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Around Christmastime, one of my dear friend’s recurring mantras is this:

“Give from the heart. Not from the mart.”

I like it, and it makes sense.

But anybody with children will attest to the fact that this sentiment only goes so far. I mean if Santa left only baked goods or a handmade craft, a palpable sense of betrayal would fairly howl through most households in this country.

I wouldn’t be any good at handcrafting a PlayStation or a Big Wheel. Hell, I had trouble assembling the Big Wheels and other contraptions Santa left for my twins, and invariably there were parts left over…

I remember grappling with a Foosball table one Christmas Eve as I downed beer after beer, in no way fooled by the fantasy that one more drink would make the process any easier. That table was very nearly my undoing, and it was as wobbly as I was.

But I soldiered on, listening to Pope John Paul II on the television as he concluded yet another Midnight Mass.

For better or for worse, I had the damned thing put together. With an air of drunken self-satisfaction, I took a bite out of Santa’s cookie, finished off his milk and went to bed.

I am so glad I am sober now, by the way. Have been for years.

Because my twins have December birthdays and I am not Rockefeller, I would always find myself “jammed up” about how to pull off the two events…

…but credit cards, a bit of squirreled cash and the kindness of loved ones made it possible for my son and daughter to enjoy their holidays; if not in high style, then by all means in a manner that prevented them from feeling pinched.

Despite my promises to myself to be better prepared “next year,” that has yet to happen. But birthdays and Christmases came and went, and everything seemed to work out. Every. Single. Year.

But what if your kids are adults?

My twins just turned 27, and I am lucky that they are both nearby. My son and daughter-in-law live in Myrtle Beach, and my daughter is down from New York, staying with them as she works from home for a time – a decidedly positive byproduct of the COVID-19 nightmare. I’m thrilled she is able to do that.

They are still getting presents, though, but the endgame moving forward is to keep it simple and avoid credit card spending.

I need to keep in mind that as far as gifts are concerned, 27 is not 17 is not 7 – and yet I keep hearkening back to those times, like, will my gifts be enough

But then I snap back to reality with the profound realization that, yes, they will be enough because I am enough. This is where the heart comes in, where spending time together comes in, where love comes in.

That kind of acceptance just became the biggest gift I could possibly give myself.

I am glad I went to my brother’s house today, because we messed around and got 30 minutes of audio – I guess you would call it priming for our podcast.

My brother, Chris Yale, insists that these are not podcasts, but simply recordings. Not podcasts until we get the proper feeds and platforms in place.

Christian Roger With Signs

So be it – but I am still happy to share this recording – where I start with trying to stump Chris about Echo & The Bunnymen – and segueing into the sad news about the demise of the local Myrtle Beach alt-weekly, The Surge, for which I was a regular contributor – then on to our adult children and how they are faring currently – and then a couple of other items about growing up in LA, which will be regular features.

Music. Covers versus originals. Lovable drunks at gigs. Douches at gigs.

The way Chris pronounces the word “ruin.”

And of course, Chris’ rotisserie chickens, er – his chihuahuas.

In all, a worthwhile effort, I think. Looking forward to this adventure with my twin.

 

 

 

 

Wes and Dad at Swearing-In

I have been cleaning out my old car– a venerable 2003 burgundy Ford Taurus SES, which became by default my son Wesley’s car. It was almost supposed to be a car that he and my daughter Taylor were to share – but fate intervened for Wes when his sister went off to the College of Charleston in 2012.

That old car became symbolic of the passing years. With 215 thousand miles clocked – and at nearly 14 years old, it has certainly served us well. My twins first sat in that car when they were nine.

I always knew I shouldn’t have blinked.

But back to the car.

As I was cleaning it out – taking Wesley’s stuff out of it and eventually vacuuming it – the realization set in that my son made the decision to join the United States Marine Corps.

I wouldn’t be doing any of this if he hadn’t made that decision, without a doubt the ballsiest move he has ever made.

Joining up at 22 gives Wes a slight edge by way of maturity – and the kid is in tip-top physical shape thanks to a rabid commitment to CrossFit Myrtle Beach, which has become a second family to him. The Myrtle Beach Seahawks are also family to him. He played for Myrtle Beach High School and until he shipped off was the assistant strength and conditioning coach there.

Wes Photo Rancier

But a Marine? God a’mighty!

Sometimes in my quiet moments – like just before I doze off, the reality hits – the sheer gravity of his decision takes hold and jars me out of my reverie. “My son is at Parris Island,” I think to myself.

This is a new chapter in his life, and ultimately in mine too.

He’s almost finished with week four of a thirteen-week recruit training program at the place where the water tower is emblazoned with the slogan, “We Make Marines.”

I keep being told by Marines and civilians alike that I won’t believe what I will see at Marine Corps Graduation.

I liked what I saw before in my son. I can only imagine the man I will meet on June 3.

For the record, I love you Wesley!