Saturday, December 23, 2023

Christmas 2023

Merry Christmas from Tango and Gladys!

 Christmas is upon us and I can't help but think about Christmas' past.

As a child, Christmas was such an important time in our lives. The anticipation of opening presents. I was telling Lisa the other day. Back in "the good ole days" we didn't get toys but twice a year. Birthdays and Christmas. So it was a big deal to get toys back then.

My parents must have been gluttons for punishment because they adopted 3 kids at the same time. We were all 16 months in age apart. I tell people that the orphanage had a sale that week. Buy 2 get one free. I was the free one. When Christmas came around and we were on our Christmas break from school, we would literally drive my mother up the wall.

"Can we open a present! Can we open a present!' the three of us would hound her nonstop.

My mother, getting sick and tired of it, and only being eight in the morning, too early to start drinking, finally gave in and let us open a present. The plan was genius. We would play all day with that toy. Staying out of her hair. At night she would then re-wrap those gifts and put them back under the tree. The next day we would pester her again. So she would let us pick another gift to open. If we would pick something we had already opened, we would be so happy exclaiming that we had gotten two trucks or whatever it was. We weren't very bright. I can just picture my mother laughing and laughing about that.

Another fond memory I recalled was this. If we weren't in snowy Minnesota for Christmas we would travel to Long Beach, California to be with my mothers sister and her family. We would pile into the family truckster and my father would drive and drive. Usually making the trip in two days. One year we stayed in a motel right across the street from Disneyland. It was truly magical. Now LA was a totally different place back in the 70's versus the way it is today. I remember my parents giving us our tickets for the park and then letting us walk across the street and spend the day in the park alone. 

My mother was a wild and crazy person. Around Christmas time she and her friends would get together and go caroling. Only it was called Yulebaching. Not sure of the spelling but knowing her she made it up. It was like caroling but for drinks. As a kid I could tell that it must have been fun by the way she came home.

When we did go to my aunts house I remember never being able to play on the swing set they had in the back yard. Why is that you ask? The reason being is that they had a monkey that lived on that thing. It was not a cute monkey but rather a monkey from hell. Mean monkey. But that is what memories are made of.

Another fond memory is the first Christmas I spent with Lisa and her family. The Christmas that never ended. Rather, it was the gift opening that never ended. We would take turns opening 1 gift. Everyone would watch that person open it and then "oohhss and aahhss" would ensue. Comments and stories would follow. Then the gift would be passed around the circle so everyone could see it. Then the cycle would be repeated for the next person. I swear that gift opening took forever but in reality it was more like 3-4 hours. Now my side of the family was more of a free for all. Someone would hand out the gifts. Once your pile was in front of you it would begin. It was like a feeding frenzy. Lasting maybe 5 minutes.

When Lisa and I got married, Christmas cards were our thing from the beginning. I will include them so you can see us dorks on parade.

Our cats before we had kids.
Our son and my vintage SnoJet.
This year we sent out a letter with this picture. Dorks.

Our kids throughout the year.
The ATV's and kids.
We had a character drawing of the kids done one year.
As the kids got older we started camping and traveling more.
Another fun dress up card we sent out. 
Silver Lake sand dunes.
One year everyone didn't want a picture taken so I had to improvise. Yes, we had five cats at one time.
Moab Utah.
This is the year we were hiding our identities.
On a glacier in Canada.

That's it for family photos. Kids are adults now. Time moves on. 

Merry Christmas to all. Have a Happy New Year also. We will be going into hibernation soon and hope to wake up in the spring.

Monday, December 11, 2023


Hockey-a game played on ice between two teams of players who each have a curved stick with which they try to put a puck (a small, hard disk) into the other teams goal. -Cambridge Dictionary

 One of the joys of being near the grandkids is to be able to watch them grow. From little balls of babies that do nothing but eat, cry and poop, to toddlers who are into everything, and to where they are now. 4 and 5 years old. At this age they are definitely developing their own personalities. 

We had the four year old stay with us for a couple of days last week he was so excited seeing our Christmas tree and all of the presents under it. He really wanted to start opening all of the gifts we told him he had to wait until Christmas. Now it is funny how their  minds work. So he says, "Can I touch them?" We said that was fine. So he touched them all and then he was done with them. The top half of our tree has candy canes on it. The bottom half that he could reach are all gone. Every time I turned around I would see him munching on a candy cane. 

"Stop eating my candy canes!" I would tell him. Only to get a sheepish little giggle out of him.

Now the five year old is playing hockey. In Minnesota if your child isn't skating by kindergarten, they will never make the pro circuit. A friend of mine had asked me what we had planned for the day. I told him we were going to Fargo to watch the five year old play hockey. I said that that should be interesting. It did not disappoint.

Imagine 8-10 kids who can barely stand on skates chasing a puck around for an hour. They were laying on the ice more than they were standing. Actually I give them a lot of credit. They are better skaters at this age than I ever was. But it was fun watching them develop those skills. I loved it when the puck would get out to open ice and the kids would skate after it with wild abandon. The first one to reach it would wind up for the shot, only to whiff, fall on his butt and slide into the boards. Then he would scramble to his feet just so that he could get into the mix again. They sure were burning the calories that night.

The four year old fell asleep that night on the way to the game. So Lisa stayed in our daughter-in-laws vehicle while he slept. Then half way through the game, I changed places with her, so that she could enjoy the game. When it was done they came out to the parking lot and our five year old was in a very happy mood. He had a huge smile on his face and as proud as he could be he declared that he had lost a tooth. I said to him "Now you look like a real hockey player!" 

Now flash back to my childhood. We lived a block and a half from our neighborhood ice rink. Like I said earlier, Minnesota is a huge hockey state. Well my father, being the hairdresser that he was gave us kids figure skates. Figure skates. Back in those days kids could walk around without adult supervision. So my bother, sister and I would ask our mom if we could go skating. She would usually tell us we could, under one condition. We had to put our skates on at home instead of at the warming house by the rink, the reason being my mother didn't want our shoes to get stolen. So we walked to the rink in our ice skates without guards on them. I don't think skates on concrete is very good for them.

To this day my now brother-in-law who lived down the block would always comment about that. "Here come the Oliver kids walking to the rink in their skates." And then laugh and laugh.

As chance would have it. I never did become the next Brian Boitano.

Was it because my skates were dull? Or was it because of my notoriously weak ankles? I'm betting on the latter. I would stand on my skates, the blades would be pointing out and I would be standing on the inside of the boot. It made it very hard to do a triple sow cow like that, not to mention just standing up. 

Christmas is fast approaching. Then after the holidays the real deep freeze will hit us here and then we will go into hibernation. Until then. 

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.