Saturday, December 31, 2005


In Which I Open My Gift...

Suddenly, six days later...

Yeesh. Sorry about that. In a season where it seemed bloggers were going to ground or switching to new blogs or just calling a time-out, I had more or less determined I'd keep on writing on through the holiday.

But then Christmas morning hit. In the pre-dawn gloom, groggy parents felt their way through the dark to the Christmas tree, where fresh presents had been laid on by that fat, hairy bastard in the red suit.

I'll say this for my kids: they're nowhere near as graspy or gimme-gimme as I was at the ages of 4 or 7. Never at any time or any age have they ever thrown a fit on the floor of a Wal-Mart or Target toy department, begging for this doll or that car. Never has Her Lovely Self or I been forced into the role of Parent Making for the Exit of Toys R Us with Child Clamped to Leg, Wailing, "But I WANT it!"

In fact, sometimes it's been a little tough to get my offspring to acknowledge that there's anything specific that they actually want, which was a problem I never had a kid, I can tell you. I'm STILL not over the fact that I didn't get one or two things I've asked for over the years (when I was 6, it was the LEGO Conveyor Belt Set; at 7, it was the Batman Mobile Crime Lab, a souped-up VW bus with a cherry-picker thing that dropped a cage on runaway bad guys; at 9, it was...well, I think I've made my point).

Anyway, this year was a little different. When the Brownie visited Santa at the mall, she informed him that she'd be pleased to receive any dress or outfit that contained the color pink. Otherwise, he should feel free simply to give her "moneys and those gift cards that you can buy things with." She sounded like no one so much as Sally in the classic Charlie Brown Christmas special, asking Santa for "tens and twenties."

Eventually, she did ask specifically for a pair of footed jammies. "Like what Dad had when he was little. Only pink, and I won't poop in them like he did," she helpfully informed Santa--and the nearest 70 or so people waiting in line to see him. Santa simply nodded sagely while I wondered whether it would be worth it to supply the back-story, or to simply disappear into the nearby stand of fake greenery and holly (I chose the latter).

Meanwhile, as you may know from his last Art Lad entry, all Thomas wanted was a ream of paper--a ream of paper. Thank God he saw a catalog with this Roboraptor thing on the cover and was able to include a picture of it in his letter to Santa. Because, really, who wants to be the dad whose kid goes back to school and tells everyone his best Christmas present was 500 sheets of Hammermill plain bond?

So Thomas got his packet of printer paper and his very cool toy. The Brownie got gift cards and three outfits, including some pink footed pajamas, which were absolutely impossible to find in our neck of the woods (luckily, the minions of Santa are everywhere, and the footed jammies Christmased their way into the house).

While Thomas began teaching his raptor pet how to play tug-of-war with a pajama leg (for a toy, it has a powerful clamping mouth), I showed Her Lovely Self the indoor greenhouse she had asked for, and which I had been secretly building. She was of course pleased, oohing and ahhing at all the fine details of workmanship that I helpfully pointed out--the fact that I had sanded it, for example. But then, I must say she got a little quiet when it was revealed that that was all I got her.

"But...but you said you didn't want anything except this!" I cried uselessly as she made the He-Failed-The-Nevending-Test-Wives-Spring-On-Husbands-Forever face. "Every year you say you don't want anything and every year I get you gobs of stuff and every year you complain about the money I waste and now, finally, the one year I build something and don't buy you anything, you're actually disappointed?" I asked.

And then she saw the look in my face that said Wait til I blog about THIS and assured me she wasn't disappointed at all. But I knew better.

So it was a good thing I had the book wrapped and ready as a backup. And the clothes too.

Oh, and I also drove her to Ohio to spend the last four days with her family.

Which we hemmed and hawed about doing, and then decided that we wouldn't do, since we had just been there to meet our new niece, and it really wouldn't be fair to the kids since we'd essentially have to drive there on Christmas Day to really make the most of our time.

But sure enough, just after breakfast--and also just after dawn--here's us packing the van, Thomas sitting serenely in his seat, his raptor wrapped up in a blanket like a newborn, the Brownie in her seat, riffling gift cards--one from Santa, TWO from Grandma, and one from an aunt--like a riverboat gambler. We left Blaze with friends--and really good friends they are to let us drop a dog on them on Christmas Day--and took off, arriving at my in-laws in the middle of a huge family gathering.

Strict with my children and corrosive to my bride's self-esteem though they often are, my in-laws have the compensating virtue of being peerless when it comes to making a home look all merry and bright for the holidays. By the time we arrived, sisters- and brothers-in-law, nephews and niece--and even a great-grandmother--were all there, playing games and opening presents in the family room, a giant, glowing tree towering over everything, Tony Bennett singing his jaunty way through his holiday CD. And there we were, four faces (five counting Roboraptor) pressed against the glass of the front door, amid squeals of surprise and delight from inside. It was a Hallmark Hall of Fame TV special come to life.

Right up until my father-in-law knelt to hug Thomas and Roboraptor thrashed awake and bit Grandpa in the crotch.

(And all I could think was Run Baby Jesus! Run!)

Although no harm was done, no one--certainly not a 60-year-old man--looks dignified with a flailing animatronic dinosaur clamped to the fly of his corduroys. But once the moment was over, we got back into Hallmark Special mode and had one of the nicest visits I can remember in a long time. Her Lovely Self felt the same way, so I suppose that's no small gift to give her.

And what did I get, you might ask?

Well, aside from the usual books and sweaters, I received a very nice compliment indeed. I first noticed it a day or so ago, when I happened to be noodling around on the blog and saw that traffic was strangely up for a holiday weekend. Naturally, I blamed Shane, since my traffic always quadruples when he so much as utters my initials. But Nickerblog was not the cause.

This was.

Someone--several someones--took time out of the busiest, most time-crunched time of year to nominate me for a BOB Award. Specifically, under the Daddy Blog category. And said nice things while they did it.

I realize these personal nominations do not mean I am a finalist (or whatever they call it). But just the fact that you (and you know who you are) would take the time to draw anyone's attention to my place makes me happy beyond words. Thank you.

(And anyone else who wants to make me happy beyond words should feel free to rush right over to the BOB site and do the same thing. And of course, you should nominate other blogs for other things while you're there.)

Of course, as with most news about life here at the Masthead, Her Lovely Self was less enthused than I. "Daddy blog?" she asked. "Daddy blog? I thought you wrote funny stuff. Or stuff about writing. Don't they have categories for that? How about Wordiest Blog? I bet you'd win that one."

Har har.

I suppose she has a point. This blog most definitely started in one direction and has clearly gone another. Does that bother me? Nah. I've been writing long enough to realize that what you write often takes on a life of its own, going in ways you never planned. And when it does, it's best not to fight it, but to simply go with it, hand lightly on the wheel, careening off into the darkness, figuring sooner or later you'll see a light and a welcome glow and a door opening for you.

And anyway, I just checked: in a little over a year, averaging a post every other day, more than half--actually close to two-thirds--of what I've written here is about my family, my own parents, my odd, accident-prone domestic life. So I guess it is what it is and I am what I am.

And what I am right now is awfully flattered and happy. Not just from the folks who threw my URL in the hat, but also from the folks whose comments and emails this past year have been full of such kindness and praise; from the folks who so willingly participated in my C.R.A.P. Giveaway, and then made good on their promises; from the folks who continue to read and support Art Lad (even though he is LONG overdue for an update).

YOU are the gift, one I barely deserve. And one I hope I never lose.

Because if I do, man, I may just throw a fit right here on the floor of the blogosphere. And it won't be pretty.

And with that, I'm off to bed.

See you next year.

From Somewhere on the Masthead

Happy New Year old boy.

Your friend the bunny.
Happy New Year to one of the best bloggers out here. I come back again and again because your stories are consistently well-written, compelling, and funny.

Plus, you injure yourself more often than I do, which amazes me.

Looking forward to more great storytelling and (minor) injuries in 2006,

Merujo, an appreciative reader
Happy New Year :)
Finally! I've been wondering when you were coming back.

Thank you for sharing your stories; I adore this blog.

It's such an awesome feeling when you get noticed by people out there in this HUGE place that is the internet. See: [I know she probably found me through my comments here or Artlad's, so that's another thing to thank you for!]
Congratulations on the nomination! Well deserved. You are my first stop on the internet each morning. Glad to hear Christmas was good to you and the family, may 2006 be another awsome year.
First, you deserve all the praise and more. You are an extremely talented writer, up there with Stephen King, and I mean that sincerely. There are only a few writers whom I'll read every word, regardless of subject matter. It's like poetry. Who cares if it is about leaves or grass or trees or a bifurcated hernia, good writing is good writing is good writing.

Second, where's my Crap? You owe me a story, dammit!! :-)

Third, enjoy 2006. My sister says that Even years are better than Odd years, so good luck to us all!

Thanks for everything, Mr. Man. I can't imagine being able to repay you, though I feel I should.

Happy New Year to the MM clan!

No worries about you losing your prime real estate on my favourites bar - I suspect there would be countless hissy-fits if you decided to retire from your blog!

Hopefully both scenarios are equally laughable...

Here's to a great 2006!
Hey MM,
Happy New Year to you and your crew. Thanks again for what you do here. It is inspiring.
Like when I was five or so and would eat the food on my plate in order of the things I liked least first to leaving the best for last,this blog is my "best for last" blog.

Happy New Year Magazine Man. I look forward to many more beautifully written and truly entertaining blog posts.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and good luck with the BOB thing! You deserve every great thing our fellow bloggers have to say about you :)

P.S. I'm jealous that Thomas got a raptorobot - those are awesome!
Congratulations on your nomination!! I'm glad you had a Merry Christmas, MM, and hope your New Year is wonderful!
MM, thanks for a wonderful 2005. I look forward to more funny, wonderful, sappy, hilarious moments in 2006. Thanks, too, for a consistently wonderful bright spot to my days. That's what your blog has been for me.

Carry on.
Happy New Year to the MM clan! I love the way you write.
Have a great 2006 MM! Thanks for all the laughs.
I'm not big on commenting to blog's of people I don't know... but I read this religiously and feel like, in some small way, I do know you.

I recently moved away from my family and am living on my own for the first time... and it's been hard not being present for all those hilarious moments and the creation of future inside jokes, but the hardest part has been not being there for the small, every day things... as you wrote in your previous post, those Moments You'll Cherish Forever.

Reading Thomas' and your blogs makes me feel at home and gives me a little piece of what I miss so much while I'm away.

For what it's worth, thank you for sharing your amazing stories and wonderfully funny method of story telling with all of us.
I found you via the BoBs and I thought I'd pop over to see what the fuss was about. I enjoyed reading your posts.

Happy New Year to you and your family.
Congrats on your nomination- you should win! You deserve it!

Happy New Years and I love reading your blog.
I'm with you, Geek's Girl. I save this blog for last unless I'm too busy to look at more than one. Thanks MM for sharing your days and brightening so many of mine. Glad to see you being recognized, though it may make the quasi-anonymity more difficult to maintain.
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