Posts Tagged ‘Family’

It’s just terrible. Sure, some might say it’s a mixed bag, but those are most likely the same, sadistic folks that I see jogging around the neighborhood when it’s under five degrees.

It makes sense that these people enjoy our current, frozen hellscape. They’ve been secretly trying to kill themselves every winter, under the guise of exercise.

They do this, so you can feel twice as bad.  First, for how sloth-like indoor life has made you. And second, for the fact that the cold won’t kill them. Yet it would you.

This same sort of deception is at play when someone says “Eh, it’s not so bad.” Or the most obnoxious of all: “It could be worse.”

Yeah, it could be worse. We could be naked, fighting off wolves in Alaska. But I probably wouldn’t have time to update this readerless blog, if that were the case.

And you know what else?

It could also be better, a lot better. We could be cuddling koala bears, while snapping pics of tropical drinks, on a beach somewhere in Honolulu (If that’s even a real place).

That said, I guess it’s not all doom and gloom. After all, December does bring with it the holiday season. And yes, there’s a lot to be grateful for. And the different holidays and their rich traditions make life that much more special. Yadda yadda yadda.

But seriously, who are we fucking kidding? It’s 10 degrees below zero, right now . And I’m willing to bet cold, hard cash, that almost all winter traditions were invented for the sole purpose of stopping us from walking off into the frozen night. Even something as small as a catchy jingle can stop one from giving in to death’s warm embrace.

So you see, If cavemen had Christmas ornaments, we’d all be a lot hairier. That’s just plain science.

Unfortunately, when it’s this kind of cold outside, even heartwarming holiday cheer can mutate into something a bit more ominous.

Take classic Christmas carols like Deck the Halls, White Christmas, or Silent Night. If you’re cold enough (And if you live in Chicago, you are), you begin to decode what these songs are actually about.

Some might point to cabin fever, but the sort of chill I’m talking about is beyond psychological symptoms. And it’s beneficial in one way, and one way only. Like Neo in the Matrix, you begin to see things for what they are.

Fa la la la la is the sound teeth make during their final death rattle. It’s obvious that the poor bastard who wrote this tune, never could get that sound out of his head. Betchya didn’t know that.

Silent night, holy night was evidently written by someone suffering from hypothermia, and preparing to meet his maker. You can’t get much holier than that.

And White Christmas? Well, Bing Crosby might as well have been part of the alt-right. The jury’s still out on him. *Note: Just kidding, Bing. That was a low blow.

“But, what about fun traditions like building gingerbread houses?” You ask.

I agree, it’s a wonderful way to spend the day. Architecture meets sweet delights. It’s the sort of combination that would’ve made Frank Lloyd Wright shed a tear and loosen his belt a notch.

Still, it was an invention most likely born out of necessity. Cabin fever and dwindling food reserves, forced folks to get creative and combine their resources. After all, there’s only so many times one can read Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Yes, I’m assuming Gingerbread houses are an old German thing (no time to google, I’m on a roll).

I suspect I’m starting to sound a bit unhinged. So I won’t even get into the issues I have while drinking and driving (under the legal limit, of course) during the winter months. That would probably be bad form.

Seriously though, even with the salt, it’s like a slip-n-slide out there. And it’s even worse if you’re seeing double (or so I’ve been told).

See? This is what the winter does. It sends you on chattering tangents. Anything to keep your core temperature up.

Well, I’ll stop preaching to the choir, now. We’re all in this together. And if their is a deity in charge of the changing seasons and groundhog shadows, then I hope he or she is a merciful bastard, but I suspect this is not the case.

Also, if you’re from a tropical climate and reading this, you should thank that same cruel deity (who is undoubtedly in charge of the geographical lottery, as well). And know this, you’ll probably be reincarnated in Aleppo. Fair is fair.

A friend of mine, who will remain nameless for this blog (eh, let’s call him Ricardo. I always liked that name). Ricardo’s family started a holiday tradition of their own. His family celebrates Christmas in July. Because, and I’m speculating here, it’s too damn cold to celebrate anything in December.

And they do so with a White Elephant party, which on an unrelated note, I recently learned does not involve car keys, a hat, and condoms (boy, was that an embarrassing night).

Anyhow, Christmas in July seems like a tradition I could get behind. After all, snow is great for about one day. After that, it’s all busted shovels and thrown-out backs.

I guess June or August could also work. But a counterpoint to this would be that those months are already great, and without the holidays, December is undoubtedly the worst month of the year… which is saying a lot.

Jesus, this blog is all over the place. And I’m not sure how I feel about any of it. Except for the part about hating winter. I feel quite strongly about that.

I guess what I’m trying to say, in a very roundabout way, is we’re lucky to have the holidays. Because without em, we’d be a bunch of miserable assholes.

Happy Holidays to you and yours.

 

 

My oldest son, Aleks, had spent the last couple of weeks begging his mother and me for a dog. He swore that if we brought home a puppy, it would count for both his Christmas and birthday present. After realizing that getting a puppy meant I would have to be more responsible, I took it upon myself to navigate around those treacherous waters, at all costs.

I countered his terms, with talk of video games and laser tag battles. Unfortunately, his resolve was steadfast, and his terms were non-negotiable. Like countless revolutionaries before him, there was no quieting his message once it was heard, and soon his words became infectious.

My youngest son, Maks, not quite the dog lover (more on that later), joined the cause. And so, this burgeoning children’s crusade was now a united front. No amount of reasoning, persuasion, or even subtle attempts at bribery, could bend their will. We, the parents of these puppy-loving radicals, were losing ground fast, but as long as we matched their steely-eyed resolve with our own united front, we stood a chance.

And then Maria caved. The boys had changed their tactics without my knowledge (Though thinking back on it, I should have realized kids inevitably play their strongest hand). And our boys were holding a straight flush. They turned her to their cause with cuddles and innocent whispers. And she quickly became the Hanoi Jane to my Murica.

Our two, tiny Mongols wiped out my once pet-free kingdom. That beautiful land, free of hairs and smells. That once glorious castle, where bowel movements were flushed away with a magic that left Merlin envious. Gone now. And we are officially dog owners.

And while we’re only a week in, the transition is complete. The hair has been shed, and the mistakes (i.e. dog shit) have been made. I no longer can smell ‘dog’ which means I am now following the path of the dog.

And though the increase in responsibilities are not good for my endocrine system, there is something to be said for a cuddly puppy that wants to nap with you.

Now, I’m not going to get mushy about all of this. I’ll leave that to Hanoi Jane, but I will document our first week or so with the new addition.

WEEK 1:

We drove an hour west, to DeKalb IL, home of Tails Humane Society. The only animal shelter that had the type of puppy we were looking for (two months old, and cute as a button). Aleks was shaking with excitement, and Maks was relishing in the fact that he had broken us.

The four of us strode into the building, and Maria and Maks strode out of the building just as quickly. Maks is much like a six year-old version of the X-Men’s Wolverine. He can be a rough customer, he possesses a sweet hairstyle, and he also has a heightened sense of smell. One of those things doesn’t work well in a small building filled with animal farts.

He stormed out holding his face and refusing to go back in. Meanwhile, inside the shelter, Aleks was spinning in circles and on the verge of happy tears, stopping occasionally to pet the puppy and make kissy noises, before returning to his spin of win.

After a quick pit stop at the PetSmart down the street (we needed to purchase an animal carrier and all of the other bells and whistles that go along with puppy rearing), we were on our way home. Now, a family of five.

We needed to name our new addition. He came with the name Pirate, but it didn’t roll off the tongue with the je ne sais quois that we were looking for. So, our drive home was spent debating the merits of different dog names. Cooper, Murphy, Sparky, Hopper, and John, all vying for the title of puppy name. That is, until Maria, staring out of the window introspectively, muttered our kid’s first love in literature: Calvin & Hobbes. After a family vote, Hobbes had it. The puppy bumped his tail back and forth in his crate, seeming to agree from the confines of his temporary cell.

There was petting and playful banter, but mostly Hobbes napped. As Maria and I inspected his under-carriage for signs of bowel movements, while also googling different potty training scenarios.

After hearing google out on the matter, we decided on a form of potty training known as crate training. And though Maria bought some sort of dog pads, to leave around the house for Hobbes to use if he couldn’t get outside fast enough, I couldn’t allow it.

Sometimes baby steps are needed. Training wheels for instance, or the delicate art of teaching people of a certain age to send emails without the caps lock on. But in the case of a puppy emptying its bowels, there is no learning curve, only dog shit.

Speaking of dog shit, Hobbes left a steaming little gift under our dining room table earlier today. Aleks promptly stepped in it, and then raised his arms and screamed to the heavens. I guess it’s true that we are indeed our father’s sons.

Maks and Hobbes are on good terms for the most part. Although, Hobbes, like all other dogs before him, views Maks as a giant dog treat. Maks walks by, and suddenly Hobbes ears perk up. He stands and sniffs the air, and then the puppy is off, trying to nibble pieces of our son, much to the chagrin of Maks.

You see, Maks has spent his formative years running away from our friends’ and families’ pets. And our friends’ and families’ pets, like all other pets, only enjoy one thing more than treats… hunting human kids that also might taste like treats.

We’re trying to rectify this situation, but I suspect obedience school is in our future.

Maria insisted on certain rules. No puppies on the couch was her first rule. After snuggling with Hobbes on the floor for close to an hour that first night, she broke her own rule and brought him on the couch with her. Hmm, a pattern is starting to form.

In the days following his arrival, I attempted to get a good, or at least decent photo of Hobbes in all of his puppy yumminess (Shit, I’m using words like yumminess, now). After about seventy or eighty photos of him turning away from me, or trying to steal my phone, I managed to snap one or two gems.

Hobbes at attention.

I command you to love me.

I command you to love me.

 

Hobbes at rest.

Your home is my bed.

Your home is my bed.

 

Our walks have been relegated to the backyard for now. Hobbes is spooked by barking, cars, wind, and rain, but we still managed to get all the way out to the front yard. I live in a working class suburb of Chicago, so yeah, it wasn’t much of a feat, but nevertheless, he made the journey. And after standing in the front yard for a long moment, with ears perked, and a look of “what the fuck is all of this” on his face, we retired indoors for doggie treats and a beer. Not too shabby.

It could always be worse…

He could be a cat.