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
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
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
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
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:
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!"
"Our 5414 mile, 14 state car trip."
Kristi: "Going to my high school reunion. I won't tell
what year reunion."
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."
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
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