Gifts for Mom, Grandparents, Besties and YOU🎄 ➔

There’s not a lot going on right now, but that doesn’t mean my family can’t still enjoy some of our favorite seasonal pastimes like trimming the Christmas tree, counting down to Santa’s arrival, and riding bikes around the neighborhood and loudly critiquing everyone’s decorating choices.

Amidst the December doldrums, the announcement of a holiday decoration contest by our neighborhood HOA certainly sent a frisson of excitement through our household.

My children are enamored with decorations anyway, but the prospect of a cash prize just for filling our yard with more inflatable monstrosities dialed up their excitement level to an 11.

We ended up adding three small blow-ups, some lighted balls that are quite elegant, and one extra string of lights, so it’s a pretty safe bet that the gift card is in the bag.

However, because it’s best not to leave anything to chance, the children and I have started going on bike rides around the neighborhood to scope out the competition. When we pass by a house with mediocre decorations, one child will say, “I think we have this one beat!”

If you’re looking for some ideas of what to do with your kids over the holidays, check out: 16 Traditions For Dads to Start With Their Kids This Holiday Season

And then, since we’re not all that close together and it can be difficult to hear while riding bikes, another child will call back, “What?”

In turn, the first child will shout, “I THINK WE HAVE THIS ONE BEAT!”

It’s truly magical.

You’re probably wondering what makes a contest-winning holiday light display and according to my 9-year-old, it’s very simple:

First, in his words: “You have to spend money to make money.”

Of course, he meant that we needed to invest in our display to increase our odds of winning the gift card. You might think he just said that to convince us to spend money on more inflatables and you would be right.

Second, again in his own words: “It’s not about the number of lights, it’s how much joy you put into (your display).”

In sum, whichever way you slice it, our holiday light display—which includes four inflatables, the aforementioned elegant balls, a classic Moravian star, and a few lights wrapped around the pole of the basketball goal and the columns on our porch—is the clear winner. It is so darn joyful.

But while our critiques of other peoples’ downright paltry decorations—I mean, literally no one else in the neighborhood has lights on their basketball goal—can be withering and our thirst for victory intense, ultimately, we must defer to my oldest son’s wisdom and heart.

As we completed one of our seasonal surveillance bike rides, my 9-year-old asked me an important question:

“Can you only vote for one house or more than one?”

“I don’t know,” I answered.

“Because if you can vote for every house, I would definitely do that. Everyone did try their best.”

I think that is pretty much the perfect message for every year and this year in particular.

Because it really doesn’t matter if we win or lose, all that matters is we give it our best effort.

And that our arch nemeses around the corner DO NOT win because they are vile human beings.

The spirit of the season must endure.

Originally published on the author’s blog.

P.S. Still in need of last-minute gift ideas for your wife? Look no further: Gifts She’ll Love (and Might Just Get You Out of the Dog House!)

P.P.S. If you enjoyed this article, you may also like:
Outdoor Nature Scavenger Hunt Ideas for Dads and Kids
Remembering What Christmas is All About

A Moment at Grandpa’s Tree

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available for pre-order now!

Pre-Order Now

Andrew Knott

Andrew is a writer from Orlando, Florida and father of three. His writing has appeared in McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Cafe.com, Weekly Humorist, Robot Butt, RAZED, The Funny Times, Mock Mom, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Defenestration Magazine, Scary Mommy, TODAY Parents, Huffington Post, Parent.co, The Higgs Weldon, Flash Fiction Magazine, and Paste Magazine. He also writes on his website, Explorations of Ambiguity, and you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook. His first book, Fatherhood: Dispatches From the Early Years, is available now. 

My Dad Showed Me the Greatest Lessons Are Taught Through Example

In: Fatherhood
grandpa holding donut box with grandson

Waiting at the window, I arranged the blue ruffles on my brand new dress and flipped my hair around to look just right. It was a night to be fancy. It was my first date. My face was flushed as I looked forward to the night ahead. I knew it was a big deal to be taken out and I would get special treatment. I would pick the restaurant and maybe we would have some ice cream and walk around downtown before the sun went down. After that, I was pretty sure we could go to the store and that...

Keep Reading

It Doesn’t Matter How Old I Am—I’ll Always Need My Daddy

In: Fatherhood, Grown Children, Living
Vintage photo of little girl on bike with her dad

I have always been a Daddy’s girl, much to my mom’s frustration.  She always said my dad and I were wired the same, and that’s why it’s always just “worked.” Sure, we have had our struggles and frustrations—when two people think almost the exact same way, certainly there will be battles. But my dad has always had my back, without fail.   Whether he had to question a school decision or staff my senior class retreat (yes, my dad is featured in my high school yearbook), I knew he would be there. He thought he would lose me someday, that having...

Keep Reading

I’m Just a Little Boy, but Daddy You’re Teaching Me How to Be a Man

In: Fatherhood, Marriage
Daddy on the floor playing with son, color photo

I’m only a little boy, still too young to tie my own shoes or make my own breakfast. My days are filled with playtime, snacks, lots of hugs from Mommy, and plenty of tickles from you, Daddy. Right now, my life revolves around me and you and Mommy. I don’t know much about the world outside our home yet. I haven’t learned about responsibility or self-discipline or sacrifice. I haven’t had to find my place in the world yet. But I guess I’m pretty lucky because even though you may not know it, you’ve already begun teaching me everything I...

Keep Reading

You’re the Father You Never Had and I’m So Proud of You

In: Fatherhood, Marriage
Dad and kids walking on beach

Can I tell you about my husband? He’s amazing. He’s kind and doting and loves Jesus, but perhaps his most endearing trait is the absolutely incredible father he is.  In our early days of dating, he was crippled by the fear of what type of father he would be. To him, fatherhood was burdensome, grumbling, abandonment, and fighting for the final dollar during tax season. His experience as a son crippled his anticipation as a father.  But I knew it all along—what an incredible dad he would be. Although I must admit, he has often far surpassed what I even...

Keep Reading

To the Stay At Home Mom From Your Husband: I See You

In: Fatherhood, Marriage

To the woman who sacrificed her comfort zone—leaving her family, friends, and everything she’d ever known—to follow her new husband across the country for his job: I see you. To the wife who pours herself into making a house her home, only to have to move again: I see you. To the wife who put her career, education, and personal pursuits on hold for the sake of her family: I see you. To the mom who went through pain and misery for nine months, only to have motherhood turn out to be nothing like she’d dreamed and longed for it...

Keep Reading

I Struggled With My Son’s Diagnosis, But Found Hope in the Special Needs Community

In: Fatherhood, Tough Times

When I found out I was going to be a father I was beyond excited. My wife and I had been trying to conceive for years before she got pregnant. So, when she told me I was going to be a father I wanted to shout it to the rooftops! I made sure to call my wife every day at work to make sure she ate lunch. I’m sure I annoyed the heck out of her. We later found out that we were having a boy, and started to plan everything. We started to paint the baby room with blues...

Keep Reading

My Son is Growing Up, But I’ll Hold On To the Pictures Forever

In: Fatherhood

A certain part of my heart longs for these moments to never change. I look back on pictures like this one, where my oldest son tastes the salty breeze on his lips for the first time, feeling the sand underneath his toes and laughing out loud at this wholly new experience. I look back and want to freeze it, but in something more than a single picture, more solid than a flimsy memory, more lifelike in substance than what a camera can fashion. RELATED: Stay With Me a Little Longer, Daddy Because that little person who could not stand without...

Keep Reading

I Want My Sons to See How Important It is to Cover Your Wife

In: Fatherhood, Marriage

Transparent moment—I did not always do the best job of covering my wife. Early in our marriage, I was often guilty of being selfish. Our first of four childbirths had contentious moments. From the whistle I jokingly wore on our first trip to the hospital while she was in labor, to me telling her in the midst of her frustration that if we didn’t have the baby that night, she could decide if she’d go into work the next day—I’m not proud of the way I handled some of the challenges. RELATED: 5 Ways To Love Your Wife After the...

Keep Reading

Dads: Your Kids Love Doing Things Because They Get to Do Them With You

In: Fatherhood

This piece was co-written with the author’s husband, Nathan Glenn. I remember my husband taking our daughter golfing for the first time and wondering if she’d enjoy it like he did. He’d dress our kids up in Pittsburgh gear, hoping they’d love the Steelers and Pirates and Penguins as much as he does. When we imagined our someday kids, he hoped he’d have someone that would want to play catch with him and go sit on the banks for hours fishing. Now here we are over a decade into this parenting three thing, and our oldest has her own clubs...

Keep Reading

This British Dad’s Parody of Orlando Bloom’s Daily Routine Has Us Cracking Up

In: Fatherhood

Two men on the same parenting journey see things a bit differently. Read to the end for this British dad’s hilarious take on what it’s like to be a father if you’re not a famous A-list celebrity. Ever since his cinematic debut as Legolas in the Lord of the Rings film series, celebrity actor Orlando Bloom has been capturing hearts around the world. Let’s be honest, we all know why our wives were so excited when Pirates of the Caribbean hit theatres. Outside of fantasy, there’s not much that makes Mr. Bloom relatable to the average Joe. However, parenthood tends...

Keep Reading