Let me first apologize for my posts recently being a bit sporadic. I’m going to use this one to tie up some loose ends from previous posts and give consolidated versions of the ones I missed. Hence the title of this week. This one will bounce around a bit. Being a father of five and a sort of writer as a side job is a real Catch 22. The upside is that having that many kids constantly provides me with plenty of material to write about. The downside is that having that many kids makes it difficult to find the time to write about them.

When last we chatted, I was telling you about the adventures that incurred on my birthday. I won’t belabor you with a long drawn out version of it. If you recall, all four kids and my cat were projectile vomiting all over my house to help me usher in my 47th year. When I was younger, I would get excited about leap year because once out of every 4th birthday, I got an extra day to recover. This year it was nothing more than an extra day to launder, scrub, and shampoo everything that had been yacked on. And of course, my wife caught what the kids had the next day. Once I finally had everyone in my domestic infirmary taken care of and settled in for the night, I got ready to sleep myself. I was staying in the living room again because it was centrally located and I could hear distress calls from all other rooms. As I got as comfortable as I can in my haggered old recliner, I suddenly remembered that the next day started the month of March. Which meant that I had to call before going to sleep to find out if I was called for jury duty the next morning. Needless to say, I was and I’m not sure how much more I can say about that so let’s move on…

Early March becomes a bittersweet time for me. I’ve mentioned in years past how important the date March 12 is to me. This year, my Mom would have turned 77 on that day. She’s been gone nearly 14 years and I still miss her like it was yesterday. I still talk to her every day and will continue to celebrate her birthday every year. I value March 12 so much that it also happens to be my wedding anniversary. Five years ago, I married the most amazing woman in the world and my life has gotten better every day since. Another reason the 12th is special to me is that it is my sister in law’s birthday too. She’s always been incredible to me even though she met me as a pre-adolescent asshole who blamed her for stealing my brother. She was kind and patient enough to put up with me through that stage and a few other less than favorable phases of my life. I couldn’t love her more had we been siblings from birth.

I know some of you were eagerly awaiting my annual piece on my disdain for St. Patrick’s Day. Truth is, I wrote it but I evidently failed to hit the ‘send’ key. That’s the downside to doing most of my writing either between the hours of 2am and 5am or while juggling a teething baby and a pair of rambunctious toddlers. By the time I realized my mistake the holiday had come and gone. Just as well, I was pretty bitter when I wrote it. I won’t be brazen enough to say that I speak on behalf of all bartenders, but I’ll speak for myself when I say that I’d rather work a month of New Year’s Eves than a single St. Pat’s day. Living in Ocean City however, I have to amend my contempt for this holiday slightly. It’s no longer actually March 17th that haunts me to my very core. It’s now become the day of the local St. Paddy’s parade that I wish I could sleep through every year. This usually falls on the Saturday before the actual holiday. In many ways it’s like the other “amateur night” holidays chock full of folks who only go out a handful of times a year and use a pseudo holiday as an excuse to get themselves one shot shy of a stomach pumping. But on this day, all of those same decision-making, impaired partiers start drinking at around 9:00 a.m. so by the time the sun sets, looking around at the bar crowd is like watching a movie about the zombie apocalypse on your Grandmother’s old TV that only seems to be able to put forth the color green. So like always, I spent the week approaching every stumbling, bloated, drooling, green clad, bead wearing, face painted buffoon and asked them each a handful of seemingly innocuous questions: 1. What is your ethnic background? 2. Who was St. Patrick? And 3. What is the significance of the holiday? If you can answer one or more correctly, I know you are actually Irish and you get a free pass. By all means, embrace your heritage and enjoy your day. If you are a member of the overwhelming percentage of those who have no clue, chances are you are going to piss me off at some point during my shift. And since the stomach virus I mentioned earlier actually made a second tour through my family in as many weeks, I had my fill of cleaning up puke and had met my quota for the year. I don’t mind scooping up gut chunks if they contain my DNA, but if they are spewed forth from the face of a 50-year old-man who just doesn’t know how to behave in public, then my fuse tends to get a bit short.

Keeping with the holiday theme, we’ve now arrived at Easter weekend. I was raised Catholic as a child and still possess at least a cursory knowledge of the Bible. Though having always been the inquisitive type and never taking things for face value, I’m no longer much of a proponent for organized religion. That being said, my wife and I have agreed to raise our children to think for themselves and form their own informed opinions on things, particularly as it pertains to subjects such as politics and religion. And yet, my hypocrisies manifest themselves in mysterious ways. I will still enjoy a 4-day-weekend and I will most definitely not deny my kids the fun and happiness of the holiday traditions…regardless of how bizarre they may seem.

This personal philosophy of mine threw me for a curve this past week as I was driving my 4-year-old daughter home from a day at Pre-K. She is such a unique combination of character traits from both my wife and me. She has her Mom’s brains and her Dad’s curiosity and thirst for knowledge. She’s developed her stubbornness and sense of humor from both ends of her gene pool, and there is never a question that doesn’t have a follow-up question already in the chamber.

On this particular occasion she wanted to know everything there was to know about Easter, including its true meaning and all of the traditions. She began rapid firing poignant, intellectually driven questions at me and I suddenly felt like I was on the witness stand at the O.J. Simpson trial. I tried my best to answer all of them without delving too deep into a theological discussion. I was honest with her about what I recall from the Biblical stories about the events of this weekend. I explained Jesus to her as best I could and even offered to take her to the Church of her choosing if she so wishes. I thought it was going well until the logical side of her wanted to know how the son of God dying on a crucifix for our sins morphed into giant, upright walking, bow tie wearing rabbits dispensing pastel colored eggs and candy. I found myself sinking deeper into a quagmire of faith and  meets the over commercialized bull shit machine. She was relentless and at some point I recall thinking to myself; ‘can’t we just have a talk about sex and drugs?’ I didn’t sidestep my fatherly duties though. I tied it all together as best I could. I wish I had recorded the conversation because it may have proved to be the best piece of writing I’ve ever done. By the end of the conversation, she was somewhat at ease. I on the other hand, was so twisted up and confused that I had to try desperately not to end the story of Easter with; “And on the third day they rolled back the stone. Out came Jesus, and if he saw his shadow there were 6 more weeks of winter.”

Happy Easter everyone! Thanks for playing along. Until next time, Syd Nichols