The misadventures of a first time father

Tag Archives: Christmas Specials

Picking out a treeWhen Meg and I started out, we had an artificial tree. It was nothing elaborate – just something simple and nice that she picked up on sale one Black Friday that worked fine for our little two-person Christmases.

Little by little, our household grew – one cat, two cats, three cats, and finally one tiny human, and that poor little tree didn’t last too long against the combined might of three felines and a baby. So, a few years ago, we started getting real trees for Christmas.

With it came the adventure and joy of having the little guy bundled up, walking with us among rows of trees, looking for just the right one for our little home. But that’s not to say it didn’t come without its own challenges, and this year certainly had plenty.

The plan was simple – while the little guy takes his nap, mom and dad will put up the tree. Easy, simple, no problem.

Easier said than done.

IMG_0517We got the tree inside and into the designated area with little difficulty, but getting it to stand up in the tree stand was a completely different story. In it would go, screws tightened, let go and…down it went in an instant.

Hmmm. Maybe the screws/fasteners just hit a bad spot.

Spin it around, try the screws in new spots and give it a whirl. Let go and…down it went again.

This went on for about 45 minutes as we each tried our best to figure out just how to get this tree to stop falling down on us, even though it was screwed into the stand. Meanwhile, the sounds from upstairs indicated the little guy had no intention of going to sleep that afternoon and was not in a happy mood.

Macys Elf on TreeFinally, in a last-ditch effort for any type of improvement, Meg suggested getting a small piece of wood from the garage. I keep odds and end pieces in there leftover from various projects around the house. Upon finding one small enough to fit inside the base, I brought it inside and she wedged it in the base, giving the tree just the support it needed to finally, thankfully, stand up straight.

With that, we were okay to bring the little guy downstairs (free of a falling-tree zone) and continue decorating with his occasional assistance. Upon our tree was a veritable memory book of our lives so far, from the Macy’s Elf Meg and I picked up on one of our several pre-parenthood trips to New York City, to the Scrooge McDuck as Ebeneezer Scrooge ornament that reminds me of my childhood love of the character, one that seems to have, inadvertently been picked up by our son.

Scrooge counts moneyThe holidays went very well overall, and the cats only broke a few ornaments this year and fortunately none of them were too sentimental, or glass.

Now, several weeks later, it’s all done.

This past weekend, it all got packed up. The tree out at the curb, ready to be re-purposed by our municipality, the gifts that sat under it now put away, as our the stockings and decorations that helped bring the season to life.

We didn’t get a white Christmas this year, it was too warm.

At times I thought it didn’t feel like the holiday season with the weather being the way it was, but as we tucked away all those decorations for another year, I realized that despite what was happening outside – inside our little home, stockings, vintage Santa postcards, and a beautiful Douglass Fir in front of a television playing classics we love (From White Christmas to the Bishop’s Wife, Mickey’s Christmas Carol to It’s a Wonderful Life), the season was in full swing in our home, and we had total control over that.

Christmas Tree with bauble

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Goofy as MarleyHave you ever played the Game of Jacob Marley?

Yeah, me neither. Until I had a two-year old that it is.

The little guy has been quite a fan of “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” – an affection not just limited to this time of year. He’s requested to watch it pretty regularly since Summer, actually. It’s started a love of “Unca Scrooge” that has transitioned into flipping through many of my old comics (and any new ones we can find for him) featuring the World’s Richest Duck.

But it’s also made him familiar with characters that, through the Disney-Mickey interpretation, he might otherwise be completely unaware of – at least at two and a half years old, that is.

He talks about Tiny Tim, he talks about Scrooge, and he talks about the Ghost – most importantly, Marley’s ghost. He narrates the special for us, telling me “Marley ghost is comin.” or “Giant ghost in Scrooge’s room!” mere seconds before it happens on screen.

And not just limited to Dickens, it has made me appreciate how interpretations can resonate with audiences and individuals far more than the original source material. While he has to inclination to want to pick up a copy of Dickens’ classic – even if it were in board or Little Golden Book form, he knows this story, its themes (“Scrooge mean”…”Scrooge bein’ nice now,” as he says) because of this particular interpretation of the story.

Literary Purists might balk at this, but honestly, I find it wonderful that a toddler is understanding the characters, themes, and story in such a morality tale, thanks to it being told to him through characters he likes and understands.

With that said, that affection and familiarity seems to transition far out of the TV screen. This entire Christmas season he has been putting blankets on his head and walking around the house saying “me a ghost!”

The other night, he made me hide under the blanket with him. There I was, in darkness, with the face of my amazing little boy, also sitting under the blanket, staring right at me with a huge smile.

“Dada, we play game?”

“What game could we play under here, buddy?”

“We play Jacob Marley game.”

“How do we play the Jacob Marley Game?”

“Boo!!!:

(i pretend to be frightened and his giggling ensures)

There’s that song lyric about the ‘scary ghost stories’ of Christmas’ long, long ago.

Well don’t call it a comeback. If you ask this kid, they never left. 🙂


PeteI honestly have no idea where he comes up with these things some times.

The snow was falling for the first time this season, a cold chill in the air, and the heat rising from my car as SiriusXm’s Holiday Traditions played some classics out of the radio (Yes, I’m one of those people listening to holiday music already. It puts me in a good mood as the snow falls, so I make no apologies).

Making our way through some of our usual routes, the little guy pipes up from the back seat, navigating.

“Turn here, dada.”

“This way, dada.”

“You got it, buddy.”

Then, some time later, as I’m waiting at a stop sign, I hear something I’ve never heard before.

“For Pete’s sake, let’s go. Come on, dada.”

He’s two but some days I feel like I’m chauffeuring a teenager around.

(sighs)

I suppose in many ways a toddler is very much like having all the emotional volatility of a teenager and no filter or way to fully communicate it.

Okay. So it’s not that I’m totally unaware of where it comes from. He’s been very, very, very into watching Mickey Mouse Christmas specials as of late and in one of the vignettes, a Goofy one about waiting for Santa to arrive, neighbor Pete hears something out his window and shouts “what in the name of Pete is goin’ on out here, for Pete’s sake?!”

As for the “come on,” well, Meg’s caught herself saying a few times, only to have it repeated back to her by our little human tape recorder.

There’s a lesson in here somewhere, that toddlers are sponges. They are true mimics. And whether it is what they see from the characters they watch, or what you say or what you do, they will look to you for their words and actions.

So make sure they’re the best ones you can muster.


4212433203_d4e6cb4f74_zOne of my favorite things about this time of year is some of the movies and Christmas specials that are on television.

There’s plenty of good, classic films to talk about, but last night I caught an annual can’t-miss, the 1960s Rankin Bass, “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”

I love the Rankin Bass stuff, whether it’s Rudolph, any of its sequels, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, or even Year Without a Santa Claus (I can often be found singing the Heat Miser/Snow Miser song around the house and out and about, much to the chagrin of my wife.)

One of the things that somehow went over my head as a child was just how mean some of those adults were to poor little Rudolph. Even his own father who tried his best to cover up what made his son different so that he could conform.

Not to mention, Santa Claus, who was a real jerk. From the way he reacted to Rudolph after his birth, to the way he speaks to Rudolph’s father, Donner, when Rudolph’s cover-up nose falls off and his real, red nose is exposed.

“Donner, I’m ashamed of you.”

Wow. Santa, you jolly old elf, are mad that Donner tried to have his son lead a normal life? Wow, I’m surprised the Mrs has stuck around as much as she has.

Nothing like making this poor kid feel even worse about the way he was born. No wonder he ran away from them all. Who would feel loved around that?

rudolph-RankinBass-Productions-Videocraft-InternationalAnd poor Hermie. He hates the job he’s in, yet is being told by everyone around him to conform to making toys even though he’s miserable. Why? Because it’s just the way it is.

At its heart, it’s a message about acceptance, of course and about pursuing your own sense of happiness, whether it be guiding a sleigh, pulling teeth, or whatever.

What a nice feeling inside when Rudolph, Hermie and Yukon Cornelius not only find a friendship founded in their mutual feeling of being outcasts, and the people of Christmas Town eventually realizing that different does not mean bad.

There is a sense of triumph for the little guy when Hermie gets to do something other than make toys and Rudolph gets to lead the sleigh on Christmas Eve.

All this was honestly lost on me as a kid, at least on the surface level. Now, as a father, especially, I look it at a bit differently.

Now when I watch it, I see how important it is to not only let your child now how all right it is to be different, but to encourage it. Be yourself, be different, embrace your individuality.

I hope that I can teach y son to know not to listen to the bullies around you, be they on the schoolyard, in the home, or in the workplace. You are who you are for a reason. You are special for that reason.

We are all different. If only we would all accept those differences, I think we could see what a beautiful place this world can be.



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