Christmas Eve was always special for me as a kid. Family would show up and we would have a traditional Polish “Poor Man’s Meal.” Basically it was a very dry fish (sole I believe) served with pierogis and lots of sausage and kraut. Who was I kidding. I was and only child and I just wanted everyone to eat their shitty food so we could go upstairs and open up the damn presents. Things changed forever on that cold and blustery Christmas Eve in 1985.
This was my first Christmas Eve away from home and my family. I got into radio in the summer of 1985 and that changed the way I would celebrate the holidays. More often than not I was away from family. Christmas Eve 1985 found me in Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was two hundred and eighty-five miles away from my childhood home in Strongsville, Ohio. There was a terrible snowstorm that day and I was very sick. I had a fever and was alone for the first time on Christmas Eve. I called my mother to wish her well on the dinner and celebration she was about to have.
I got my first dog when I was in second grade. She was a collie. I named her “Lady.” Lady was my companion from the second grade on. Being an only child Lady was the closest thing to a sibling I would ever have. I was on the phone with mother that Christmas Eve when I heard the doorbell ring in the background. Mom explained she had to go as company was beginning to arrive. Something was not right. Something was missing. My dog would ALWAYS bark when someone rang the door bell. I stopped my mother before she could hang up and I asked in desperation, “What the hell is going on? Why is Lady not barking???” The pause seemed endless. Mother then took a deep breath, hesitated and said “Ya know when ya left in August and said I would know when it was time……..” There was a momentary lack of reason that filled my head. Suddenly it was clear to me…..Mother had killed my dog.
To this very day Mother will deny this ever happened. That’s what parents do as they get older. They develop selective memory and like to rewrite history. That was a long time ago yet it seems like it was yesterday. When your door bell rings this Christmas Eve and I hear your dog barking I can be rest assured you have never met my Mother.
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Years ago, when I was still doing morning radio, I made the observation that where you sat on the bus when you are going to school is pretty indicative of where you will go in life. There’s a lot of pressure going through the mind of a child when they get on the bus and stake out their territory. It’s not as bad if you are towards the beginning of the route because you can play it safe and sit in the middle but if you are towards the end of the route you don’t have as many options. Lord help the child that is forced to walk towards the back of the bus. This is where pure evil reigns.
Everyone knows that if you want to have a cigarette or your nose broken then you venture towards the back of the bus. Nothing good happens at the back of the bus. This is the Compton of school transportation. If this was real life the only way to insure personal safety is to obtain your concealed carry permit. These beasts in the back of the bus smoke their parents Lucky Strikes and run with scissors. They fear nothing. Your existence is nothing but a punching bag to those that reside in the back of the bus. Twenty years later these children will be bouncers at nightclubs and strippers that hang upside down on a brass pole. The criminals of tomorrow reside in the back of school buses today.
Let’s address the front of the bus. This is the destination for future Conservatives. It also is a great location for those in marching band or the orchestra. If you took your violin home to practice Handel’s Messiah the last thing you want to do is take that instrument towards the back of the bus. The nineteen year old eighth grade burnout in the back seat will whittle that thing down into a water bong before ya blink. The front of the bus is also a great place to sit if you are not able to climb the rope in gym class but that’s another story for a different day.
So what happens if you are the parents of a kid that looks like the picture above? I have to be honest with you: Putting this child on a bus is putting his personal safety at risk. Even the kid with the bad skin and viola case wants to kick his ass. You love your child, You want them to be safe. You must to the right thing as a parent and DRIVE them to school. They may get a wedgie or two in the school bathroom from the nineteen year old eighth grader but they will graduate college in three years. These are the future CEO’s and Wall Street Brokers. Today’s nerd is tomorrow’s millionaire. He gets the last laugh when he shows up at the class reunion driving a Lamborghini and a Instagram model on his arm. 2020 has been a taxing and trying year. The future is filled with questions and doubt. In 2021 do the right thing for your child. Do the right thing for the future of America. Drive your kid to school!!
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There is a lot of pressure on folks that are single around the holidays. Once you are over the age of thirty and ya still show up to the family gathering without a partner Uncle Fred and Aunt Ester will be talking about you as soon as ya leave to return home with a tin of cookies. 2020 might be different since we all have seemed to adopt this solitude mentality but I have to admit the decision to not date has it’s benefits.
I was always co-dependent. I had a lot of girlfriends. I had five fiancés. Obviously I didn’t have a problem with commitment. My friends called me “The Diamond Man.” I actually married two of them. Meeting women was never a problem; staying in a relationship was. My last relationship ended October 23, 2011. I remember the Harley ride home when I said I was gonna make a change. I was going to go at least one year without going on a date. I was going to concentrate on fixing myself. Funny thing happened during that year. I liked it so much that I have never turned back.
In the past nine years I have made numerous improvements in my life. I have focused on my therapy and have addressed my narcissism. I have become an excellent cook and I have found strength in my faith. I have returned to my place of birth in preparation for the completion of the Circle of Life. Pretty impressive, huh? Those are the type of changes that sell a lot of books so let me share you some of the other benefits of being a single guy. If you see a strawberry daiquiri on your bar bill ya know it’s not yours. You’ll never find yourself sitting on the couch on a Saturday afternoon with a bowl of Haagen Das watching a Lori Laughlin movie. Don’t laugh….that painful memory still triggers a form of PTSMD. I actually will suffer a slight convulsion when I ponder what “My List” on NETFLIX would look like if I had a female partner.
I don’t have to worry what I am wearing. I actually have one t-shirt for each day of the week. I don’t even bother putting clothes away I just hang it in the laundry room and get dressed in front of the ironing board. The closest I got to having someone hit on my girl was when a drunk guy spilled his Corona on my hand. The bartender solved the problem with a towel and a free drink. That never happened before…..I’m used to the police showing up and having to arrange for a ride home. You’ll find THOSE stories in the book I’ll publish once Mother is at peace. Sure it gets lonely at times. I sometimes get jealous seeing a couple together laughing and having a good time. I find it ironic that I finally have become a person that has something to offer yet here I am alone. That’s usually when a moment of levity happens. I’ll call a buddy to come over and watch the Browns game and he’ll say he would but he promised his wife he’d put up the Christmas lights before taking her to the apple farm. That’s when I pause, take it all in and exhale. It’s the end of 2020. Truly the perfect time to be alone. 🦾🦾🦾
Make sure to listen to Danny’s weekly podcast DANNYLAND!! Click HERE to listen and share with others.
I have always said that life starts to get shitty right after ya find out the truth about Santa Claus. From that point on your trust has been shattered. There is no way you will be prepared for the upcoming trials and tribulations of the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny. Just to make sure you will be on the defensive for the rest of your life you will soon discover birds and bees and a freaking stork have nothing to do with the reason you have become a global footprint on this planet. Let’s get back to that fatal morning of December 1973 when I was in the third grade and Mother summoned me to the kitchen ten minutes before the school bus was to arrive.
Mom seemed to be serious. I went to the kitchen and she told me to sit down. Immediately I began to wonder what I had done wrong. There was no way I was ever going to be properly prepared for what she said next. “I wanted to tell you something before you heard it from Brian Kuhn or someone on the bus,” she said. “You know how ever year at Christmas Santa brings ya gifts? Well that’s actually Mom and Dad. Any questions??” Really??? Any questions??? I have a few. The first one would be “Who are you and what the hell did you just say??” My world was destroyed. Suddenly I questioned everything. All of a sudden the making a wish and blowing out the candles on your birthday cake thing seemed like a bunch of shit to me as well. I was speechless. I was stunned. I could not move and all Mom would say is “Hurry up…..don’t miss the bus.”
I was just eight years old and I felt like a sparring partner of Mike Tyson. I remember being in a daze as I found my way to the bus stop that cold December morning. The bus stopped, I heard the air brakes, the door opened and I climbed aboard. I looked to find my usual seat in the middle of the bus and I locked eyes with Brian Kuhn. For a moment we were one. We said so much without saying anything at all. Finally I exhaled and sat down. After what seemed like an eternity Brian Kuhn finally said “I see your Mother beat me to it.” I paused….smiled…turned towards him and said, “Yes. Yes she did.” It’s never been the same since that cold November morning in 1973. 😪😪😪
Make sure to listen to Danny’s weekly podcast DANNYLAND! Click HERE to listen and share with others.
As I write this it is the afternoon of Christmas Eve. As a kid I loved this day. Every Christmas Eve Mom, Dad and myself would go to to the Czekalinski home in Parma, Ohio. It was always a lot of fun filled with Polish and Catholic tradition. We would eat downstairs. It was a “poor man’s meal.” Sole was the fish. We ate on a huge table that was covered by a table cloth and underneath was a complete bale of straw spread out evenly. At the end of the meal everyone reaches under the table cloth and pulls out a piece of straw. If you had one with a lot of flowers on it, legend had it that you would enjoy the upcoming New Year. Grandpa and Uncle Ralph now had a few glasses of wine in them and they started singing Christmas songs in Polish My Aunt and Grandma just rolled their eyes and my Dad just shook his head and laughed. Now it was time to go upstairs and open gifts!!!! Finally….what Christmas is all about.
I was an only child and the first grandchild. I was showered with gifts and it was never enough. Surely there has to be MORE???? Well I was right with one exception. It wouldn’t be found in a box with a bow on it. Life moves fast my friends. Life is always changing. Mom and Dad got divorced when I was thirteen. People took sides. There was no more Christmas Eve at the Czekalinski’s. Grandpa got cancer after that. He suffered a lot and eventually died. I grew to HATE Christmas. It reminded me of how happy I used to be. In my adult life I continued to look for that feeling I had every Christmas Eve. I would just throw “money” at a bunch of gifts for people thinking that would at least bring THEM happiness. I continued to be miserable.
I’m a Christian. Make fun of me if ya want. If you knew me, there are MANY things about me that you can ridicule. I really don’t care. Christmas is the birthday of a man that died for us so that we may experience eternal life. I won’t bang the bible. Anyone can do that. It’s subjective. You can pick and choose a quote to support any cause. Try this. Look around. Nature is kind of a cool place. Where did it all begin? Some will say “The Big Bang Theory.” Okay….I’ll give ya that. Who made the big bang?
I’m just seeing this now. I’m fifty-five years old and lived my life a hundred miles an hour with my hair on fire. I have no idea why I am alive. I was in a coma for five days in September of 2015 because I was doing bad things to numb myself. This isn’t about me. I only put myself into this story to show you it is never too late. Christmas is the birthday of Jesus. Jesus is not flash. Jesus is all about faith. What you do with my story is up to you. Thanks for reading. Merry Christmas.
I’m a pretty lucky guy. I’m fifty-six years old and my mother is still alive and well. I found out today we will be together for Christmas and that’s the greatest gift I could ever ask for. Mom lives in West Palm Beach and is in the process of moving back here to Cleveland. A lot of people do that when they have the gift of time. They finally figure out what truly matters in life…..and that’s family.
I was like most kids. Christmas is a day of gifts. Christmas is fun. Christmas is a bunch of free stuff that I will probably break in the next two weeks. As an adult I wasn’t much better. Christmas was stressful. Lists to fill. Gifts to buy. People to impress. I threw money at these problems. They were solved. I still felt empty and alone.
Let’s fast forward to today as the reality of life has begun to set in. Christmas is a celebration of life, opportunity and salvation. Of course my mother drives me crazy and raises my blood pressure. That’s what mothers do. They know how to hit your hot spots because THEY installed them. We both made it another year. There will be a Christmas one year when we won’t be able to say that. It is my greatest fear my friends. As I said at the beginning….I’m a pretty lucky guy. I don’t need a gift. I don’t need a fancy meal. I’m gonna have a Merry Christmas. I hope you do as well.
So I’m sitting here thinking about Christmas and my childhood and I wonder if I’m alone on this. Let’s examine some of the facts of this wonderful story. Let’s start with the fat guy and the chimney. Ya ever been on a roof and taken a look at a chimney? A super model would get stuck in there. Let’s say this generous man with his sack of goodies manages to make it down the aforementioned chimney. I sure hope you’re not burning a yuletide log and ya remembered to shut off the alarm. This will assure a very slow night for the folks at ADT.
So ya leave some cookies and milk. That’s the last thing he needs. Do him a favor and move the exercise bike by the tree and leave a few Lipitor pills and a shot of bourbon—it’s freaking cold outside. So our friend Santa then rock climbs his way back up the chimney to get inside a sleigh that doesn’t have a heater or a seatbelt. I’m pretty sure that all the shingles that got ripped off during the landing are not covered by your homeowners insurance.
Most of us have been on an airplane and have seen the size of those massive engines that insure a safe take off and a successful flight so of course the same mechanical wonders must be attached to the sleigh, right? That’s not the case as we are all aware. This winter mobile is able to take off a fifty foot runway pulled by a bunch of reindeer. The one leading this parade has a nose that is red. Anyone that has been on a road knows that’s the brake light so actually Santa flies backwards without a rear view mirror. Living here in Florida I know that’s at least believable. I could go about the elves but I don’t need any more hate mail from the Little People of America. I’ll end my filibuster with a sincere statement for you and your family. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!