lower a big ball?  Really?  (Image from cellar.org)
We’re gonna shoot this cute little guy up into space in a rocket when the countdown gets to zero. What are you gonna do at zero? Lower a big ball? Really? (Image from cellar.org)

Once upon a time, when people wrote in their diaries with quills, it was a big deal to the change the year.  As if such a big transition needed an exclamation point, people kissed their dates at the stroke of midnight, then they blew out the tallow candles, said their prayers and went right to bed.  Times have changed.  Twelve midnight is the new 8:30 PM.  How else can you explain seeing families with small children out eating at Applebee’s at 10:30 on a weeknight?

As for the big New Year’s kiss, Christmas wins again, with a little something called mistletoe.  You just hang that stuff up, get a tumbler of eggnog, and wait.  Sooner or later the object of your desire strolls under it, and there you go.  No watching the clock, no “one-time-only” restictions.  Savvy bachelors will locate the mistletoe in high lady-traffic zones, like near the bathroom or the wine coolers.  Since it’s some kind of poisonous weed from the middle ages, most people don’t even have any idea what mistletoe looks like.  One year in college, I just stapled a piece of a plastic fern up there and got busy.  None of the girls cried foul about the fake fern – though most of them seemed to avoid the first floor bathroom after that point.

I realize that society needs to change the year at some point, in order to force people to buy new Garfield calendars and to give themselves the opportunity to hope for better times to come.  I’d just like to propose that we save the big New Years Eve celebrations for the end of January and New Years Day on February 1st.  Truth be told, February is a sad excuse for a month, from a holiday perspective; it’s got Groundhog Day and Valentines Day and not much else.  It’s almost insulting that all February gets is a holiday dedicated to paying attention to an otherwise forgotten, smelly, over-sized rodent.  Groundhog Day isn’t all that special either.

If we move New Years Eve to the end of January, everyone can walk around with hangovers and resolutions to start exercising on February 1st.  We won’t miss out much on New Years Day celebrations as far as January 1st goes.  Most of the college bowl games have already been scattered all over the months of December and January.  The Mummers Parade in Philadelphia can go on as scheduled on Jan. 1, since no one watches it except Mummers and their kinfolk anyway.  The traffic won’t really be much worse just because there’s a string band in the middle of Broad Street dressed like Liberace’s lawn jockeys.

On the west coast, the Rose Bowl parade can be pushed back to February 1st.  Just think how much more impressive those floats will be with an extra month available for preparations!  They can still play the football game on January 1st.  Everyone knows that the parade is the most important aspect of the Rose Bowl anyway.

Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for future posts, where I’ll propose more alternatives for making the world a better place for all of us, but especially me.  These include moving the nation’s capitol from Washington, D.C to Orlando and revising the traditional colors for baby genders from pink and blue to polka dot and plaid.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to start drafting my New Year’s resolutions – I’ve only got a month or so to put them together.  Things are going to be different for me in 2013, I’m counting on it!

Life On the Trail – True Tales from the Easter Bunny

Hippity Hoppity my fluffy white ass.  The trail is a bitch.

I’m down at the Pinewood, sipping on a short, dirty glass of cheap Canadian.  My beer back-up is looking a little flat.  This place is a long way from the Ritz, but you’d still think they’d wash the glasses a little more often.

The Round Man is sitting next to me.  Got himself swiveled on the stool while he’s chatting up some bimbo.  He’s jolly alright, but for all the hype about his taste in behaviors, he definitely leans more toward the naughty girls than the nice ones.  Next to him are three of the wee ones – two of Round Man’s best workers plus Irish.  That little dude is a mean SOB when he’s gettin’ his drink on.  I’m glad he’s four seats away from me.  You never know when some drunk college kid will come in and call him Chuckie or Lucky Charms or something and next thing you know, the cops are comin’ in and somebody’s gonna need stitches.  Still, I gotta admit, the three of ’em look cute sitting up there on barstools with their little feet so far off the floor.

The trail can wear a bunny down, make him cold, drive him into questionable locales. (Illustration by the author - That's right, I'm a freakin' Renaissance Man!)

We don’t always hang out like this, but sometimes I like to chill out with a few of my buddies who understand life on the trail.  There used to be better attendance at these get-togethers, but some of the usual crew’s drifted apart.  The T-Fairy prefers a different kind of bar, and that’s fine by me – to each his own right?  Jackie Frost, may he rest in peace, is gone but not forgotten.  Freakin’ global warming pretty much did him in.

Let’s not get it twisted, I aint no retiree in a Bunny suit down at the mall gettin’ my pic snapped with your brat for five bucks a throw.  I’m talking the real deal here – these ears aint clip-ons.

Like I said at the start, life on the trail’s a bitch.  I smell like freakin’ Hershey, Pee-Ay 6 months out of the year from all the crap I’m delivering.  Don’t think it isn’t a little weird to be spending a large part of my life carrying around giant, hollow chocolate replicas of myself.  Then droppin’ em off only to have the parents of these kids eat the ears off a day or two later.  It’s a heavy load knowing I’m guiding the youth of the world down the path toward obesity and diabetes.

I had to get therapy for that crap.  I finally gave up on talking to the shrink.  He blamed my issues on my father.  That was the last straw for me.  My father!?  How much of a presence in your life can your father be when you have 237 brothers and sisters?  Besides, the mental health waiver on my insurance sucked.  I’d rather spend that co-pay money on shots and beers and get my counseling from the Round Man and maybe one of his naughty girls if she has a friend.  You know what I mean?

Don’t get me wrong, the trail isn’t all sore paws and nightmares about waking up with my ears bit off.  I’ve had some good times too.  Some wild crap goes on out there.  This one time, outside of Dubuque, Iowa, this chick walks in on me when I’m hiding eggs and filling baskets.  She’s half in the bag and reeks of Malibu rum.  Anyway, she must be on her way to the head when she sees me standin’ there with a handful of Marshmallow Peeps, and she just goes nuts.  You know the whole “I can’t believe you’re really really real!”  song and dance.  She goes on to tell me how she always hoped I was real, but findin’ out -well that’s somethin’ special.  Then a little light goes on in her drunken head and she realizes that she aint wearing much more than her hubby’s Drake University T-shirt and a pair of fuzzy socks.  Well…one thing leads to another and let’s just say I didn’t do nothin’ to hurt the stereotypes about the bunny nation, if you follow my drift.

Stories like that, they happen, but it aint the usual.  The usual is more like people with hi-tech security systems and Rottweilers.  Bratty kids whose parents have convinced them that Easter aint nothin’ but Christmas in the Spring.  Chocolate and malted milk candy eggs can weigh a rabbit down, but they don’t compare to Nintendo Wii’s and bikes.  I got a couple dentists I play golf with in the off season and they aint too happy with that trend – believe you me.  My chiropractor – he’s happy as crap.

So in a few days we’ll close up shop and I can try to relax and enjoy the off-season.  Me and the Round Man are gonna hit the links and maybe do some fishing.  The trail aint no easy time, but fishin’ for wahoo and throwing back a few frosties can help me forget my tender paws and aching back for a while.

Uh oh.  Looks like a couple of frat boys are startin to bust on Irish a little.  It might be time to hit the bathroom until the smoke clears.  I’ll see you kids next year, okay?