Christmas Skepticism: On Christmas morning Ava asked:
“How come Santa uses the same wrapping paper as Mom and Dad?”
Mom and Dad looked at one another. Gia, still a believer, said:
“Sometimes he needs to borrow wrapping paper after he comes down the chimney.”
Christmas Controversy: I don’t know if the so-called “War on Christmas” is a thing, it seems hyperbole, but evidently there are people offended by “Merry Christmas.” Don’t believe me? Check out the headlines:
War? The iconoclast in me used to say “Merry Stressmas” or “Happy Holidays,” and write “Xmas,” but no more. PC on steroids has gotten out of control, and thus, to be subversive, we must start saying “Merry Christmas” again.
Respect: Even religious holidays can be celebrated as secular. Or not, but that’s an individual choice. When I lived in the Middle East I respected Ramadan though I did not fast. This meant I would not chomp on a falafel in front of the other Middle Eastern teachers at our high school, and partaking an Eid feast with them. Holidays should bring people together, right?
Offense Culture: It’s time to reserve the right to offended…on things that are truly offensive.
Thus I hope that everyone had a Merry Christmas this year, and best wishes for a Happy 2017!
Joke of the Day: Did you hear about the metal/grunge band that went vegan? They’re called Rage Against the Cuisine.
One Photo (Busy Month)
And now, Ava and Gia’s Green Dragons and Kaya’s Purple Sounders, with Halloween photos mixed in:
My Wife’s In-laws Are Nuts: Not only that, my wife is best friends with her sister-in-law, Sarah, and thus we’re always spending time at their house on Whidbey Island. This has turned into a continual source of friction and “marital bliss-ters.”
My Wife’s Sister-in-Law: You ever watch Harold and Maude? You know the mother, oblivious to her son’s disinterest and obsession with death. That’s Sarah. Except her son is obsessed-with-music and Sarah continually tries to get him into sports, outdoors, and the like. And she’s the “normal” one of my wife’s in-laws.
My Wife’s Mother-in-Law: This woman is eccentric multiplied. We call her Nai-nai, Chinese for Grandma, because she studied Chinese in university and lived in Taiwan. She hasn’t been in Asia for almost 30 years, but that doesn’t stop her from speaking Chinese to anyone who looks Asian. If we eat Japanese, Korean, or Thai, Nai-nai addresses the wait staff in Chinese and even after the waitperson says, “What are you saying? I don’t understand.” Nai-nai will keep talking Chinese.
My Wife’s Father-in-Law: We call him Ye-ye. Ye-ye thinks George Bush was a spineless liberal, so you can imagine what he thinks of Hillary. To describe him, I’ll use the euphemism “set in his ways.” My wife, Sarah, and he were discussing public schools and he said, “Public schools are horrible because they push the ‘Homo Agenda.’” Ye-ye is convinced that Hillary and Democrat “moral degeneracy” are the biggest threats facing America.
My Wife’s Other Sister-in-Law: Sarah’s younger sister, Min Pongklub (and husband Somjait), lives in Hawaii. Their three kids parallel our children’s ages, so the six cousins have a ball. The Pongklubs home school, don’t receive vaccinations, and they think the U.S. knew about 9/11. (I accused them of agreeing on everything, they promptly pointed out they differed on what sort of plant seed to use on their lawn.)
A few years ago they were vegan. Our kids told us, “Min’s kids say that moms that give their children meat don’t love their children.”
The Pongklubs are back to eating meat (grass fed, of course), but they’re now gluten free.
This summer, after the Pongklubs took the kids out, our children told us, “They think Clinton is worse than Trump. They call her Killary.” I asked them about this. Yup. Mr. and Mrs. Pongklub are certain Hillary is a murderer. Somjait, later, during a polite conversation, went Godwin’s Law on me and said new proposed firearm regulations in Hawaii treat gun owners the same way “they treated Jews in 1930s Germany.”
At least they’re voting Libertarian and not Trump. (Wife w/in-laws Sarah & Min here)
Ye-ye meets a gay baker: All’s not lost with the in-laws. Sarah took Ye-ye and Nai-nai to the Coupeville landmark, the Knead and Feed, for breakfast. Nai-nai once painted a portrait of then son of the owner, Doug Kroon, wearing a chef’s outfit with a thought bubble of a loaf of bread. The painting still hangs in the bakery/café. Doug now runs the restaurant, recognized and greeted Nai-nai, and said, “This is my husband, we just got married.” Nai-nai gave both men a hug. Ye-ye even shook hands and kept his views to himself.
Good news: Well, for all that, my wife’s sister-in-law is generous and kind. She sent me to Guns ‘n’Roses with my nephew. Next? She bought my wife and I tickets to see David Sedaris at Beniroya Hall in November. And our kids get along great with my wife’s in-laws kids. Guess it’s not such a bad thing having a wife whose in-laws are nuts.
This essay is from 7 years ago, but the website link is dead, so I’m reprinting, surrounded by family photos:
The Gold Rules of Peeing in the Pool
Since having children, my wife and I have fallen in love with the all-inclusive vacation. We sit by a pool, waitstaff bring us drinks, and when we want a break from the piglets, we put them in daycare. However, in Mexico, we had a little poolside confrontation. My wife and I lounged and watched Ava play with new friend 4-year-old Cody. To swim, Ava needs an inflatable ring. Cody saw her struggle, boasted he could swim “all by myself!”, then darted to the deep end to frolic with his mother. Ava had to pee, so my wife accompanied her to a nearby bathroom. When Cody returned, he asked why Ava had disappeared. I told him that Ava had to use the bathroom.
Cody said, “Why doesn’t she pee in the pool?”
“Because you can’t pee in the pool,” I said.
“Yes you can.”
“My mother told me I can.”
“No she didn’t.”
“Yes she did!”
I asked, “Do you swim in your toilet?”
Cody stood unfazed, shook his head, and repeated, “My mother said I can pee in the pool.”
With this, he hurtled his body into the water and zoomed back to his mother’s side. My wife returned and I told her about the little varmint. We shrugged it off and focused on our daughters until Cody returned and announced, “Hey! I just asked my mom and she said it’s okay. I can pee in the pool if I want!”
Then he jumped in and remained almost motionless for what seemed like 30 seconds. I looked at the water in front of the kid’s shorts and almost saw an inversion of warm urine and cool water forming convection currents. The waitress placed a beer by my side as if on cue and I grabbed the glass, went into the pool, and trudged to where the mother leaned against the pool’s edge.
“Hello. Um. I’m the father of Ava – the girl Cody’s playing with.”
“Oh, hi,” she said. We introduced. She hailed from Minnesota. We exchanged parental pleasantries, but before we went overboard praising offspring I said, “Cody told me he could pee in the pool, and that you gave him permission.”
I finished my beer with a large gulp.
Minnesota Mom said, “Yes. So? The pool’s chlorinated.”
I scrunched my face and closed my eyes for a few seconds, and then splashed and pushed water in her direction.
“Ahhhhh. I just relieved myself, but don’t worry, the water’s chlorinated.” I departed as expletives started to roll.
I returned and told my wife of the chat with Minnesota Mom, as well as my departing act.
“You didn’t really pee, did you?” My wife asked.
I said, “Of course not.” (And this will be the version I’ll tell my offspring.)
The mother and her son already had started to leave the pool area, hopefully the wiser. Yet for all that, what had I learned? Sophisticated logic confuses the hell out of me, the philosophies of “treat others as you would like to be treated” and “what comes around goes around” could cancel out one another. And “turn the other cheek” is nothing more than a platitude. But I had a story for my daughters. I would tell them every aphorism has a time and place, yet these golden rules become morally ambiguous when applied to peeing-in-the-pool etiquette.
Perpendicular Video of Concert
Surnames: Gia asked me why our name was Powell and not Perkins (my wife’s maiden name). I explained. She said, “I guess I would be okay with changing my name to my husband’s. Except if his last name is really dumb. Like Buttface. If my husband’s last name was Buttface, then I’d stay with Powell.” Way to make a stand, Gia!
Instructing Kaya: Kaya wanted to cook, and promised she could “do it all by myself!” Then she said, “But I’m going to need the destructions so I can know how to do it.”
Ava & Eye Shadow: Ava emerges from her room with some mad blue eye shadow, Lilly Munster style. So I say, “What’s up with that?” Ava says, “I hate makeup, I’m just doing an experiment.” Whew, what a relief.
The Storm: The Powell family went to a Seattle Storm game recently with girls I’ve coached, some since 3rd grade (they, not me). The Storm retired Lauren Jackson’s jersey after the game and the girls ran around court during a break. Gia exclaimed, “I got three feet away from Lauren Jackson! I’m so lucky!” I told her, “Or Lauren Jackson got three feet from Gia. She’s pretty lucky, too.”
Girls pictured L to R, Back row: Maia, McKenna, Ava, Gia, Hazel. In front of Hazel are M’Kenzie and Naomi, and squatting is Jordan.