Parking? At Target? At Christmas???

parking jam

I found myself in the undesirable position of shopping on December 23.  It made me so stinking mad!

Discount the long lines at the register, the lack of percentage off on any item that I desired, and my inability to make a purchasing decision; I was already miserable because I could hardly get into the parking lot.

I started at North Hills Mall, a relatively new outdoor complex.  On the back corner is a Target.  I spend $118 there each week of my life.

I don’t know why, but every time I go, the sales clerk informs me that the total is $118.  Target is so sophisticated that I scan my card and sign that I agree to the purchase before the employee even finishes scanning my items, so I can’t back out of it.  Whatever the total, I’ve committed, I’m in.  And it is usually $118.

I believe that a polite regular customer like me should be able to call in advance and reserve a parking place near the front.  I mean, I’m there on a rainy Tuesday in February at 8:30 PM when no one else in the world is thinking about giving them $118.  Shouldn’t they stand by me two days before Christmas when I’m at my most vulnerable purchasing moment?

“Hello.  This is Danny Tanner, #118.  I’m tired, frustrated and in a hurry.”

“We’ll have your spot coned off.  Pull up right beside the basket return on row 2.”

It doesn’t have to be THE closest space, just top 20.

You’d think they’d offer that service.  But no.  I’m out there scrapping for an 8 foot by 12 foot space just like every other Tom, Dick and Harry – those damn dudes who haven’t graced the Target since last December.  It’s like the once a year church goers.  Where were you in July when the baby Jesus was 7 months old?

On the 23rd, I had to park six miles away from the front entrance.  Even the spots reserved for “Parents with Children” were taken.  I am a parent, and I have children.  None of them were with me, but I was gonna park there anyway – nope, it was minivan city, not an opening to be found.

In the parking deck, there were three great spots.  I approached all thinking I’d won the jackpot only to discover the sorry putz parked next door had crossed the painted line so far that there was no way to squeeze my mid-sized SUV in the space.  I was livid!  It is a time like this that I would like to put my car in park, get out and rake my house key down the entire driver’s side of the asphalt bogart’s vehicle.

And what is up with the “C” spaces.  Compact cars get priority?  I tried parking in one of those at Crabtree Valley but we all had to climb out the back hatch of the car.  That ain’t cool, especially if you’re on a date.

Oh, and what about the always open reserved spots for plug-in cars?  There is a 1 to 2,456 electric car to reserved electric car parking space ratio in the City of Raleigh.  I would love to park my car, hook it up to a gas pump, and come back in an hour with a free full tank.  What is up with that?

I finally found a space, well sort of.  It was half a space right beside the curb and the mulched evergreen border.  I parked two wheels on concrete and two on the greenery.  I have that same plant by my driveway, and you can’t kill it.  DJ backs over it daily and the stuff is a hearty as the day before she turned 16.

It ended up being fine, because I hadn’t jogged that morning.  I got my three miles in, did not commit vandalism and purchased everyone’s favorite candy.

Next year I’m gonna start shopping in February.  Anyone know the shelf life of Snickers?



Gobble, Gobble, Gobble

Turkey Innards

I had a slight panic attack today.  My parents are 77, and I’m not sure what we’re going to do when they stop cooking Thanksgiving dinner.  Yo – mom and dad, we’re gonna need a decade’s notice, I’m just saying.

I ain’t eating that important feast at an old folks home I’m telling you that.  Turkey should be sliced, not pureed.  And I’m extremely uncomfortable with my stuffing being served out of an ice cream scoop.

I’m not too worried about my side of the family.  That sister-in-law is fair in the kitchen and there are some nieces honing their skills.  My brother can deep fry a turkey – although it’s a fire hazard if the singeing of his eyebrows from illegal fireworks last Fourth of July is any indication.  I’ll just stay inside.

But the other side of the family is really going to struggle.  That sister-in-law is really good at injecting monkeys with infectious diseases but give her a pot and she’s dumbfounded.  And then there’s Uncle Jesse – you can’t buy Thanksgiving dinner from the Steak and Shake.

Oh, I got an idea!  I hear Martha Stewart is on!  Maybe I should sign up and woo her.  I got a lot to offer – work for a nonprofit, three teen daughters, skinny but with slight love handles – how could she pass on that?  I know, she’s a little older than me, but she would certainly bring something to the table, literally.  And Stephanie has a rip in one of her sheets, I bet she could get us a deal to replace that at the K-Mart.

Boy would that be a change.  The one time Lisa and I were responsible for Thanksgiving dinner, she told me to get the stuff from between the turkey’s legs.  I reached my hand in – “Oh my Lord Lisa!  This bird has an erection!”


“I swear.  I felt it.  Go ahead, touch it!”

“I am NOT touching that fowl’s foul.  Get it out!  We aren’t serving a turkey’s penis for Thanksgiving!”

“Some people must like it or they wouldn’t leave it in there.”

“I bet the factory workers just refuse to remove them.”

Later my mom told me it was the bird’s neck.  He sure must have been flexible.

I know!  I’ll just give the girls cooking lessons for their Christmas present this year.  They’ll love it!

In the meantime, I’m gonna get my dad to have my niece remove the turkey innards on Thursday – the old one who rudely froze all my underwear at the beach this summer.  I can’t wait!

Sunday Post 145: Scrooge

For those of you who have seen Ira David Wood’s A Christmas Carol, you might most remember the hilarity of the show.  He is a very funny man, and his Scrooge is like no other.

When I first joined the cast, my assumption was that our primary focus would be on humor, and that is clearly important.  However, what means the most to me and perhaps to most who see the show is the very serious message that is played out in the last scene.

As a cast we are reminded countless times that the play is about helping folks discover or rediscover the true Christmas spirit.

Each year, when we first run the finale, it knocks me in the gut.  The lump hits my throat and the ba-humbug I may have brought into the theater is quickly subdued.

So what is Christmas really about?

For me, I think it’s become less about what I get and more about the joy of those around me.  It is those spiritual moments I experience when the church choir sings while the trumpets blare.  It’s the quiet of the candlelight service on Christmas Eve.  It’s watching mean old Scrooge break down in tears as he struggles to sing the words to The First Noel.

It’s the memory of Christmases of years gone by – my grandmother’s seven layer chocolate cake, acting out the Christmas story with my parents and brother when we were oh so young, Lisa’s affection for pig ornaments, and the first year without her –  Jesse served whiskey after the girls went to bed, a thoughtful gesture on a very tough night.

I pray that we can all find that inner peace – ignoring the annoyances, focusing on the beauty of the season.

Purchase Danny’s Book:  Laughter, Tears and Braids or at Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh

Sunday Post 46: Happy Holidays?

Posted by Danny

Michelle is so excited about Christmas that she can hardly contain herself.  As we were putting up the tree, she simply stated, “I just love Christmas daddy.” 

Oh to have a fraction of that joy…

I’ve found that the holidays have moved from the happiest time of the year for me to the toughest time of the year.  I feel sort of bad that I went through 44 years with no comprehension of how fortunate I was to be able to truly bask in the spirit of the season.  I also regret that I had no idea how painful these days could be for so many people – many of whom I encountered on a daily basis.

I didn’t know that the woman in the cubical down the hall lost both of her parents at an early age and spent the holidays working because it was easier that way.  I had no idea that an acquaintance at church always left town when the season approached because it was too painful to face this family time, when hers was broken. 

Like me two years ago, some of us float through the season, kids and spouse in tact, frustrated that there is simply too much to do – baking, shopping, parties to attend.  What I’d give to attend a Christmas party with my wife.  How I long to fight the crowds at the mall with Lisa by my side.  If I had known, I would not have complained.  I would have basked.

How insensitive I was not to reach out to the single person with little family nearby.  How thoughtless not to intentionally seek out the couple, at the Christmas Eve service, who lost their son last year.

No – I was focused on me and getting home in time to put together the Barbie house with 78 pieces and a 32 page instruction manual.  Ba-humbug – that’s really not what it’s all about.

I wonder if I’ll always feel the sense of sadness when others are filled with cheer.  I wonder if I’ll forget to reach out to those who are more freshly walking through my pain in years to come.

I hope the sadness will wane.  I hope my empathy will not.

Muncle’s Day, 2011

Posted by Danny

Today is the second annual Mucle Jesse Day.  The kids came up with it last year – it comes between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and celebrates uncles who at times act like mothers – or fathers.  They also retain full uncle status because they don’t consistently act like a parent.  They sometimes act like a friend and sometimes they just leave the house – not something a parent can do as easily! 

This is an original song for Jesse sung to the tune of Wagon Wheel, a family favorite.  I was going to record us singing it – but at 7:30 am, it really wasn’t pleasing to the ear. 

Verse 1

Headed down south from the land of DC

To come and take care of Steph, Michelle and me

Plays basketball but his shoulders gonna fall out of the socket.

He tweets a whole lot and he used to be a blogger (a little dig at his lack of support right now on The Real Full House!)

He’s really our uncle but he’s kinda like a mother

Snoozes in his bed with a game on the TV.


He plays the piano – sings a little off key

He likes hamburgers but he doesn’t like peas.

Jesse, he’s our muncle.

He works real hard but never has any money

He hangs out late with his buds Chip and Bomani.

Jesse, he’s our muncle.

Verse 2:

He sweats really bad and his feet smell stinky

He picks his nose with Mr. Pointer and his pinky

He is a bit peculiar-  but we still love our muncle.

He breaks his own rules when he farts at the table

Don’t know how he’d live without candy or cable.


Happy Mother’s Day???

Posted by Danny

I used to look forward to Mother’s Day.  I enjoyed celebrating Lisa.  The girls and I would devise a plan that we thought was genius often with decorations, breakfast in bed and a dinner with a homemade pound cake for dessert (one of the few things I can cook pretty well).  I think we enjoyed planning it as much as Lisa enjoyed being celebrated.

Not so much anymore.

And it is EVERYWHERE!  You open  the paper, it’s on the front page.  You turn on the TV and find that Zales has the perfect gift for our mom; except diamonds aren’t quite as important anymore.  At Cotillion the teacher wishes all the mothers out there a beautiful day on Sunday.  Michelle comes home with art for grandma because she no longer has a mother to create for.

So – to uncelebrate today, we planned to head to the beach, Jesse, the girls and Kimmy Gibbler.  Only our local weather guy had a different idea – rain in Wilmington all afternoon.  We needed a back up plan.

We lounged around all morning and finally broke down and ate the picnic lunch I packed for the beach.  We then headed to Frankie’s Fun House – and it was.  But 30 minutes and $100 later, the fun was beginning to diminish.  What would Lisa do in this situation?  Hmmm. 

She’d go to Target, her favorite place on earth!

We bought a package of six men’s small V-neck t-shirts for $10 and a box of Crayola paint.  An hour and a half later, this was the result.

We even figured out a creative way to send my brother a birthday card (after Frankies, I couldn’t afford a stamp – hope he reads the blog tonight.)

If Lisa’s not here, there is no one on this earth that I’d rather be celebrating Mother’s Day with than my girls.  I am a lucky, lucky man.

Sunday Post 15: The Hawaii Theory

In January 2010, a month or so before Lisa died, I was trying to figure out how God would allow this to happen.  I firmly believed that He had the power to step in and save her.  As I tried hard to wrap some logic around the fact that my wife would likely die prematurely  from this horrible disease, several senarios came to mind.  One I called the Hawaii Theory.

I imagined that I walked into our house and announced to the family that I had booked a surprise trip to Hawaii.  We’d be heading out the following week and were going to spend 10 days in paradise.  Everyone was excited at first and then DJ said, “Dad, does that mean I’m going to miss the school dance next Friday?”

“Oh, yeah – you probably will,” I replied.

“Then I’m not going to Hawaii!  I want to stay here.”

“Honey, I’ve paid for this trip!  It’s Hawaii!!!  We’re going to have a great time.”

“You are so mean dad!  You can’t make me go.  I really want to go to the dance.  All of my friends will be there.  Hawaii is stupid.  I DON’T want to go!”

“I’m taking your butt to Hawaii and you’re calling me mean? This is crazy!.”

DJ calls her friends,  “My dad is making me go to Hawaii – he calls it paradise, with the family and now I’m going to miss the dance.”  They all concur that I’m an unreasonable jerk.

But – I make her go.  And, she has a GREAT time.  She meets new friends and she even admits it is the most beautiful place she’s ever been.  

Her friends all go to the dance, and although they miss DJ, they end up having a pretty good time without her.

Perhaps, just perhaps, this is what happened with Lisa.  God, the dad, taking her to a place so much better than she, or we, could ever imagine.  Us, the friends, so ticked at Him for not allowing her to go to the dance with us.  But, in the end, she gets to be somewhere that is so much better than where we are.  And the neat thing is that one day we get to join her.

As I think of the incredible sacrifice God made at Easter, as difficult as it was to see His son suffer, perhaps He knew that they would end up together – in the most beautiful place ever.  A place that we can’t comprehend –

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