Killing Christmas


This is not a post about whether tis nobler in the mind to say “Merry Christmas”, “Seasons Greetings” or “Happy Hanuka”.  I’m going to assume that if you’ve made it here that you have a half a brain and don’t need some idiot on the Internet to tell you already know: There is no war on Christmas, there are just some people in the world who don’t know how to refrain from being assholes.

This post is also being written in the heat of summer, so this isn’t me getting an early start on a campaign to cancel Christmas.

What this post IS about though is a coming of age.  It’s about lies and cover ups.  It’s about right and wrong.  It’s about the forces of magic and imagination versus the forces of consumerism and the hard truth of reality.

It’s about Santa Claus.

Somehow, our son has made it to the age of 11 years old while still believing in Santa Claus.  I don’t know how this happened.  I thank/blame the parents of his peers for raising well adjusted little angels who chose not to burst my son’s bubble.

I may also be partly to blame.  When my son was younger, maybe 3 years old let’s say, it was hard to get him to eat at restaurants.  For one thing, he’s a picky eater.  So we usually only took him to Pizza Hut.  But in addition to limiting our options he would often not eat or be ridiculously slow to eat.  So one day I clued into an idea.

I spread my napkin on the table, held one hand over it and stealthily blew onto the table to make it move.  Three year old Owen was delighted.  I did this several times then told him to give it a whirl, he held his hands over it and I blew just enough to make it wiggle a bit.

“Oh, you must not have enough energy to make it go!”, I lied straight to his innocent little face, “Take a bite of pizza and try again.”

And he did.  He remained convinced that he could do this for YEARS!  We even went to Pizza Hut once with a couple of his friends and managed to convince them!  He was 8 when I finally fessed up.  I thought that it was only a matter of time before he went out to a restaurant without me and said: “WTF! This totally works when I’m with my Dad…”

He wasn’t mad when he found out, just disappointed that he didn’t have Jedi-like powers.

So he has a history of us perpetuating whimsical tales (lies) about magical things.

But now this forces us into a dilemma:

Do we allow our son to go on, believing in Santa, only for him to innocently let slip one day in grade 12 that he’s asked for the iPhone 27x from Santa and be laughed at by his peers?

Or do we rip it off like a band-aid and tell him right now that there is nothing magical in the world (except of course when a vending machine gives you two for one), hoping that it will all resolve itself in therapy in the coming years?

Hmmm.  Maybe somewhere in the middle then.

My own thoughts are that I would rather not send my child into junior high believing in Santa Claus.  A lot of my parenting decisions have been made this way: Deadline parenting.  We toilet trained him based on the idea that we did not want him to be the kid who poops himself in kindergarten.  So we had a deadline.  We taught him to tie his shoes before he got to grade 1 so that he wasn’t the kid who needed teacher to tie them for him at recess.  Deadline.

So no Santa by Junior High, ok then.  That gives us one more year of elementary school.

New dilemma: Do we tell him now, in the summer?  Or do we wait until after one more  Christmas?  This is harder.

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Originally published…a long time ago…like 6 years ago.

Nothing like a sweat drenched T-shirt, some sore legs and a feeling of my own physical power to remind me why I take Taekwondo.

Of course the T-shirt has since dried out in my gym bag stinking that up, my sore legs now prevent me from walking without moaning like a lost soul and the sense of physical power lasted until I tripped on a piece of plastic wrap and stubbed my toe……yeah, watch out evil doers!

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Oh! That’s why!

Originally Posted in Dec. 2010

If you answer enough “But why?” questions, you get a prize, apparently.

A few months ago we were riding in the car for what ended up being a 30-40 minute drive and Owen was hitting me with rapid fire questions the entire trip. It’s a stereotypical scene we’ve all heard about kids. They ask a billion questions, many of them starting with “why?”. But as a parent, a.k.a official tour guide for new arrivals to Planet Earth, I feel it is my responsibility to answer as many questions as I can, as accurately as I can. And if the answer ends up being “Look buddy, Daddy really needs to focus on driving right now, I will answer all of your questions later.” then so be it. But as a rule, I try to answer them all, as they happen.

As we passed a hay field about three quarters of the way to our final destination I had to answer about 8 of them about the bails of hay in the field. What are those? Who made them? But why?

But why? But why? But why?

After my answer for the last one, Owen said: “Oh! I didn’t know that!” And he had no further questions (your honour).

So what? For the other fifty million question that day, he was just testing me. But on question #8 about hay, I rocked his world!?!

Too funny.

Interesting facts about hay (should you ever need them):

The most common way to store hay is called the square bale. These are actually rectangular and can weigh anywhere from 50-70 lbs. These are both easy to handle and to store. They are bound with either baling twine, a very strong multi-ply synthetic twine, or wire.

Tower-Bridge-hayA weird use for hay out of London. Whenever there is work being done on the Tower Bridge (which spans the Thames river near the Tower of London), the Port of London Authority by-laws require that a bail of hay be suspended from the bridge.

Also, hay is not a single crop. It is cut from legumes such as clover, alfalfa, and soybeans and from grasses such as timothy, upland grasses, and midland grasses. Even cereals such as rye, oats, and barley may be cut and cured as hay. Some hay fields, such as alfalfa and red clover, produce two…

Alright that’s enough…

…you’ll have to do your own research about hay. I’m done.

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From the Mouths of Babes. Episode 485

Originally posted in Nov 2010

My wife was putting Owen to bed one night last week. She told him to have a good sleep and that we’d give his Grandpa a call in the morning to wish him a happy Birthday.

“Mommy, how old is Grandpa?”, he asked rubbing his eyes sleepily.

“Well, Grandpa is 65 years old.”

He sat up and exclaimed, “You gotta be kidding me!”

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The Moment of Truth Approaches

It’s time…almost.

I’ve resurrected all of the original blog posts that I want to save. I have extracted them from the weird voodoo web code from the site the blog was previously hosted on, that I could neither understand nor use. All that remains to polish up the last 4 or 5 posts worth recycling.

Then it’s time to produce some new material.

No problem.

I hope.

Thanks for being patient as I’ve trotted out all these oldies. I will try to write some material about the years in between these old posts and the here and now, but the bulk of what you see after this week should be all new stuff, regardless.

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Too much…

Originally Posted Dec 2010 

One day a couple of years ago, when Owen was two years old, he’d had ice cream for a snack at Day Care and he was very excited about it when I picked him up.  He was trying to convince me that we should go home and have some more ice cream right away.  While I’d normally be down for such a delicious endeavour, we had some errands to run that day.

I told him we needed to go and get groceries and that we might go to the book store too and play with the train set there.  That got his attention – trains are crack for toddlers, in case you didn’t know.  Especially a certain steam engine whose name rhymes with Lomass.

Then there was some discussion about the order we should make those stops in, but he finally agreed that my plan (book store and then Groceries) would be fine… …as long as we went home for ice cream first.  And here I’d thought he’d been safely distracted away from the ice cream!

I agreed (since, if I was honest, I wanted ice cream too now that he’d made me think of it) and so we did that.  After our ice cream we headed out for the book store.  While we were driving, Owen suggested that we come back home after groceries and have another ice cream.

I told him that if he ate too much ice cream he’d turn into a frog.  I expected this to confuse him.  Instead, as I glanced in the rear-view mirror, I saw him smirk and then he said that if I ate too much ice cream I’d turn into a bird.  I chuckled at this game I’d inadvertently started and told him that birds can fly, so that might actually be fun.  He agreed and added, “Owen turn into a froggy, he go swimming in da water, might be fun too!”  He still talks about himself in the third person, which is cute at this age… douchey in adulthood, but we’ll worry about that if he’s still doing it in five years.

At the book store, he played nicely with the other kids there and he was very well behaved in the grocery store too.  After we’d shopped and got back in the car Owen brought up ice cream again, and insisted that if we ate too much ice cream it would now be HIM that turned into a bird and ME that would turn into the frog.  He also speculated that it could be possible that he might turn into an elephant.

I assured him that this only happened when one ate too much spaghetti.  After which he reasonably assumed that if he were to eat too much pizza he’d turn into a monkey; a fact which I confirmed for him.  And too much peanut butter, of course, would turn him into a squirrel.

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Charities and Older Women

Originally posted Nov 2010

A canvasser came to our door tonight for a very worthwhile charity.   I won’t name it here because it doesn’t matter.  But if you think of a well-known international charity that specializes in championing human rights causes you could probably guess it in three tries (first two don’t count).  And while their cause is a very good one, I’ve decided long ago that I don’t give anything to anyone who comes to my door.  Not because I don’t give money and/or time to Charities and not because I have any trust issue with door-to-door sales or pitch people.

I don’t give anything to anybody who comes to my door for the same reason that I don’t give food to squirrels.  Because they’ll only keep coming back.  And they’ll tell their friends to come too!  And eventually, they’ll become a problem and start nesting in my attic and stealing cable from me.

While I try my best to never give them anything or sign up for anything, the odd time I may let them do their spiel.  If they seem really nice and aren’t too pushy I might ask them questions and in the end I’ll ask about a website.  If what they were talking about really did seem worth looking into, I might even use the website they give me.

This might seem cold, but like I’ve said above I already do give to worthwhile charities, I just prefer to find them on my own.  Because, squirrels…remember?

I have been weak and given money the odd time…kids are tough to say no to.  Chocolate bars are hard to say no to as well…      …besides, those are usually one-offs. They don’t keep coming back or tell other school fundraisers which houses are more likely to pay out.

Tonight it was just Owen and myself in the house. My wife was out for the evening learning the mysteries of glass bead making.  So when I answered the door tonight, I had a curious 4 year old peaking around my legs at the young lady who’d rang our doorbell.  As I listened to the spiel, Owen was sneaking around me, jumping outside in socked feet, trying to push the door I was holding open even farther open, running back and forth to his toy box to present more toys to our visitor and, in hindsight, doing just about everything possible to get himself noticed by the young lady at the door.

She was friendly, polite and very tolerant of this short person interrupting her spiel and in fact it barely seemed to throw her at all.  She’d just smile at him and keep on going.

So I asked questions and let her talk. And at the end I pulled the web site tactic. She told me the website and we said goodbye. Before she walked off I asked Owen if he wanted to say goodbye. He did and she smiled and turned to leave.  Then Owen pushed the outside door open quickly and blew her a big noisy kiss! MMMmmmwaaaaaah!  She turned back and rewarded him a big smile and we closed the door. Little charmer…

Once we came back into the house Owen suggested we invite “that girl” back to our house again and next time we should let her in.  She had to be at least 16 years his senior.  So when she’s 40, he’d be 24.  Sort of a Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher thing…

It’d make for a good story at their wedding reception!

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