Uploaded by Richard Gonzalez
Uploaded by Richard Gonzalez
Christmas is overwhelming for me. I experience so much pressure to buy or give, and yet it can feel pretty forced. So the spirit of giving happens spontaneously, it means more to me. So here is my experience of the magic of Christmas.
Last Sunday, it was about -4 degrees in the city. We had been in the house all day. So my wife and oldest son decided to go for a short walk around the block, while I stayed and played with my younger son. Shortly after leaving the house, the door bell rang. It was my wife and son. “We need some muscle to move a car,” she said.
A twenty something year old boy living at a place called, “Artist in Residence” was trying to get his car out of a snow packed parking spot. So we rocked his car, told him not to burn so much rubber, and eventually got him back on the road. It felt like the right thing to do. And I liked that our son experienced the moment.
On Monday, my wife called me at work. “You remember the artist with the skull & crossbones on his car-the one we pushed out of the snow? He left us a box of choclates with a note to the family that went out of its way to help me out.”
It was a complete surprise. To me, it combines the message of Christmas. You give to others with the nothing more than the best of intentions and then you move on. And sometimes, when you least expect it, something good comes back your way.
My son asked me for some one on one time. I took a pass on some work I had to do and decided to make the most of this opportunity. For all the things we are scheduled to do, it felt good to have some unstructured time together with him. My wife suggested a movie, but G rated movies are hard to find. So I stumbled on to a link that led me to ComedySportz4kids. I love improvisational theater and want to expose my kids to it, so I went for it.
I kept it a surprise. We took the train into the city for the 2:00p.m. show. It was $8.00 to get in. It was satisfying watching his nearly seven year old mind trying to figure out where we were. As we sat outside the main entrance, a group of thirteen boys came in for a birthday party. I momentarily feared it would be us and a group of kids all together. But then other kids came with their parents.
They led us into the intimate theater. We sat in the front row, though there didn’t appear to be any bad seats. . Two of the three performers came around in a red shirt and a blue shirt to get ideas from the kids for the show. They seemed quite comfortable being around kids and engaging kids. The kids ranged in age from as young as about 4-10.
The whole show involved the the red and blue guy and a man who played the coach. They found a way to include the kids ideas and more importantly the kids into the experience. My son was a part of a farm animal orchestra. Also he had a song improvised about his name. The performers made a whole scene with songs about a girl in attendance based on limited information she provided about herself. The performers succeeded at giving the kids room to be silly, loud, and very active.
It was a very fun time. We talked and laughed about it the whole way home.
J, my 4 y.o. wanted us to go to the zoo. I promised I’d follow his lead on this adventure. So this meant, we took a train, a very delayed train, to a stop near the zoo. And then I gave him a piggyback ride for about 8 blocks till we got to the zoo. He was excited about going into an indoor climbing structure for young kids. Only this afternoon, it was actually more about kids climbing on top of one another. So he expressed concerns about the big kids and we checked out the beavers. Actually, I did. He kept dragging me to see the gorillas.
We took a short cut through the Lion house, and saw a leopard and a tiger. I was trying to get a little excitement out of him by pointing at the tiger. But in truth, he was more interested in the colorful camera booth. I just couldn’t justify $5.00 for stickers with us surrounded by animals on it. Not yet, at least. We did see the apes playing outside, eating grass. But he reacted more like, “yawn-been there, done that.” I thought he would be more excited if we went indoors, but as we approached the door, a sign indicated the Ape house was closed. So, he advocated for us getting a snack.
At that point, I surrendered. I bought him a Sponge Bob Popsicles. It was made with a mix of cotton candy, fruit flavoring and gum balls. I tried to comfort myself that it was only 14 grams of sugar for all that crapt. So we sat together in this empty cafeteria listening to a baby howling in the distance. And then it was off to the gift shop for an alligator flashlight. At which point, he informed he was ready to go. So we got some popcorn for the road, and waited for the bus.
As we sat there, a thirty something, slightly chubby, caucasin man with gold wire rim glasses parted wet, blondish hair, clean clothes and a soft voice, showed us the soft “cuddly” tiger he purchased “for his niece. ” And then ranted about the prices at the zoo.
He’s the kind of guy who could pass for normal, until you realize his poor social skills. Like he doesn’t know how to interact in a conversation, but could talk endlessly, if no one interrupted. He told, J to listen to his dad. Having just seen the movie, “Taxi Driver” the night before, I didn’t want to risk the possibility of some crazy out of control lunatic jumping out of his skin. So I held J, and read another gross story about the Rugrats.
As the bus approached, the man got on the bus and looked like he waiting for us to join him; I said,…..It’s too crowded, we’re waiting for the next one.
I am standing in an elevator. I am surrounded by several people standing almost in a line. All of them are texting. Their heads are down and their thumbs are in motion. My mind starts flashing back to standing in line for Holy Communion. Since I haven’t been to church in awhile, I wonder if people text while standing in line for Communion. If so, how far does the texting go?
Does the priest text the message, “body of Christ?” And what about confession-it is my understanding that most people prefer to talk with a priest face to face. Would texting be an option for those who wish to have no close contact with a priest. And this includes not spending time on your knees with a priest in a dark room and nothing but a darkened screen between you. It sounds dirtier than I intended it to be.
Last Friday, I saw my tired nearly 7 year old struggle to get to get out of bed, to put his clothes on, make it to breakfast, and hang on till he could brush his teeth and get out the door to first grade. And then it occurred to me, he was partly tired because this was his first 8:30 am to 3:15 school week. He made it. I put my arms around him and said, “TGIF.” “What’s TGIF dad?” he asked. At that moment, I wasn’t sure if I was amused at the concept of “thank God it’s Friday” or depressed. This is just the beginning. How many more Fridays will be thought of as “TGIF” or Wednesdays as “hump days.”
Let’s think about the implied meaning behind “TGIF” and “Humpday.” Aren’t we saying that most days of the week are a pain, a downer, simply something we have to get through in order to make it to “Humpday” and “TGIF?” Imagine being a kid full of life, excited about everything he hears, sees, touches and smells and then hearing that not so subtle message that most of life is one big pain in the ass, but we all go through it for a paycheck and the weekend. Insert song, “Everybody’s working for the weekend…”