War On Christmas: My wife won’t let me use the laser.

A little Christmas Eve eve post to lighten your night and bolster you against the enemy. Who’s the enemy? Well all those godless heathens who who claim to love Jesus but hate Jesusy things, like America and cool lasers that cover your house with Christmas lights, that’s who. I mean how much coal do you have to have in your heart to not like laser beams that make your house a green and red field of Christmas cheer?

Now I am a guy who leans traditional at the holidays. I like Como, Bing, and Burl Ives. And I like putting up the old timey glass bulb lights like we used to do when I was a kid in Jersey. They were big, they were colorful, they were gaudy. In other words, they were perfect. The installation of the lights left a little bit to be desired.

We may have bent a few safety regulations putting them up. And by we I mean me, with my dad at the bottom of the 20 foot extension ladder that had already seen better days, yelling at me to be careful and don’t rip the gutters off the house as I dangled from the second story roof, some 25 feet above the ground. I am honestly misting up just thinking about it. Amazing what you miss sometimes. But man we laid down maximum effort at Christmas.

I recently went to a fall protection class at my current place of employment. Ladder safety was a huge topic obviously. The instructor probably had a complex by the end of the class because I could not stop giggling to myself as we went over all the OSHA, DOD, and DOE rules and regs governing the safe use of ladders. If any of those agencies had appeared on our lawn in the winters of 1975 through 90ish, they probably would have hauled us both off.

I don’t really have that issue here in Knoxville because the various roof sections are way too steep and I’m way too much of a coward now. Much more so than I was back in the 70s when men were men. But still I string my big bulb lights around the garage doors and the front door. I festoon the deck railing in back with my gaudy, go to hell 70s colored light bulbs. I even manage a few strands in the hedges out front.

It’s really a lot of fun, but that fun doesn’t come without effort. As it turns out age is directly proportional to effort. The older I get the less effort I feel like giving. Consequently the less effort I actual do give. But I dig Christmas so I was in need of a Christmas miracle of lights as it were. In steps my Neighbor Mike. Whilst curbing our new mutt, (to be covered in a later post), in the freezing cold of night, I glance up and see Mike’s house lit with a strange pattern of small red and green lights. I knew I was tired but it then appeared the lights changed pattern and then swirled around.

In between cusing and then admonishing the puppy/mutt to get on with his business, I ascertain Mike must have some sort of futuristic device generating his Christmas display. I must have this. After a quick text, he informs me the Kroger has them on the cheap. Well damn-it, I’ll be carrying myself down there the next day.

Can you not feel the Christmas in those lights?

Can you not feel the Christmas in those lights?

He was right. The Kroger had them. I went more on the cheap and got the stationary type. No patterns or motion, just straight up old fashion laser generated Christmas lights. And damn if they weren’t festive all to heck. Once more, it only required un-boxing them, jamming the steak in the ground at the desired position and plugging them in. That’s it. Done. In ten minutes I was lasering Christmas all over my house. And God said it was good.

Mrs Frank’s Place on the other hand…

She loathes it. With the passion and heat of a thousand Christmas candles does she hate it. My somewhat snarky, somewhat actual suggestion that she just avert her eyes while she was outside with the mutt in the freezing cold night went over like a fart in church. So, much like my parents who battled non-stop over the position of the thermostat, me and my betrothed duke it out over the plug, that’s right singular plug, required to power the two lasers in my front yard. One freaking plug, how can you not like that? It’s a Christmas mystery.

It would be easy to make all kinds of Christmas villain comparisons here, like the Grinch or Scrooge or the Heat Miser, but it is Christmas after all. So let us just say Mrs Frank’s place lacks the vision and desire for a better society when it comes to Christmas technology. Even the mutt liked the lasers. He only tried to pee on them once. And frankly the lights look good on him.

Christmas Milo rocking the

Christmas Milo rocking the “Laser”.

As I have explained, I am as old timey as they come when Christmas is involved. But I’m way more lazy than I am committed to tradition. One extension cord instead of my life flashing before my eyes as I hang helplessly from a ladder and gutters made in 1967?

Yeah I’m good with new and sexy over old and traditional.

Merry Christmas Eve eve people!

Diary of a SAHD: Dear Santa – you terrify me.

I’m not sure when this happened exactly. Last year the kid went to see Santa no problem. Sat in the dudes lap at the mall, got a great picture with a big smile. He even asked Santa for a soldier and candy cane. That’s it Santa asks, that’s all you want for Christmas? Frank says “yeah”.

Well mall Santa’s practically crap candy canes so that was easy. But then the dude produced a plastic bendable toy soldier dressed like the soldiers from the Nut Cracker. Frank almost had a baby right there. He stared at Santa with a big grin on his face. It was pretty cool. Although Santa raised the bar on me to heights unimaginable. It’s not like I can just pull toys and candy out of my rump. That would be awesome though.

To top that the freaking guy remembered Frank’s name from the year before. Called Frank by name before we could tell him what it was. Not making that up. I wasn’t sure if I should be impressed or a little creeped out or I should just call the cops. Probably all three.

For whatever reason this year Frank want’s nothing to do with Santa. He didn’t want to get his picture made with Santa at school. That was fine by us. The school santa is an arm and a leg and the guy last year looked a little “rugged” if you know what I’m saying. I’m not saying they grabbed the first hobo they could find peeing on the side of the Qwiki-Mart and crammed him into a Santa suit, but I’m not, not saying it either.

Alright so school Santa was out. No biggie. That put mall Santa at the top of the list. I was sorta looking forward to that if only to see if it was the same guy and could he remember Frank’s name again. But no go. Frank doesn’t want to see Santa this year. He says he’s not afraid he just doesn’t want to go. Not really the end of the world. We were hoping to get a picture of Frank and his sister together with Santa. AM was out of the mix last year as she was still on house quarantine for her immune system. So it was kind of a bummer. Plus I’m really dying to know if this guy can come up with Frank’s name again. Still one day left, maybe a Christmas miracle is in the air.

It ain't Shakespeare, but it'll do.

It ain’t Shakespeare, but it’ll do.

Since he’s wasn’t going to see Santa this year, I suggest to Frank that we should write a letter and mail it to Santa. That way the big guy will know what you want and he might bring you something. Once he realized we would be mailing it from our house he was down with it. So we penned a letter. He dictated and I wrote it out, word for word. Then he signed it. Exhibit A to the left.

The Snow Ogre to which he refers is the Abominable Snowman from the Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer cartoon. We were ready for that. He has been talking about a stuffed snow ogre for two weeks. We had no idea at first but when we decorated the tree he found the Abominable Snowman ornament and yelled out, this this is a snow ogre! Alrighty then, no problem. He’s actually a Yeti who goes by the name Bumble, but you know, he’s fictional. And he arrived in a day. Amazon Prime I love you.

No clue why he wants this.

Pretty cute as far as Yeti go.

The snowboard has put us in the trick. He caught us by surprise, no snow in Southtown, he’ll be deathly afraid of it, and it’s Christmas Eve. Snowboard ain’t happening.

I was also unprepared for him asking for things for the rest of us. Got “a little choked” as Frank says when he sees someone getting a bit misty eyed.

Golf balls for me is a no brainer. Although I wasn’t sure if I should take that as an insult. You know, “Santa please bring daddy new golf balls because he has hit so many in the lake the water level has risen two inches this year.” I decided I may be over-thinking it and kept scribing.

The dolly for his sister won’t be an issue. Why he asked for a farm for his mother is beyond me. We got him a farm, but no idea why he thinks she’d want one. Probably trying to slip an extra gift in for himself.

But he only asked for two things so if he thinks a third item for himself is a bridge too far, I’ll take that as a good sign. Maybe the kid has some understanding of moderation. Or maybe he’s just a conniving little chooch. Close call. But he always shares his candy with his sister so I gotta believe his list for Santa was done with pure intentions.

I can’t imagine his wish list will always be this spartan.

But if I can get away with a two foot high stuffed Yeti, that’s just all right.

Merry Christmas from Frank’s Place!


Diary of a Stay at Home Dad: The christmas card photo – “there will be happiness!!!!!”

I thought we had escaped it.  I was wrong.  Sadly, I was so wrong.  Tracy’s side of the family was in town the first week of December and we did an early Christmas with their kids and Frank and Anne Marie.  So we were semi-dressed in semi-Christmas garb.  Or should I say holiday garb?  Can we still say Christmas?  Is it legal.  Oh well I’ll risk it.

Anywho, we were kinda dressed up and the idea of taking a picture for a family Christmas card was floated, much like a stale air-biscuit in church.  You can look it up in the urban dictionary here: He who smelt it…  

Then she got the great idea that instead of standing in front of the tree we should be lying down in front of it.  It was, she claims, the only way Anne Marie could participate.  You know because there is no way I could hold her up for the 3.7 milli-seconds it takes for a camera shutter to groan it’s way to completion.  I knew the real deal.  She doesn’t like the way either of us currently look in pictures or real life.

To be clear, she looks great.  Even though I have dropped 22lbs I still have about 40 to go, so the prone in front the tree position was probably to keep my gut out of the yule tide shot.

We were off to a bad start and it got worse.  Since my little sister, aka the warden, lives in Jersey we were devoid of proper organization.  The following pictures detail some of the chaos.














At first the kids wouldn’t cooperate.  Thank God.  I thought once AM started to melt down we might be out of the whole deal.  But alas, she rallied.

Then Frank started to act up.  Was this the breaking point?  Nope, as hard as he tried, bless his little uncooperative heart, it just wasn’t enough.

Then Mommy disappeared.  It seems she was not adorned with the proper beautification products. I mean how long does she think an overweight 45 year old, a 3 year old, and a 8 month old can stay like this?

That’s when despair set in.  It was inevitable. Sadly I cracked first, then Anne Marie, then Frank.  Although I’m suspicious that Frank’s despair was at me and Anne Marie, not at the one person responsible for all this.



Here is what true exasperation looks like.

Three tired mice

Three tired mice

Trust me this was not staged.  Unbeknownst to me, my sister-in-law Rachel just kept taking pictures throughout the whole ordeal.  She ended up with almost 135 photos.

Eventually we all got it together, as much as that group could and managed a servicable Christmas card picture.

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All we got

All we got

Of the 135 shots Rachel took, this was the only serviceable one.  And yeah, Frank appears to be asking God why he is being punished with membership in this family.

Merry Christmas from Frank’s Place!

SHES 2012