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

Local New England Beers 🍻

All of us have been busy. Every week seems to be another episode of dividing and conquering. This fall has us dealing with one cross-country schedule and two different football schedules. One for a flag-football player and another for a cheerleader.

I had The Oppressed one weekend for a football game near the Rhode Island state line. We needed to make the drive back home but I, being the wise parent, thought we should stop somewhere first to get something to eat. The Oppressed agreed and we decided to stop in a nearby place for breakfast. This place was in Rhode Island and, as a personal rule, if I am in a different state, I have to stop somewhere for some local beer. I feel this is the best way to familiarize myself with the ways and customs of the people in the state I am visiting.

Derivative Pale Ale from Rhode Island.

My selection was the single-hopped pale ale (6% abv) from Derivative, a creation of the Proclamation Ale Company of Warwick, RI. I liked this beer. Usually I like IPA’s to be a little stronger, but this one did the trick. Derivative delivers a nice IPA that’s not too hoppy. If you like IPA’s but sometimes feel a little overpowered by it hoppiness, this is for you.

There was another time the open road called me. This time it was to Maine to visit family. While in the Pine Tree State, I grabbed some of the locally brewed offerings. My selection was another IPA, not because it’s may favorite, but because this seemed to be all the store was offering that day. I walked out with a Pulp Truck IPA (6% abv) from Marsh Island Brewing.

Marsh Island’s
Pulp Truck

This was a well-balanced beer. In other words, you’re not overpowered by the hops. It’s also not too strong. You can have a couple of these while sitting down with friends at lunch and still be able to drive home.

I was hoping to sample just one IPA and maybe something different from the second brewer, but this was what these nice people had to offer. Small brewers can only make so much, and I’m sure it’s difficult to brew many kinds simultaneously.

Mr Giggles from Foulmouthed

Pulp Truck wasn’t the only beer I grabbed while I was in Maine. I also came home with a Mr. Giggles Golden Strong (10%) made by FoulMouthed Brewing. I like strong beers, but not beers so strong all you taste is alcohol. This was not one of those beers. In fact, It didn’t taste like a 10% abv beer at all. I’m not saying it wasn’t strong, it was. But if you’re someone who doesn’t like a beer because it may be too strong for you, this is one you might be able to drink. It’s a smooth golden ale, not bitter. It’s not too carbonated and it smells like an ale. Some strong beers will overpower you when you bring it up to your nose. Again, this isn’t one of those beers. Another great thing about this beer is that money from your purchase will support the National Alliance on Mental Illness Maine (NAMIMAINE).

If you like beer, you should try a new brewer, especially a small one. These people live nearby, your helping the local economy and helping people in the area support their families. You’re drinking good beer and supporting the town. Good for you. 🍻

Local Beers and Taprooms

Daddy likes to unwind at the end of the day with a tasty beverage. He also likes to help local businesses. He relaxes. They thrive. It’s a win-win.

I like beer. You know I like beer and you know what kinds of beers I like. I’m happy to say I became a craft beer (formerly known as “microbrew”) connoisseur long before it became a popular thing to do, although I am happy to see the smaller taprooms popping up and taking advantage of the popularity by offering their own lagers, stouts, pilsners, etc.

I thought I would spend this week talking about some locally-made beers in my area and a couple that aren’t exactly close but on my way to and from destinations. These are beers that I have tasted and enjoy buying and imbibing, so I know what I’m talking about. I also want you to know these are beers I am writing about on my own free will and time. No one approached me for this and no one paid or offered me anything. These are beers I genuinely like.

Photo: bentwaterbrewing.com

Bent Water Brewing

This was a brewery I first learned about when passing through my old neighborhood. When on the road travelling to or from a vacation or visiting family, I try to stop somewhere to pick up some local beer. I like finding out about what’s around that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to buy and try. There was one drive home I decided to stop at a store I had passed many times but never visited. I was surprised to find beer made in my native Lynn, MA. I feel like my first beer was the Thunder Funk or the Viskiss. I don’t remember, which is odd because you always remember your first. Right? I’m hoping to try more from this brewery. I just need to make it back to the North Shore. (bentwaterbrewing.com)

Photo: twitter.com/ipswichalebrew

Ipswich Ale Brewery

I thought this was Mercury Brewing, but I couldn’t find that in my research. These nice people make many kinds of beer but their flagship offering is Ipswich Ale and it’s a great beer. In addition to this there are a number of other beers including Route 101 and Oatmeal Stout, personal favorites of mine. (ipswichalebrewery.com)

Photo: mayflowerbrewing.com

Mayflower Brewing

I’m a history buff, so I’m often in America’s Hometown of Plymouth. I’m not sure when I started drinking the offerings of Mayflower Brewing but their Thanksgiving Ale has been my personal tradition for years. Upon returning home from wherever we’re celebrating Thanksgiving, I put my feet up and enjoy one. Pilgrims drank beer all the time. It was safer than the brackish water. I drink beer because I like to support local businesses. Just doing my (small) part. (mayflowerbrewing.com)

photo: absolutebeer.com

Trillium

I think Wife introduced me to Trillium and I’m glad she did. They have plenty of varieties to choose from and you can enjoy their beers and grab something to eat in Canton and two additional locations in Boston. Otherwise, you can grab a four-pack at your local store. I liked the Double Dry Hopped Scaled the best but am looking forward to trying more, expanding my palette and trying more options. There are plenty from this brewery. (trilliumbrewing.com)

This is just a small sampling of the local beers I enjoy. There seems to be new tap rooms opening up all the time, which means more things to try out. No matter what pops up, I’ll be sure to pick something up from one of the existing breweries. If you like beer, there seems to be no shortage of options. Try one or two. They’re small businesses. They’re local. They certainly appreciate your business.

Christmas Spirits… and Wine… and Beer

As you know, I take my drinking very seriously. I fancy myself to be somewhat of an expert on beer. I am still learning about scotch and bourbon but I’ve always thought learning is fun.

During the Christmas season, I always try to read “A Christmas Carol” and one or two other stories of the Season written by Charles Dickens. Christmas in Victorian England seems like a fascinating thing to me and Wife. The Spirit. The decor. One time wife had to go to London on business not long before Christmas. She returned with mini mince pies, Christmas pudding, and some catalogs that featured some dinners you could order and pick up in time for Christmas dinner. Turkey. Goose. Beef. I asked wife if they shipped international orders.

Okay. Back to the drinking. I like drinking and I also like history. I have a book on what they drank during Colonial America. Colonists took what they had and turned it into delightful and delicious concoctions. Everything organic and made from scratch. Ever have a Rattle-Skull? Delicious.

One of my favorite recipe sources.

I first learned about a drink called a “Smoking Bishop” the first time I actually read “A Christmas Carol”. I was intrigued enough to look it up. It looked interesting and easy enough. I made a batch and it was wonderful. I try to make some every year. There are lots of variations on the recipe. I don’t know if there is one “original” recipe but this is the one I use.

Photo: toriavey.com

Speaking of “A Christmas Carol”, Fezziwig served Negus at his Christmas party. I’ve looked for a recipe to this drink. The easiest one calls for a mixture of port wine and boiling water. Add some nutmeg and cinnamon. A little lemon juice. Some suggest you mix the nutmeg and wine and let it sit for an hour or so. I make it and serve immediately with a lemon wedge.

I’m always looking for new things to try. I don’t need to look for reasons. The Miracles of Christ give me plenty of those by themselves. What do you like to make and drink? I know a lot of people like egg nog. Wife has a special recipe for that that has been handed down for generations. I like to sample some of that to. After all, ’tis the Season.

Daddy’s Guide to Beer

Last week, I gave you a little glimpse of my thoughts on beer. This week, I thought I’d do a little public service and talk to you about what beers pair nicely with the type of day I’m having. As we head into the middle of November, the weather continues to decline and the temperatures continue to drop. Thanksgiving isn’t far away and Wife and I are still trying to figure out exactly how we’re going to navigate our way through it this year. Yes. Life is throwing us plenty to deal with and an evening pint is certainly appreciated from time to time. Here is what I like to reach for depending on the situation.

Ale – A little light something. Perfect for preparing dinner or cooking. A little something to take the edge off after the Homework Wars.

IPA – There’s nothing wrong with an IPA. I just need a break from the hoppiness from time to time. That doesn’t mean it’s not delicious. It is. A strong IPA can be particularly tasty, especially after a day of homeschooling.

Lager – Not too dark. Not too strong. Another great companion when working over the stove or grill. Also an ideal companion after the children come home from school and are less than motivated to get their homework done.

Stout – A nice, dark beer that’s not too strong. A stout is great at night after the Miracles of Christ have gone to bed after a day of mental anguish filled with, “Drink your juice.” “Read a page,” or, God forbid, “Write a word.” A stout almost makes you take your time with it. It makes you sit back and unwind as you sip it. Sometimes, that’s all you need. Just a couple of minutes to decompress.

Beer. I’ve earned it.

Find me on Twitter @Greg_the_Brave or check out my Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/BraveDaddy/

What am I Drinking?

I am a self-described amateur beer and bourbon critic. I like to sit down and enjoy a glass or bottle of something. Parenthood has made me enjoy this even more.

When I have a beer, I like to have something locally made. Wife and I like to support the local businesses. The local breweries are no exception to this for me. I like the local stuff and I like to drink it at the local places. Coronapalooza has made going out to places a little difficult but I can still buy something and take it home.

What do I buy? Almost anything. I like lagers, ales. I like IPA’s but only so much. Sometimes I need a break from them. I like beers with fruit in them, usually blueberries or cherries. Chocolate. Coffee? Not so much.

Hoppy beers. Strong beers. Not too strong. I have five kids and I need to be up in the morning but a good, strong porter or IPA can make a nice nightcap, especially after a long day.

I want to know about the local stuff. I want to know what people like to drink (or brew). What are people selling? I’m the guy who can talk to the people behind the counter or bar about their beer all day. I used to work at a liquor store. I could help people find something new and I got to learn a thing or two from the sales reps.

I’m a beer geek. I like to research what I’m drinking. I like to see where it came from and what went into it. Where was it made? How far is it from where I am. If I go on vacation, I look for the local stuff first. I’m on Untapped. I like to see what’s out there. I take my vices seriously.

I like to have a little something after dinner. After the kids have gone to bed and as I am unwinding after a day of homework, dishes, and maybe while I’m preparing the next installment of my parenting exploits. I call The Boy my little reason for single-malt. I sometimes remind the kids it’s too early in the day to want to drink. Like most adults. I like to have a drink. I like it the most when it accompanies conversation with other people. One of the neighbors has a bar in their basement that I like to frequent. Before Corona, my family would go to someone’s house on a weekly basis for a pot-luck. We would sit around, have dinner and a drink and relax. We’d blow off steam for a couple of hours by talking about life and our jobs and the kids and how we have ruined their lives during that particular week.

I certainly miss it and I’m sure you do, too. We didn’t light the fire pit too often this past summer. We spent too much time cooped up in the house instead of in backyards and on front porches talking to neighbors and friends. One local place even shuttered its doors due to the ‘Rona. A new group bought it and re-opened it. That’s a good story. A lot of other places throughout the country haven’t been so lucky.

Technology has allowed me to keep in touch with some of my friends. We have a beer while we talk to each other and find out how we’ve been and what we’re doing to see ourselves through this. We can’t wait for this to be over. When it is, I hope you’ll do some celebrating somewhere local. There’s a business that would certainly appreciate it.