Male Bonding

A story about our encounter with a father and son bonding over my favorite thing in the world: Legos.

Dear Optimists,

If you read this blog at all, you already know I have a bit of an affinity – oh heck let’s call it what it is – an obsession with Legos. Well, this past weekend I had a $20 gift card to Toys-R-Us and wanted the cool Creator Log Cabin and was in the aisle looking for it when I saw a father/son by the little bagged figures. Do you know them? They’re in a bag and you have no idea which one you get. It’s fun and I definitely buy them when I see them on sale.


So I walk into the aisle and this father and his son have about twenty of the bags laid out on a shelf. I quickly figure out they’re going for the Feel the bag and guess which one is in it theory (which seldom works…I was trying to get the monkey trainer for the longest time but apparently the girl-hair part feels like a monkey), so Elle and I joined them. I wanted her to see the new series (she pretends to care because she loves me).

I said to Elle, “I really want the robot.” The little kid, who had thick glasses, looked up. The dad laughed. “That’s the one we’re trying to get!” “I can understand that…it’s the best one.” “We also want the leprechaun” the kid said to me. We had a little talk with them and I admitted it took luck to get the monkey trainer (yes, I did finally get it) and we had a nice talk with the kid and his dad. It really warms my heart, seeing a moment like this. The dad and son, working together and chasing down these toys, it’s one of those memories the kid will have forever. I hope to be that dad someday.

They ended up in line behind us as I was buying the log cabin (yup! got it!) and as we walked to our car I heard a voice say “Excuse me!” from the van next to our car. I look over and it’s the kid in the back seat.

“We got the robot!” he yelled. His dad and I both laughed, and I said “That’s awesome. I’m jealous now!”

What a trip to the toy store, huh?

Love,
Den

Lovely Memories

Dear Optimists,

We always need to take a moment to recognize the special people in our lives. For me, one of the many is my aunt. The number of excellent memories I have thanks to her are astounding. As a kid, she would bring me to the mall once or twice a month just for fun. I always picked out a Smurf from the store, which made me the envy of every kid in the second grade. I had more Smurfs than anyone! She was the cool aunt who took us out for our birthday and let us pick ANYTHING we wanted in the store (with a price limit, of course!)

I would spend an hour in the comic shop, carefully planning up to the limit. Or in the Lego aisle in Kiddie City. It was awesome. And the best part? She let us keep the present that day! My mom would try to deny that and make us wait for our birthday, but my aunt wasn’t having it.

Last night, the same aunt took the fiancee and I out to dinner and it was just like old times. I reminded her of the many memories I had of similar situations and she smiled. She was so glad that I remembered so many of the wonderful things she did for me. And she was quite generous with us last night as well.

And where did we end up? In the Lego store buying one of the Christmas sets for under our tree, a tradition the fiancee and I are starting. Instead of a little village to go with the vintage train set I have, we’re creating a Lego Christmas scene.

Love,

Den

Guest Post! Family traditions

Dear Optimists,

Don’t you just love Christmas? When I was younger Christmas was about presents and family and food, but also about the actual Christian meaning of Christmas.  As my brother and I grew into the teens, it became a lot more about the presents than anything else. Then as we grew up and both moved out of our first home, we realised it was about so much more than that! We both, at the ages of 27 and 29 (he’s older), still wake up at 6AM with excitement of the day to come, but the first Christmas we did this and we weren’t together, we had a little cry on the phone to each other.

The years we had spent being excited about presents, we realised we got excited for reasons unbeknown to us back then. We loved waking up together and opening our stockings, then waiting for the all important 8AM wake up call for Mum and Dad. We would head downstairs to see if the carrot and milk we left for Santa and the reindeer had been eaten and drank. We would open our presents from Santa with such excitement, and then get dressed in our best clothes for trips to see the family and then back home to settle for a big Christmas dinner and crackers 🙂 And oh the joy of Christmas films on the TV. Arguing over who got the remote and which film we would watch first was the best!

My brother now lives in Edinburgh and I very rarely get to do this ritual with him anymore. We managed to both be in the same place last Christmas, and I woke up in the morning at 6AM and bounced into his room to give him a big sloppy hug and kiss, with happy tears in my eye, since we were both home and could be like kids again. Every year, our presents are still from Santa, and last year we played our games on the Wii, instead of playing with Legos like we did when we were younger. (Den’s note: Why did you stop playing with Legos? They’re the best! Can I have yours?) But we still argued over the television. Some things never change!

Its amazing how some families have traditions that will live for years, I know I will enforce the same values into my children, and I hope they do with theirs. So my fellow Optimists… I ask, what family traditions do you have at Christmas?

Love always,
Beth of the great blog Life Since Then

What Makes Den Happy?

Dear Optimists,

For those of you who don’t know, I actually obsess over some things besides Legos and Smurfs. What, you might ask?

Vintage photographs:

I have piles and piles of them. I even have a few stacks sitting next to my computer right now! I use them for inspiration when I have writer’s block. I just love sitting there and looking at one, noticing not just the people and their clothing, but small details in the background. The subtle look on their face. The discarded item to the side. Everything. And I just love imagining what it is they’re experiencing at that very moment.

I love doing this. Now you know.

Love,

Den

I’m a Big Kid

Dear Optimists,

You know what’s fun? Legos. They’re the best. Know what else is fun? Crayons. So I decided to combine them.

That’s right, folks, my creative side came out, I ordered a Lego man ice cube tray and then broke up crayons, microwaved them for about five minutes, then threw them into the fridge. Know what came out? Crayons shaped like Lego men! SWEET!

It’s the little things, isn’t it?

Love,

Den