December 2016

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…wherein we delay the traditional Holiday meal until the day after Christmas.

Dinner Selfie

In addition to the ham and other staples, we have our traditional Christmas crackers…

Dinner plates

which despite the boys’ impatience we enjoyed AFTER dinner.

Christmas Crackers Christmas Crackers

The Christmas Cracker King…

Christmas Crackers

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Whenever we come to the mountains, I like to take the boys out and do some shooting. Last year, we plunked targets with my dad’s .22. Today, I thought I’d let the boys try my Walther PPK .380, which Adam calls, “James Bond’s gun”. Alex didn’t want to come out with us, so it was just me and Adam. He did very well!

Bond...James Bond

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The famous ‘Red Ryder’ BB gun is a lever-action air rifle first manufactured by Daisy Outdoor Products in 1938. Named after the comic strip cowboy Red Ryder it was prominently featured in the 1983 film, A Christmas Story, as the Holiday obsession of a young boy named Ralphie. Ralphie’s mom was convinced he would ‘shoot his eye out’ so she would demur every time he brought it up. Anyway, Alex and Adam now join Ralphie and a long line of little boys (and girls, I’m sure) that claim ownership of this historic piece of Americana.

This afternoon, we hiked into the woods and set-up a couple of targets. After learning how to properly load and fire the rifle and taking the proper safety precautions, we’re ready…

Shooting the Red Ryder

Not bad!

Target

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Well, the boys were up at 5:00 a.m. and a few minutes later they were at the side of the bed informing me that Santa had indeed visited them while they slept. This was a great relief for Adam because he was almost certain he was on the naughty list. Anyway, everyone else was still snoozing, so I started some coffee and the boys brought their stockings to the front of the tree…

Boys with their stockings

Fortunately, Santa had left the boys enough in their stockings to keep them occupied until the coffee was done and everyone was up. Then, we passed-out the presents and they went to town…

Opening presents

Opening presents

My favorite presents every year are the one’s the boys’ buy at their school’s Christmas shop…

Opening presents Opening presents

After the gifts were opened and the wrapping paper, boxes, and other packaging were cleared-out, we retired to the kitchen for breakfast, which included Cindy’s specialty, reindeer pancakes, for the boys…

Reindeer Pancakes

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Merry Christmas

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and the family is gathering at the home of my 97-year-old grandfather, affectionately known as “Pa”. In about an hour, this old turn-of-the-20th-century house will be filled to the brim with people, all family…

Pa's House

Something like this…and this isn’t everyone! Six generations are represented here tonight.

Crowd

Of course, the highlight of the evening is the kids sitting at Pa’s feet and opening their presents . When I was a kid (and the family was quite a bit smaller) we all used to draw names and each would buy a present for the person he or she chose. Now, it’s become a bit unwieldy, so parents bring modest presents for their kids and Pa presents his gifts, and everyone brings something for Pa. This year, Pa’s gifts included a Florida Gator hat (I wonder who got him that 😉 )

Kids opening presents Pa with his Gator hat

After the Christmas Eve activities at Pa’s, we returned to Mom and Dad’s cabin on the hill to get ready for Santa’s visit. So, after a couple quick photo’s with the selfie-stick…

Family Selfie Cindy Selfie

the stockings were hung by the chimney with care…

Stockings

in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon would be there…

Santa

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So, the kids got a ‘Pie Face!’ game and Cindy played…

Pie Face

SPLAT!

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Nana and Pop wanted to wait until the boys arrived to put-up the Christmas tree. But first, we have to cut down the tree, which means a visit to the tree farm. Once there, the boys are given a mission: Locate the Christmas tree…

Christmas Tree

Finally, among the hundreds of trees lining these hills, we find the perfect tree…

Christmas Tree

And with the pull of the cord and a quick swipe with the chainsaw, Pop cuts down our Christmas tree. The boys are pretty proud of themselves

Christmas Tree

Now, we’re gonna meet Mom and Nana for breakfast! Then Mom and Nana can decorate the tree 😉

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There’s a song by Kenny Loggins called, ‘Celebrate me Home’. It’s about a man (Kenny, I suppose) who returns home for the Holidays to be among his friends. They play music and sing. For the man, the music recalls memories of home when he’s away. Kenny sings,


Please, celebrate me home
Play me one more song,
That I’ll always remember,
And I can recall,
Whenever I find myself too all alone,
I can sing me home.

So, what’s the point? I originally heard this song in 1977 and had a copy of Kenny’s album of the same name. At the time, ‘Celebrate’ didn’t have much impact on me (my favorite song from the album was ‘Lady Luck’). However, I would rediscover this song almost 10-years later. In 1986, I was living in Colorado Springs and on my first Air Force assignment. Until this time I was never more than 2-3-hours from home, so it was easy to return for special occasions like Thanksgiving and Christmas. Now, I was 1,500-miles from home, which is no easy drive. In December 1986, I was spending my second Christmas away. Although I had a family of my own (my son was less than a month old), nostalgia was tugging at me, then I heard ‘Celebrate’ on the radio and the song took on a whole new meaning.

This year we’re spending Christmas with my folks and extended family. And although I can ‘count on being gone’, for the next few days you can ‘Celebrate me Home’…

Celebrate me Home

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Last night, we took Alex and Adam to their first LIVE concert! Trans-Siberian Orchestra was in town for their 2016 Winter Tour; Cindy and I have gone to see them several times, so it was a time for the boys’ introduction…

TSO Tour

I wish I could say the evening went smoothly, but alas, I can’t. Sure, we left in plenty of time to get to the arena, but we didn’t consider the Main Street bridge construction, which detoured traffic through town, causing a HUGE back-up and inchworm-like progress. Anyway, after cutting through a few side streets we were within a stone’s throw of the venue when everything came to a grinding halt! Traffic was merging onto a 1-lane road from three different directions. WOW! So, naturally, Dad took one for the team, while Mom and the boys exited the van and headed for the entrance. Thankfully, they made it for the start of the show and I wasn’t too far behind. And Cindy had a beer waiting for me, which made it all good. I actually think TSO delayed the start due to the traffic issues, which worked-out great for us (and many others).

As expected, TSO didn’t disappoint! It was a great show and the boys had a BLAST! When it was over and we were walking out, Adam asked me to upload this music to his iPod (he also said he couldn’t hear, which means we got our $$$ worth ;-)) So, there you have it…TSO has two more fans-for-life! Here’s a clip from last night’s show…the song is called, “Christmas Jam”…

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