Basking in the comfort of holiday traditions

They grow up so fast. Of all the clichés in the parenting handbook, this is the oldest and the truest. Among the things I love most about Christmas is that for a few joyous weeks, the inexorable march of time is held in abeyance by an even greater force: the hope, the peace, and the excitement of Christmas.

Our children are teenagers now, the oldest about to celebrate Christmas with us for the last time before she graduates and starts college in the fall of next year. Next Christmas is likely to feel different, be different, with her home for break. But that is not something we have to deal with today.

Mueller investigation closing in on Trump

“He (Trump) knows very little about the legislative process, hasn’t learned anything, hasn’t surrounded himself with people that can get it done, hasn’t done all the things you need to do so. It’s mostly his fault that he hasn’t achieved those things. I’m not in charge of Trump.”

— Tucker Carlson, Fox News

“How can you drain the swamp if you keep muddying the waters? Your own words on lots of stuff give me lots of pause. You said Russia didn’t interfere [in the 2016 election] until some Republicans reminded you that they did.”

— Neil Cavuto, Fox News

As the Robert Mueller investigation barrels toward its conclusion and the walls close in on President Donald Trump, his regular splattering of tweets sound more and more like a modern-day version of Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” proclamation, but more fanciful and less coherent.

Out of touch with the Black Friday banshees

I’ve set my phone on vibrate so that I can watch the game while enjoying my holiday concoction of Chex Mix and mixed nuts without being disturbed, but when the phone buzzes on the night-table, I pause just a moment, then reach for it. I have developed an instinct for bad news, and it is best to hear bad news right away. I learned that watching The Godfather when I was in my teens.

Time for all to choose dignity over party loyalty

Perhaps you have noticed how popular the “what about” argument has become these days? You know it works: you make a claim. I can’t really debate it, so I change the subject and pretend that whatever I say is a reasonable argument, even though it has nothing to do with the point you are making.

Band culture is a thing, a good thing

When our daughter told us a little over four years ago that she was interested in trying out for the color guard for the Tuscola High School marching band, I thought it had to be part of some elaborate prank. She had never been much of a “joiner,” and had never expressed even a whiff of interest in extracurricular activities in elementary or middle school.

Check mate, and I’m off to Ingles

My wife and I do not play chess. A few years ago at a company Christmas party, we were participants in a game of Dirty Santa and came away with a chess set featuring oversized chess pieces that glowed in the dark. I had originally opened a gift I actually wanted — a big coffee mug with a nice bag of gourmet whole bean coffee — but some guy in a hideous Christmas sweater swiped it from me because he drew a better number and preferred my coffee bonanza to the chess set that he opened.

Is this the demeanor of a Supreme Court justice?

I did not go to college with Brett Kavanaugh, but I went to college at about the same time he did, and the portrait that has emerged of him over the past couple of weeks is one that I remember pretty clearly. There were plenty of beer-loving, weightlifting, cocky, entitled, belligerent frat boys on lots of college campuses in the early 1980s. 

You would find them preening at the local bars, singing too loudly, invading others’ space, splashing beer on people, daring anyone to complain about it. My friends and I, most of whom were also beer-loving and some of whom could be pretty obnoxious themselves if under the influence of 10 or 12 glasses of Schlitz Malt Liquor Bull, we really, really, REALLY hated those guys. You see, these guys were already all of those things before consuming their first beer. They just used beer like kerosene to inflame these qualities. 

Acknowledging differences and embracing brotherhood

For many years, I thought of myself as one of Flannery O’Connor’s “Christ-haunted” characters, living my life in a kind of perpetual spiritual limbo, unable to turn my back on religion altogether, equally unable to fully embrace it. I sometimes felt that Christ was chasing me back to church, and Christians were chasing me right back out of it.

A good story is food for the soul

I’ve always been fascinated by storytellers and the stories they tell. As a small child, I loved hearing my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, or any other willing grown-up tell stories of their childhoods, the experiences they had, the people they knew, and the people they once were. I could listen to these stories for hours, as long as they were willing to tell them.

The casting call is under way at the Cox home

Here’s something I never thought I would say: I’m looking for a cat. Not just any cat, but a particular kind of cat, a cat with a particular set of skills. I need the Liam Neeson of cats. An assassin cat. A turbo mouser. A bloodthirsty, feral killer. A razor-thin barn cat that grew up hardscrabble, forced to fight a dozen siblings for a scrap of fish guts — or starve. 

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