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Happy 2010!

Monday, January 4th, 2010

Before I say anything else, having just been reminded of the annual “first sentence of each month” meme, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish everyone who’s reading this is December, 2010 a happy Holiday Season!

There, now that we’ve taken care of our administrative tasks, Happy New Year to all! Here’s a ninety-second summary of how I spent my New Year’s:

I hope yours was just as full of friends and fun. Here’s to a great 2010…

Categories: Family Matters | 3 Comments »

Figuring out the world at Age 9 – Part 692

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

My older son, Avery, asked me two interesting questions about Christmas the other day. I’ll remind you that we’re Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas religiously, although he does have a lot of Christian friends.

Q1) Daddy, what does Santa Claus bringing presents to kids have to do with the birth of Jesus?

My answer: Nothing at all, Avery. Nothing at all. They are two completely separate parts of the Christmas holiday. And oh, by the way – excellent question.

Q2) Daddy, do YOU think Santa Claus is real?

My answer: first, I made him read this world-famous New York Sun editorial from 1897. In it, editor Francis Pharcellus Church writes:

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.

[…]

You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.

[…]

Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding. No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

The language is a little esoteric for a 9-year old, but it led to an interesting discussion. I asked him if he thought feelings like love and happiness were real. He said yes, of course, so I asked him how he knew, given that he’d never seen either of them. He essentially said, “I just know.” And so, I explained, that billions of people all over the world give presents to their friends and families at Christmas time, and have done so for hundreds, if not thousands of years. And the feeling that makes all of those people do this is Santa Claus.

Interestingly, he asked me if parents bought their kids gifts at Christmas time during The Great Depression. I pointed him to the history of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, which he has seen lit several times. The first tree in Rockefeller Center was erected in 1931, during the heart of the Great Depression. It was decorated with cranberries, paper garland and tin cans – all items that could be found readily at hand without spending much money. Avery concluded that Santa Claus made the workers put up the tree, so people would feel good during the holidays, even during the Depression.

I realize this is not the high-pressure question that it would be for a Christian family, but I feel pretty good about the conversation, and I think that Avery (and his younger brother, Brandon, who was listening to the whole thing) understand it pretty well now.

Categories: Family Matters | 14 Comments »

Thanksgiving in New York

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Before filling up on turkey and stuffing, it’s nice to check in with a mouse, a frog, an ogre, and all of their friends.

Click the picture above (or click here) for a full slideshow of the festivities.

Categories: Family Matters, New York, New York | Comments Off on Thanksgiving in New York

It was the Autumn of ’69…

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Here’s how the last few months of 1969 went: On October 16th, the New York Mets won the World Series. And as if that wasn’t crazy enough, thirteen days later, a couple of computer geeks in California connected two computers together using a brand new network called ARPANET (which, despite popular myth, does not stand for the Al Gore Really Planned it All NETwork). ARPANET would later turn into a pretty successful project known as the Internet. Twelve days after ARPANET, a cute little children’s television show called Sesame Street debuted on public television. And eight days after that, I was born. Not a bad couple of months, I think…

So, on this, the occasion of my fortieth birthday, the traditional thing to do would be to consider all of the things I had planned to do by the time I was forty, sum up my regrets and failures, wallow in a pool of self-pity, and whip up a respectable midlife crisis, complete with the irresponsible purchase of a completely impractical sports car. Or, as my nine year-old put it the other day, “Daddy, most people die in their eighties, so you’re halfway done!”

The thing is, I have no memories of making grandiose plans for my milestone birthdays as a kid. I have a vague memory of computing how old I would be in the Year 2000 (thirty-one!) and marveling both at how far away the Year 2000 seemed and how old “thirty-one” sounded, but that’s about as close as I came.

So, it would seem, I’m left without the necessary ingredients to make a good crisis. Instead, this seems like a pretty good time to review the decade of my life that will forever be known as “my thirties.”

The first and most obvious difference between 11/18/99 and 11/18/09 is the presence of my two wonderful children, Avery and Brandon. To consider that when I turned thirty, neither of them were in my life is to realize just how long a decade it has been. Their growth from infants into happy and enthusiastic young boys colors every single memory I will ever have of my thirties, and makes the rest of my life before that pale in comparison. Which is, of course, exactly as it should be.

The rest of the family has had a good decade as well. Since that day, ten years ago, there have been various new nieces, nephews, and cousins born, and all the celebrations that come with all of that. And with the sad exception of my wife’s grandfather, everyone who was around for my thirtieth birthday is still alive and kicking on my fortieth. Again, I am truly blessed.

Speaking of blessings, I consider the party my wife threw me on my 30th birthday, and the various celebrations that have occurred over the past few weeks for my 40th. Many of the friends who attended back in 1999 had some part to play in 2009, and while there are some who are no longer in touch, there are many more whom I didn’t know then, but consider good friends today. No disrespect to Facebook, of course, but I can tell you without looking it up that my list of actual friends continues to grow unabated.

Other aspects of my life have progressed in similarly gratifying ways – my career has advanced nicely, we’ve significantly upgraded our home and I’ve got some shiny new toys that weren’t even invented when I turned thirty.

So, color this forty year-old content. All I need now is a song from some childhood friends:

Ah yes, that hits the spot…

Categories: Family Matters | 3 Comments »

Field of Dreams

Monday, November 16th, 2009

This past Sunday, my friend Mike gave me a birthday present to remember. He enrolled me in the 2009 Damon Runyon 5K Walk/Run for Cancer Research, which took place inside Yankee Stadium. Part of the 5K course, which included stairs, ramps, and several laps around the stadium, was two laps around the warning track that circles the field of play. We took full advantage of this unique opportunity, and brought our kids along to share in the experience as well. Here’s a quick (less than two minute) video montage:

Photos are also available here, or in the Featured Photos link on the left navigation bar of this site.

Thanks, Mike, for an awesome birthday present and (one more time…) Go Yankees!!

UPDATE: I just received an e-mail from the Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, asking me to add a link to their foundation to this blog post. Done! Anything for a good cause…

Categories: Family Matters, New York, New York, Sports Talk | Comments Off on Field of Dreams

One Last Thing: The Parade…

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

OK, one last post about the Yankees winning the World Series and then I’ll stop. I promise. But today was the famous “Parade Down the Canyon of Heroes” in New York, and thanks to the annual New Jersey Teacher’s Convention, my kids did not have school today. So as it turned out, I was the one who played hooky, and we all went and saw a parade. An extra special, heartfelt thanks to the very generous people on the corner of Broadway & John Street who, right before the parade started, decided to allow my kids (and my wife and I) to move right up to the front of the crowd – allowing them (and my camera) fantastic views of the proceedings.

The picture slideshow is here, or in the “Featured Photos” section at the top of my left navigation menu.

Enjoy the pics and, once again, congratulations to the 2009 World Champion New York Yankees!!!

Categories: Family Matters, New York, New York, Sports Talk | 3 Comments »

How was Halloween?

Sunday, November 1st, 2009

Very successful, thank you:

My kids went as inventory management consultants. Can’tcha tell?

Before sorting all the candy by type, they reported in with a total of 301 pieces. Little did they know, this doesn’t count the candy that my wife and I ate after they went to bed last night. The picture above also reflects the four of us “picking” at it today. I give the whole stash a couple of weeks…

Categories: Family Matters | 6 Comments »

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 30th, 2009

You know your kids are getting older when their friends start pulling their Halloween costumes straight out of the headlines:

And no, that’s not my son.

(Hat tip: Lisa Rafal) 

Categories: Family Matters, The World Wide Weird | Comments Off on Happy Halloween!

An Instant Yankee Classic – ALDS Game 2

Saturday, October 10th, 2009

Wow, what a game…

After watching Derek Jeter break Lou Gehrig’s all-time Yankee hits record back on September 11, 2009, I commented on how every time you go to Yankee Stadium, there’s a chance you’ll see something special. Well, October 9, 2009 was certainly no exception. This could be the greatest game I have ever seen, or ever will see, live. And the best part, by far, is that my kids were there to see it too.

The game had everything. Through five innings, it was a classic pitchers’ duel – the Twins had two hits and the Yankees had one. In the sixth, the Twins broke through with a run, but the Yankees immediately countered with a run of their own. In the eighth, both teams now into their bullpens, the Twins put together three hits and a walk and took a 3-1 lead.

The Yankees couldn’t respond immediately in the eight, and after a quiet ninth from Mariano Rivera, they came to bat with their backs against the wall. Mark Teixeira who, up until that point, hadn’t had a hit in either post-season game, singled into right field. Then Alex Rodriguez, who had struggled in the post-season in the recent past, but had driven in a couple of runs in Game 1, hit a monster homerun over the center-field fence to tie the game and send it into extra innings. The crowd went nuts.

In the tenth, the Twins put runners on first and third with two out, but Orlando Cabrera flied out to right to end the threat. The Yankees got a man on with one out, and pinch-ran the speedy Brett Gardner. He stole second base, and then went to third on an errant throw by the Twins’ closer, Joe Nathan. After an intentional walk made it first and third, Johnny Damon hit a screaming line drive to Cabrera, who turned an easy double-play on Gardner after he broke for home on contact. More tension, and still, more baseball.

In the eleventh, Joe Mauer led off the inning with a pop-up down the left field line that Melky Cabrera couldn’t get to. In the stadium, it was a minor disappointment and the game continued. Everywhere else, though, replays showed that the ball was obviously a fair ball, and Mauer should have been on second base. Despite the bad call, Mauer singled. And then the next two Twins did the same. Bases loaded, nobody out – eleventh inning of a playoff game. Sheesh! Then, the Yankees pulled off the impossible. A line drive to Teixeira. A ground ball to Teixeira that he throws home for the force out. And then a lazy fly ball to center-field, and the Twins had, incredibly, failed to score.

Which brought us to the bottom of the eleventh inning, still tied. That is, until Mark Teixeira brought the game to an end with line-drive homerun into the left-field seats. Absolute bedlam in the Bronx. High-fives and hugs all around. The (now traditional) pie in the face from AJ Burnett for Mark Teixeira and three choruses of New York, New York with Frank Sinatra – all before a single one of the 50,006 people left the stadium.


As I said, any trip to Yankee Stadium can lead to something special. This one was truly one for the ages.

[Note: Click on either of the above images to see a full slide-show of our fun time at the game, or click on the thumbnail in the “Featured Photos” section on the left]

Categories: Family Matters, New York, New York, Sports Talk | 2 Comments »

And the Walls Came Tumbling Down…

Monday, August 10th, 2009

Avery with TrumpetLadies & gentlemen, let it be known that there is officially one more trumpeter in the world tonight! Also, may I remind everyone, that the music room in our house is soundproof.

Avery’s goal: to play The Red and the Blue with the Penn Band at Homecoming (November 7 against Princeton). Lessons have begun!

(NOTE: Click on the picture (or click here) to see a brief slideshow of pictures)

Categories: Family Matters, Words about Music | 1 Comment »

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