A few final thoughts about the holidays, and then we'll move on.
Silent night? Where? I'm still waiting.
Christmas Eve playing Scrabble. It was loud and hyper-competitive, just what I look for in a holiday like Christmas. At one point, I remember slamming a glass of Scotch on the table and shouting, "IF ONLY I HAD A G!"
"Then what, Dad?" someone asked.
"Then I'd have a G," I mumbled.
It was a terrific game. I rallied to beat two of the kids, one of whom insisted that "kripe" was a real word and that "scheuss" was a type of cheese.
"How about this . . . is this a word?" the little girl said, spelling out K-O-P-I-C-H, which she thinks might be a spinach, or some sort of headdress worn by the Russian Orthodox.
"Are you from this country originally?" I asked her.
"No, Dad, she came over on a kopich," her big brother said.
I'm a big believer in the bonding powers of Scrabble and of board games in general. They promote a certain camaraderie lacking in many of today's family activities. On occasion, family members have been known to chat, laugh and have a good time playing board games. Not ours, necessarily. But my faith in board games continues.
"Know my favorite board game?" I say at one point.
"Twister," I say.
"That's not a board game, Dad," someone says.
"It's so romantic," I say.
In fact, I met my wife, Posh, at a Twister party. She was killing everyone till I came along . . . like a young Travolta, not intimidated by anyone. Well, I was seriously hurt that night and haven't walked the same way since.
In a way, she and I have been playing Twister ever since.
Christmas night, eight of the little girl's friends stop by. They come to the door like reindeer, heads bobbing up and down, waiting for some sort of direction.
"Maybe they want carrots," I say.
"Come in," Posh says, and so they do.
The teenagers stay till almost 2, some of them, playing Scrabble and table hockey. At about 11, I remember the little girl making them all sandwiches and asking her mother if it was OK to use the rest of the deli turkey . . . and, hey, what happened to all the ice cream . . . oh, there it is.
Just what I was hoping: to be feeding a bunch of kids who have more money than I do.
Isn't Christmas the longest day? A great day, sure, but it lasts 72 hours. The last straw for me on Christmas -- the moment my body spasms and my spleen takes over my liver -- is when the lovely and patient older daughter puts on "Mamma Mia!," a movie so bad it makes me want to declare war on Italy.
"It's so much worse than I thought," Posh says, holding her ears.
"Being a parent?" I ask.
" 'Mamma Mia!' " she screams.
Most ironic Christmas moment:
My buddy Tim received a cutting tool from my buddy Catharine. It was one of those specialized scissors designed to cut through the insidious heavy plastic packaging we all hate. Designed by sadists, the same people who gave us child-proof caps.
Ironically, the scissors are packaged in exactly that same hard-to-open plastic they are designed to cut. In trying to open the package, Tim cuts himself. Merry Christmas.
Most beautiful Christmas moment:
In the glow of the tree, the little guy sets up the Nativity scene. He puts the little Jesus in the manger, of course, then sets up a long single-file line of well-wishers to visit the baby. Born in L.A., the 6-year-old just assumes that there is a long line for every activity: buying a stamp, renting a video, jumping on a chairlift. So why should visiting baby Jesus be any different?
"And on this day was born a savior . . . OK, NEXT!!!"
In the meantime, the tree survived. When we put our Christmas tree up three weeks ago, it slumped like your Uncle Gordy. Rather than take everything off and buy a better stand -- a 10-hour procedure -- Posh and I just decided to start a pool on when exactly it would topple over.
Well, the tree never fell -- a Christmas miracle.
My theory is that as time went by, the tree lost water and its center of gravity dropped, making it more stable. With each passing day, the likelihood of it collapsing got less and less.
At least, that's my theory. Most of my theories have proved to be wrong in the past -- "global cooling," for instance, or my insistence that Leno would never last.
So the fact that I might've been correct on the Christmas tree gives me great hope for the coming year. Good things are ahead, I'm pretty sure.
At least, that's my latest theory. And, hey, I'm on a roll.
MAN OF THE HOUSE
A holiday night's dream? Well, mostly
Board games, teenage houseguests, bad movies and one Christmas miracle. It all stacks up to good things in the new year.
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