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Man of the House: Goodbye, Christmas

So long, daughter; so long, angels. We'll miss you.

January 15, 2011|Chris Erskine

We decided to finally put Christmas away when the little guy directed his remote control Apache chopper into a trio of ceramic angels his mother loved. Angels are pretty defenseless in such situations, singing "The Messiah" with their chins up. The little copter's rotors caught them right in the songbooks. Ouch.

The angels — I named them Curly, Moe and Larry — could only fire back with their dark ceramic eyes as the little chopper plowed into them, accidentally, we think, though the investigation is still in progress. I don't want to say too much. I refuse to try this high-profile case in the media.

The good news? Christmas has been tucked safely away for another year. We are always the last to unload, for we usually celebrate the Ukrainian Christmas, which can run clear into April. Or maybe that's Mardi Gras.

The important thing is that the holidays are finally over. We keep Christmas, the prettiest thing we own, in scruffy boxes down among the fishing gear and the heavy boots we almost never wear.

Now we're left with what, normal life? The college girl has fled the premises — another angel down. There was a small pep rally at the airport for her departure — long, disjointed speeches, a few banners, the blimp circling overhead.

Obviously, we don't want to overdo her return to school, but we like to acknowledge a special moment. My wife, Posh, wore her wedding dress, which I thought was a little over the top for seeing your daughter back to college. She usually breaks out the wedding dress only for our anniversary dinners, or to wear to other weddings (another Ukrainian tradition).

"Bye, sweetie!" my beautiful bride yelled as our daughter walked to the gate. "Remember, whiskey and tequila don't mix!!!"

"Thanks, Mom," the college girl screamed, and everybody got a little misty eyed. It was sort of like seeing the last Marine leave that rooftop in Saigon.

"I miss her," said the little guy as we walked away.

"Who?" I asked.

"I really miss her," he insisted.

As far as the tequila/whiskey thing goes, where else are you going to get valuable advice like that than from someone who loves you more than anything in the entire world? I think that's what mothers are for, basically. Mixologists sent by God.

The subject of whiskey and tequila came up one evening when our daughter requested a bottle from our liquor collection for a party. It's a nice liquor collection — "our own little Getty," Posh calls it. We use it mostly for entertaining.

Though we have every reason, Posh and I don't really drink on a regular basis. If I'm in need of relief from the worries of the day, I just have her club me in the head with her purse till I pass out. A lot of doctors are recommending it now, and it's a treatment accepted by most HMOs.

Anyway, the college girl boarded the plane, and now it's like someone let all the air out of our lives. I'm lousy with goodbyes. If I could just have the same day over and over again, that'd be fine, all four kids in the third grade, backpacks everywhere.

Don't get me wrong, I like variety as much as anyone, I just dread goodbyes and see no reason for anyone to ever grow up and leave, that's all.

Now, what are we left with? An odd month January, peak season for earnest Oscar-worthy movies, a time for serious thought, heavy books, cleaning closets.

The other morning, Posh and I had a five-minute discussion over what should and shouldn't go down the garbage disposal.

That's just good healthy communication, the foundation of a solid marriage. And one of the many shining moments in this, the post-holiday season.

I do enjoy a good winter sky and the way a coffee mug feels in your hand this time of year. I like the skitter-scratch of the last leaves blowing across a church parking lot.

The other day, I'm driving down the freeway with the little guy, when in the middle of a sentence, he shouts "Geese!" as if spotting a squadron of Soviet fighters.

"And then Chase told me ... GEEEEEEEEEESE!" is the way he put it.

A special shade of silver coin, a winter sky — always moving and occasionally decorated with geese. All in all, a pretty good reason to keep your chin up.

chris.erskine@latimes.com

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