Chris Erskine: Amid mountains of snow, a winter break of sunny double yolks

You can only imagine the local stir this Dec. 26 snow caused in L.A.
You can only imagine the local stir this Dec. 26 snow caused in L.A., a post-holiday encore, a late gift in the mailbox.
(Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)

The snow arrived just after Christmas, a fuzzy fleece draped over the local mountains. You can only imagine the local stir this caused … the post-holiday encore we won’t soon forget.

Nor will we forget Christmas itself. One of my sisters was in town, and I spoke in church, which is something of a challenge for a wise guy like me. To play things straight is my worst fear. I live for punchlines and wry remarks. Still, the church readings went well enough.

A giant orchestra played behind me, with a big church choir dressed to impress. Some 700 people attended, they say, including my buddies Charlie and Russ. My pals were there to support me or mock me later if I stumbled.

That’s what friends are for.


Look, reflection unnerves me, to borrow from Dorothy Parker. Like an old tractor, I’m better in forward than reverse. It’s 2020 now, a year that rolls off the tongue. I’m looking forward to a good one.

One possible omen: Just before the holidays, we bought a dozen eggs that all turned out to contain double yolks.

It was like spotting Jesus’ likeness in the sheen of the family Ford. The first few double-yolks seemed like sunny flukes, but for the entire carton to have them carried a major message. From Dorothy Parker maybe. Or my late wife, Posh: “Keep stirring the gravy, kid. Keep pouring that nog.”

To be sure, it was a sadly tender couple of weeks. Keeper of the light, I kept the fireplace going, bringing in logs from the garage while checking them for black widows because — well, you know our rotten luck.

Nobody ever wrote a children’s poem about a lethal spider. If it bit me, I’d bite it back. How dramatic would that be, the black widow and me both taking our last breaths just as the NFL playoffs were about to begin.

“What was he thinking, biting that spider at playoff time?” Pastor Chuck would ask.

“You know, he never handled confrontation well,” my pal Bittner would explain.

For the holiday, the lovely and patient older daughter was off visiting her fiance’s family, so we were missing them mightily. My sister flew down from Portland, Ore., to lend support, soothing us all with a pie made from scratch.

The kids were thrilled by this, since my sister is a professional artist and latticed the pie top in that way you see only in Nancy Meyers movies.

The pie from scratch was a family sensation.
The pie from scratch was a family sensation. No one had ever made anything from scratch before.
(Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)

I responded by wrapping all the gifts in duct tape, just round and round, till they resembled basketballs. Then I splashed Baileys in my coffee and set off to find some last-minute tamales.

Some families have Norman Rockwell holidays. Ours has me.

“Dad, is it hard to be a dad?” my daughter Rapunzel asked, after I’d accidentally broadcast the inside of my pocket on Facebook Live.

You know, a friend says the best Christmas of all time was in 1721, year of Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” and Bach’s “Partita for Violin No. 2.”

The Christmas of 2019 will be remembered for other things. How one of the kids fell in the toilet … splash … “Frig! Who left the seat up!!!”

Or how the pet wolf dug up the yard, then lay down in the mud fully satisfied.

What bothered me wasn’t the vandalism so much; it was her total lack of remorse.

“What big ears you have, Grandma,” I keep telling White Fang, who never gets the reference. She just looks hungrily at me, wondering if I’d taste like cheese.

The pet wolf dug up the yard, then lay down in the mud.
It wasn’t that she dug up the yard that bothered me; it was the total lack of remorse.
(Chris Erskine / Los Angeles Times)

I’ll give her this: White Fang holds her head high, even after she mucks things up. Which I think is something we can all learn from.

As we can all learn from the holidays themselves. They are such a character study of America and of you and me.

I dread the January bills. I already realize that I overspent on the boy, just the way his mom did. I didn’t want there to be some austere difference in the day. If nothing else, I wanted him to feel overloved.

The best love, though, came courtesy of his aunt’s homemade pie, made with those double-yolk eggs. Or the cranberry-brie pull-apart his sister baked for Christmas dinner.

Or the game of Yahtzee later — the roll of the dice, the laughter, the holiday zizzle.

Yep, I think 2020 is going to be a good one, all right. Might be our best year in years.

Find photos of Chris Erskine’s holiday at