Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why Skeletons Don't Have Kids...

Here is a small sample of life in our car. It was written a few years ago, when our eldest was 8, but you get the general idea. You won't get the full effect unless you read the parts aloud -- very loud -- and have a Greek chorus of gigglers accompanying you:

Dad: What a great dinner out at our neighborhood family restaurant.

Mom: Yes, and such amusing holiday themed activity books for the kids!

Eldest daughter, age 8: Hey! It's got jokes in it! "Where do elves keep their money?"

Mom: In a snow bank.

Eldest: Ha, ha! That's right!

Older Brother, age 5: Mommy! How did you know?

Little Brother, age 3: Knock, knock!

Little Princess, age 2: (shrieks with laughter)

Mom: I'm older than you, I know things.

Eldest: "What do snowmen eat for breakfast?"

Little Bro: Knock, Knock!

Dad: Cereal flakes?

Elder Bro: Who's there?

Princess: Eeeeeeeee!!

Eldest: That's right, dad! Gee, you guys are smart!

Mom: Enjoy that while she still says it.

Dad: No kidding! I like people who are easily impressed with me.

Little Bro: KNOCK, KNOCK!!!

Elder Bro: Somebody ask him 'who's there'!

Mom: Who's there, honey?

Little Bro: Uh.... POOP! Ha ha ha ha ha...

Princess: Poop! Aieeeeeee!

Dad: Oy...

Elder Bro: Why didn't the skeleton cross the road?

Eldest: Hey, that's not on there... they're supposed to be Christmas jokes!

Dad: Why didn't the skeleton cross the road, Schmoo?

Eldest: But that's a Halloween joke! It's Christmas!

Elder Bro: Because he had no guts!

Princess: Poopy guts! Ha ha ha ha....

Little Bro: Knock, knock!

Mom: Oh, nice.

Eldest: Why did the elephant stand on the marshmallow?

Dad: Huh?

Little Bro: KNOCK KNOCK!

Dad: Oh, God....

Mom: Why did the elephant stand on the marshmallow, darlin'?

Elder Bro: Who's there?

Little Bro: KNOCK KNOCK!

Dad: "Who's there?" already!

Princess: Knock, knock!

Eldest: So he wouldn't fall in the cocoa!


Elder Bro: Cocoa? Ohhh.... I get it! Ha ha ha!

Little Bro: Knock, knock!

Mom: *sigh* Who's there?

Little Bro: Cocoa

Mom & Dad: Cocoa who?


Little Bro: Uh... POOPY CHOCOLATE!! (pronounced "ch-LOCK-it")

Unison: HA, HA, HA, HA, HA!

Dad: Good grief...

Mom: Oh, good... we're home...

Princess: (chanting) Poopy, poopy, chocolate, chocolate...

Mom (to Dad): Is this really our life?

Dad: I'm afraid so.

Mom: Can we complain to somebody?

Dad: No one would believe us.

Little Bro: Uh... POOPY CHOCOLATE!!

Mom & Dad: ENOUGH!!

Answer to the subject line: Because they have no guts.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Chilly: The Elf Who Could Not Love

Everyone who knows about Christmas knows that Santa Claus runs a workshop at the North Pole, where all of the toys for all of the good little boys and girls in the world are made by cheerful elves. But not all of the elves are cheerful. There is one elf, named Chilly, who doesn't know how to love.

Chilly used to try to make toys like the other elves, but they never turned out quite right. When the other elves made dolls, they made pretty dolls with curly, bouncy hair of chestnut, ebony, or spun gold; with rosy, apple-round cheeks; with bright white, straight teeth; and with shining eyes of blue, brown or deep sea green. When Chilly made dolls, they had straight, spiky hair; pale, grey cheeks; muddy eyes; and a mouth that was a thin, crooked line.

When the other elves made toy horses, they had flowing manes and tails, mighty flanks, and saddles and bridles woven with gold and silver. Their race cars had bright paint and cool graphics. Their soldiers had sharp uniforms and impressive tanks and jeeps. Their trumpets and xylophones knew all the best songs, their Play-dough never dried out, and their yo-yo's always came back.

When Chilly made toy horses, they had knobby knees and yellow teeth, and their bridles were twists of twine. His race cars had smeary paint and crooked decals. His soldiers were missing boots, and their tanks and jeeps had bent cannons and dented radiators. His saxophones honked tunelessly, his Play-dough was a solid, brown blob of rock, and his yo-yo's always fell off their strings.

Santa shook his head sadly when he saw Chilly's toys, and said, "I can't give those toys to the good little boys and girls! Maybe we can find something else that Chilly can make." Chilly just shrugged.

The other elves tried to come up with a toy that Chilly could make, but his basketballs all came out flat, and his roller skates never had the right number of wheels. One elf even had the brilliant idea to have Chilly make all of the monster toys for kids that liked scary things, but Chilly's monsters didn't turn out right either: they either didn't have enough teeth, or he put flowers on them instead of tentacles. Poor Chilly just couldn't LOVE enough to make the kinds of toys that Santa could use.

But Santa Claus had other problems to worry about.

Every year, there were more and more children in the world. Santa had lots of helpers, but he was the only one who could deliver the toys on Christmas Eve, and he was starting to have trouble keeping up. He and his eight tiny reindeer flew from sunset in Japan until sunrise in Hawaii, and still just barely had time to visit every single house with children in it!

Finally, one year, Santa had an idea that he thought would save him some time. As you know, Santa takes presents to all of the good boys and girls, but he also takes a lump of coal for all of the naughty boys and girls in the world.

"If I stop taking all of that coal to all of the naughty children, I will have more time to visit the good children!" said Santa Claus. So, that's just what he did.

One year, instead of waking up on Christmas morning to find a lump of coal in their stockings (or under their pillow, if they were really naughty), all of the naughty children found nothing at all. And when they didn't get anything at all, they thought that Santa didn't care about them, so instead of trying to be good the next year, they started behaving even more badly than they had the year before. Some of them were so naughty that they turned the good boys and girls into naughty children, too!

When Santa saw what was happening, he grew very sad. "I will have to start delivering coal again, or I'll run out of good children altogether!" he said. "But how will I ever find the time to lug all of that awful coal AND my wonderful presents around the whole world in one night? I need one of my helpers to come along and deliver it for me." But all of Santa's helpers were too cheerful and kind to ever do something as mean as dropping coal into children's' stockings! How could he ask them to do such a stern thing, when they all had so much love?

Just then, an elf went by with a box full of toys that Chilly had made – a jack-in-the-box without a handle, a pair of bunny slippers with no ears, and a little red wagon with the wheels on the inside – bound for the trash pile. Santa had an idea. He sent for Chilly, and told him to meet him at the reindeer barn. When Chilly got there, Santa greeted him with a "Ho, ho, ho!" and told him, "I've found the perfect job for you, Chilly!"

That Christmas Eve, when Santa Claus got into his magic sleigh with all of the wonderful toys that the elves had made, Chilly climbed into a sleigh, too. Chilly's sleigh had a huge burlap sack filled with coal. And his reindeer was a grumpy old mule deer with one antler. And his sleigh had a bent runner that made it pull to the right. And Chilly went around the whole world with Santa that night, from sunset in Japan to sunrise in Hawaii, delivering coal to all the naughty boys and girls in the world.

Santa was thrilled to have a helper. Chilly was as happy as an elf who cannot love can be. Most important, the naughty children knew that Santa still thought about them, and they started trying to behave properly again.

So, if you get some nice presents this year, you can thank Santa, and pat yourself on the back for being so good all year long. But if you get a lump of coal, you should start doing your homework and picking up your room; and thank Chilly, the elf who could not love for reminding you!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

When Things Got Serious

reposting in honor of Pearl Harbor Day

Bobby had enlisted in the Army in his hometown of Winter Park, Florida.

He did well in training, and ended up applying for a special school, hoping to become a pilot. The Army being the Army, he had to agree to taking a bunch of tests and special classes to qualify, and there was a pretty good chance he wouldn't be selected for pilot school... but he decided to go for it.

The specialty training include aircraft engine mechanic courses at Luke Field, located southwest of Phoenix, Arizona. The class was difficult, but Bobby was smart, and he didn't spend a lot of time and energy getting wasted after hours and on weekends, like some of his friends did. He preferred spending time at a church he had found. A church that hosted "mixers" on Friday and Saturday nights. Church mixers that had girls at them.

That is where he met Nancy.

Bobby and Nancy went out a few times, usually with Nancy's best friend -- whose name was Bobbe! -- and one of her boyfriends. Nancy was only 17, but Bob (it was too confusing having two "Bobbies") had also met her parents at the church, and they trusted him. Bob had even been to their house for Sunday dinner a few times.

Things were going just swell (his words, not mine). Bob and Nancy liked each other quite a lot, but she was still in high school. And being in training for the Army, he didn't know for sure where he would end up next. It was technically peacetime, but the Army was building up. There was talk of the trouble across the Atlantic, even though most Americans thought it was best to stay out of it.

They decided not to worry about it, and to take their time. It was a mature decision. And then Bob was selected for a special class he in California. He would be back after a few weeks, but maybe this meant he would get to learn to fly! So, he said goodbye to Nancy and promised to write to her often.

Not long after that, America was attacked, and everything changed.

There was confusion; there was fear. There were a lot of things happening all at once. Nancy's letters to Bob were frantic; she didn't know where he was, or if the rumors were true that California was next. She hadn't heard from her brother, a Technical Sergeant stationed in the Philippines. All she knew was that she loved Bob, missed him fiercely, and wanted him to be back safe with her.

By the time Bob managed to get a letter through, things had calmed somewhat. People at least knew the basics: the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor; the U.S. had declared war. The West Coast was not under attack. Nancy's brother, Richard, was safe for the time being, though he would be wounded in a sniper attack and end up the war as a guard at the POW camp in Papago, AZ.

Bob had also been turned down for officer training and pilot school. But this would turn out to be good news, because, as a high-scoring mechanic, Bob would spend the rest of the war at Luke Field, maintaining the trainers for the pilots of the P-38's.

And so, on the 28th of June, 1942, Bob and Nancy were married.

You could argue that without December 7, 1941, they might not have decided to wed. It's possible that without the shock of war, and the fear of losing each other, they might have drifted away and only been pen pals. But some things are meant to happen. After all, Bob did eventually learn to fly.

But that's another story altogether...