Showing posts from 2015

From screaming to smiling: Growing up with Santa visits

One of my favorite scenes from A Christmas Story is when 9-year-old Ralphie visits Santa at Gimbels department store. The line is long, the elves are bitter, and Santa is more like Ebenezer Scrooge than jolly ol’ Saint Nick, responding to Ralphie’s request for a BB gun with “you’ll shoot your eye out, kid.”

It’s possible that I had a similar experience. I don’t actually remember a bad Santa visit, but here’s the thing: I don’t remember any Santa visits. That’s strange, right? Maybe my coping mechanism is to suppress painful memories, which would also explain why I have only vague recollections of dancing in public.
The Santa visits I remember well, and I hope to always remember well, are those of my kids. The visits started nine years ago, and in all likelihood, this will be the last year. My oldest sons are 13 and 10, and at this point they’re just going through the motions for their little brother. And Nathan – Baby Nathan, as his brothers like to call him – is 7 years old and seems…

Uncle Larry is the mashed potatoes: Your relatives as Thanksgiving dishes

Well Americans, another Thanksgiving is at our doorstep, along with family and friends and an abundance of reasons to be thankful. Actually, let’s go with a “cornucopia” of reasons to be thankful, because I believe it’s standard practice for every Thanksgiving column to include that word.

Food and family. It’s such a feel-good combination. It’s like hugs and kisses. Smiles and laughter. Cowboys joy and intact Tony Romo collarbones. And, when you think about it, Thanksgiving food and family kind of resemble each other.
No, I don’t mean Uncle Larry actually looks like the mashed potatoes. But isn’t he a little lumpy and soft in the middle? And lovable, of course.
That’s what I mean. The family and friends around the Thanksgiving table often share characteristics of the food on the table. Here’s a sampling as we count our blessings and search for the pants with an elastic waistband. Here's the piece I wrote for The Dallas Morning News. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

You can use the but…

Father's Day: The rollercoaster for dads is worth it

A version of this column first appeared in The Dallas Morning News and on Please check out the site.

During my son’s recent visit to the pediatrician, the doctor checked his eyes and ears, heart and lungs, and everything that’s part of the annual checkup for a 7-year-old. But before pronouncing my son ready to roll, the doc should’ve checked on one more thing:

Nathan’s schedule for later that day.
Not even two hours after the “well visit,” with his lips still red from the customary goodbye lollipop, Nathan broke his arm. He was playing football at the park and slipped and fell while making a catch. The official family description, which I provided on our next, much-too-soon visit to the doctor, was that Nathan “dropped like a sack of potatoes.” An expensive sack of potatoes.

In the span of five years, that’s four broken bones for my three sons. Ryan, age 12, has broken his nose and foot. Cooper, age 9, has only broken a pinkie, but it required a cast to th…

A car accident, a moment of trust, and someone who seemed nice

A version of this column first appeared in The Dallas Morning News and on Please check out the site.

When the truck began backing toward my car, I should’ve hit the horn. If I were a more aggressive honker, one of those quick-boilers always ready to palm-smash an alert, I might have avoided the whole mess.

 But it happened too quickly. I was in a left-turn lane, stopped at a red light, and, wait a second, is he backing up? Does he not … oh no … and then wham. I uttered some sort of expletive, but it was under my breath because parenting three kids is a fantastic censoring program.

My 9-year old, Cooper, was in the back seat. He told me later that the whole smash-up was boring and that he hoped the airbags would inflate next time. I hope there won’t be a next time for anyone in my family, but I have three sons who will eventually be driving. Prepare you horns.
There were no injuries, which is great. But also no witnesses. It was 8:30 in the evening…