Frozen knees and the best Christmas present ever

The snow continued to fall overnight, covering the landscape in another couple inches of fresh powder, and Ellen and I took advantage. But before I detail our adventures, let me relay a short story to you of a budding architect and a horrible (but also maybe brilliant) Christmas present.

When I was about 10 years old, I decided it was time that I started giving my extended family Christmas presents. Having no stable source of income other than a meager $3 a week allowance, I found the most economical place to shop would the the old 98 Cent Clearance Center, where everything was 98 cents. (I believe they’ve since been bought out by the dollar tree, where everything costs $1. Inflation is tough.)

The woman in the family all got lovely 98 cent earrings, and the men got anything from mugs to cassette tapes of awful music, and everyone feigned gratefulness. However, my two cousins I idolized, so I wanted to make something special for them.

One cousin, Todd, had been attending the US Military Academy at West Point, so I took a pioneer wagon that I had made out of popsicle sticks in cub scouts, painted it camouflage, and then led him on a treasure hunt to find it. When he finally did, he certainly had little idea of what to say, but acted like it was the best gift in the world and was able to fool me.

I felt bad, though, because I only had one popsicle stick creation and two cousins. So, for my cousin Jeff, I took the remaining popsicle sticks and made the best possible structure: a wall. Of course, even my 10-year-old mind knew a popsicle stick wall wasn’t much of a Christmas present unless it was marketed correctly, so I painted in large red letters on it “The Wall 2000.”

You can probably guess that he loved it; so much so, in fact, that he still talks about it as the best present he’s ever gotten. (A close second is another of my masterpieces: a beer can wrapped with a home-printed label saying “can of whupass.”)

So without further ado, I present “The Wall 3000.”

The Wall 3000

Sadly, because there were only about 5 inches of snow, we had to resort to trick photography. Here’s how high “The Wall 3000” is.


* * *

We also had another baby. Looks like our snowman has a new baby sister.

Our new baby
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