Monday, December 21, 2009


I never get tired of reading or watching Chris Van Allsburg's, THE POLAR EXPRESS. Can you hear the bell and do you still believe? I do. I have fond memories of my brother Keith, sister Cindy, and I slithering down the staircase to see if Santa had arrived. Then quickly scattering back up when we heard our parents, still awake in the kitchen. And of all the presents that I have torn open over the years, I'll never forget my battery operated dump truck, capable of carrying at least one whole set of Lincoln Logs, as one of my favorites. I'd do anything to still have it. Up and down, back and forth, I think I wore it out in one month. Or was it my Charlie MaCarthy dummy, that had me talking out of the side of my mouth for the better part of my childhood. As a teenager I was mad at my mother for giving it to one of my cousins, thinking I had outgrown the man dressed in a tuxedo. I'd do anything to have old Charlie back.

Years later, I still enjoy laying on my back, under our Christmas tree, staring at all the lights and ornaments from years past. Granted it takes a little longer to get up off the floor, but I can still spot some of my favorites, even the one I made in Mrs. Hayes' third grade class, red satin with gold glitter, "Mark". Overlooking our family room, high atop our tree, you will find our Christmas Angel...the lone survivor of my Noni and Nono's tree from years past. One of our favorite holiday traditions is to have one of our daughters climb high atop my shoulders to put the angel on the tree. This year, in haste, I put her up all by myself, thinking we would never have all the girls in the house at the same time before our early December Fire-Truck Parade. I think that will be on our "to-do" list for Christmas Eve... In a few more days, our family will gather once again to share and celebrate Christmas. Our Polish wafer will be broken and shared amongst family, with love and best wishes for good health for the New Year. It is a wonderful tradition, which began many years ago in our home on Christmas Eve, as Polish Christmas carols play in the background.

Over the weekend I read Jeannette Walls New York Times Bestseller, THE GLASS CASTLE. And one vivid image remained in my mind long after I was finished. Believe me, I'm no Rex Walls, but I admired Jennette's recollection of her dad's love, "I could not imagine what my life would be like--without him in it. As awful as he could be, I always knew he loved me in a way no one else had ever had." We're fortunate to still have my dad with us, although my wife lost her rock just over a year ago.

During this holiday season, reach out to your family and friends; and let them know you love them in a way no one else ever had. Listen for the bell...and believe in the magic of this holiday season.