Unfit Father

Published on November 10th, 2017 | by Richard Black


Halloween: a Precursor to Horror

Halloween is over and, with its passing, comes the most frightening time of year. This isn’t to say that Halloween wasn’t terrifying. Over the course of four hours on Halloween night some twenty small children ran rampant in my dog turd studded yard before tracking feces and candy wrappers and bits of popcorn inside my home. It’s taken me the better part of two weeks to put everything back in order or, at least, as much order as a home with a puppy and a seven year old can have.

Now for the next two months I will endure the holiday season and all that it entails. I’ll even try to do it cheerfully but, if the past is any indication, that’s not going to happen. It’s not that I dislike the holidays. I don’t but my feelings run much deeper than dislike. It’s really more of a dread.

Take Thanksgiving. In theory it should be the ideal holiday, a time for family and friends to come together and celebrate the charity Native Americans bestowed upon some starving pioneers so that they could own and operate casinos…or something like that.

In reality Thanksgiving involves a lot of time with one’s extended family and that’s great. I love my family. We even talk on occasion although it’s usually when someone has passed away or one of us needs some money. Once those subjects are exhausted, however, conversation at the Thanksgiving dinner table can become a bit stressful if not downright offensive. A few years ago an uncle of mine asked the family in all seriousness if “white people were smarter than black people because no one from Africa discovered America.”

I quickly excused myself to the restroom and ransacked my aunt’s medicine cabinet for dilaudid, cough syrup or even some off brand mouthwash. All I could find was an ancient bottle of Tums and some nail cleaner which, for the record, made for a pretty rough cocktail but this time of year is all about surviving adversity. When I came back to the table the topic of conversation had moved on to my cousin’s mission trip to El Salvador complete with seven hours of slides. The evening only went downhill from there.

Christmas is typically even worse. Around the time I’m recovering from Thanksgiving’s festivites Christmas rolls around less than a month later except that it doesn’t. Not really. Christmas really comes much sooner than that these days. By the time Halloween ends the retail industry has us gearing up for Christmas and we’ve essentially been celebrating the holiday for two entire months.

Don’t get me wrong Christmas is a magical time of year but it takes a lot of magic to make it through two months of shopping and caroling and egg nog and ho-ho-hoing and cajoling your kid to sit on the lap of some creepy dude who happens to be wearing a Santa suit.

…and then there are the lights. I will never understand the fascination with Christmas lights. The incandescent bulb has been around for over one hundred years and one would imagine that the novelty would have worn off. I hate hanging Christmas lights. I’d rather foster a hoard of rabid squirrels in my house than hang Christmas lights. Unfortunately my wife and daughter love them and every year I devote seventeen hours to hanging a few billion strands of lights on our porch while inadvertently teaching all the children within earshot a few new curse words.

The payoff for all of this, as it is for most parents, is that I get to spend Christmas Eve wrapping presents in a frigid attic until four in the morning which has an unexpected side benefit. Sure I’m cranky and tired during the entire holiday but the upside is that I’m usually asleep during dinner when my uncle asks “Why Mexicans never sailed across the Atlantic to discover England?”

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