The Adventures Of Fatherhood – December 20, 2019

The last week of school before holiday break is the best and the worst.

It reminds me of a recent “Saturday Night Live” skit featuring Matt Damon and Cecily Strong. The skit portrays the two as a couple finally sitting down to some peace and quiet on Christmas night for a conversation about their hectic day. They remark how it was the “best Christmas ever” and the “perfect day” multiple times, rehashing their anything but lovely day, including being woken up at 5 a.m. by kids jumping on their beds, the frenetic pace that is opening Christmas gifts, the frustration that comes with putting gifts together late on Christmas Eve, the stress of hosting family members and a house full of kids, funny and unneeded gifts and the exhaustion that comes with it all. It’s a short three-minute skit full of satire. It’s worth checking out online if you haven’t seen it. It hits home to me.

I would not change life with my kids for anything, but to say every single moment is enjoyable would be a lie. It’s mostly because it’s so incredibly busy. This past week had me shaking my head multiple times and wondering whether the holidays are truly fun or just dreadful.

This sounds cold, I know. I don’t intend to be a Grinch. I do love the Christmas season, but it was a lot easier as a kid to truly enjoy everything about it. Santa and his elves were magical. All the meals were amazingly prepared by people I didn’t appreciate at that time. There wasn’t any stress on my end from attending chorus and band concerts and basketball games on the same night. I don’t remember anything unpleasant in the least bit about the holidays as a kid. I give credit to my parents for all that because I know better now than to think there was no pressure on them.

The last week has been a blur. Beckett sang at two Christmas concerts last weekend. He had a big band and chorus concert at his school on Tuesday night. He also had a few basketball games mixed in and a soccer practice. Carson’s special event calendar wasn’t full, but he had his usual battery of therapists and doctor’s appointments to work through as well as the nightly battles over homework. There seems to be a mounting bewilderment with him over why he should have to do any school work in the first place since Christmas lights are up. Add these daily challenges with working a full-time job and planning for Christmas (most of which must be done late at night or during work hours because of the inquisitive nature of the children) and life is chaotic. I know there are many others who feel the same way. I can see it on my friends’ faces. We smile “good morning” as we pass, but I know we are all feeling the pressure.

Add to all this my birthday was this week and I couldn’t help feel sorry for my wife and family for having to remotely worry about that aspect.

Perhaps the greatest example of how harried things have been of late is I told everyone in church on Sunday I was 45 years old. When it came time to my coins in the cake (a tradition at our church for birthdays), I dropped in an even 45 cents in change. It wasn’t until the next morning when I actually subtracted 2019 from 1975 (the year I was born) when realized I was just 44 years old. Though I should certainly know how old I am, I found it hilarious none of my family members had their thinking caps on either and corrected me.

As we look ahead to Christmas next week, Beckett’s wish list is long but highlighted by two big things. He wants a phone and a full basketball court. The boy has high aspirations for certain.

Fortunately, Carson’s wish list is just as long, but there are no major requests that involve asphalt or the psychological battle that comes with weighing whether an 11-year-old needs a phone (even if every single one of his friends does).

Please excuse this vent session this week. Believe it or not, I am looking forward to Christmas. I love the excitement that comes with it. I enjoy surprising my kids with gifts. I embrace the true reason for the season. I am constantly amazed at the generosity that’s exhibited in our schools and across our community this time of year.

I just also really look forward to the couple days of downtime that follow Christmas with no work and no commitments. I think that makes me normal, but at this point (five days before Christmas) I am not sure. I can’t give it a lot of thought anyway because there’s much to do.

At church last weekend, Beckett leaned over to Pam during the song, “Mary, did you know?” He whispered something, and she tried her best to hold in a laugh.

While the vocalist did a wonderful job singing the song, I couldn’t help but wonder what tickled her. I learned later it was a good idea I didn’t ask at that time because I probably would have laughed out loud because I’m immature. She told me later.

During a long pause after the lyrics, “Mary did you know?”, Beckett whispered in her ear, “15 minutes could save you 15% or more on car insurance.”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.