Once upon a time there was a humble family man named Tim. Tim loved the holiday season more than any other time of year – all the traditional songs, twinkling lights, frosted gingerbread cookies – but most of all, seeing the magic of Christmas in his kids’ eyes. Yes, Tim was blessed with two wonderful daughters, Rachel and Emily. He remembered so many wonderful Christmases from their youth with fondness.
However, in recent years, as his girls grew older and more independent, Tim sensed that the holiday spirit was slipping away from their Christmas gatherings. Indeed, this might be the last year that the entire family would be together for the holiday as both girls were embarking on careers in far-away cities. So, Tim made up his mind. He was going to bring back the magic of Christmas one last time!
The holidays were rapidly approaching. Emily arrived home first. Tim was so excited to see his younger daughter. After all, he’d not seen her in six full moons. Tim had a wonderfully festive plan for just the two of them. They would hunt down the perfect tree, a majestic tribute to Father Christmas. Then they’d decorate it with shimmering ornaments and glittering tinsel. But Emily was jet-lagged from her long flight home from China and went straight to bed – for the next two days. So much for that inspiration. Oh, Tannen-bomb, thought Tim.
On July 4th, we will once again celebrate our independence from the tyranny of England. Those British monarchs can be so oppressive. If it were up to Queen Elizabeth, we’d all be forced to drink Earl Grey tea with every meal.
Every year at this time, Americans proudly mark our independence with fireworks, burgers on the grill and binge drinking. And why shouldn’t we? Ours is the greatest nation in the solar system. I’m a patriotic American – something my wife will never understand because, sadly, she’s Canadian.
When it comes to being great, no country on earth is better than the U.S. of A. We’re NUMBER ONE! Look at the Olympics – God almost always backs the Americans – except in soccer – because he knows that Americans love God more than any other country. Every time a U.S. athlete wins, the first thing he does is give thanks to God. The Czech Republic (ranked the least religious nation on earth) never thanks God. And do you remember the last time they won a gold medal? Me neither. Because they hate God.
Oh sure, I’ve read a few misleading statistics about how the USA ranks 12th in college graduates, 27th in life expectancy, 37th in healthcare, 47th in press freedom and 53rd in ability to locate Mexico on a map. (I’m pretty sure it’s somewhere west of France.) But most of those statistics came from CNN’s World Desk Editor Fareed Zakaria. And that sure doesn’t sound like an American name to me. He probably has an axe to grind about his visa status.
I don’t care what statistics you want to throw in my face. It doesn’t change the fact that the USA is #1 in the world. Finland may rank first in education. And technically speaking, the Netherlands’ first place ranking in broadband access just nudges out our 23rd place finish. But in many other categories, the USA is Numero Uno. For example, America ranks …
- 1st in guns per capita
- 1st in cocaine seizures
- 1st in obesity
- 1st in percentage of the population that’s incarcerated
- 2nd in carbon emissions – but we’re coming after you, China! So watch your back!
I’m not much of a drinker. And I don’t really gamble. So naturally, I decided to go to Las Vegas for the weekend. What a bizarre place Vegas is. I must have had one hell of a weekend, because I barely remember a thing. It’s all still a blur. It was just like something out of the movie The Hangover – except without all the strippers, car chases, Bengal tigers in my hotel room, or getting the crap knocked out of me by Mike Tyson. But otherwise, the parallels with the movie were eerie.
I decided to stay at the Hooters Casino Hotel – mainly for the pool. At first everything was fine – until I ventured out onto the strip and did something no sane tourist in Las Vegas would ever do: I made eye contact with the street hawkers. As a result of my reckless mistake, I was offered 27 invitations to strip clubs, a chance to ride a white tiger at the Mirage, and $100,000 of term insurance with an option to convert to whole life at age 65. I finally broke down and grabbed one deal that was just too enticing to resist: 60% off on linens at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
I don’t remember much of what happened after that. But the next morning, I woke up to find a scantily clad woman in my bed – with a wedding ring on her finger. Oh, shit. Who was she? A cocktail waitress? A stripper? What had I done! I frantically put on my glasses. Oh… right. My wife came with me on this trip.
Recently both of our daughters came home for the holiday break. Their return brought us a new set of parenting concerns. When kids go off to college, they suddenly consider themselves adults. They feel the old kids’ rules from their high school years no longer apply. So it can be stressful to know how to parent your almost-adult child now that they’ve concluded they no longer need to listen to a word you say. That’s why, in the most loving way possible, you should periodically remind them – roughly every two hours – about who is paying for their college and how you’d be delighted to spend that money on a Mediterranean cruise for yourself if they don’t clean up their act during their brief time home.
I would like to share my best parenting advice for how to get your kids to cooperate when they come home from college. I really would. But I can no more decipher the code for how to parent college-age kids than I can explain why some people pay $200 more for a cell phone custom-colorized to match their purse. But I will try to impart some wisdom just the same.
Challenge #1: The pit stop. Many parents experience the short-lived joy of welcoming their kids home for winter break only to become annoyed as their child vanishes seconds after their arrival, shouting, “Hi, Dad. Gotta go. Meeting Bridget to go shopping.” It’s easy to feel like your kids are only using your house as a place to crash at night, but that’s not true. They are also using your house for the free food, free laundry service, and free use of your Lexus. Oh, and just in case you were wondering whether your child might be heading off to shop for a Christmas present for you – they’re not. They’re going shopping to swap out the color pattern on their swaggy new cell phone so that it can perfectly match their – well, you get the picture.
View from the Bleachers interviewed famous Americans this past week, asking them “What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving season?” Here is a holiday gift basket of inspirational messages from some of our nation’s most illustrious, America-loving Americans.
Ann Romney, wife of presidential hopeful, Mitt Romney: “I was very disappointed that Mitt lost the election, due to that fluke late October hurricane and the minor fact that Mitt’s not very good at relating to people with net worths under $25 million. But we still have so much to be grateful for. Mitt’s hair still looks amazing. We just bought Monaco. Precious. And, frankly, the thought of having to downsize our lifestyle to fit into that cramped White House was something I really was not looking forward to anyway. Besides, six luxury houses is plenty. We know some families who can’t even afford four.”
Tim Tebow, backup NFL quarterback: “I thank my Lord and savior, Jesus Christ, for giving me the opportunity to play this sport I love so much. And someday, the good Lord willing, I hope to have the chance to play on a professional NFL team. Until then, I am content to play for the New York Jets.”
From all of us loving husbands,
Dear Sweetie, Honey, Darling, Angel, Punkin, Cutie Pie, Snuggle Bunny, Sweet Cakes, or in the case of Mrs. Eunice McCutchen of Big Butte, South Dakota, You Old Ball & Chain,
We guys just wanted to take this opportunity to give you ladies some helpful suggestions for what to get us this Father’s Day. It’s not too late to surprise us on our special day with something that would truly show us how much you love us.
You want to know what we guys really want for Father’s Day? It’s very little. We just want to spend a day with our whole family, taking a leisurely hike in the woods, holding hands with our lovely wife, telling her how much we love her, and later on, snuggling together, taking a nice long nap on the couch.
Ah, we’re just messing with you. That’s not even remotely close to what we want for Father’s Day – although the part about a long nap on the couch sounds good – so long as you leave us alone.
For families everywhere the arrival of September means “welcome back to reality” time. School starts this week for most American teenagers, and summer is rapidly vanishing in the rear view mirror. If your summer was like mine, it won’t make for an enthralling Holiday letter come December – which is why when it comes to retelling the highlights of your summer vacation, if you weren’t able to afford an exotic, envy-inducing summer vacation, then at least make sure you have an exotic, envy-inducing story about your summer vacation.
When it comes to summer breaks, our family’s summers are consistently quite lame. Take this past summer, for instance. It consisted mainly of listening to our girls whine “there’s nothing to do” and “I’m boooooooooored” – God knows, life is boring when you live in the scenic Pacific Northwest with all its mountains and lakes. Heaven forbid your kids actually go outdoors, ride a bike, swim in the lake or clean their room.
As any loving parent would do, in an effort to insulate ourselves from their constant whining and badgering to “take me to the mall” or otherwise entertain them, we loaded up our kids’ summer with a series of week-long summer leadership / character-building camps and a couple of obligatory annual pilgrimages to visit elderly relatives. That’ll teach ‘em to whine about being bored.
Recently, my daughter Rachel and I took a vacation to visit friends and family in the Eastern USA. As part of our holiday adventure, we spent a night in world-famous Niagara Falls, NY. This short visit was a high point of our vacation – except for one small disappointment – our accommodations at the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY. (Yes, it’s a real hotel.)
If you would like a relaxing, restful, clean hotel room for an evening, might I propose an alternate place of lodging? But if unexpected surprises are what you look for in your vacation destination, then the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY may be just the thrill ride for you.
Below is a copy of my actual thank-you letter to the hotel after our recent stay. (Disclaimer: the photos below are not actual photos from the Quality Hotel and Suites, Niagara Falls, NY and were not included in the letter I sent. I include them here to give you a sense of the adventure we experienced. – tj) Read More…
Last week I wrote about one aspect of the real meaning of the holiday season – the important annual tradition of sending out hundreds of unsigned holiday greeting cards with photos of your kids to hundreds of people you don’t really care if you ever see again along with a four-page newsletter detailing how your past year was far superior to the recipient’s.
This week’s heartfelt post is about another integral part of a truly spiritually fulfilling holiday season: Holiday decorations. This is the fun part of the holidays – starting with your annual climb into the creepy dust-covered cave known as your attic, in search of those Christmas or (insert your preferred alternative holiday here __________________) ornaments.
Let me be the first to wish you Happy Valentine’s Day. Why so early, you ask? When it comes to holiday preparations, you need to be thinking months ahead. This year, the Christmas season officially started on September 27th. That’s the day my local Costco put on display several lovely 8’ plastic Snowman snow globes. They always add such a festive touch to anyone’s front lawn, especially when deflated.