It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

December is here, which means it’s time for familiar holiday traditions—like “stress” and “guilt.”

However, if the holiday season really was stress-and-guilt-free, my guess is that mid-January we’d find ourselves asking, “Did we even celebrate Christmas?”

Of course, it’s possible everything would feel more normal as soon as we got our credit card bill in the mail or discovered Continue reading “It’s Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas”

26 things Chocolate and Love have in common

1. Every body needs chocolate.

2. Chocolate can be bitter, although most of the time it’s sweet.

3. Chocolate is best when shared with a friend.

4. The benefits of chocolate far outweigh the sacrifices.

5. Chocolate means never having to say you’re sorry.

6. Enjoy your chocolate, but if you don’t take a few precautions you may find yourself getting a little thick around the middle.

7. Chocolate changes your body chemistry for the better.

8. Very few people in this world will turn down the gift of chocolate.

9. Chocolate can get very very messy.

10. Even when it’s messy, chocolate is still very very good.

11. Chocolate is habit forming.

12. Sometimes bitter things, covered in chocolate, can be swallowed.

13. Chocolate never goes out of fashion.

14. Chocolate can make things stick together.

15. Chocolate should be savored.

16. Chocolate makes the world go ’round.

17. Chocolate is a great remedy for the blues.

18. Chocolate may change shape under heat and pressure, but it’s still chocolate.

19. Chocolate can make you live longer.

20. Chocolate rocks.

21. There is no substitute for good chocolate.

22. Chocolate is energizing.

23. Chocolate can be really hot.

24. Sometimes chocolate is good therapy.

25. Never take chocolate for granted.

26. You’re never too old to be a connoisseur of fine chocolate.

The Locusts Have Landed

My house is abrubtly silent.

Ten minutes ago there were six grimy kids hovering around my kitchen island, all talking at once, words piling on words, gangly arms reaching over shoulders toward the bowl of pistachios and plate of hastily sliced watermelon I’d thrown together as soon as my front door banged wide and the first voice yelled, “We’re back!”

Their clothes were still damp from crawling on their bellies through small caverns filled with rainwater, the water coming up to their chins and low hanging rocks grazing the tops of their heads.

Hunter, my 16-year-old nephew, had a faraway look in his eyes as he said, “It was paradise!”

My daughters, 23 and 15, talked about coaching each other through scary climbs. Someone recalled almost having to push 13-year old Isaac through a particularly cramped space. Conner, 18, had to warn everyone away from a dark corner when something growled at them from the shadows.

Jaron, in his early twenties and the one with the most caving experience, had served as point man for most of the trek. He told me, “At one point I hollered back at the others, ‘We can go over that rock and stay dry, or we can army-crawl beneath this ledge through freezing water.” Right away I heard this chorus of voices yell, ‘Army crawl!’

Jaron paused, nearly misty-eyed, then said, “I love these guys!”

They left as fast as they came. My nephews ordered pizza and had it delivered to my sister’s house. The motley crew—consisting of my daughters and their cousins and a friend—piled into two cars and drove away.

I looked at my kitchen. Cups and shells and rinds were strewn everywhere. The locusts had descended, devoured and departed in pursuit of pepperoni.

My kitchen is clean now and all the rooms are quiet, except for the clicking of my keyboard and the distant sound of a dog barking somewhere in the neighborhood. I suspect that in the past half hour I’ve seen a foreshadowing of my future.

They arrive. They bring chaos and life. And then they leave.

But not without giving more than they take.

Wiping my kitchen counters took me a few minutes at best. Wiping the smile off my face will take a lot longer.

Give Me the Key to a Woman’s Heart, Hold the Anchovies

In a lively group conversation, one single guy asked, “What do women REALLY want?”

I said, “That’s easy! We want three things: To feel cherished, pursued and known.”

Immediately another woman said, “Yes! That’s EXACTLY what we long for!”

Yet another woman said wistfully, “That is, indeed, the secret to a woman’s heart.”

The man said, “Cherished, pursued and known. That’ll be easy to remember.”

I said, “Oh?”

He said, “Sure. CPK. Just like California Pizza Kitchen.”

Recipe for a Family Road Trip

Take a handful of kids and one or two well-intentioned adults. Pack them into a car about the size of your average coat closet. Jostle, mix and toss for 5-10 days. Toss in some PMS, pent-up testosterone, fast-food wrappers, engine trouble and “NO VACANCY” signs viewed thro bloodshot eyes at midnight. Marinate in laughter.  Season stories with a pinch of exaggeration and enjoy for years to come.

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