It’s that time of year again, O Loyal Reader. The most important holiday of the year is upon us–the one people wait for all year with bated breath. It’s just a mere few days away, and I can hardly contain myself. I just can’t believe it’s almost Black Friday again!
Just kidding. I couldn’t care less about Black Friday or Cyber Monday or Max Out Your Credit Card Tuesday or Buyer’s Remorse Wednesday. While in my mind Christmas will forever be the King of All Holidays, there’s still a lot to be said for Thanksgiving.
Of course, I haven’t really had a moment to say anything about it because I’m: 1) in the middle of (FINALLY) running a research study for my dissertation; 2) organizing another study as a research assistant; 3) battling a terrible viral infection that has struck my entire family (including my dog and this one scorpion I found blowing snot-rockets in my backyard); 4) fathering the Dynamic Duo; and 5) trying to figure out where I can get a good deal on a partridge in a pear tree on Max Out Your Credit Card Tuesday.
It’s no secret I’ve been a little short on blog posts here lately. I am reminded of this every time I leave my house when I have to shoo away the protesters who stand constant vigil on my front lawn with signs demanding, “More Crappy Stick Figures!” and “What do we want? Mildly clever pop culture puns! When do we want them? Now!”
Luckily, I happen to have written one of my favorite Twincidents about Thanksgiving one year ago. While I’ve never done the whole reposting thing before, I feel like this one has a message worth repeating, so I decided to carefully dust off the text file character-by-character and present it to you in this newly-restored, digitally-remastered, platinum edition, which now includes an afterword with B. A. Baracus himself, the one and only Mr. T. With this more-than-sufficient amount of ado, I give you:
Don’t Have a Happy Turkey Day (Deluxe Digitally Remastered Edition)
It was date night in the land of Twinfamy, and with the Twins in the more-than-capable hands of my parents, my wife and I were ecstatic. With a whole night completely devoid of anything having to do with tiny people spread out before us, we were out on the town doing the wildest, craziest, most psychotic thing imaginable–picking up a few things at Babies “R” Us while we waited for our restaurant to open at 5 pm.
My wife always does this. We finally have a moment to ourselves to do something awesome like pound tequila shots just before bungee jumping off the Washington Monument and making love midair, but just as I’m getting on the phone to book the private jet, she’ll say something like, “You know, we really need to go get more paper towels at Target.”
And the worst part is, she’s freaking right. We do need more stupid paper towels.
As we exited Babies “R” Us with our deeply exciting date night purchases (toddler socks and Balmex), my wife suddenly turned to me and asked, “So, did you notice my new shoes today?”
I instinctively looked down at her feet for the first time that day, because, well, of course I hadn’t noticed her new shoes. I’m a guy, and I barely care about my own shoes. I’m especially not sure how–as someone with literally four pairs in my rotation–I’m expected to keep track of all 47 of hers and ascertain whether the currently worn pair is a new addition. Perhaps I should maintain a Wife Shoe Wiki.
I’m not going to lie. When I’m wished a “Happy Turkey Day,” I cringe.
It’s not that I have anything against turkey–I find it to be delicious and consume it regularly throughout the year. And I don’t have anything against Thanksgiving itself. In fact, I love it, which is precisely the reason the moniker “Turkey Day” irritates me.
The problem with saying “Happy Turkey Day” is that it puts the focus on the day’s superficial elements and off the idea of giving thanks.
To my knowledge, I did not attend the First Thanksgiving, but I did attend American public schools, which means I am an expert on the topic (especially tracing my hand to draw a turkey), and from those thirteen years in historical academia, I gathered that the original reason for the celebration was the relationship between the Native Americans and Pilgrims.
The Pilgrims (who chose their name due to their enthusiasm for John Wayne films) left England in search of a better life, one of religious freedom and less tabloids about the Gallagher Brothers. However, when they arrived in America, they continuously failed at living off the land because there was no Starbucks or Wi-Fi anywhere. There were no apps on their iPhones for growing corn or not dying from scurvy. They’d already run out of duct tape while building a cool fort on the Mayflower, and thus had crude shelters unsuitable to withstand El Niño. They were dropping like flies shot by a proficient fly marksman.
“No, Buddy, I just told you, your sister is reading that,” I said, prying the coveted Elmo’s ABC Book from his hand, prompting an eloquent baby cuss reply.
Sighing heavily, I returned the pillaged book to my daughter, who kicked jubilantly, as the plot was really heating up around “Q is for quilt” and she was on the edge of her seat on the playroom floor, just dying to see what letter was next.
I turned back to my thieving son. “Buddy, you have five books already. Why don’t we read one of those?”
My son approaches playtime the same way I envision Napoleon Bonaparte would at one year old. Whenever he’s decided what to play with, he desperately needs that toy genre’s entire collection. If it’s blocks, they all simply must encircle him. If it’s books, he needs a shelf-full at his disposal. I’m quite certain that if he were aware of Pokemon, he would not rest until adequately “catching ’em all.”
Thus, if the parent-on-duty does not facilitate total toy acquisition, we can expect a fiery rage turning his skin green and inflating his muscles to three times their normal size, ironically tearing his Incredible Hulk t-shirt to shreds.
Remember the unbridled childhood excitement of Christmas Morning? The insomnia-inducing obsession with the sheer possibilities of the bounty Santa Claus would surely leave under the tree? Staring at the ceiling at 4:00 am, debating asking your parents if you can just cut the nonsense and get this party started right now?
As we grow older, however, there seems to be less and less magic each year, which ironically provides less and less of a window for acceptance to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Is it lame that at 29 years old, I’m still waiting for that owl?
But I’m thrilled to say that after believing it was gone forever, I’m suddenly feeling that familiar old Christmas Morning anticipation once again because starting today, my wife and I will be orchestrating that magic for the Twins, as we prepare to give them their First Christmas Ever.
At 11 months, they’re not by any means at an age where they can fully comprehend all that’s happening, but we’re in no hurry for them to grow up any quicker than they already have, and we see this year as a prelude–a taste of many happy memories to come.
And now, on The Night Before Christmas, as I look all through the house (with my dog, the only stirring creature, pawing at my shin for attention now that the Twins are down for a long winter’s nap) I see decorations that will become ingrained in the Twins’ subconscious as Christmas-defining relics, just as my parents magically transformed $4.99 pharmacy purchases into The Singing Christmas Bear I Played With Every Year While We Decorated the Tree, The Christmas Carol Book with Which I Led the Whole Family in Rousing Sing-Alongs, and The Nativity Scene with Which I Fabricated Alternate Biblical Storylines Involving He-Man Saving Baby Jesus from Cobra Commander with the Help of the Three Wise Musketeers, the Ninja Donkey and the Jedi Cow.
Someone Who Shall Remain Nameless: So are you still being Mr. Mom?
Me: You know, the term “Dad” works just fine.
Sure, I could have just let it go. I could have replied, “Yes, I am still being Mr. Mom.” thus avoiding the awkward pause that ensued. Don’t take it personally, I used to tell myself. It’s just a (tired, lame, unfunny) joke. But this terminology is pinned on me often and I have recently decided I am done with just letting it go.
It’s not that I feel emasculated wrangling the Twins all week. I challenge any “man’s man” who thinks stay-at-home parenting is for sissies to actually try it for one day. (In fact, I imagine it could make for a thoroughly entertaining reality show, with each episode culminating in a grown man sobbing.) It’s definitely not easy, but at the same time it’s also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done. Many fathers would jump at the opportunity to spend as much time with their children as I do, especially at this age. I blinked when they were eight months old and was suddenly thrown into a DeLorean which promptly accelerated to 88 miles per hour, traversing space and time to today, as I open my eyes and find them eleven months old. Until I can get the Flux Capacitor to flux again, I make an effort each day to take it all in (and document it in HD) because I know how fleeting babyhood is.
This past week was utterly exhausting. My wife and I have gotten into what we think to be a phenomenal rhythm given the fact that we’re simultaneously raising twice the children most do, but it was derailed by several unavoidable circumstances, and we have literally spent every scarce free moment sleeping. Among these disturbances in The Force were: childcare conflicts, altered work schedules (including me taking 2.5 days off work for a preseason exhibition of the stay-at-home fathering bidness), a visit from the Teething Fairy, and a raging deathmatch with an uncommon—possibly zombified—housefly.
So please forgive me, O Loyal Reader, for neglecting you. I know our relationship is still new and exciting, and you may even still feel those first-date jitters as you savor this page. Fear not, for as a result of the past half-fortnight, multiple twincidents are in gestation. I’ve just really gotten into this Rip Van Winkle impression. (I have the week-long beard to prove it.) In fact, in attempting to report these late-breaking developments, I even found myself a victim of the trite, unrealistic, melodramatic Hollywood cliché of literally falling asleep at my keyboard.
While mind-blowing twincidents exploring the aforementioned topics are forthcoming, in the spirit of the week, I thought I’d offer a portrait of its haze—my Sunday afternoon nap.
I’ve never been a napper, or even a sleeper for that matter. While I recognize that as a human I need sleep, I’d prefer not to. There are so many amazing things to experience in the world, and to me, sleep has always felt so…idle. My parents could tell you that even when I was a strapping young whippersnapper, they’d find me with my light on at 3 a.m. (even—*GASP*—on a school night!), reading such literary classics as the Choose Your Own Adventure Series and The Uncanny X-Men. “I wasn’t tired,” I’d say. Even with the arrival of the Twins and occasional sleepless nights, my body rarely needs a break aside from normal nighttime sleep.
This means that when I do decide I need a nap, you’d better let me. My wife knows this, and heeds this commandment religiously. This afternoon, however, there was some red tape involved in securing said nap.
I had just returned from the grocery store, finished putting our bounty away, and collapsed onto the couch. “So I think I do want to take that nap.”
She had noticed my fatigue earlier in the day and gently suggested that my less-than-chipper demeanor might necessitate a siesta. I had decided that since we had no food, I’d rather get groceries done first because I’m even more fun when I’m hungry. “I feel myself starting to get annoyed about stupid things. Like, at the store, I almost flipped out when the lady in front of me in the dairy aisle couldn’t figure out which yogurt defined her as a person.”
My wife, who was holding my son, smiled sweetly, sensing the impending doom if I stayed awake. “Well, she (our daughter) is down for a nap in our room, so I don’t think you should go in there.” This is because I am a champion snorer. I was even up for a Grammy in the “Snoring—Short Form” category last year. My snoring would undoubtedly wake my daughter who, unfortunately, has inherited her father’s sleeping habits. Her thirst for stimulation makes any interruptions in her sleep particularly traumatic—for us, not her.
Straightening up my wriggling son, his frog legs kicking spastically, she continued. “He just woke up a half hour ago, so it probably won’t be quiet out here. You can crash on the couch out here if you want, but I can’t promise he won’t scream his head off.” My son is proficient at this, especially in extremely short, unexpected bursts. There’s already Grammy buzz for when he’s eligible. He’s his father’s son.
“I guess I could try,” I replied, really attempting to convince myself it would work.
“We need another bed,” she mused, looking around the room, as if hoping for one to appear, like in a terrible, low-budget mattress commercial.
“What about the air mattress?”
“Where would we put it?”
“Maybe in the Cluster Room.” The Cluster Room is our only spare room, which has become more of a closet. Home to our towering bookshelves, furniture dethroned by baby paraphernalia, and a Rock Band drum controller, it’s quite the clusterf**k. (Hence the name.)
“No,” I realized. “The pump would wake her up anyway. Maybe I could take the crib in the kids’ room,” I snarked.
She chuckled. “Or their floor.”
“Can you think of a better idea?”
“Not really,” I sighed.
With that, I took the best available pillow, a five-dollar gem we let guests sleep on and have more recently been placing on the floor under our Exersaucer and jumper as a booster for our kids’ dangling feet so they can actually use them. I scoured it for poopy-diaper-blowout debris, and turned to my wife. “So are you coming?”
“Well, aren’t you gonna swaddle me and sing me a song?”
“Go to sleep.”
“I’m turning the monitor on. If you don’t hear me, just make sure I’m not suffocating under the blanket.”
When I opened the door, I heard the kids’ Sound Machine (we have been unable to confirm whether or not it is from Miami) still hissing white noise from my son’s last nap, and switched it to the “Womb” setting. Just for funsies.
Emptying my pockets, I camped out on the floor, and then decided, of course, to outline the whole occurrence for this very blog entry on my phone before actually attempting sleep. Even when I’m beat, I fight it.
As I finally closed my eyes, the Sunday-afternoon dread flooded in. I realized that I had still not figured out what the hell I’d be teaching all week; that the stack of neglected grading on my desk would be growing another story if I didn’t tackle it soon; that I have extra work projects to which I probably shouldn’t have committed waiting for me, and thus little desire to do them.
But then I realized that even if I wanted to put a dent in any of this, I couldn’t handle any of it as exhausted as I was. So sleep would have to come first. Plus, I remembered that I am trained in improvisational comedy, reaffirming my self-awesomeness at making stuff up as I go–at finishing sentences I’ve started without knowing how they’ll end. And that’s when I drifted off…
Two glorious hours later, I woke up with a stiff neck to the sound of my daughter throwing a hissy.