Change a Car Battery

Learning opportunities and teachable moments were plenty for us recently. Slick’s car was out of commission. We weren’t sure what the problem was, but it wouldn’t start. Based on my limited past experiences with my own cars, I was thinking battery, starter, or alternator. For Slick’s sake, I was hoping battery.

An old car battery. Don’t ask
where the screw came from.

We tested the battery. Dead as a doornail. I thank the automotive deities for the easier and cheaper of the problems. My experiences have also taught me the battery could still be good, it just needs a little tightening. Call me crazy, but I like to make sure I don’t need to spend extra money before I spend extra money.

Slick and I give everything a once-over and, unfortunately, we need to buy a new battery. At this point, a friend of ours was walking past. He dabbles in cars and comes over to see what we’re doing and how it’s going. We explain what’s going on. At this point, everyone is inside the house. We’re still discussing the situation with Wife, who has since come down to the kitchen to say hello.

I decide for Slick we should call Triple AAA. It’s night. It’s cold, in the teens and I’m delicate. I need to put children to bed, which includes reading stories. I really don’t want to be out there messing with the business of going to a store, going back, loosening a corroded car battery in frigid weather, replacing, tightening, and securing a battery when I can be in my warm house safe from the elements and letting someone else, someone who does this for their job, do their job and earn their money so they can buy their wife and children nice things.

Friend tells me it’s wrong and crazy to get a marked-up battery from Triple AAA. Go to Wal-Mart. It’s cheaper and it’s not difficult to replace a battery. These reasons are true and valid, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s cold and late. I get out-voted and Slick and I are off to Wal-Mart for a car battery.

Buying a Car Battery

We climb into my car. The engine turns. I’m waiting for things to warm up as I stew over my democratic defeat and the sudden need to leave my cozy home. I’m delicate.

We get to Wal-Mart and make our way to the automotive section. Batteries galore, just not the battery we need. We go up and down the aisle hoping to find our battery. Alas, the Wal-Mart gods are not with us, and we need to seek our battery elsewhere. My Triple AAA idea is looking better.

We head back in the direction of home, keeping an open eye for an auto parts shop. It pleases the gods that we should come across one. We enter. There’s a man behind a counter eating a sandwich. Another is behind the counter looking at his phone. We explain to the nice men that we are looking for a battery. We’re looking for the size. Sandwich gets up from the counter and leads us to where the batteries are. Praise be, they have our battery in stock. I turn around with the prize, and Sandwich is already back at his seat.

Installing a Car Battery

New car battery installed.

We get back in the car with the newly procured power source. It’s late. It’s still cold, but we need to put the new battery in so Slick can do what he needs to do.

We pull into the driveway. There’s not much as far as light goes. We only have so many lights outside. It reminds me of a time in high school when someone needed to change a tire, but that’s another story for another time.

Hood popped. We stand over the situation with our cell phones trying to illuminate what’s under the hood. Slick looks a little closer.

“Is that a screwdriver?” he asks.

It is a screwdriver!

I look closer with my own phone. Sure enough, there is a screwdriver handle sticking out from all of the parts, wires, bells, and whistles. Slick removes the screwdriver. I’m glad it just comes out, and it wasn’t something used to hold parts together or fill a gap that shouldn’t be there. We work over the car; one person loosening connectors and another illuminating. We remove the old battery and install the new one. Car starts, hood closes, and we both hustle up the steps and into the house. It’s cold and I’m delicate.

A Stay at Home Dad gets Sick

I was out of commission for a couple of days last week. I’m not sure what hit me, but it wasn’t pleasant. Stomachaches, nausea, chills. A lot of things that didn’t make for pleasant mornings or pleasant days. I was able to put on my “big boy” pants long enough during the day to get some things done around the house, but once dinner was almost done, I needed to tap out and go to bed. I hated that because the porkchops I had cooked smelled good.

My home for
two days.

I proceeded to spend the following day in bed. I fell asleep, woke up, found some games to play, answered messages from adoring fans. It was nice. Wife held it down for me during my brief convalescence. She took the kids to school in the morning. If she tried to wake me, I didn’t notice. I was out of it.

It was how I spent the first day of being sick: Being in and out of sleep, trying to stay warm Wishing I could be well enough to at least drink something. I wasn’t hungry but I was thirsty. I tried to drink some coffee but it didn’t agree with me and I had to quit after a couple of sips.

I was however, able to drink tea and, before I went down to the count, I noticed I was feeling a little off and bought a couple of bottles of iced green tea to help me fight through whatever it was that was coming on to me.

Everyone was glad to have me back. Not because they love me or my cooking, though.

It wasn’t exactly an ideal situation. I couldn’t stand. Couldn’t walk. Laundry and dishes piling up. I wondered about the pick-ups and drop-offs and Wife’s schedule. She was able to get it done for me and I was very grateful for that.

I was starting to feel better the next day. I was able to drink a cup of coffee. I allowed myself some toast. I was hungry but was still feeling a little more delicate than I normally am. The kids were at school so I allowed myself to go downstairs.

While I was in recovery mode, I took the time to check out some selections from my DVD library to pass the time. It was only a short time, so I was only able to watch two movies. I watched “L.A. Confidential” and the original “Death Wish”. There’s a ton of movies I’ve been wanting to see and haven’t gotten around to. (No, I hadn’t seen those two and I know how old they are). Needing to be off my feet and take it easy gave me the chance to watch them.

Watching these movies was a nice way of taking it easy for a day or two. I was soon feeling well enough to return to my father and husband duties and cook and clean. Everyone was glad to have me back. Not because they love me or my cooking, though. They were glad to have me back to helping with the chores.

Holiday Travel

Wife and I decided a little road trip would be just the thing this Christmas. We never told the children.

Allow me to share with you our experiences between Christmas and New Year’s. Every family has their traditions. Every family has that house they visit to celebrate the Holidays. Some families may even be that host who welcomes friends and relatives into their home.

A very Merry Christmas!

Wife and I decided a little road trip would be just the thing this Christmas. We never told the children. We just told Lovie, who has been in charge of laundry, to make sure that everyone has enough clean clothes for the week. She didn’t seem too suspicious about it but went about her chores.

We went to my in-laws on Christmas Eve, went home, went to bed, and woke up on Christmas morning. We exchanged presents and had a quick, light breakfast. As the children ate, Wife presented them with a slide show detailing what the week had in store for everyone.

Everyone packed bags. We took snacks for us. We weren’t sure what would be open for meals on Christmas Day. Everyone loaded up the car and piled in. The Gaggle, Slick, Slugger, Lovie, The Oppressed, The Boy, Wife, and me. We hit the road, always a favorite hobby of mine. We drove through towns. We drove on highways. We stopped where we could to buy snacks. After hours of driving, we finally reached New York, and not long after crossing the line into the Empire State, we arrived at the urban jungle known as New York City.

Stop 1: New York City

All things considered; the traffic wasn’t that bad from our home on Massachusetts’ South Shore to the Big Apple. Even driving through NYC was relatively easy in terms of traffic. Like everything else with life: meals, travels, coordination, this trip presented its challenges which we met and…. Well, we met the challenges.

Our base for this trip was the Hilton Garden Inn on West 54th St. We parked on the street, which was utilized as a street for traffic, a bike lane, and a loading/unloading zone for those staying at the hotel. The loading zone was already full when we got there. Wife got out and got to check us in. I manned the driver’s seat just in case someone came by and said we needed to move the car, which may or may not have been blocking a fire hydrant when we first got there.

The Christmas tree lit up at Rockefeller Center in New York City.
The Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center.

I patiently waited in the car with seven children, some of whom wanted to go into the hotel with Wife. We said no. There was no way we were letting the kids split up in NYC before we got rooms squared away and luggage out of the car. I kept looking in all directions, hoping to find a better place to park and making sure no one was saying we couldn’t be here. Wife came back out and informed me we were good to go. We unloaded the car and got it parked out of everyone’s way. On to see our rooms, which weren’t adjoining. That’s alright. I’m sure we can make it work. The boys are on the 10th floor and the girls are on the 30th. Okay, we can meet in the hotel lobby, out front. Meet in someone’s room. Oh yeah, there are three elevators in the hotel, and one doesn’t work. Oh…

The day we arrived was a little low-key. After all, it’s Christmas Day. We chose to eat dinner in the hotel. We did some walking around the city. Back to the rooms for some rest and sleep.

The next day was the start of two full days in the Big Apple. We walked around Central Park. We took a bus tour of the city. We took a boat cruise and went past the Statue of Liberty. We ate bagels, pizza, and all kinds of unhealthy food that you would expect someone to eat while they’re on vacation.

A man standing outside a coffee shop in the city.
I have coffee every day. This time I let everyone know.

Oh yeah, pizza. Slick and I went to get pizza for everyone one night. There was a place not far from the hotel. It was late. Everyone was hungry, but no one really wanted to leave the hotel. Three pizzas should cover everybody for dinner. We ordered the pizzas and then we are told it’s cash only. No problem. We had the cash. We pay for the pizzas and wait for them. I realize I never bought drinks and have to make another order. The manager, who took our order, then informs us they take cash or credit cards. Would we like to use our credit card? Slick and I looked at each other and I told the manager we had cash. We’ll use cash.

There were sidewalk artists. Kids got paintings and drawings. Everyone got souvenirs. Wife told me you could get a Rolex for $10 in NYC. I didn’t know Rolex was going out of business. There’s also a question of authenticity with said “Rolexes” and I guess it’s not just the Rolexes. The same thing happens with certain designer bags and clothes. I’m in my 40’s and I’m still learning things.

A sidewalk artist wearing a mask as he spray-paints on canvas.
Sidewalk artist
The Statue of Liberty
A view from our city cruise.

We took a bus tour. We went around the city and listened to a recorded tour. We learned things about New York City, how things got their name, and the history of buildings and streets. We went down 42nd Street. No miracles. Then again, six went to NYC and we made it back with all six kids alive and intact. Maybe there was a miracle.

A street sign marking West 42 Street at night.
The home of miracles.

West 44th Street. I was on West 44th Street. There just happens to be a recording studio on that street. The Record Plant, aka “The Plant” was where John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, and Jimi Hendrix recorded. Aerosmith recorded there. It was one of those places I had always heard of. I tried to get The Boy to walk down the street with me. He declined. We were also on the far end of the street. I never made it to The Record Plant.

There was plenty to see in New York. There always is. Unfortunately, we had to get home. We needed to unpack our bags and trade dirty clothes for clean clothes, unload souvenirs, get some rest in our own beds and get ready for the second trip of the week.

Stop 2: Mystic, CT

We got home from the urban jungle of NYC and I took a shower and shaved. It was nice to be in my own bedroom. The past four nights with Slick and Slugger challenged my nose and lungs. I think housekeeping wore hazmat suits when they cleaned our room after we left.

A main reason for stopping at home was an earlier-planned meeting with my parents and siblings for lunch and exchanging Christmas presents. Unfortunately, one of my parents came down with Covid and plans for lunch had to be scrapped. Still, it was nice to get home and unload some of the dirty clothes that were sitting in our bags in the car, especially clothes from Slick and Slugger. We hit the road. A shorter trip this time. We arrived at a nice hotel situated in a nice part of town. We were near shopping, restaurants. We were near the Mystic Aquarium. The rooms were nice, the pool was heated. I was waiting for something to happen: some type of infestation, there was a mistake, and our rooms weren’t actually adjoining. Nothing. Accommodations that seemed too good to be true were the real thing.

A turtle in a glass case
The favorite part of the trip for The Oppressed.

Dinner and a quick dip in the pool with The Oppressed and The Boy. We fell asleep in our new room, the third in as many nights. The next day was spent at the Mystic Aquarium. The Oppressed got to see turtles. She loves turtles. The Boy got to see dinosaurs. He and I were both glad to see that. We had to leave the aquarium, though. We had dinner plans with Wife’s cousin at his family’s house. It was a nice house, and, when we pulled into the driveway, I reiterated my death threats if anybody didn’t behave themselves. It went well. All children were able to occupy themselves. Wife and I were able to have intelligent conversations with adults.

The next morning began with breakfast at a local diner. We did some shopping before getting on the road and making our way home. We got home. More dirty clothes were unloaded. We said goodbye to 2021 and welcomed 2022. It was a year with challenges, kids, lots of kids, and moments that made for interesting stories and reasons for drinking. What mattered was everyone had a good time. We got to do and see things with the kids.

Daddy’s Christmas Carol Part 5

Stave 5: Christmas at Last!

It was a blanket, and I had it wrapped tight around me as I lay next to Wife. I could tell it was cold outside, baby; but thanks to the blanket, Wife’s love, and Kitty sleeping and purring by our feet, I had plenty of love to keep me warm.

I opened my eyes just a little to check on Kitty, who had lifted its head and started to look around. We both heard footsteps heading in our direction. They got louder as they got closer to our fortress of slumber. Kitty got up on all fours and leapt off the bed. Just in time as The Boy made his appearance. He had a smile on his face and air underneath his body before crashing down on the bed between us. I think Kitty still has PTSD.

Wife jolted awake. She was ready to kill him, but the boy gave her a big, tight hug and said, “Merry Christmas!” This festive greeting reminded us that we needed to be extra vigilant in controlling our homicidal urges in the spirit of the season.

“Merry Christmas,” I said as I rolled over to give The Boy a hug. He pushed me away and resumed hugging my wife. The Oppressed came into our room with a smile. Wife saw her.

“Merry Christmas,” Wife said to her.

“Merry Christmas,” she said back as she ran to our bed and hugged me.

“Merry Christmas, Daddy,” she said.

“Merry Christmas,” I replied. I asked The Boy if I could have a hug, reminding him it was Christmas. I saw the back of his head shake, indicating, “No,” and continued hugging his mother.

Lovie then entered our room. She had an even bigger smile than The Oppressed.

“Merry Christmas,” Wife said to her.

“Merry Christmas,” she said. “Can we open presents?”

“Can the adults have coffee, first?” I asked.

“How about we make coffee first?” I suggested “Then, we can open presents while it finishes, and we can drink coffee while you kids open presents?”

“How about we open presents and then you can make coffee?” Lovie suggested, ever the humanitarian.

Wife told her to wake her other brothers. I took this opportunity to go downstairs and let Doggie out of her crate. As Doggie raced to the door to answer the call of nature, I heard what sounded like a drug raid taking place upstairs. Lovie flew the door open to the boys’ room unannounced. I heard yelling from the room.

“Wake up! It’s time to open presents!”

“Oh my God, what time is it?”

“It’s time to open presents. Stop sleeping!”

“Shut up! I’m tired.”

“Sleep tomorrow!”

I was in the kitchen at this point making coffee. After a few minutes, I answered the scratching on the door, signifying that Doggie had finished what she needed to do outside. The love and spirit of Christmas continued down the stairs as Lovie led the charge into the living room to see the loot Santa Claus had left for everyone.

“I want to give my presents to everyone first,” Lovie announced to everyone. The rest of the children stumbled into the living room, including The Gaggle, who was staying with us for the week. Wife was the last to come downstairs, barely able to keep her eyes open. We hugged each other and wished each other a Merry Christmas. The pot of coffee had just finished brewing, and I poured her and myself a cup before entering the madness that was unfolding in the living room.

Lovie was arguing with Slugger, who, apparently, had taken her seat. Lovie wanted the seat closest to the tree so she could supervise the handing out of Christmas presents. Of course, presents from her had to be opened first, and if anyone else was handing out presents, there was a chance hers wouldn’t be opened first.

Slick made his appearance and took a seat on the couch. He didn’t care whose presents got opened first. All he cared about was someone rudely woke him from his slumber, and it was Christmas Vacation.

The Gaggle took a seat next to Slick. Lovie was able to muscle Slugger away from the tree and assumed her role of gift-giver. The Boy sat next to Wife and The Oppressed sat with me. Presents were exchanged and opened. It was a nice Christmas morning filled with secrets that had been protected for weeks. Packages that had been smuggled into the house and locked away from prying eyes were finally allowed to see the light of day. Children were excited to try their new presents. Wife and I thanked each other for our presents. I got some nice clothes and, after a shower, I was eager to put on my new clothes and continue the celebration of Christmas.

After a few hours at home, we rounded up the cohort, packed the car with more gifts, and drove to my in-laws. There we handed out presents to relatives and shared in the joy of the Holidays. Dinner was then served, another fantastic spread put out by my mother-in-law, who is always cooking incredible food, especially during holidays.

Dinner. Dessert. My diet went off the rails again and it was going to be back to carrots and protein shakes soon enough. But for today, I partook in the feasting and festivities.

We went home that night. Children resumed playing with new gadgets and toys. Occasionally, one child proudly approached us to show us a gadget and what they learned to do with it. It got later into the night, and one-by-one, children started to go to bed. It was Christmas, but I still had my Daddy Duties. I read to The Boy and hung out with The Oppressed, who briefed me on the joy she felt on this most wonderful time of the year. She fell asleep, and I left her room. I made my way through the rooms of the house, shutting off lights as I made my way into the living room to turn off the Christmas tree. I surveyed the mass of Christmas goods strewn about the floor. More things around to test my agility as I try to negotiate my way from one room to another.

I made my way to the Christmas tree. Something caught my eye before I made it. It was a bottle of beer, much like one of the bottles I saw when The Ghost of Daddy Present haun- I mean – visited me. It had a nice red ribbon tied to it and a tag tied around the neck of the bottle. The tag read “The Christmas Spirit” and I smiled. I wasn’t going to drink it tonight. It was late and Daddy needs his beauty sleep. I would put it in the refrigerator and chill it proper for the following evening. After all, we should all keep the Christmas spirit year-round, right?

It’s time to open presents. Stop sleeping!

Lovie

A car slowly made its way past my house. It looked like Mr. Farley’s car. A horn sounded as it drove by. I smiled and waved just before the car disappeared from my sight. The Christmas tree went dark as the car disappeared.

I went upstairs, turning lights off as I made my way to my room. Wife was already fast asleep, as were the rest of my children. I head Doggie snoring in her crate. Kitty was curled up at the foot of my bed. It was just Wife in our bed until I climbed in to join her. I wondered how long this would last before another child decided to join us. It didn’t matter. I was tired and I was going to fall asleep fast. I would know someone else was in the bed when I wake up and try to look over at Wife.

And just like that, another Christmas came to an end. Mr. Farley didn’t visit me again, which I thought was rude. None of the spirits visited me again, but between the love my family has for each other, there’s plenty of the Christmas spirit to go around. And between all of my children, there’s enough haunting without ghosts.

Oh, well. That’s the life of a parent. You understand, I’m sure. Thanks for reading this irrefutably true story of the Christmas I shared with ghosts and spirits. I hope this story found you well and kept you company as you made your way through your own madness of preparing for Christmas at your home.

Oh, yeah… And God Bless Us, Everyone!

Daddy’s Christmas Carol Part 4

(With apologies to Charles Dickens)

Stave Four: The Ghost of Daddy Future

I looked and saw a figure about my height, a little taller. He was dressed elegantly in a three-piece suit that looked like it came out of a steampunk store. I liked it.

I looked down at myself, I was anxious to see if I was wearing the same clothes I had on when I was with the last spirit. To my surprise, I had on nice clothes: slacks, a nice shirt and a sweater. At least now I didn’t feel out of place… Not that anyone could see me.

“Let me guess,” I said. “The ghost of Christmas future.”

The ghost nodded with a smile. “Right you are,” it said. “Are you ready?”

“I guess so,” I shrugged.

“Well then,” he said. “Have a seat.”

I took a seat in the room I found myself in. I looked around. I had never seen this room before. I noticed it was decorated nice for Christmas. There was a tree, decorations throughout the room and, from what I could see, in the next room. There were some voices coming from the kitchen. I saw someone come into the living room, a man. Something about him seemed familiar. An older man followed him into the room. I could tell it was me! I still had some hair and I had finally lost some weight.

“So, how’ve you been, Dad?” the first person asked.

I couldn’t believe it. It was The Boy. He was grown up and he had finally gotten out of the house. It really was Christmas.

“I’ve been well,” my shadow said to him. Both were talking for a minute when two kids came into the room and began to climb on The Boy. It didn’t take much for me to figure out these were his children.

“Ow!” The Boy said. “What the… Will you get off me?”

I smiled. The Boy was finally getting a taste of his own medicine. It took a couple of decades, but he was figuring out what it was like to try talking to someone and be pestered by children. As my uncle told me when kids were hanging on me when trying to talk to someone: The torch has been passed.

The Boy continued to rid himself of the monkey-child while talking to his father. I was enjoying the interference he was getting while trying to do something. “Oh my God!” The Boy said, “Will you go bother your mother, please.”

While all of this was going on, a woman came into the room. She was dressed nice for the occasion. I could tell it was The Oppressed.

“What are you doing to your father?” she asked the child. The child didn’t answer. He just laughed while he continued to throw himself at my son.

A man, the husband of The Oppressed followed his wife into the room. A girl also came into the room and approached The Oppressed. She informed her mother she wanted to watch something.

“You watched something on the way to your uncle’s,” The Oppressed informed her daughter. How about you spend some time playing with your cousins?”

I think that was one of the worst things the child could have heard, and she lost her mind. She was furious and threw herself on the couch and began to cry.

“I just want to watch something, Mom!” she protested. “Why can’t I?”

The Oppressed rolled her eyes and muttered, “Oh my God!” I was enjoying this, and I could tell my shadow was enjoying it as well. I thought back to many times when I thought I could do something, and my children wouldn’t have it.

The Boy looked at my shadow and asked, “Dad, what’s so funny?”

“Nothing,” my shadow said as it sipped on some Christmas cheer. “Absolutely nothing.”

The Oppressed left the room, followed by her daughter who was continuing to clamor for a screen. Just then, Lovie entered with a carrying case in her hand. She met everyone with the greetings of the season. After extending the warmest of wishes to everyone, she set the case down on a table and removed her coat. An impatient meowing could be heard from the case.

“Alright,” she said. “Alright, let me get my jacket off.” She took off her jacket and hung it up. She then opened the case and removed her cat and held it close to her, praising her for being such a good kitty during the ride. She looked around the room and greeted everyone individually with a smile and a, “Hello.” After greeting everyone, she took a seat and continued to hold her cat. People asked where her dog was. She told them the dog was home alone and she would be back in time to be able to feed and walk it.

While The Boy was trying to talk to Lovie about how things had been, his son kept jumping on him, not giving a minute’s peace to hear the answer to her question. I was enjoying this and asked the spirit if it had any beers with it.

“Beers?” the spirit asked. “Why would I have beers? I’m a Christmas spirit.”

I was going to mention the previous spirit, and the many generous gifts that adorned my house compliments of that spirit, but I didn’t. There was too much going on in front of me, I didn’t want to take my eyes off of the action going on at The Boy’s house.

The daughter of The Oppressed continued to protest her cruel life without a screen. In the middle of the lamentations, Slick and Slugger made their appearance. They drove together in Slick’s car. Everyone said hello to the boys, even the younger children who were pestering their parents much to my delight. The Boy was about to say something to me, but his son continued to assault him. The Boy saw me laugh.

“It’s not funny, Dad.”

“Yes, it is,” I corrected him.

“How is it funny?” he asked me. “He doesn’t do this until I need to talk to someone.”

“You don’t say,” I said, pretending to be surprised. “You mean things are quiet, and then you want to say something and then, suddenly, he needs to run his mouth over you?”

He opened his mouth like he was about to say something, but nothing came out of his mouth. He looked like he was about to think of something, but his son crashed into him again, much to the delight of me and my shadow.

“Tell you what,” The Oppressed said to her daughter. “Let’s play with the present you got for Christmas. You brought it with you so you could show everyone and play with it.”

She didn’t want to. She wanted to play with a screen that The Oppressed had brought with her.

“This is why I don’t have kids,” Lovie said with a smile. “I just have my kitty, and she loves me!”

“Your cat’s stupid,” Slugger said.

“Shut up!” Lovie said. “I’ll teach you some manners in front of our nieces and nephews.”

Slick didn’t say anything. He just sat down and talked to my spirit about his job and how life was treating him. The Boy’s son proceeded to run across the room and just missed the wall as he left.

“Crash!” The Boy yelled. “Will you take it easy indoors?”

I saw Wife enter the room with The Boy’s wife. She took a seat next to my shadow. The Boy moved over to make room for his wife to sit down. As soon as she did, their son got between the both of them and pushed his father away. The child wanted time with his mother.

“Sweet justice,” I said.

The Oppressed and her husband announced to the guests that it was time for dinner. Hostess, host and guests made their way into the dining room. There was a large table beautifully decorated and set, with food from one end to the other. There was a beef roast, mashed potatoes, three different vegetables. Bottles of wine were placed here and there on the table. Some of the men were having a beer before dinner and brought their beers to the table instead of having wine. The kids were drinking Coca-Cola. Everyone sat down to dinner. Adults helped children make their plates. The Boy helped his son make a plate. His son took one bite of the food and started to run around the house.

“Oh my God,” The Boy said. “Will you sit for five minutes and eat?”

I was enjoying this. I could tell my shadow was enjoying it too. Wife reminded him that he did the same thing when he was his son’s age.

“Stop!” my son said. “You’re going to get hurt.”

“Our time grows short,” the spirit said. “We must leave soon.”

I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to see what else my grandchildren were going to do. I wanted to see what my children were going to do. I wanted to see what else people were going to say. I wanted to see what would be served for dessert. Would there be presents? There was so much I wanted to see, but I couldn’t see. I felt a yawn coming. I closed my eyes when I had to yawn. I was tired and I felt a blanket on me before I could open my eyes.

Daddy’s Christmas Carol Part 3

(With apologies to Charles Dickens)

Stave 3: The Ghost of Daddy Present

I was back in my bed as if nothing had happened. I looked at my clock. It was 1:55. I had five precious minutes to rest before the next ghost came to visit me. Farley certainly didn’t care much if I got any rest on the night before the most wonderful time of the year. I put my head back down and thought of everything I saw and witnessed with the first ghost. These beings certainly had a lot of energy. I wondered why they were haunting me instead of my kids. The kids had more energy than me or anyone else in the house. Why should the ghosts haunt me?

As I was thinking about this, I noticed a bright light flashing from downstairs. The light made its way up the stairs, in the hall and under my door into the room. I looked at my clock just as my phone made the sound of the bell signifying 2:00. Maybe if I stay here the ghost will come upstairs and find me. That would give me a couple more minutes before I’m forced on to the next display of shadows I need to see.

A voice from downstairs boomed, “Gregory!”

Again with the “Gregory”. What is it with these people, or ghosts, or whatever it is Farley sent to me?

“Gregory!” the voice called again.

“What?!” I yelled back, remembering that no one can hear anything as long as the ghosts are around. It’s like asking my kids to do something. Say it as loud as you want, they’ll never hear you.

“Come on downstairs, and bring your robe. Polite company tonight!”

Wonderful, we’re leaving the house again. I got out of bed and put on my robe. I went to the stairs and it looked like all of the lights downstairs were on. Again, it’s like my kids are around.

The only thing was, none of the lights in the rooms downstairs were actually on. I followed the stairs to the living room. Whatever the light was that lit the whole house, it seemed to be coming from the tree. These ghosts sure liked messing with the Christmas Tree.

I looked out at the room and saw kegs and bottles of beer. everywhere. There were small kegs and large kegs. There were bottles of all sizes. I didn’t know where they came from. I didn’t care where they came from. Over the kegs and bottles were chilled glasses resting on shelves. I adjusted the belt of my robe and marveled at the sight before me. It was like Christmas. Wait… I reminded myself it actually was Christmas!

I briefly took my eyes off the hoppy glory and goodness to notice who the voice was coming from. He was sitting in a chair, dressed in jeans and a hoodie. He had his feet up. No shoes, just socks. I wondered where this polite company was coming from if he was just in jeans and a hoodie with no shoes. He was sipping from a glass. Judging by the looks of the glass and what was in it, he was drinking a dark beer, maybe a stout.

“Have a beer,” he said. “And hurry up. We need to go soon.”

I walked up to a shelf and grabbed a glass. I poured myself an ale. “Where are we going?” I asked as I poured.

“You’ll find out,” he said to me. These ghosts just love to keep me in suspense. Oh well. At least there’s a glass of something nice to keep me busy while I’m finding out.

We drained our glasses and he got up from his chair. “Let’s go,” he said. I put my glass down and went with him to the door. He opened the door and said, “After you.” I walked through the door and, instead of stepping outside, I immediately found myself at my in-law’s house where my family goes every year for Christmas.

I looked around. Everything was the way it is when we visit. The table was set. I could smell dinner cooking in the kitchen. I looked over at the ghost. It was dressed up for dinner. New pants, nice shirt, nice shoes. I looked down at what I was wearing. I was still wearing the same robe I put on when I got out of bed.

“Hey!” I said to the ghost. “Where are my nice duds?”

The ghost just shrugged. What was this about? Ghosts can wake me up. They can decorate my house as they see fit. They can transport me to different houses without me leaving my own house. Is it too much to ask for me to wear something nice even if people can’t see me? I mean, it’s important enough the ghost gets to change its clothes.

Spirit and I found our way to the living room where the family was seated. We were talking away about the year we had and what the kids got from Santa Claus Christmas. I could see everyone seated in the room, including me. I was on the couch with Wife.

Suddenly, The Boy came into the living room. He jumped on the couch, landing, between me and Wife. I tried to move The Boy so I could be next to my wife, but he wasn’t having any of that.

The ghost looked at me and asked, “Does this always happen?”

“Just wait,” I said. “We just got here.”

I saw myself trying to say something to Wife. I was glad that at least my shadow had nice clothes. Every time I was talking to Wife, The Boy just had to say something. My mother-in-law announced dinner was ready and we all went to the dining room for dinner. We made our way to the room and found our seats at the table. I tried to take a seat next to Wife, but The Boy pushed me away and informed me that was his seat. I went to the other side of her, but I found Lovie already seated there. She looked at me with a smile. I needed to remind myself that it was Christmas.

The ghost shook his head. “Wow,” he said. “Do you ever get to see your wife?”

I told him that if I was lucky, we’ll get a night or two without children infiltrating our bedroom.

We all sat down to dinner. My mother-in-law is a great cook. We passed this, took that, and took, poured, and scooped food and gravy on our plate. The Boy insisted on a lot of this and a lot of that. The ghost noticed what The Boy was taking himself and what he wanted other people to put on his plate for him.

“Is he going to eat all of that?” The ghost asked me.

“Dear God, no,” I said to it.

We made our plates and began eating. The Boy got bored not long after we sat down to eat and started to walk around the room, and then the house. The ghost looked at me. I just shrugged.

I tried to say something to my wife, but every time I tried just happened to be the same time one of my children needed to say something. Even The Boy went back to the table to “say something” to my wife if he thought I looked like I was about to say something.

Dinner finished. Everyone helped to clear the table and bring things to the kitchen. After things were cleared, we retired back to the living room where we rested on chairs and couches with full hearts and stomachs. I thought this was my chance to sit with my wife, but The Boy and Lovie already settled in on either side of her. I found another place to sit that wasn’t as close to Wife as I would have liked. I asked The Boy for a hug. He said, “No.” I asked Lovie for a hug. She just looked away from me and snuggled in closer with my wife. Slick and Slugger were on their phones. The Oppressed was playing with one of her new toys.

I looked at the ghost to make my point, but it was gone. I looked around. No ghost. No house, even. I looked and saw a house I had never seen before. It was decorated for Christmas, alright. There was food cooking. I could smell it.

“Hi there,” a voice behind me said. “Merry Christmas!”

Next: The Ghost of Daddy Future

Daddy’s Christmas Carol Part 2

(With apologies to Dickens)

Stave 2: The Ghost of Daddy’s Past

I woke up in the middle of the night. I looked at my clock. It was 12:59. It was dark and quiet. Wife was sleeping. I couldn’t tell if any supernatural beings were in the house. That was fine with me. Maybe the whole thing with Farley was just a dream. Maybe nobody or nothing was going to come visit me after all. I didn’t hear anyone coming up the stairs. I didn’t hear doors opening or closing. It was a nice, quiet night with Wife and no children.

Then, despite my eyes being closed, I could tell the lamp on my nightstand was turned on, although it wasn’t as bright as it normally was. I opened an eye and looked in the direction of the bright and gleaming interruption to my slumber.

I rolled over and saw a being no taller than The Oppressed. It was dressed in a heavy winter coat. Its cheeks were ruddy, as if it had recently been outside for a walk. Gloves were tucked into a pocket. It just stood there, looking at me like it was one of my children.

This one had woken me up so, like an idiot, I was waiting for it to at least introduce itself or maybe tell me why it had decided to come and disturb me in the middle of the night. Finally, realizing it wasn’t going to volunteer anything to me, I asked, “Who are you?”

“I am the ghost of Christmas Past.”

“Long past?”

“No,” the ghost said. “Your past.”

“Well,” I said, “Things happened and I can’t do much about that now. After all, it’s in the past. I wish I didn’t take the ‘Over’ last week, but I did. That’s in the past now,” I said again as I laid down and pulled the blankets over me.

“Besides,” I continued, “I think Farley gave you the wrong house. I mean, I’m not saying I never met the man. I did, but I don’t think he meant to send you to me.”

I noticed the covers being removed I looked up and saw the spirit standing by an open window. I was trying to figure out if it opened the window from my bed or removed my blankets from the window. Either way, how was it able to do two things at once. I should introduce it to my children. Anyways, at this point I realized I wasn’t going to convince the prying poltergeist to leave me alone, and I was awake anyway. I got out of bed and put my robe on. I wanted a jacket but the ghost said I didn’t need one. I loved how the beings with the coats and jackets were telling me I didn’t need to wear anything to keep me warm. I was also trying to figure out why the lamp was dimmer than usual. The spirit could tell I was puzzled by the dim light by my bed.

“I turned it on but dimmed it for you,” it explained. “I know you’re always talking to the children about leaving rooms without turning off the lights and how high the electric bill is, so I dimmed the lights so you wouldn’t complain about the electricity.”

The ghost was right, but how did it know I was saying this. Who else was spying on me in my home?

“By the way,” the spirit said, “You kind of sound like your father.”

“Shut it,” I said.

The ghost floated out of the window. I was jealous. If I had to endure supernaturals and lose sleep, I should at least be able to do something different, like float or fly. I walked to the window like a mortal and looked down at the ground from the second floor. I looked at the spirit, who waved me over. I rolled my eyes, hoping gravity wouldn’t kick in. I stuck one leg out of the window and looked at Wife before bringing up the other leg.

If I had to endure supernaturals and lose sleep, I should at least be able to to something different, like float or fly.

I brought up my other leg and turned to face the window which had disappeared. I wasn’t sitting on the window sill in my bedroom in my house. I was standing in the living room of the apartment Wife and I had lived in. I looked around. Everything was decorated for Christmas. I looked at me sitting next to my wife – girlfriend.

“What’s this?” I asked?

“It’s Christmas Eve,” the ghost said to me.

It was late at night. I saw the shadows of me and Wife exchanging presents. It was late and we had decided to open our presents that night because it was going to be a busy Christmas Day for us. We’d be running around from our apartment to my family’s house to her family’s house; possibly visiting some other houses en route. Some things never changed for us.

I saw my shadow go to the kitchen and come back with two bottles. My shadow gave one to his girlfriend. They clinked their bottles wished each other a Merry Christmas.

Lights in the apartment turned off by themselves. Soon, only the tree was lit. I looked around as I noticed the lights turning off and I saw it was daylight. I looked back and saw the shadows emerge from the bedroom and make coffee. I saw my shadow enjoy a happy, pre-children tradition where I put a little something delicious in my coffee. Wherever we were going first that day, my girlfriend drove. I took advantage of this with said tradition.

“Not bad,” I said. “It’s nice and quiet.”

“Just the two of you… For now,” The spirit said.

“Yeah,” I replied. “The kids are coming soon enough.”

“That’s not what I mean,” the spirit said. I was confused. I turned to ask what the spirit meant, but before I could ask, I noticed the surroundings had changed again. This time, we were at my in-laws’ house. We were seated at the dinner table and about to eat. It was quiet; just adults sitting at the table eating their meals and having quiet conversations. No kids running around the table. No yelling. I was sitting next to my wife. I was talking to my wife. It was incredible. I didn’t remember the last time We were able to do that.

“This is nice,” I said.

“One more Christmas,” the spirit said, “and then we must part.”

“Wait,” I said. But before I could finish, the room changed. We were still in my in-laws’ house, but there was something different. We had a baby with us. This was when I realized it was the first Christmas Wife and I had with The Oppressed.

“Our first Christmas as a family of three,” I said.

“Your first Christmas Eve as a family of three,” the ghost reminded me.

“Christmas E -,” I started to say, and then I remembered something. “Wait a minute. What time is it?” I asked the ghost.

The ghost looked around the room. “I don’t see any clocks.”

“You don’t have a watch?” I asked.

The ghost shrugged. “I’m a ghost,” they said to me. I don’t really need to be anywhere. Besides, if I do need to be somewhere or with somebody, I’m summoned.”

“Well, summon a clock,” I said. “I need to know what time it is.” I looked at me and Wife. “Hey!” I screamed. “Check the time and start packing up!”

The spirit touched my arm and said, “Don’t bother. These are but shadows.”

I rolled my eyes. That wasn’t helping at all. I started knocking on the wall, hoping to get the attention of me and Wife. Wife’s mother thought she heard something. She went to the door and came back after a moment.

“I think there’s a fire on our street,” she said.

A fire? Wife’s mother opened the door when she thought she heard someone knocking. She saw and smelled smoke when she opened the door. I saw my shadow look at Wife. Wife looked at my shadow. Before anyone could say anything, a fire engine turned onto the street and parked right in the middle of the street in front of the house. That was it. No one was leaving the house for a while.

“I could have used some help,” I said.

The spirit shrugged and said, “They can’t hear us. These are-“

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” I said. “These are but shadows.”

The shadows of Wife and me stayed over my in-laws that night, just as we did with The Oppressed on that first Christmas Eve many years ago. Later that night, my shadow went to bed. I laid down on the couch. I looked over and I was in bed with my Wife, just as I was when the spirit had come into my room.

Daddy’s Christmas Carol Part 1

(With apologies to Dickens)

Stave 1: Farley’s Ghost

Everything was in place for Christmas morning. Wife was going to bed. I wanted to finish my drink before following her. There wasn’t much left, so I wouldn’t be long. I sat on the couch admiring the tree and all of its ornate glory. The decorations on the bottom of the tree came from The Boy, who was the smallest of the family and could only reach so high. Ornaments were hung here and there, almost haphazardly. Anyone who met The Boy wouldn’t be surprised by this display of roughshod decorating.

A Christmas tree with ornament and garland.

I took my last sip of Holiday Cheer. I needed to get to bed. It was after midnight. It wouldn’t be long before wife and I would be met with the giddy screams of children who live for nothing else but to ruin our peaceful slumber. Children who would come crashing into our bedroom and use our bed for some type of trampoline or gymnastics mat. I stood up and made my way to the Christmas tree. I turned it off. I was about to leave the room and head upstairs when I saw a car pull up to my house and stop with a lurch. It was an old car whose door creaked open and a silhouetted figure stepped out of the car. I couldn’t make out the person but I had an eerie feeling they could see me in the dark room and they knew I could see them.

🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄

The figure made its way up my driveway. As it came closer to my house, the tree lights somehow turned back on. They were dim at first but got brighter with every step the figure took towards my house. I couldn’t move. I stood there looking out the window, unable to take my eyes off of it as if it was silently commanding me to watch him.

A man looking around after he thought he heard something.
Sitting by myself. I thought I heard something.

Soon it was at my doorstep. It’s arms didn’t move, but I could see the door unlocking, like Wife had installed one of those early-adopter apps she likes to use and she was using such a thing to remotely lock and unlock doors. The door opened and the figure I saw leaving its car and approaching my house presented itself to me. It was a ghostly figure in the form of a man.

“Who are you?” I asked him, or it, not even sure he could understand me.

“Ask me who I was,” he answered.

“Okay,” I said. “Who you was?”

“In life, I was your high school teacher, Jack Farley.”

Mr. Farley? I remembered him. He was my Psychology teacher in senior year. I remembered hearing he had passed away years ago. I was tired, but he just got here and I didn’t want to be rude.

“What brings you here, Mr. Farley?” I asked him.

“It is required of every teacher that they should walk the earth and see that the students they taught are doing well with their lives,” Mr. Farley said. “That they are leading good lives and setting good examples for the children they raise and the children they meet.

“I’ve been out of high school for over twenty five years, and you decide to look in on me now?” I asked.

“You weren’t my only student,” Mr. Farley reminded me. “I have other students to check on and it’s not like they gave me a new car to do this.”

I looked outside. I could see the outlines of Mr. Farley’s car. It looked well-used when I was in high school, and that was a long time ago.

“Well,” I said, “I can tell you that I have five children under this roof. Each and every one of them could use a dope slap every now and then, but for the most part, I think Wife and I have them on the straight and narrow. Look, Mr. Farley, I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s getting late and my kids, especially The Boy are going to be up long before the sun with tomorrow being Christmas, and all. I appreciate you looking in on me. Things are going alright for us. I can tell you I’m doing well and things are good.”

That wasn’t good enough for Mr. Farley. I could tell by the look on his face he had more to tell me. Honestly, I was hoping he would save it for another day (a day. Like daylight when I was up and awake and didn’t need to go to sleep) and let me go upstairs to bed.

“Tonight, you will be visited by three ghosts,” he said.

“Tonight?” I asked. “Halloween was two months ago. Why do I need to see ghosts tonight?”

“Expect the first tonight when the bell tolls one.”

We were really doing this. I could see it didn’t matter to Farley how tired I was or what I had going on tomorrow.

“Bell tolls?” I asked him. “Look, Hemingway, we don’t exactly toll bells around here. Even phones ‘ringing’ don’t sound like ringing bells anymore. No bell, no tolling, no ghosts. Sorry Mr. Marley – I mean – Farley, but this house isn’t going to be able to accommodate that.

🔔🔕🔔🔕🔔🔕🔔🔕🔔🔕🔔🔕🔔🔕🔔🔕

Expect the second when the bell tolls two.

Again with the bell tolling. What is it with this guy – ghost?

“The third will visit when the bell tolls three.”

“One, two, three,” I said. “Simple enough.”

“I tried to keep it simple for you, Gregory. Math wasn’t your strong suit.”

“Gregory?” I asked. “And when did you become a math teacher?”

He wasn’t listening. He had already turned and walked through the door. At least I didn’t have to worry about him closing it, like I do with my kids. He walked down the driveway. The lights on the tree dimmed with each step he took toward his car. He looked at me one last time as he opened the door and got in. I’m wondering when and why he chooses to open some doors and walk through others. His car started and drove off. I stood there alone in the dark room, trying to figure out if what I thought I had witnessed had actually happened. Whether or not it did, it was a good enough reason for me to pour a quick one and process the supernatural events that had occurred. Once again, it had happened with no one else around, so if I decided to tell Wife about it. She would just tell me that I had interesting stories. My kids might believe me. Then again, they might not.

Next: The Ghost of Daddy Past

A fireplace with garland hanging on the mantle over it. There is an elf next to it in front of the tools.

My Child’s Version of the Day they were Born

With all of the debate at my house, my child wanted to set the record straight about the day they were born.

My child saw what I had written about the day they were born and they felt the need to straighten some things out when it came to that day. I didn’t think that was necessary, but they insisted on lending their opinion on the events of that magical day.

So, first I already know my dad is lying because I know I was born the day after Thanksgiving and my mom was in labor for 50 hours, so they would have been in the hospital since 1 a.m. that morning and MY MOM seems to have a different story and they don’t go to my aunt and uncles for Thanksgiving.

Brave Daddy here. We did go to my brother’s and his wife’s for Thanksgiving until they moved.

Plus, I have relatives to back my story up and I have asked my dad if am adopted and he says no.

My children seem to think I can be a little different when it comes to things I say and do. I don’t know where they get this. Seems unfounded to me. Anyways, there always seems to be some different recollections when it comes to that magical Thanksgiving and for some reason, they always seem to come up around Thanksgiving.

He was in the room, so he knows I wasn’t adopted. Well I disagree. (Being adopted is not a bad thing)

My child didn’t want any of their adopted siblings to thing Wife and I loved them any less because they were adopted, so they put that last part in there.

The point is, some people in this house seem to remember the day differently. Whatever happened, and we all know who told the REAL version here, Wife and I were happy to be parents. In fact, you could say we were thankful (see what I did there?) What ever you’re thankful for, enjoy it. Happy Thanksgiving.

A Very Special Thanksgiving 🦃

There are some disagreements as to exactly what and when things happened, but you, a loyal reader are very, VERY well aware of the truthfulness and accuracy of the stories and events recorded and shared.

This week is an exciting time for my family and I’m sure it is for your family as well. This is the time we all come together to visit loved ones or loved ones come to visit us. This is the time we all come together to celebrate Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is an especially memorable time for me and Wife because it is the first time we became parents. There was one particular Thanksgiving that will always have a special place in our hearts. There are some disagreements as to exactly what and when things happened, but you, a loyal reader, are very, VERY well aware of the truthfulness and accuracy of the stories and events recorded and shared. Because of this, you know of the historical accuracy of the tale I am about to impart.

It was a quiet Thursday morning for me and Wife. We were planning to go to my brother’s house that day. The DVR was set up to record a football game. Wife and I were seated in the living room sipping our coffees. My coffee had a little something tasty in it. A little Amaretto or Bailey’s for flavor on this leisurely morning where no one needed to go to work and it would be hours before we would need to be at my brother’s.

There was one particular Thanksgiving that will always have a special place in our hearts.

The time finally came to hit the road. We drove to my brother and his wife’s house. There we saw relatives and loved ones. We chatted and enjoyed hors d’oeuvres. Some rooms had people sitting around talking. One room had the television on where people were getting ready to watch the football game. Wife and I made our rounds and said hello to our hosts and their various guests. Everyone knew Wife was pregnant and, if they didn’t, I think they figured it out when they saw her. Wife found a seat and rested herself. People made their way to where she was sitting and wished her a Happy Thanksgiving. Everyone wanted to know how she was doing. Would she like anything? Could they get anything for her?

People continued to talk. I divided my time and attention between the game and conversation. Then, not long after we began talking, we were called into the dining room. It was a beautiful room, elegantly decorated. The table was beautifully set with various side dishes: stuffing, vegetables, cranberry sauce, a variety of potato dishes. In one area of the table was a large bare spot. Very large.

Everything was in place. Everyone was in place. We were all ready to eat. But first, we had to give thanks for the bounty we were about to receive. After all, it was Thanksgiving.

After giving thanks, we passed sides to and fro. The turkey was carved. Wife and I passed sides to those next to us and around us. People passed sides to us. I was fortunate enough to get a drumstick, my favorite part of the turkey.

My plate was made. I was ready to go. I’ll never forget that drumstick. It was next to the mashed potatoes, which had gravy on it. The gravy was running down the potatoes and ran towards the drumstick. The tip of the drumstick had a little gravy on it. Just a little. Just enough to add a little more flavor.

I took the drumstick in my hands and brought it to my mouth. I was about to take a bite of the crispy drumstick with just a little gravy on it. I could smell the delicious aroma of the bird. I was about to take a bite when I felt something on my arm. It was Wife tapping me and saying, “I think we need to go to the hospital.”

And so we did. We said goodbye to our hosts and our fellow guests and we drove to the hospital, where we later said hello to our first child. This is the true, irrefutable story of how Wife and I first became parents. It happened on Thanksgiving. It was an exciting time, and it all happened just as you read it.

This week is an exciting time for my family,

and I’m sure it is for your family.

… and we were thankful.
Continue reading “A Very Special Thanksgiving 🦃”