'Twas the Day After Christmas And Not a Creature was Stirring Not Even a Keyboard: Finding Post Christmas Happiness

Teddy Ruxpin tore up broken dead destroyed in field old forgotten I like to tell stories
"I'm Teddy Ruxpin, and boy could I tell you some stories."
My children slept in today, exhausted from a month of Christmas related extravaganza.  The lack of sleep or too many presents has them in a rather antagonistic, groggy mood.  There's a lot of parenting to do around the Holidays.  We celebrate materialism and then wonder why we are so stressed out and seasonally depressed.  Why our kids are throwing fits, despite their newfound treasures. I sometimes wish parenting was as easy as reinserting new AA batteries into a compartment.  It's a little tougher than that.

Andy Warhol late older self-portrait black and white red background famous
Abe Lincoln with Bieber hair.
Oops, I mean Mr. Warhol.   
It's been a tough year for many people, from continued economic woes, to repugnant political saturation, to unthinkable tragedies and questions as to what the future lies ahead for Americans. Not only us, but the world as a whole is hurting; millions of her seven billion inhabitants are screaming out for attention that just can't be given out individually. We will not all get our 15 minutes of fame, which were prophesied by Andy Warhol.

This realization has made many unhealthy, some of our citizens are metaphorically flapping their arms and flopping on the ground, hoping that their pissy-fits will garner them the attention they hopelessly long for.  Even myself, desperately using a year off from full time teaching to pursue a life-long dream of writing and publishing my stories, am realizing that it may not happen the way or in the time I had hoped.  I'm not giving up, not by any means, but I didn't know it would be this difficult.  Nobody said that writing the book was 15% of the process.  Daily, this process, like rejection letters and more bad publishing industry news,  is like taking body blows.  Lucky for me, I have a larger than healthy midsection, so I can't take an unhealthy amount of these punches.  I've also been well versed in the art of losing through sports, and have an incredibly supportive family, as well as a pain-crafted sense of humor, that lets many of these "set-backs" be learning lessons.

Frank "cannonball" Richards strongest stomach in the world gets hit with a sledgehammer
All good families prepare their children for this type behavior from the cold hard world.  
Obviously my life experience is a rarity. I have an absolutely perfect family. There is no shortage of LOVE, ever. My mother and father have been everything I've ever needed at exactly the right times in my own life. They've never failed me, not even once. There successes can't be measured in monetary terms, but in familial stability. I have a brother who is still my best friend. We shared a room for the majority of our childhood, moved out together, and despite the fact that we don't see each other for weeks at a time now, we share a wavelength of thoughts and adventures that feels timeless. My two sisters, despite being a generation younger than me, are also my friends, and model the epitome of grace and sweetness: like all the sisters of Little Women spread evenly between two souls. And they both married Romantic Era men. Real men who love and support them, and aren't fickle and simplistic like the majority of today's under thirty boys.

I was lucky enough to marry a women twice my superior. She motivates me to be a better human daily. We have two wonderful daughters who teach me as much as I parent them. The curmudgeon in me wants to crawl out and complain about life, and they all Tiny Tim me back to the reality that is my life. I am very blessed, and that's not normal. But it should be.

Nadya Suleman Octomom pregnant belly crazy stretch marks unbalanced
Tragedies aren't only happening
with guns.  Eg: Octomom.  
You see Andy Warhol was wrong.  Like his crappy art, his philosophies on life were stupid.  Yes, I did say his art was crappy.  I once had to watch his seven hour movie about the Empire State Building filmed from afar in college.  Nothing happens.  Night becomes day.  It is as artistic as a white canvas with a black dot "painting."  People worshipped Warhol, and some have paid upwards of 50 million dollars for his pop-celebrating simplistic art.  And some, like all great pop culture idioms, have clung to this idea that we all will get our 15 minutes of fame.  Maybe a youtube video, or whatever.  But we will all be temporal celebrities, maybe with riches or fame or notoriety.

This fascination with fortunes and name recognition--it doesn't lead to contentment.  Having your name in the papers, or on television, or spread virally on the internet leads to absolutely no happiness.

My counter-proposal is 50 years of happiness. Rethinking all the values we've learned as Americans and settling for strong families that reconnect on holidays and will break our backs to see each other succeed in life.  Which means we not only have to make our marriages a priority, but also theirs.  We have to value every minute with our children, and theirs.  We have to invest in their education and upbringing.  We have to teach values that make them good people, not just nurture their talents that make them "marketable."

We need to surround ourselves with friends who make us happy.  Not those who force us to fall into old habits and fall to the lowest common denominator.  I'm not saying not to have fun.  Heckfire, I've had more fun without excessive alcohol and slutty attire, than at all the hedonistic get-togethers combined.  I think we all have more fun when we genuinely care for the people around us, then when we're carnally trying to impress everyone around us.

Three Dog Night:  Mama Told me not to Come

50 years of happiness.  An investment in our families, our friends, our community, and human life.  A rejection of pop culture celebration, fame, fickleness, and idol worship.  Retraining each other to think that the amount of money or education or awards or accolades one receives is a distant second to the amount of love one surrounds themselves with.  

End family scene of It's a Wonderful Life with Jimmy James Stewart 1946
I just realized this article was actually just It's a Wonderful
in my words.  Nothing about angels in mine though. 
Which means, if I never get my books in print form, or never find myself in the tax bracket that can pay for PACs to lower my taxation, yet I have a family like my parents or grandparents, I have succeeded.  People whose grown kids find the time in their busy work weeks to get together and celebrate their love for each other--that is happiness. That is success.

The recharging of batteries doesn't happen from material goods, but via the love we give out and the love we receive.  I'm tired of toys that get 15 minutes of play time and then get forgotten under the bed. I'd rather invest in my family, and hopefully in fifty years, they will all show up at my house and sing carols (regardless of my Holiday Grinchness) and share loving memories.  Yeah, that's happiness.


  1. Chris when I read this I couldn't help but think of a simple phrase that was beaten into my head: Trust God, Clean House, Help Others.

    It's been a pleasure getting to know you in 2012 and look forward to 2013

    1. Right back at you RC. I like the saying...sorry it was beaten into your head (Catholicism?).

      Here's to many more blog posts.

  2. Love it. A far-reaching goal, whose journey is just as much the end prize as the end itself.

  3. I'm kinda pissed that nothing good was said about ME in this story.

    1. I know this guy Dan who is a really good pirate. And he played a guitar shaped like a machine gun once. He is neato.

      Does that work?