Okay - time to break up the chronology a bit. We're heading backwards now.
Mid-way through Christmas, my wife and I took a trip on the Polar Express (as done by the Heber Creeper railroad) It was quite the ride, with cheerful elves, cookies from Mrs. Claus, singalongs and, of course, a visit from the big man in the red suit himself, Santa Claus.
Other highlights of the Polar Express:
The elves telling their jokes - made particularly memorable as the first elf forgot his joke and got it out of order: "Where does a snowman keep his snowbank? In his money!"
Jingle bells handed out by Santa and his elves. They were targeting the little kids to give the bells to, but a bunch of us "adults" pulled an elf by the elbow and got bells, too. We paid good money for this train ride, darn it, we want a bell, too!
The "Ho-Ho-Ho" contest. Our conductor told us that, when Santa boarded the train, we should greet him in his own language. So, to show every how it was done, they invited us to come to the front and give our best "ho ho ho." After a string of kids, I approached the microphone and gave a hearty belly laugh. Emilee tells me that people sitting near her asked if I worked as a mall Santa. I don't, of course, but that doesn't mean I don't have some experience behind the red suit and whiskers . . .
As my father can tell you, our family has a long history with Santa Claus. I'm not sure how it began - perhaps it was that night when I caught Santa filling my stocking - but Santa recruited my father as one of his helpers. You see, many people operate under the misapprehension that Santa can be everywhere at once all the time. In actual fact, as Santa explained, while Santa's magic can keep his workshop running and make reindeer fly, the space/time bending magic is beyond what even he can do alone. Christmas, though, has its own special magic, and when Santa combines his power with the natural magic of Christmas, anything is possible.
In any event, Santa needs helpers to fill in for him during the rest of the year - to be his "eyes-and-ears" as it were. So, men who fit the basic physical profile and have the right kind of heart are chosen by the man himself to fill the role. Men like my father serve as Santa for parties, malls and parades, anywhere that Santa would like to be but can't come to himself.
A couple of years ago, Santa came to me and asked for my help. He told me that I'm a bit young, but that my heart is one in tune with the Christmas spirit, and that's more important than a minor thing like age. I was also recruited as one of Santa's helpers, and have been practicing my Ho-ho-ho for several years. It's an honor and a privilege to wear the red suit and a delight to see the happy faces of children visited by Santa Claus.
New Year's Eve was interesting for us this year. Instead of the traditional "go outside and make tons of noise" thing, we decided to be a little more sedate. We got a bottle of Martinelli's and turned on our Wii. Animal Crossing for the Wii has a great feature in which you can visit other people's towns, including for special events. This was how, all the way from Arizona, we were visited by my brother-in-law Brian and his clan for New Year's. Animal Crossing's celebration includes party poppers, fireworks and special music - it's a lot of fun, especially when shared with friends. On a related note, the Wii Speak makes interacting over Wii-fii . . .err . . . wi-fi much cooler and easier.
I just realized something - I left everyone in suspense a month and a half ago when I went to take my GRE exam! I scored 710 on both the verbal and the quantitative portions, for a total score of 1420. Considering that I'm in a verbal field (literature/linguistics), being in the top 98% of GRE test-takers for the verbal portion is pretty darn cool. I am so thankful, to my parents for helping to give me good academic preparation, my wife for her support and God for the many gifts which went into that score.
This leads me to the topic of graduate school applications - the very thought of which makes me feel depressed and queasy, so I think I'll pass on that for the moment, giving a thank you to my wife for her emotional support as I've been filling these darn things out. Also, a big thank you to my recommendation senders - I doubt any of you will ever read this blog, but thanks anyway.
There's more to share, but this entry is plenty long as is. See you next time!
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