There are presents inside this blog post

Since Christmas is right around the corner, regular readers may be tuning in expecting to find pictures of the boys putting up the tree and otherwise preparing themselves for an onslaught of joy.

Well, no.

Don’t get me wrong; we put up the tree and we are girding our loins for the wave of unbridled glee, and the boys will be getting their fair share of presents on the 25th. But, I’ve decided to make this post include a present for you (well, two of you, anyway.)

Through December 27, I’m running an Amazon Giveaway of my latest book. It’s the first time I’ve ever done an Amazon Giveaway, so bear with me as I learn the process. The bottom line is this: two winners will get a copy of this book shipped to them from Amazon.com absolutely free.

That’s right: FREE! I’ve already paid for the books and shipping from Amazon.

For a chance to win a book, just follow these easy steps:*

  1. Click the book cover or link below to go to the Giveaway.
  2. Sign into your Amazon.com account (if not already signed in).
  3. Click the button that says “Enter.”

That’s it! You’re entered.

Housefly

Blurb:

Anders sacrificed his own promising future to save the life of child. Now he must decide whether to cling to the unlikely hope of regaining his old status, or spend his time making the most of the life fate dealt him. Though difficult to let go of rewards once promised, perhaps the greatest rewards are those earned by building new hope from the bits and pieces of wrecked dreams. A Housefly in Autumn is a historical novel intended for Young Adults and up.

Giveaway link: https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/a357b4fdf7d1b012

After December 27, Amazon will draw two random winners from the pool of entrants and ship the books directly to them.

Here’s the really cool part. I’ve made the Giveaway private, so only people who follow the link can enter. Since I’d like visitors to my blog to have a good chance to win, this is the only place I’m posting the link. You can share the link, or this entire post, or keep it to yourself. That’s up to you.

*The not so really cool part is that according Amazon’s rules, this Giveaway is limited to U.S. entrants. I apologize to my international friends. I would love to be able to include everyone, but apparently Amazon.com doesn’t cover the globe quite like Santa does.

Merry Christmas and good luck.

Now, if you really just wanted to see a picture of us putting up the tree, I’ve got you covered too.

Happy Holidays!

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Christmas: Let’s do this thing!

Christmas observations and tips from Big Brother, Buster, and Big Man for the enjoyment of boys and girls everywhere.

Daddy didn’t run away from home on Christmas this year either. He threatened to do it two or three times like always, but we’ve been around this block before. He always acts like he’s headed for the door, but we all know he loves how exciting and noisy we make Christmas for him. Besides, he’s not going anywhere when there’s still a ham in the oven. And after dinner, he’s too fat and slow to escape.

We brothers do our best to keep Daddy engaged on Christmas. He’s says he needs a minute of peace, but we know he’s just saying that so he won’t put us to any trouble. But it’s really no trouble for us to keep things lively for him. And since he’s almost a hundred years old, it’s important to keep his mind in the game.

Keep you candy handy. You'll need all your strength to rip open these packages.

Keep your candy handy. You’ll need all your strength to rip open these packages.

Daddy gets out his camera on Christmas morning when we’re getting ready to open presents. This is kind of like his little challenge to us. If he has time to take more than five pictures before the unwrapping swirls out of control, we haven’t done our jobs. That’s why we’ve all just got to pitch in and start unwrapping stuff. Daddy tries to keep us taking turns or something, but Santa didn’t put all these present under this tree so we could sit around and talk about them. It’s every man for himself.

The best thing to do on Christmas is open up all the boxes with your new toys in them and dump everything out on the floor.  Toys come with a lot of pieces nowadays and it’s important to get all the pieces together in one big pile. That way, when you and your brothers start hounding Daddy to assemble all your play sets, he’ll have all the pieces for any of them he needs in one central location.

If you have anything that needs batteries (and you do – lots of things), make sure you bring that to your parents attention right away. It takes about 538 batteries to get through the holiday. Your parents will never learn this and will only have stocked up about 400 batteries, so you need to get as many as you can before your brothers hog them all up. Otherwise, you’ll be staring into a drawer with nothing left but those useless, rectangle batteries they used about a million years ago and Mommy and Daddy keep around for nostalgia.

This is going to need batteries - lots of batteries.

This is going to need batteries – lots of batteries.

Here’s a fun fact about Christmas dinner: it’s a complete waste of your time. Wouldn’t you rather be playing? Even if you secretly like ham, pretend it’s one of the 9 billion foods you don’t. You’ve already loaded up on candy from your stocking, and if you get a little peckish later, you’ve still got a candy cane full of ROLOs and two caramel Santas in reserve.  You don’t have time for a sit-down meal; protest it.

Christmas is a time to stay wound up as long as you can. After all, you want to make special holiday memories for Mommy and Daddy.

 

The increase in bumps and bruises indicates we have entered the Christmas Season

Children can smell Christmas a month away. The first sniff of it smells like Thanksgiving turkey. There’s something about that turkey, or maybe it’s Parade Santa driving down whatever avenue Macy’s is on, telling all the kids to rev up their engines for presents.

Our three boys can be found roughhousing at pretty much any given time between New Year’s Day and New Year’s Eve, but there’s a special, over-the-top season of horseplay between Thanksgiving and Christmas. There’s something in the air that shoots right to their little, immature synapses and makes them start snapping in hyper drive.

Big Brother, Yuletide veteran, knows how many days until Christmas. He lives in anticipation of that day. He knows exactly why he’s excited, but when it comes to controlling his frenzy like a civilized third grade citizen, he’s as helpless as a two-year-old. Fortunately, there’s a two-year-old nearby to emulate.

Buster knows Christmas is coming, in a general kind of way. It could be in a few months or it could be tomorrow. It’s probably not tomorrow because there’s no Christmas tree yet. But Big Brother has been asking about putting up the tree, and he only does that within three or four months of Christmas, so it must be time to get amped up. It’s not enough to say, “I want that!” to every toy commercial on TV, you’ve got to shout it at this time of year, so people know you’re serious.

Big Man exhibits a vague sense of impending joy. He’s been seeing more lights, trees, and red suits lately, and that can only be a good thing. I doubt Big Man remembers last Christmas as a specific event, so he has the advantage of having it be the first time all over again. The disadvantage is that he doesn’t know the reason he’s feeling so hyper these days, but if his big brothers are running around like maniacs, there must be a good reason for it.

And running around like maniacs they are, literally. Their race course is a narrow path starting in the entrance hallway, with a sharp left in the kitchen, a hairpin turn in the dining room, then between the sofa and an unforgiving book case back to the start. The days since Thanksgiving have been littered with stubbed toes, banged knees, and bumped heads as they chase each other around this treacherous course at warp speed.

It always follows the same pattern: the sound of running feet is punctuated by a thud; all the running noise stops, replaced by one siren wail; the pitch of the wail slides down into the steady notes of crying; perhaps this is accompanied by the sound of a little person hopping on one foot as he stumbles toward expected parental sympathy.

Actual parental sympathy sounds much like, “That’s what happens when you run in the house.”

Who needs parental sympathy when you’ve got the Christmas Spirit? Those overstimulated baby synapses will wash away the tears and get a boy back in the race in no time.

I’ll ask Santa if he’ll come back next year

Despite my many warnings to the boys about the borderline quality of their behavior leading up to Christmas, Santa came anyway. Nobody can be counted on to give 102nd chances like Santa.

We had a typical Christmas for us. It began with a mega-dose of childish excitement and glee. Then it slowly spiraled into the danger zone known as Too Much Christmas, when three boys, overstimulated and full of adrenalin, can’t process all the new things to play with and turn into Tasmanian Devils.

When Christmas is still fresh and new - before the abundance of toys overloads any synapses.

When Christmas is still fresh and new – before the abundance of toys overloads any synapses.

Just think how fun it will be out of the box!

Just think how fun it will be out of the box!

A small cooling off period sets things right again, or as near as they can be on this day of frenzy. Then it’s the battle to make them sit down long enough to eat some dinner. Fortunately, Big Brother has inherited his father’s unconditional love of the ham. He’d eat it in a box with a fox, or even during the excitement of Christmas Day. It’s only the little ones who can’t see the majesty of the glazed shank beyond the shine of new toys.

About mid-afternoon begins the parental strategizing about how to wear them down so they’ll go to bed at a decent hour, in spite of all the fun stuff calling them to wakefulness from the living room.

The day ends with a drink of Daddy’s new scotch, conveniently delivered by the UPS man on Christmas Eve. If there is a Santa, I’m now convinced his suit is brown rather than red.

And what a scotch it was. This new one is potent. It tried to put hair on my chest. It didn’t realize that my chest is a difficult place put hair. The most difficult place is my head, which retired from hair farming some years ago. At my age, that scotch would have been far more successful seeking fertile ground on my back, but liquor attempts only what it’s trained to do.

In the days following Christmas, things have settled down some. Some. We still have fights between Buster and Big Brother over the best use of certain toys. Big Man keeps everybody on their toes with his penchant for disassembling LEGO creations whenever one is left unattended and within his reach.  This causes much gnashing of teeth, yet never causes anyone to learn to keep their LEGOs up high.

There used to be a lazer turret here. But after Big Man tore that off, Jar Jar makes a good substitute.

There used to be a laser turret here. But after Big Man tore that off, Jar Jar makes a good substitute.

Pieces are broken or lost. This is the natural order of things. Instinctively, they are making room for the next Christmas.

On the third night after Christmas, Buster considered his built, then unbuilt, then half-built again LEGO toy. “Daddy, “ he said.

“Yes?”

“I want more Christmas.”

There’s a little Buster in me that always wants more Christmas too. But when the Daddy in me reflected upon the dizzying roller coaster that is Christmas with three boys, even my inner child shook his head. There’s not enough scotch in the world for that.

“Maybe we’ll have another one next year. I’ll ask Santa how he feels about it.”