Our family didn’t have much money when my brother Pat and I were small, but Mom and Dad made sure we had wonderful Christmases. They weren’t much different from that holiday depicted in “A Christmas Story,” the wonderful 1982 film written by Jean Shepherd, based on his novel “In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash.” It starred Peter Billingsley as “Ralphie” and featured Darren McGavin and Melinda Dillon as his parents.
Our family has spent much of 2015 handling medical issues.
I was hospitalized for six days in March, and my bride served two stints at Baptist Health Medical Center in Little Rock this summer. In Nancy’s case, a midsummer surgery has required outpatient treatments in recent weeks.
As we’ve lived these experiences, we’ve been wonderfully supported by many family members and friends (some even belong to both groups). Some of these supporters have asked to be notified whenever certain appointments, doctor visits, surgeries or other procedures have been completed.
Parents sometimes overdo it when they decide to be creative with their choice of a given name for their child. Some work, as far as being clever, but that doesn’t always translate into an enjoyable time for the offspring, who spends the rest of his life explaining the offbeat name or the cutesy spelling of a traditional name.
A more severe future might face a child being named for a celebrity by a parent who is an overzealous fan of a singer who might be talented (Todd Rundgren or Stefani Germanotta) but chose a publicity-inducing stage name in the early days. I’m betting it’s hard to get by the bullies at school when your name is Grunt or Gaga and you CAN’T sing. Or worse, what if Mom or Dad was a fan of a “15 minutes of fame” celebrity such as Milli Vanilli or Vanilla Ice.
Joe Henning, my good friend of the past 10 years, died last week. He was 62.
That likely means the demise of Sand Hill Media, the all-but-fictitious umbrella company started in our heads to handle all of the creative joint projects that were supposed to flow from my laptop and his pencil or typewriter. Joe occasionally answered his phone, “Sand Hill Media,” but that’s as far as the company got.
Fernando Tatis turned 40 today. The former Cardinals third baseman last played in the major leagues in 2010, but he had played in his native Dominican Republic since then and played in Mexico in 2014, so he officially announced his retirement from baseball in early October. Tatis (pronounced “TAH-tice”) came up with Texas in 1997 and was traded to St. Louis on the July 31 deadline in ’98. The Rangers sent Tatis, left-handed pitcher Darren Oliver and a player to be named later (right-handed outfielder Mark Little) to the Cardinals for shortstop Royce Clayton and right-handed pitcher Todd Stottlemyer.
I was mistaken for Santa Claus last week. Shopping for a particular cold remedy. I was looking at a lower shelf in the pharmacy section of my grocery store last when a lady bent down to move into my vision, smiled and did one of those little-girl waves waggling all her fingers at once and said, “Hey, Santa.” Possibly, I looked confused for a moment. I do have mostly white hair and a white beard. My belly certainly is large enough and could be described as round. And I have been told I have a twinkle in my eye. But still, I’m not used to being called Santa.