For the Record, Santa

For Christmas, Santa got me a new laptop and a wonderful week in Michigan with Alison and her family. Part II of the holiday season is yet to come, when my family reconvenes in two weeks for my Dad’s birthday and Christmas with my siblings and kids. Since all of that was established before Christmas, I’ve decided that “he knows if you’ve been bad or good” for 2011 has already begun. To that end, I want to make sure Santa knows I was a good boy last week.

Oddly, if this were a school essay, it would be entitled “What I Didn’t Do Over Winter Break.” My restraint, to be appreciated, requires a quick step backward. I always snickered at Baby on Board hangers, wondering whether people think the one reason I won’t rear-end them is because there’s a wee one in the car, or that they’re buying some sympathy for their horrible driving because they’re distracted by projectile-vomited Cheerios in the back seat. That progressed to stickers of soccer balls, a curious voluntary badge by people who resented having had to purchase the minivan in the first place.

More recently, people have started putting sets of stickers on the back window showing all the elements of their family (a reminder, apparently, in case they forget). You’ve seen these:

My annoyance at this new “Hey, look at my idyllic” isn’t that there’s one on my ex-wife’s minivan (with the daddy predictably missing). It’s more that people feel the need to project their family as such an overwhelming public persona. I love my kids and will mention them when it has bearing on a conversation that is going on – frequently counterpoint in a conversation driven by someone who can’t stop talking about their own children – but I have never understood people who completely lose their own identity in that of family. (I do realize that people may vehemently disagree with me. I’m all ears if you want to argue in favor of your kids as your Facebook profile picture and status updates about nothing but.)

The one good thing about these decals is the fodder for snarky comments with Alison while we’re on the road. We’ve been back and forth about all the guerilla methods available to vandalize window stickers – adding family members, defacing existing members by removing heads or the tails of the cute little dog at their heels, painting extra-large sexual organs on with white-out, etc. We’ve been talking about this months and months. I can’t tell (Santa) you how terribly tempting this has been for me for a while.

So, one day of this last week found Alison and I at her sister’s house in Ann Arbor. A wonderful evening with an awesome “Solstice Dinner” and some games, my opportunity to meet most of that family. On the way home, Alison exclaimed as we passed by a series of snowmen in someone’s front yard … it was dark and I was concentrating, so I didn’t pay as much attention as I ordinarily might. But the next day, I was on my own driving up to Lansing, and I passed back up the same route.

There they were. It was the snow family. It was the decal, come to life. Daddy, mommy, childrens, maybe even a dog. I actually pulled over. The itch to deface silly parenting window decals was snuffed in less time than it took to think about it. I was looking at a situation in someone’s front yard that needed correcting … I was on a tight timetable … I couldn’t figure out whether vandalizing snowmen was actually a legal problem … I couldn’t decide whether children might be looking out the front window while I did it, or worse yet, might be in some corner of the yard I hadn’t noticed … I had no idea how Karma would view it … I wondered whether my sense of humor was up to the remarkable opportunity afforded me.

So. Finally, I did nothing. I’m not proud of myself that I didn’t, but I want Santa credit.

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