The Big One-Seven

Happy 17th wedding anniversary!

Thanks to a brief family trip last weekend to Steelers Training Camp I decided to take a vacation from posting. This week I’m going to steer clear of media talk for the most part. Not that things have been quiet on the media front.

Between a major acquisition announcement, Facebook offering millions to get publishers back on the platform, and continued questions on how online platforms handle hate speech, I have a lot of opinions. But this week I want to focus on something more personal – which speaks to my personal privilege, I know.

This week I want to focus on something more important to me personally. Today, August 10, 2019, is my 17th wedding anniversary. I guess technically it mine and Angela’s 17th wedding anniversary. It’s impossible to do this alone.

Angela Jake Volcsko – August 10, 2002
She’s adorable, but my head is massive!

Yup, the big one-seven.

Okay, so it’s not one of the more notable anniversaries, but if you know me you know that’s also right on-brand.

It still feels weird that we’re only married 17 years. It feels like much longer – which I do not mean in a negative way at all. We started living together the year prior to getting married, so I’ve reached the point in life where my time spent living with her has eclipsed the time I lived with my parents, siblings or anyone else.

That feels like an important milestone to me.

Through the years we’ve moved a lot. More than most military families I would venture to guess. For reference, from the time we moved in together, July 2001, through when we moved into our current home in May of 2015, we moved 12 times in 14 years.

During that time the longest stretch we stayed in one home was from April 2006 to May 2008 in Wooster, OH. Otherwise we never stayed in the same place more than a few months.

And despite musical tastes that are … different, we’ve seen a fair share of concerts.

While my first choice in concert attendence wouldn’t be Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift in Greensboro, NC, 2011

The Avett Brothers

The Avett Bothers in Bethlehem, PA

or Mumford and Sons

Mumford and Sons, Camden, NJ, 2013

(twice)

Mumford and Sons, Camden, NJ, 2018

I did enjoy seeing them all with her.

Plus, I’m sure she’s not really that interested in sitting on a hillside in the summer heat watching grown men practice football.

Not once

Steelers Camp, Latrobe, PA 2013

Not twice

Steelers Camp, Latrobe, PA 2016

But three times

Steelers Camp, Latrobe, PA 2019

But whether we are interested in these things, or whether they are our first choice of entertainment doesn’t really matter. We enjoy these things events with each other because it brings us closer together.

That’s why, if you check my Spotify playlist, you’ll find songs from all of the musical acts, as well as others we’ve seen together. None are my first choice in music, but hearing them makes me smile because their music makes her smile.

So, here’s to the next 17 years. Hopefully with more concerts and sporting events – and a hell of a lot less moving.

Happy anniversary, Angela. I love you!

December 25 – A late Entry to the Christmas Gallery

On the afternoon for December 23 I was cleaning out old photos on my computer when I can across an old picture I used of my wife and I on our wedding invitation.

Spoiler: It’s adorable.

I told you it’s adorable.

Anyway, it made me realize I did drawings of my in-laws grandchildren, but left out there children. So I spent the afternoon doing one more drawing before Christmas. I’ll need to do one more after Christmas, of my brother-in-law, but I don’t have any toddler pics of him. At least not without asking my wife, him or mother-in-law and ruining the surprise.

Here the final version of my wife as a toddler, I hope you like it.

Pencil and charcoal drawing, Angela, December 2017

 

Charlie’s Christmas Decision

I was never a fan of Christmas. Actually, I remember hating Christmas most of my first two-and-a-half decades on earth. Look, I know hating what feels like the most beloved holiday is not a hot take. I’m not trying to be some hipster or a Grinch – or a hipster-Grinch.

Unfortunately it’s deep-rooted personal reasons for me. Reasons best left out of this blog for now.

Although I do love the Grinch.

I’ve been fortunate however and, much like the Grinch, I’ve changed over the last decade-and-a-half. Most of the credit goes to my wife, Angela – and having two children over this period of time didn’t hurt either. Angela goes all-in on Christmas, she’s never lost that childlike wonder that makes this time of year so much fun.

Which brings me to the subject of this week’s post.

Just after Thanksgiving we were walking the dogs as a family when my youngest son, Charlie, started asking questions about Santa. Now, he is 11 so we kind of assumed he already new the “secret,” as he called it. His line of questioning seemed to confirm that he already knew. Even admitting that travelling around the world and delivering billions of presents in a single day is impossible.

In reality, he was simply looking for confirmation.

Don’t worry Santa, I won’t give away your secret. I ain’t no snitch.

I was ready to give him the hard truth, but Angela jumped in and asked whether he wanted to know the secret or not.

He looked nervous and said, “Yes.”

Then, “No!”

Then, “Maybe?”

Who could blame him for such indecision? This is a big moment in a child’s life.

Angela explained that sometimes it’s fun to believe and pretend. That even if something isn’t real, it can still be fun. It was at that point when Charlie mad the decision to know the truth. He was ready to know the secret – but not until after Christmas.

In my sometimes too cynical brain the most obvious reason I thought of for him not wanting to know is the unnerving thought that if he learns the truth, the presents might dry up. But that was my thought, not his. As is often the case with children, we don’t give them enough credit.

With Charlie it had nothing to do with presents. It is all about the traditions we’ve built for Christmas Eve – or rather the traditions he’s built. Mind you, it’s nothing spectacular, but it fits in with who we are as a family.

On Christmas Eve morning Charlie and Elijah wake up to find the computer with Fred, their Elf on a Shelf, sitting at the computer with NORAD Santa Tracker already running.

Fred’s standard Christmas Eve hiding spot.

We have fish for dinner, attend a Unitarian Universalist service, open small gifts from each other – which always includes pajamas for our boys – and watch Christmas movies until we’re too tired to stay awake.

It’s quiet, simple and relaxing. Just the way we like it.

 

Merry Christmas!