2005-06 Mad Dog Diary Week 8

I wanted to dedicate this column to wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season. I celebrate Christmas and when it gets close to Dec. 25, I think back to some of my family Christmas memories from growing up. On Christmas Eve, my dad would gather all of us in front of a glowing hearth, and he and my mom would read Christmas stories and sometimes we would have a little eggnog. My little sisters and I, in our excitement, would try to stay up all night talking to each other through the vents in our house. I guess we thought it was our own intercom system.

Sometimes we would go caroling to our neighbors and friends and deliver cookies. I seem to vaguely remember one year in high school when I convinced my family to go caroling to the family of the girl I was dating at the time. It’s all a little fuzzy, but I think this is what happened. When we got there I kind of got cold feet and wanted us to make a run for it. But once we all got out of the van, we couldn’t turn back. We went to the door, sang the song, delivered the cookies and rolled. I think only the parents were home at the time, so I wasn’t too embarrassed by my bad singing in front of the young lady I was trying to impress.

My worst Christmas-related memory growing up was during a rare cold front that swept through Northern California. Everything was frozen. My freshman basketball coach gave us the day off, so my brother and I went hiking in the hills behind our house. We found a frozen hillside and decided to make a few runs. We slid down and a tree root caught my leg and I seriously tore my left knee cartilage. I had to have open knee surgery as a freshman in high school. I had only played four games on the frosh team and I was so happy and then everything shattered. The doctor who did the surgery was a family friend and decided to perform a risky procedure for that time and sew up the cartilage (with stitches that disintegrate after five months) and hope the cartilage healed. If the operation didn’t work, they would probably have to do another and cut out part of the cartilage and I’d be left with the dreaded “bone on bone.” The surgery was successful and the knee has been great ever since.

One year, around this time, my sister and her husband received word that they would be able to adopt a newborn child. They had experienced complications in pregnancy for years and made the decision to adopt. Their receiving that child was one of the best gifts ever for my entire family. I don’t think words could ever express how happy my sister was. Another one of my sisters adopted as well and now there are three adopted kids in my immediate family. Growing up, I never really knew too many people who were adopted and now I think it is one of the greatest things on earth. Maybe I’ll adopt some kids someday down the road.

This summer, my dad took me coyote hunting with my little brother. We sat around hidden in the brush in camouflage for hours while my dad blew a whistle that’s supposed to sound like a dying rabbit. We didn’t see any coyotes at all. Since then my dad has gotten up at 4:00 a.m. trying to get his first coyote. I’m asking Santa to help give my dad his first success in coyote hunting.

During the holidays I reflect on what I’m grateful for. I’m probably most thankful for my mom and dad. Not only do I love them, but also I like them as great friends. I’m looking forward to seeing them and my siblings for a Christmas Eve dinner. I hope each and every one of you has an awesome, safe and healthy holiday season.

Have a great week.

– Mark