December 2002

Brad in goal about to make a stop
Brad punts the ball away after a save
Doug defends as fullback in front of his own goal
Doug comes out to make a save
Brad on trumpet in school band
Brad plays a clueless wiseman that brings Frankenstein (Doug) instead of frankincense
Ginger and Chrysanne play Name That Tune Jeopardy with your host, Brad Sherwood
The extended Christmas Evening dinner table
Palm Springs Tramway: Trams pass at halfway point
Kristi and Doug watch as Brad picks himself up out of snow
Brad learns the first step in making a snow angel is to fall down backwards
By shear perseverance, Doug was noticeably better at the end of the night
Brad escorting his mother around the rink

December just isn’t busy enough.  At least, that’s what we must have thought since we added still more events to our holiday calendar.  Chief among the additions was hosting Keith’s department holiday party, something that certainly didn’t add any stress to the week preceding.  And if people were coming over, we’d better add a house project.  Thus was born Stairwell Part 2: Paint the Banister.  And Bradley signed up for a brand new sport (basketball) to fill the months between soccer and baseball.
The first two weekends in December are the soccer tournament.  Doug’s team was tied for first, and so we expected them to go deep into the playoffs.  Brad’s team really struggled this year, so we expected them to play the minimum three games, and be out early the second Saturday.  In fact, we were counting on it, as Keith’s department Christmas party was scheduled to begin at our house at 6:30 pm on the 14th. But a funny thing happened on the way Christmas party: both boys’ teams just kept winning and winning. Both teams made the finals, at the same time at different fields.  Kristi went with Doug and Keith went with Brad. 
Brad’s highlight came in the semi-final game: in goal, Brad stopped a shot, and then quickly made a booming punt over everyone’s head to midfield, where a teammate took the ball and scored on the break away.  Since Brad made the last and crucial pass before the goal, he claims an assist as goalie.  Brad’s team’s improbable run ended in the finals where they lost a thrilling game, 0-1.  On a break away by the other team, Brad as goalie charged the ball, but the player managed to score around him.  Brad was not despondent, which was nice, because he knew he made the right choice and just got beat.  In fact, there were two more break aways later, where he made the same decision to charge the ball, and won both confrontations.
As exciting and breathtaking as Brad’s final was, Doug’s was more so.  At the end of regulation, it was tied 3-3.  Doug played goalie in sudden death over time, when any goal would end it.  That period ended without a score, so they went on to penalty kicks, with Doug in goal.  Each team has five players take a shot.  The coach, citing Doug’s much improved kicking since the start of the season, selected Doug to be one of his 5 shooters as well as play goalie.  Doug made his penalty shot, his only goal of the season.  After the 5 shots, it was still tied, as each team made three out of five.  It was on to sudden death.  On the second penalty kick in sudden death, Doug’s team made it, while the other team’s kick clanged off the post, forced wide by Doug’s imposing presence in goal.  Kristi sought out and sat with the mother of the other team’s goalie during the penalty kicks so they could support one another.  With the game finally over in semi darkness of early evening, the parents of the two teams joined together to create one long tunnel for the kids to run through, a nice display of sportsmanship for the kids.
Jeff and Chrysanne had graciously agreed to take the boys for a sleep over that night so the scheduled department party wouldn't keep them up.  At 3:00 pm we called up Jeff and ungraciously asked if he could come pick them up as well, since we wouldn't have any time to drop them off between the games and the office party.   After six games, the last one going into triple overtime, it was back home for showers at 4:45.  Jeff picked them up at 5:00.  The first guests arrived at 6:30, and the party went until 11:00.  It was officially the Sherwood's longest day of the year.
In addition to taking piano lessons for the fourth year, Brad has taken up playing the trumpet in the school band.  Kristi is extremely pleased to be able to provide Brad her trumpet from her high school days in marching band. (Brad also plays Kristi's family's old piano.)  Brad (and Kristi) is often complemented on how fine an instrument Brad has compared to the other rentals and starter trumpets in the band.  The band had their first concert for the school and parents in early December.
The Sunday school classes at church spend December rehearsing funny skits to present to the parents on the last Sunday before Christmas.  For the last two years Keith has been writer and director of the third through fifth graders, editing and inserting jokes into scripts found on the Internet.  While Keith dreams of simplifying his December by eliminating this responsibility, the kids and the parents enjoy it too much to stop.
Christmas Eve has developed a definite routine, varying little the last several years.  We go to the 4 p.m. service at church, which is the Christmas story done all by the children and the youth of the church.  Both boys sang with the children's choir, and Brad read the prayer for the Advent Candle.  After church it's on to the Lowe-Brisby Family Christmas Eve Talent Show, now in its fifteenth year or more.  Brad is the acknowledged MC, introducing the acts and adding patter.  With an audience filled with thespians, Brad holds his own.  This year it was seriously suggested to his parents by one of the actors present (well, okay, it was Ed) that they should send Brad to improv class.  He needs less encouragement, not more, to speak off the cuff, said we.  Doug told a joke and got more laughs than his father did last year.  Kristi and Keith, knowing when to quit, haven't performed since Brad and Doug took over.
Christmas morning was just the four of us.  It turned into quite a musical Christmas as Douglas got his own Walkman-like CD player and a boombox, while Bradley got a guitar.  An electronic keyboard was a dual gift: its extra effects and rhythms should hold Brad's attention, and we're looking for ways to inspire Doug to change his mind and agree to take piano lessons.  That afternoon we were joined by Aunt Betty and Susan, and we went over to Jeff and Chrysanne's for Christmas dinner.  They were glad for Betty and Susan, for they were worried about dropping below 20 for dinner.  After dinner, rousing games of Apples to Apples and Palabra were played.
If the month leading up to Christmas felt cramped and rushed, then the week afterwards felt free and easy.  We still did things, just at a less structured and more casual pace.  On the day after Christmas we rode the Palm Springs tramway up to 8,700 feet on Mount San Jacinto. We gamboled in the 2 feet of fairly fresh snow and recreated our beach pose from the Christmas cards.  We were perhaps a bit too casual in our pace as we discovered the rest of Southern California also thought going to the snow the day after Christmas was a fine idea.  We arrived at 1:00 pm and bought a ticket for the 2:50 tram.  There was still plenty of sunshine left up top, but we didn't get to rent the inner tube as the boys had been promised. Without proper snow attire (we did as well as we could with our Southern Californian wardrobes) we weren't going to last all day, but the boys got a good hour in before returning to the tram lodge to buy the world's most expensive hot chocolate and wait another 90 minutes to get down. 
Two days later we went ice skating with the Bigelows.  Keith had been ice skating a half dozen times as a child.  Brad had gone once before for a birthday party.  It was a completely new experience for Kristi and Doug.  Brad talked pretty big, and surprisingly was able to back it up by skating pretty darn well.  We all agreed his inline roller skate experience was key.  Kristi did pretty well, but Douglas struggled mightily.  But he didn't give up, and he didn't get frustrated.  And he wouldn't sit down.  He showed a tenacity that his parents hadn't ever seen before, and by the end of the evening he had become almost comfortable.  Everyone had a wonderful time and wants to do it again.

What We Will Always Remember About 2002:
Doug: "Winning the soccer championship.  Two years ago my team was last.  One year ago my team was second to last.  But this year I came in first!"
Brad: "Our 5414 mile, 14 state car trip."
: "Going to my high school reunion.  I won't tell what year reunion."

Keith: "Brad's Baptism"

They Said It:
Brad , reviewing the past year: "I remember every month but March." Keith : "Read the webpage.  Maybe it will remind you." Brad, sarcastically, "Is March done yet?"
Aunt Chrysanne, on hosting the 5 cousins for a sleep over: "So this is what it would be like if we had 5 children."  Doug : “Yeah, except we would be mean to each other.”
Brad, on his new teenager-like propensity for sleeping in: “I can’t wait to go to middle school next year, they don’t start until 8:30 so I can sleep in.  I’m nothing like Ben Franklin anymore."

Doug, upon noticing the decorative candle his brother made for him lacks a wick: "Hey, my candle doesn't have a twig!"

They Read It:
Keith to Brad : Almost made it through The Two Towers before we saw the movie.
Doug read all the seasonal books stored away in the Christmas boxes -- most of them twice.

They Saw It:
For the second year in row we attended a theatrical production of A Christmas Carol.  Trying to expose the children to the fine arts, don't you know.

Related Web sites:
Christmas Eve Service
Palm Springs tramway

Text and Pictures Copyright © 2002 Keith Sherwood - All Rights Reserved