Parental Skills – Santa Claus & Thinking On Your Feet

Sometimes you set yourself up.  Sometimes, in the interest of expedience, you get that sudden moment of “Uh-oh!”

My father’s birthday is January 4th, a mere ten days after Christmas.  Now, the topic of having a birthday so close to Christmas is enough to fill five blog posts, I’m sure.  Fortunately, that’s only tangential to this one.

I was about to start wrapping my father’s birthday present.  It was a pretty large box, and I didn’t have enough wrapping paper.  So, I sent my nine-year-old daughter into the garage.  “Gabriella, get Daddy some wrapping paper.  It has to be a big roll with enough paper on it, and look good for a birthday, OK?”  “OK, Daddy,” she replied.

She came back in with a short roll of paper.  “Daddy, this is all we have.”  “That won’t do at all.  Look for something else,” I said as I sent her back.

She came back in with a large roll of Christmas paper.  She had a curious look on her face.  “Daddy, do you know what’s weird?  I noticed that we have the same wrapping paper as Santa Claus!  It’s all there: the paper he used for my gifts, Alessandra’s gifts and Nicoletta’s gifts!”

My mind raced.  She still believes, and I had to say something.  To myself I thought, “What do I say?  What do I say?  What do I say?  What do I say?”

“Oh, that’s because, um, Mommy and I were running low on paper for other people’s gifts.  Santa noticed, and, being the nice guy that he is, left that for us to use.  Wasn’t that cool of him?”  I waited for her response.  A second later, she said, “Oh.  He’s good at giving, isn’t he?”

“…He sure is.”

Phew!

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My Favorite Useful Christmas Present

I have to hand it to my wife.  Besides being an intelligent, beautiful, wonderful, funny woman who happens to put up with an idiot like me, she’s also a great gift purchaser.  I was ecstatic to unwrap this beauty.

From the Weber website

Yes, folks, this is one instance where I demonstrate why I chose my blog name.

This rotisserie fits on the rim of my 22.5″ Weber kettle charcoal grill.  I plan on using this as soon as I have the time and buy the chicken.  Actually, I might try my hand at a turkey with this baby.

Bottom line: I eagerly await tasting the chicken this produces.

Also, my wife is awesome.

Math-Minded Dad: Ages

I’ve mentioned previously that I am a very logical-minded person, and that I am passionate about math.  I allow this to influence my parenting methods, especially as a former teacher.

In this light, please allow me to share a recent exchange between my 11-year-old daughter, Alessandra, and me.

It began in a typical father-daughter conversation, where she decided to ignore my advice about something or other.  Naturally, I was proven right a few minutes later.

I said to her, “Now you, see, Alessandra?  Didn’t I tell you that you shouldn’t have done it that way?”

“Yes, Daddy,” she said, her eyes rolling audibly.

“Don’t you know how much longer I’ve been living than you?”  My question made her squint.

“What do you mean?”

“You had a milestone birthday last year,” I said, “right?”

“Yeah,” she said curiously.  “I turned ten.”

“Right,” I replied.  “And what milestone did I reach last year?”

“Forty,” she answered.

“So, I was how many times older than you?”

She thought for less than a second, then smiled as she answered, “Four… you were four times older than me.”

“Right,” I said.  “So, given that I am four times your age… you are how old now?  And how old does that make me?”

She thought for a second longer.  “Well, I’m 11 years old, so that makes you 44.”

“Exactly!  Good job!  And next year, when you’re 12, how old will I be?”

Quickly she spit out, “48!”

“Great work, Princess!  I’m proud of your math skills!”

Her eyebrows knitted together as she thought for a second.  “Daddy,” she said, her tone the same as when she explains something to her three-year-old sister, “that’s not how it works!”  She planted her hands on her hips and tapped her foot to make her point.

Innocently, I replied, “Really?  Are you sure about that?”

“Yes!”  We couldn’t hold back any longer, as we laughed at the silliness of it all.

I love my girls.  I love it even more that they are smart enough to see through, and appreciate, my goofy tricks.

In Memoriam – Memom Perotti

My family is very close.  I guess it’s a product of our Italian heritage, but I know that’s not the sole reason.  There are so many things I love about my family.  But Christmas is very bittersweet for me.

You see, two years ago today, I got a call from my father, “Mark, I have *cough* terrible news.”  He didn’t have to continue, because I could hear it in his voice, and I knew.  “Grandmom’s passed away.”

I was decorating the tree with my daughters, but I had moved to the office to take the call.  As I listened to my father talk, and hearing the cracks in this usually-so-strong man’s voice, I felt my heart break.  The call ended, and I went out to the living room.  I told my girls what their Poppy had just told me, and I broke down.  The sweet, sweet treasures that they are, my daughters hurried to me and hugged me as I cried and cried.

My wife was at work at that time, so I called her cell and gave her the news.  She came home a little later.  I didn’t have the desire to finish the tree.  I went to my uncle’s house that night, like we do every year, and cried and talked and reminisced with my father, uncle and grandfather.

The next few days were a bleary blur as we celebrated Christmas and prepared for the funeral.  I was asked to deliver a eulogy for Memom.  Somehow, I did.

For you, Memom.  I know you’re in heaven, in a wonderful place, praying for us, but I still miss you every day.

Food is love.

I heard those words on a TV show about two or three weeks ago. When the host said it, I immediately was struck with not only its profoundness, but also its profound truthfulness. Providing food means to provide life; providing the best food means providing a joyful life; what better way to express your love to someone. It wasn’t until Christmas Eve when I realized that, although she never said those words, it was Memom Perotti who had taught me that.

From my earliest childhood, the connection between Memom and food was inseparable. Every day, she would cook or bake. Her unending supply of food symbolizes the abundant love in her heart. “You’re too skinny – here, eat this,” meant that you looked unloved, and that was her way of hugging you. “I made some cookies – here, take a plate with you,” was her way of reminding you later on that she loves you.

Every Friday evening, her call went out to all her family and friends, “Pizza’s almost ready, come over and eat.” She wanted her family and friends to be there, so she could share with them the love in her heart. And how could we possibly forget her Christmas Eve dinners, when she worked for days to make so much food that we could barely walk out the door. The joy that I saw in her eyes and her smile as the family ate was obvious; she loved watching her family enjoy her meal, because she put her love into every morsel.

I have seen her sons learn from her, and carry on that passion for cooking. And from them, I believe, each of us, her grandchildren, do the same in our own way. Memom will never, ever be gone from our lives. Yes, we have our memories, and what wonderful memories they are. But, for as long as we put our best into making our food, Memom’s love will live within our hearts.

I love you, Memom, and will miss you always, and I’ll do my best to make sure my family is well-fed.

——

I’d like to read a poem that I found recently. It is called Christmas In Heaven, by Wanda Bencke

I see the countless CHRISTMAS TREES around the world below
with tiny lights like HEAVEN’S STARS reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so SPECTACULAR please wipe away that tear
for I am spending CHRISTMAS WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.
I hear the many CHRISTMAS SONGS that people hold so dear
but the SOUND OF MUSIC can’t compare with the CHRISTMAS CHOIR up here.
I have no words to tell you of the JOY their voices bring
for it is beyond description to HEAR THE ANGELS SING.
I know HOW MUCH YOU MISS ME, I see the pain inside your heart
for I am spending CHRISTMAS WITH JESUS CHRIST this year.
I can’t tell you of the SPLENDOR or the PEACE here in this place
Can you just imagine CHRISTMAS WITH OUR SAVIOR face to face
I’ll ask him to LIFT YOUR SPIRIT as I tell him of your love
so then PRAY FOR ONE ANOTHER as you lift your eyes above.
Please let your HEARTS BE JOYFUL and let your SPIRIT SING
for I am spending CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN and I’m walking WITH THE KING.

 Merry Christmas.

Catching Sparkles

Some time ago, maybe a year and a half, I was in the kitchen with my youngest daughter.  I believe she was about two years old at the time.  I was at the sink, and had just opened the blinds to let in some sunlight.

It was at this time that she saw some dust motes floating in the sunbeam.  Her eyes lit up, she smiled, and said excitedly, “Daddy! Sparkles!”  I smiled at her excitement and replied, “Yes, sparkles!”

“I catch,” she exclaimed, and proceeded to jump up and down in the sunbeam, trying to trap a “sparkle” in her hands.  She laughed as she did this, perfectly happy in her own little world.  I laughed with her, basking in the joy her pure innocence.  The memory of this moment warms this father’s heart every time.

May we all find some sparkles to catch every so often.