The best Christmas ever (and I understand Charlie Brown much better now)

Here are my very simple criteria for what makes a Christmas, “the best Christmas”:

  1. Was I alive during it?
  2. Did I stay out of the hospital?

Check off both of those boxes this year. Thus, best Christmas ever. Check back next year and if those two boxes are checked again, you’ll see a post with the same title.

Though my present was Luna's bionic knee, I did get some stocking stuffers, like this BBQ mitt to keep me from burning the hair off my arm each time I cook the fish.

Though my present was Luna’s bionic knee, I did get some stocking stuffers, like this BBQ mitt to keep me from burning the hair off my hand and arm each time I cook fish.

You’ll notice there’s nothing on my checklist about the gifts I received during the holiday. Just living to see another Christmas and not being in the hospital are the only two gifts I care about now. When I was younger it was about the “stuff,” which would make the year I received a Sizzlers racetrack the best Christmas ever.

So, this Christmas was pretty awesome. We didn’t make any parental missteps like last year’s bicycle gift to my daughter. My wife and I gave her a bunch of eclectic gifts this year, including a messenger bag that she loved and carried around downtown Ventura two days later, which is amazing considering she’s allergic to carrying anything, especially groceries from the car to the house.

The art supplies Santa (my wife) bought her made her happy. And I went off the reservation, so to speak, this year, and ordered her several gifts without asking for my wife’s “voice of reason” opinion, which would have killed some of them. I just ordered stuff I thought my daughter would like: an origami book, a logic puzzle book, a scientific cookbook for kids, and a book on cupcakes.

Jackpot! I received zero, “Why is there a bicycle wedged in my stocking?” looks this year.

If there was one melancholy moment, it was at dinner the next night when my daughter challenged us to a logic puzzle. Both my wife and I made the big mistake of attempting it while we continued to eat, not paying attention that my daughter ignored her turkey and mashed potatoes and gave 100% of her young, healthy brain’s attention to the puzzle.

The two of us were halfway through it when she yelled out, “done.”

My favorite quote from the movie Aliens seems appropriate here: “What do you mean, THEY cut the power? How could they cut the power, man? They’re animals!”

So, my response was somewhat similar: What do you mean you finished? You did the entire thing? How did you do it that fast, you’re only 10?”

What happened to our little girl, the half-pint sponge who dressed up as Snow White and loved tea parties? Hello, computer-brained daughter whose main goal now is to have a mental throwdown with her parents, with little thought and compassion for their fragile adult self-esteem. What the heck are they teaching kids in fifth grade these days?

Round two. With fresh copies of a new puzzle in our hands and full concentration – dinner set aside – the three of us went at it again.

I also received a Kreg Jig Jr. I can go "pocket hole" crazy now.

I also received a Kreg Jig Jr. I can go “pocket hole” crazy now.

The scene: clock ticking loudly, sweat dripping off my brow, collar feeling tight, pencil slowly etching the paper, scribbled notes, stomach churning.

The result: My wife finished first, followed by my daughter two seconds later, followed by me – later.

Defeat, failure. Smashed by the two females in my house, an event that is happening way too often these days. ARGH, Charlie Brown, I know how you felt, my man. I know how you felt.

But if there is a silver lining to the beat down, I’m still the person they come to when their computers don’t work, or something in the house needs fixing. Luckily, the logic puzzles don’t extend to real life, and I still have some purpose and value left.

All hope is not lost yet, Charlie Brown.

Happy New Year to all.

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