Tis the season, Clark

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Crazy like Clark on Christmas? Not quite … but I do love it.

 

I’m not Clark Griswold. I don’t have the time, energy or insanity to dig up a 20-foot tree or staple 10,000 Christmas lights to our house. As an introvert who treasures privacy, I’d rather sleep in Cousin Eddie’s RV than invite the entire family to crash in our place for a week.

But, man, do I love Christmas. It’s why I’m sitting here, at age 39, watching (and DVRing) “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” It’s why I’ll do the same thing when “Frosty the Snowman” is on.

My father instilled the Christmas spirit in his sons from a young age. I suspect he spoiled us and continues to spoil his grandchildren because he wants Christmas to be what it wasn’t for him as a kid.

Some of my fondest memories are Christmas as a boy. Our parents did not have a lot of money while we were growing up, but I suspect they spent most of what they saved on my brother and me for that special day.

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From right, my brother, father and I on Christmas in 2014.

One or both of my parents worked at craft shows during the season. If both were working, we stayed with an aunt and uncle or neighbors. Sometimes, mom stayed at home while dad worked our booth at a mall.

That was a perfect setup for surprise on Christmas morning. My brother and I often would fall asleep before dad got home on Christmas Eve. We’d go to bed with a few presents under the tree and wake up to a living room full of gifts, wrapped in my dad’s trademark newspaper pages.

One of my earliest memories is going to bed with a couple of presents under the tree and waking up to a slew of Army-themed gifts (I wanted to be G.I. Joe), including a train set that wrapped around the room.

A few years later, it was a giant toy G.I. Joe fighter jet and classic Kansas City Royals jacket.

But my favorite Christmas as a boy was at age 12 in 1988. My brother and I had been begging for a Nintendo for months. It was a must-have for kids in those days, but we knew the price ($99.99) likely meant we weren’t going to find it under the tree.

On Christmas morning that year, neither of us expected a Nintendo. As always, we woke up to more gifts than expected. As always, we took turns opening the gifts, with my father playing the role of Santa. 

As we finished opening all the gifts, mom and dad asked, “Did you get everything you wanted?” Grateful for what we had, we said, “Yes.” My dad replied, “Well, there is one more thing.”

He walked into the bed room and came back with one last present, a rectangular object wrapped in, of course, newspaper. Dad set it between my brother and I, and we slowly peeled off a piece of newspaper, revealing the Nintendo logo. We jumped for joy, exchanging high-fives and hugs.

 As it turns out, our parents purchased the Nintendo before they bought any other gifts. As the kids would say today, our parents did a magnificent job trolling us for six weeks.

All these years later, I think about that Christmas and the others while we were growing up. It’s why, like my parents, I spend more than I budget every year. It’s why I take such great joy in making that day a big one for my wife.

My fondest memory of Christmas as an adult was the first I spent with my wife. A year before, just weeks before our first date, my wife posted a list of ideal presents, her 12 days of Christmas, on Facebook.

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My lovely wife reading a Christmas card I designed for her in 2011.

I’d had a crush on her for a long time and wrote all of those items down, hoping one day to fulfill a rather reasonable list that included flowers, jewelry, dinner and tickets to a ballgame. Twelve months later, she held a card that I’d designed listing her 12 gifts, all with checkmarks.

I’ve never seen a person cry that much from pure joy, which rejuvenated my love for the season. Clark Griswold, and my dad, would approve. 

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“Meltdown: The Collapse of the Big 12” casting call

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How does Gary Pinkel feel about Missouri potentially leaving the Big 12 for the SEC? He's OK with it.

Conference realignment. Like the jello of the month club, it’s the gift that keeps on giving. I had no idea when I wrote this blog, then this one, that we’d have a trilogy. But, thanks to Missouri, we get a part three. Much like Nebraska last summer and Texas A&M a few weeks ago, plenty of folks are flinging venom Missouri’s direction.

It’s ridiculous. There’s nothing wrong with trying to improve you. The Big 12 is completely dysfunctional. One quarter of the teams have left the conference in a little over a year, and it might be one third by the end of this month. Clearly, the league has plenty of issues.

Look no further than Texas for the biggest issue. The rest of the Big 12, save little brother Texas Tech, can’t stand the Longhorns. Bevo’s where my third casting call begins for a movie about the strugg-a-ling Big “12” …

In the role of Texas … The Wizard of Oz

Credit to former co-worker Tully “T-Bone” Corcoran on this one. Texas is the wizard of the conference, hiding behind a curtain of passive aggressive bullying that’s leveling a damn good league.

In the role of Oklahoma … Michael Scott

Like the boss of “The Office,” Oklahoma wields power. But that face-palm from the Pac-12 (thanks to Texas and its Longhorn Network) made the Sooners look painfully incompetent, much like Steve Carrel does to perfection on the best show on TV.

In the role of Oklahoma State … Dwight K. Schrute

The Cowboys are to Oklahoma what Dwight K. Schrute is to Michael Scott … assistant to the regional manager.

In the role of Texas A&M … Ric Flair

Ric Flair was great. WAS. Now he’s just a sad, aging, has-been hanging on to the glory days of at least a decade ago. The Aggies can identify.

In the role of Texas Tech … Mini Me

How in the world does Texas Tech, among all these great schools, land safely in this mess? Because the Red Raiders are Dr. Evil’s, er Texas’, boy.

In the role of Baylor … Luke Skywalker

I’ve never liked Skywalker. One of the whiniest heroes in movie history. And where does Baylor, which didn’t give a damn about leaving its brethren behind in the Southwestern Conference, get off suing anybody about bailing out?

In the role of Missouri … Sandy Lyle

One of the most underrated movie characters of all time. Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s role has much in common with the Tigers, who appear to be underappreciated by most of the schools in the Big 12. Give me a break, Kansas, K-State, etc. If you had a chance to leave for the SEC, you’d do it in a heartbeat.

In the role of Kansas … White Goodman

This “we’re not playing you if you leave” theme reeks of sour grapes. Even Bill Self ripped Missouri. B-O-O, H-OO. If your football program wasn’t FCS-esque, you might have an offer, too. But it isn’t. So drop the self-righteous arrogance.

In the role of Kansas State … Willie Scott

One radio host in Kansas City is scared to death his team is going to end up in the Big Sky. Almost as scared as the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom dame.

In the role of Iowa State … Milton Waddams

Mostly because nobody really cares what happens to Iowa State, which is sad, because the Cyclones have been a good member of the conference.

Two cars, two new batteries, one couple, one day: You’ve got to be %$#@ing kidding!

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Me super excited about repairing the second car of the day.

“Come on, you #@A%*$# … this is really starting to #$&#ing piss me off!”

The woman walking into O’Reilly Auto Parts looked at me as if she’d seen my mug on “America’s Most Wanted.” Of course, I didn’t realize she was there. I was just trying to fix the girlfriend’s 2003 Mitsubishi Shitbox. Such is my life with vehicles.

One couple. Two cars. Two replaced batteries. On the same day. You’ve got to be kidding me! The odds of that have to be a billion to one. Then again, the odds of me actually fixing said cars without destroying something are about 100 trillion to one.

This all started Thursday night. First, the Kansas Turnpike tested my patience with that 20-minutes-per-mile stretch between markers 207 and 211. I’ve yet to see a construction worker on this stretch.  Seems like you might need a body or two to repave a highway.

To top it off, somebody at the KTA thought it clever to post signs like this …

"We know it's a pain with only one lane." Cute. Very cute.

Who thinks this is a good idea? Tease pissed-off people — seated in two-ton vehicles – whose trips to their salvation (home) are being delayed by unnecessary road construction. I can only assume the KTA’s marketing team consists of Nipsy Russell (or at least the ghost of Nipsy Russell) and the geniuses who put together this campaign …

Twenty-seven hours later, I’m close to my exit for home, minutes from bliss. The Shana calls … can you come jump-start my car? No big deal. We get her car started and head home, her kids in tow. Once home, however, she discovers the car won’t start again.

Instead of doing what I should have done (buy a battery that night), I opt for dinner and bed (and blogging about wooing said Shana) and plan to fix the car Friday morning.

Now, Shana gets up insanely early to prep the kids. We’re talking 5 a.m. Her alarm would only be more annoying if Chuck Norris jumped out of the clock and roundhouse kicked you in the face.

To make matters worse, she’s not getting up to shut the damn thing off. As she documents here on her blog, she’s forgotten she has kids and thinks the alarm is set for me. I mutter, “Shouldn’t you get that … you have the kids today.” (While she’s thinking, no, asshole, that’s your alarm, I’m thinking get off your lazy ass and turn that bitch off).

Because I don’t trust her car, I volunteer to drive the Shitbox to work and let her drive my equally awesome Chevy Impala Shitbox. About 30 minutes later, as I’m pulling in for gas, the Mishitbisi dies (:08 mark) …

One good thing about KTA is their roadside assistance. It’s free. They jump-started the car. That’s the only bone I’m throwing KTA today. I decided at this point that I’m going to take care of Shana’s car. I’d rather not break down at every stop light in Topeka. I’m funny that way.

I managed to get to O’Reilly’s, get the battery tested (“It’s dead” … no shit). In the midst of yanking the old battery out and putting the new one in, a bolt decides it simply doesn’t want to come off. As some of you know, the Webbs have legit tempers. Hard not to when you’re Irish, German and Cherokee. With maturity, that has improved drastically. It takes A LOT to ignite the fuse these days …

Once the rant was over, I managed to get the new battery in the car and headed for work … until Shana calls again. This time, she’s walking, yes, walking, Molly to school. That’s right, MY Shitbox wouldn’t start after she dropped Brody off at school. All I could really do was laugh. So much for work, and I HATE missing work.

Back to Kansas City, past the Nipsy Russell signs, praying that Shana’s Shitbox doesn’t break down again. An hour later, I arrive to fix my Shitbox. The funny thing is, Shana and I are smiling, not taking things too seriously. Such is life these days …

Shana and I in St. Louis during July.

Fortunately, the Shitbox starts right up and we head home. I managed to get some work done and spend some time with Shana, who had the day off, before taking my POS to the auto parts store for testing. Sure enough, 12.8 volts on the battery. It’s supposed to be over 14 …

Two batteries, two cars, same couple, one day. How does that happen? Nonetheless, I buy another battery and return home to swap out the 1947 model in my car. During the installation, it appears Dr. Zhivago designed the engine. Who in the hell makes it difficult to get a battery out of car?

A shade under a decade later, the battery is in place, both cars are running … and it’s time for me to run three miles and work out. Such is life. And it’s still a pretty damn good one.