Tag Archives: dad

Starting Christmas

The time is almost here.

We’ve spent countless weeks building up to Tuesday morning.  Christmas is about to start.

It has taken a lot of hard work to transition directly from Halloween in to the start of Christmas but with the help of major retail chains we’re here.  No doubt, most of you have risked life, limb, and having to use your short term disability benefits to string lights around your house.  You have dumped an entire life’s worth of vulgarity into the 45 minutes you spent trying to get the last string of lights to actually light.

You have heard the ringing of the Salvation Army bell for so long it has now become like the Tell Tale Heart ringing while you’re at the dinner table.  My suggestion would be to drop a dollar in to the bucket.  The ringing goes away after that.

You have come within a heartbeat of fisticuffs on 5 am during Black Friday sales because you were the first one to grab the 52” LED television.

You stood up a tree in your living room and assured your significant other there were no living creatures in the tree (even though you didn’t really check).  Or maybe you spent a few hours trying to remember how your artificial tree gets put together and possibly bargained a piece of your soul just so you had it together correctly before you put the lights on the tree.

Your house has been remade from post-modern décor in to an exact replica of Santa’s workshop.

You have reminded everyone within earshot of the true “reason for the season” and thereby sounding like the guy who reminds you why everyone should own a Prius.

You have done all of this in the name of kick starting the Christmas season.

I have too.

I’ve embraced the holidays by hanging garish decorations.  I have endured the torturous loop of Christmas songs seemingly being played on every channel of the radio, fought with my wife over where to hang the 700th ornament for the tree, thought about punching the old lady who picked up the last Angry Birds Star Wars toy, made sure there was enough rum in the house for the gallons of egg nog in the refrigerator, and tried to remind my kids about the “reason for the season” as a way to pave the way for fewer gifts (to no avail).  I have done all that is asked of me to begin the season.

Yet despite doing my holiday season duties, Christmas hasn’t begun for me.  There is still one more thing that I have to do before Christmas truly begins at my house.  It is a tradition I learned from my Dad………

There’s more!  Read the rest at Dads Round Table.

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Duck Rocks

It is every parent’s job to make their kids do things that they hate to do.  Growing up, my Mom loved to take my sister and I to Levin’s. Levin’s was a store the size of an airplane hangar devoted solely to sewing.  We were forced to the grocery store and dentist appointments.  My dad had his own lists too. Tops on his list of ‘Things Jimmy hates to do but I’m going to make him do anyway’, was fishing.

I hate fishing (almost as much as the dentist).

I find nothing redeemable about the entire endeavor.  This is not to say I am against fishing, I’m just against me having to go fishing.  This disdain I feel, I felt even at such a young age.  A disdain my father completely ignored as he assembled his tackle box with the plastic white and red bobber, his black and orange striped rod, the can of worms he made me dig up for him from the backyard and told me to get in the car.  We would go to either the chunk of concrete from a sidewalk anchored to the bank of Carsonia Lake that, to this day, I cannot figure out how or why was there or we would slide down the small embankment around the first bend  of the road at Antietam Lake to the small dirt landing to fish.

My dad would meticulously go through the process of picking the correct lure, attaching the bob, putting the worm on the hook, and casting so as to avoid the sticks and algae with my sister and I.  Actually, he spun his angling lesson with my sister; I kicked at the dirt and tried my best not to get stung by bees.  I may have also complained and whined about being there though I can neither confirm nor deny this.  You’ll have to ask my sister.

My sister and dad would fish. Rather, they would cast, then wait, then reel their line in and cast again. Over and over again. On rare occasions, one of the gilled bottom feeders lurking in the lakes found its way to their worm but for the most part, fishing with my dad might as well been called ‘standing’.  I loved to be with my dad but I really did hate to fish.

This is how ‘‘Duck Rocks’’ were born.

The name came from the first time I threw a rock into the lake and scared off a flock of Mallards. ‘‘Duck Rocks’’ are not  and were not for attacking ducks; rather they were used to keep the attention of an 8 year old boy who was being held captive at a lake by his father.  A Duck Rock can be found along the side of any lake.  Smooth and flat rocks are preferred, for maximum skipping distance. Finding the rare 15 pound rock to shot put could also be used.  Whatever the rock, you were sure to scare away the fish and definitely any unsuspecting water fowl foolish enough to wade close enough to the splash zone.

Whenever my dad assembled his fishing gear, my first question was, “Can I throw ‘‘Duck Rocks’’?” to which he answered, “Yes” every time. Fishing wasn’t so bad with ‘‘Duck Rocks’’ and as a bonus, I got to be with my dad.  The haul of fish my dad and sister caught seemed to diminish exponentially as soon as I started throwing my “Duck Rocks”.

Eventually we stopped going to the concrete slab of Carsonia Lake.  We stopped sliding down the embankment at Antietam Lake.  Lessons on proper casting techniques and finding the right rocks gave way to lessons on cutting the grass and how to change the car’s oil.

Now I’m a father and I get to make my kids do things they hate (the true circle of life).  While they are whining and pleading with me to end whatever perceived misery I am forcing them to endure, I hope when they get to be my age, they understand why I make them do it.  It’s not so much what I make my kids do or what my dad made me do; it’s that we do, and we did, it together.  I think my dad just wanted to find anything for me to do to hold my attention. Because what I didn’t understand at the time was, he wanted me next to him as much as I wanted him next to me.

I still go to Carsonia Lake but instead of rods and lures, I take my kids. We walk around the trail surrounding the lake and at least once, we stop where the concrete sidewalk slab used to be and where I stood with my dad. While we’re there, I search out the smoothest, flattest “Duck Rock” I can find and skip it across the surface of the lake or if I’m lucky enough to find the all too rare 15 pound rock, I launch that into the water. Throwing those rocks makes me think how I wouldn’t mind fishing so much if I were able to stand next to my Dad when I went.