The Ghosts of Christmas Presents

Parents love to give gifts to their kids at Christmas. Each Christmas season we spend a lot of time and money selecting gifts that will make our children happy. While there is a  lot of joy in all this parental gift-giving, there is an element of it that makes me quite frustrated.

While the pre-Christmas gift-buying can be stressful, it’s what happens after all the Christmas presents are opened that can be the most agitating to me.

You might recall in Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas story,  A Christmas Carol, The Ghost of Christmas Present appears to Ebeneezer Scrooge and shows him how other people, particularly Scrooge’s nephew and Scrooge’s exploited clerk Bob Cratchit, celebrate Christmas.  During its appearance the spirit noticeably ages and reveals to Scrooge that he will only exist on Earth for a very brief time, which is implied to be that single Christmas holiday.

Dicken’s Ghost of Christmas Present provides a befitting commentary of the exasperating problem I confront each Christmas season–Christmas presents that get broken often before Christmas Day is over!

Yes, the remains of these broken toys laying by the Christmas tree in pieces or in silence are the ghosts of Christmas presents.

Several years ago I wrote a poem about a mythical, Santa Claus-like repairman that comes to your home after Christmas to fix all the Christmas toys and gifts that have been broken “by careless girls and boys” (read The Christmas Gift Repairman).

At first, I thought the expeditious demolishing of Christmas presents was merely a toddler problem. What I’m discovering is that it’s a perennial problem that only intensifies as the kids get older and the presents get more sophisticated and expensive!

So, here’s a few observations I’ve made over the years (and hopefully some lessons learned) from these ghosts of Christmas presents:

(1) When selecting Christmas presents, I try to consider not only how much a gift costs but how breakable it is. The amount of agony associated with a broken Christmas present correlates to the price of the present. The cheaper the gift, the less anxiety it causes if it gets broken!

(2) Clothing presents are not excluded from possible destruction. Don’t take it for granted that clothing can’t suddenly be ruined. While you might think clothing can’t be broken, it’s been my experience that clothing can be torn, stretched, cut, pulled or stained during tag removal, prior to putting it on for the first time,  while trying it on for the first time (but prior to exchanging it if it doesn’t fit) or upon first wearing of the clothing item!

(3) Buy some stuff you can repair such as bicycles, scooters, sports and outdoor equipment. For me that generally means there must be a how-to YouTube video on assembling and fixing it and it doesn’t require specialized tools to repair.

(4) When selecting a Christmas present for the kids, I often consider its “discipline” value. Discipline value increases for more desired gifts such as electronic devices because Santa giveth and Santa taketh away. A gift’s potential to be leveraged to inhibit bad behavior (by taking it away) or reward good behavior (by letting it be used or played with) is certainly an added benefit to its acquisition.

(5) Finally, I can’t let the the ghosts of Christmas presents turn me into Ebeneezer Scrooge. Christmas is a time to celebrate God’s gift to us–the birth of a Savior. And, when Christmas morning is over and the gifts have been broken, I’ve still got to remember that it is after all still Christmas. The gifts are just stuff but the memories are forever, so let them be Merry!

Night Terrors

I was sound asleep in bed one night recently when my somnolent self suddenly sensed something standing by my bed.

My eyes jolted open and standing there right in front of my face was a dark figure–admittedly, a small dark figure or was it a small figure in the dark.

Nevertheless, it scared me awake so much so that I shot up in bed and let out a muffled yelp, “WHO’S THERE???”

Then, I heard Kenzie whisper, “Dad, I just threw up!”

My frightened yell suddenly turned into an agitated grumble. “Why did you sneak up on me like that?” I demanded.

“I didn’t want to scare you,” she explained.

Continue reading “Night Terrors”

Trash Talkin’

The other day Kenzie came home from day camp telling me that Kaleb said a cuss word at camp. When I asked Kaleb about it, he claimed that he was actually saying another word that resembled the cuss word. (I’ll spare you the details of his far-fetched explanation though it was so ludicrous that I burst into laughter.)

Obviously, my incredulous laughter spoiled any opportunity for turning this into a teachable moment. Instead, I settled for inquiring as to where where he had heard such language.

He claimed that he heard it on a video he saw on TV.

Although we monitor  closely what electronic games the kids play and what they watch on TV, I’m sure there’s things that get past our monitoring. But its more like an act of desperation to try to filter their media because it seems as though there is more bad stuff being broadcast or published than there is good stuff (or at least not so bad stuff).

We live in a media-infused world. And, the speech on media, particularly social media, movies, popular music and TV has grown exceedingly vulgar and coarse in recent years.

I mean it’s shocking!

And, although I have a few choice words to say myself about all the trash talkin’ that kids (and adults) are exposed to through the media, my rant will be sans profanity.

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In Your Dreams!

Are we responsible in our current dream for our actions in a previous dream?

I just want to know because I almost got fired in my dream one night because of a mistake I made in a previous dream. Fortunately, I woke up before I had to face the wrath of my boss.

It’s not that my behavior in my previous dream was so egregious. It was more a matter of forgetfulness bordering on irresponsibility. But I was just trying to help someone.

I just didn’t follow through…but for a very good reason.

Continue reading “In Your Dreams!”


I have mentioned in previous posts that when I married Tami I also adopted her little Pekingese dog, Chloe.

Chloe and I took awhile to get used to each other. I’m still adjusting, she’s still just being Chloe. I think the kids were particularly hard for Chloe to handle.

Chloe isn’t like other dogs. She doesn’t lick your hand or eat off the ground. She doesn’t pant and slobber.

She’s not exactly a kids’ dog. She’s set in her ways and she’s particular, very particular. And, she has the personality of a cat.

But, what you really have to understand about Chloe is that she has a single purpose in life. She is the protector of her domain. If you attempt to trespass on her domain, then she’s going to bark incessantly and expect those whom she’s protecting to stand back while she goes on the attack.

She will attack and give no deference to the the size or scope  of the perceived threat, whether beasts or beings, friends or foes. She has absolutely no fear. Nor does she stop to consider the risks.

Continue reading “Ferocity”

Stuck in Groundhog Day

You probably wake up each morning, get out of bed and proceed with the day as a continuation of your life from all the previous days of your life.

You begin today where you left off yesterday. What happened yesterday and the day before and the month before and the year before continues into today.

And, the rules you lived by yesterday and the day before and the month before and the year before were still in effect when you got up out of bed today.

But, what if you woke up in the morning, got out of bed and proceeded with your day as if it was the first day of your life!

Continue reading “Stuck in Groundhog Day”