Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Angles and ICE: A Harris Christmas

As you may have gathered from other columns I have written, I come from a tradition-heavy family. And Christmas is a tradition-heavy holiday.
Unfortunately, because my siblings and I have grown older, some of our traditions have fallen by the wayside. We have been lucky, however, to have a mother who is determined to keep tradition alive — even if it is a new tradition.
For example, in the past five years we have started a tradition of going to ICE, an ice-scupture spectacle in the Gaylord Hotel in Grapevine. We go to the hotel, my dad complains about the wait (even though we go when the wait is about five minutes long) and we bundle up to look at some ice.
We always pose for a family photo in front of the green screen at the entrance to ICE. Later, the people at the event put in a background and you can purchase a copy. We always end up buying a copy, but my mother also always insists that we get a photo with our own camera.
If you aren’t following, don’t worry, neither is my mother. The photo we buy has a beautiful winter wonderland behind it, but the one my mother takes just has a giant green blanket. We’ve tried to explain it to her, but she doesn’t seem to care. Who knows? Maybe she just likes the color green.
Our other tradition is to decorate our family Christmas tree. At our parents house, you may walk in to see a giant, beautifully-decorated tree in the foyer. It is a fake tree that my mother decorates herself with a decorator friend. Walk into the living room, however, and you will see our family Christmas tree.
It is a real tree that we cut down ourselves every year and decorate as a family. In a family, it would be the cousin you lock in an attic when company comes over. It just really isn’t something for the eyes of people who don’t understand it.
You would think with age, we would have learned how to make something look pretty, but no, we just like putting up the ornaments. We each have certain ornaments that only we can put up — my first Christmas, the ornament I made when I was in first grade and one with Superman.
Again, we are lucky to have a mother who is able to remember all of the various ornaments and who gets to put them up. Sometimes we forget, but she always remembers. Once all of the ornaments have been placed, one person gets to put the angel on the top of the tree.
As children, this was a coveted treat. It meant we got to get on my dad’s shoulders and rise above everyone else in the house and put the finishing touch on Christmas. One year when I was a child, however, it all went terribly wrong.
I was terrified to let the angel go all night long because I thought someone would take it from me, scurry up on my dad’s shoulders and put the angel on the tree before I could stop them. Therefore, I had a death grip on that angel for the rest of the night.
I even took it to the bathroom with me — yeah, you see where this is going. I was excited because it was almost time to put the angel on the tree, but in my excitement I was running and while running, the angel slipped out of my hands. For a moment, the angel was flying through its air in all of its majesty — before it came crashing down to earth and right into the toilet bowl.
There were many tears and hugs, but we got the angel dried off and I still got to put it on the tree, but every year it is my turn to put the angel on the tree I still hear about the drop heard round the world. We don’t get to climb on my dad’s shoulders anymore because my brother and I weigh as much as him (because of all of our muscles, of course), but the tradition lives on and that is the great thing about Christmas.

Luke Harris is the editor of the Burleson Star. His other favorite thing about Christmas is Christmas cookies. Anyone reading this can take that information and do what they will. He can be reached at burlesonstar@thestargroup.com.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I'm a cool guy.

I am a cold weather kind of guy.
I have always enjoyed cooler weather because I am “fluffier” than the average person. I have a small little furnace underneath my chest in the form of a small basketball ­— OK, a regular-size basketball. Either way, I am constantly warmer than those around me.
I am the guy who is the only person to say “no” when someone asks, “Is everyone cold?” Then the fan goes off and I start to sweat. As the comedian Kevin James said, “You don’t need a reason to sweat when you are a big guy,” and turning off the cool air in the room never helped anyone like me.
Good looking people can get away with sweating and people call it “glistening.” The rest of us just sweat. Glistening people can get hugs from people while sweating, but most of us just get a pat on the dry part of our shirt.
I am getting back into the shape, thankfully, and I have lost a few inches off the old belt. But I still like the cold. As the temperature recently dropped in the area, I got giddy. I stood outside at night and just felt the cool breeze.
I told my wife it may be fun to sleep outside in the cool weather and she told me to tell her how it was when I decide to do that. The cold weather is a good opportunity to start a fire and cuddle next to the person you love.
Unfortunately for my wife, my maximum cuddle time at any given moment is about three minutes. When you are a warm-natured person, cuddling with someone is like snuggling next to a little fireball. Despite always being cold, smaller people sure do give off an insane amount of heat.
I inherited this warm nature from my dad. He wears shorts whenever possible. Even in the winter. If you ever hear, “What kind of idiot is wearing shorts in this weather?” it’s probably my father.
People always ask me, “Are you sure you don’t need a coat?” Sometimes, I give in and decide to take one, but then immediately regret it because I am hot and — in most places — you can’t just set your jacket off to the side. So, I either have to tie it around my neck or around my waist. Either way, I look like a yuppy college student from an early-90s comedy.
Ironically, I am a life-long Texan and my wife is from Oregon. These are the fun and crazy twists of fate that make life great. I don’t like the heat, she doesn’t like the cold, but we sure do like each other. So I don’t mind snuggling up with a little fireball every now and again and she doesn’t mind letting me run the fan while she hides under all the blankets in the house.
It’s going to be a good few months of cold weather before the sun comes back out to make me start sweating again. But who knows? Maybe by then my trips to the gym will have paid off and allow me to “glisten” instead of sweat.

Luke Harris is the editor of the Burleson Star. At the time of writing this column, it was 46 degrees outside and he had a little fan going at his desk. He can be reached at burlesonstar@thestargroup.com.