Monday, December 26, 2005

Christmas Is Over

Christmas is over, and the relief is immense. I feel like a million bucks. The house is still a mess, but it's getting better. Post holiday blues? Not in a million years for my wife Karen and I.

It was a great Christmas.

First, we have made a rule for our kids about gifts. All gifts given by them to us or their siblings MUST be from the Goodwill or other thrift or secondhand stores. This does include estate or garage sales, which comes into play later. There is a 5 dollar price limit. Gifts can also be handmade.

Cut to last summer: My oldest is home from college, and is drinking from this enormous mug. We comment on it, and he says there's a competition going on between some of his buddies on who can find the biggest mug. He said his buddy had one bigger.

Fast forward: My 17 year old son is taking vocational automotive body classes as part of his high school curriculum. He has an idea, and starts to work on it. He gets a 5 gallon bucket and begins to grind off the handle, lips, and all external features. He finds a short handicapped bathroom handle, very heavy duty, and bolts it to the bucket. He then heaps on the Bondo (automotive body putty), and starts to contour and smooth the bucket. When he was done, it was perfectly smooth, and it looked like the handle was a molded part of the bucket. He painted it, clear coated it, and put on letters that said "Too Much Mug To Chug". He had created a 5 gallon mug for his older brother.

Christmas Eve: Older brother opens the mug gift, and laughs harder than I've seen him laugh before. A look of pure enjoyment on his face. As a parent it was the most satisfying feeling imaginable, to see our kids so happy and anxious to give and please.

Cut to last summer: We're at an estate sale. Find an autographed baseball in a display bubble with a base. There is other White Sox memorabilia there. Kyle is a HUGE White Sox fan. I'm not a big baseball fan, but look over the ball for familiar names. Frank Thomas is there, I know "The Big Hurt" is a White Sox player. Price is five bucks. I tell my daughters that would make a great Christmas gift for Kyle.

Fast forward to fall: The Sox win the World Series. Kyle is ecstatic.

Christmas eve: The ball is a HUGE hit. There is NO WAY we would have been able to purchase a White Sox souvenir like that after they win the series. We add a fitted Sox cap Karen had to look high and low for. Kyle had one before, but after his attack it was blood soaked, and the police kept it. He loves the combination.

Other memorable gifts: One of the boys gave his youngest sister a Shrek Donkey stuffed animal. The grin on it's face and the expression had us laughing all night.

Another gave her a stuffed warthog that looked EXACTLY like a mounted boar I have in the basement I shot with Ted Nugent. We all laughed about that.

Another boy found a picture for Kyle at the Goodwill that was part of a 2 picture set. Huge picture, framed, weighed about 40 pounds. About 5 feet tall by 3 feet wide. Done in a wood carving pressing fashion, but with lighted highlights and shadows. The picture was of Mark Twain. Stern looking, prominent features, big cigar in his mouth. You look at it and just burst out laughing. Kyle loves it.

One of the kids got me a fisherman bobblehead. Holding a cold drink in one hand and a carp, yes, an actual carp in the other. This describes me exactly these days. My serious fishing is over, and I'd rather relax watching a carp pole with a cold beverage in my hand. The kids say it even looks like me.

Karen got me a cribbage board, deck of cards, and a MASH movie video. We had agreed not to exchange gifts with each other in favor of getting more for the kids. But she cheated a little, as did I. The girls (through me) got her a nightgown and some panties from Victorias Secret (not thrift store stuff, in case you were saying ewww...). Karen has lost weight lately, and looks like a million bucks. Not that she didn't before, but she's trying hard and it shows. I'm proud of her, and she really does look sexy.

All in all, it was a great, memorable, christmas.