I think we are all in agreement that the holiday season is a time for reflection, a time for coming together, and a time for friends and family, kith and kin, to learn some things. 

I don’t wish to brag, but my personal family did very well at that part of Christmas this year. We learned an enormous number of lessons in the span of maybe an hour and a half, and out of an abundant generosity of spirit, I am now going to share those lessons with all of you.

The First Lesson: Even the youngest among us can have valuable wisdom to share. In this case the specific wisdom shared by the smallest among us went something like this: “I don’t think you should ride my hoverboard in the house.” 

Wise words from a 9-year-old. A festive reminder that prudence and caution are important values. With those words, Nine really captured the true spirit of the family holiday season; deep down, aren’t we all just trying not to get hurt? 

Alas, her warning went unheeded by one specific bold adventurer, who elected to overrule Nine’s cautiousness (and also two other nearly identical warnings issued by Twelve and Thirty) which led directly to …

The Second Lesson: If you must ride a hoverboard in the house, it turns out that a narrow hallway carpeted in unanchored throw rugs is a suboptimal test track. Who knew, right? Rugs are great for traction.  The dogs don’t skitter and scrabble on them.  They aren’t slippery when wet. Even rucked, these rugs are not going to trip you up, but just get kicked out of the way. However … 

The Third Lesson: Throw rugs might be helpful under paws and feet but they are considerably disadvantageous as a surface for wheels. NTSB investigators suspect the fringe gets wrapped around the axle in a difficulty analogous to what happens when you try to vacuum the rugs. We’re a little hazy on the exact mechanical difficulty encountered, though, because Lesson Three was quickly followed by …

Lesson Four: In the event of an abrupt and unplanned dismount, those fetching little woven-rag throw rugs are beyond useless as cushions. This might be Lesson Five, really. (I dithered on whether Lesson Five was really Lesson Four and vice-versa for much, much longer than I care to admit, which is clearly saying something.) You be the judge when we get to …

Lesson Five: If one has broken one’s arm, one is probably aware of that right away, and so are the people in one’s vicinity. What happens is that you hit the floor, and when someone asks you if you are all right, you hold up your arm and in a tone of interested surprise say, “I think I broke my arm.”

Most of the people who can see the speed of the swelling, even those in the room who are not medical people, will agree that it sure looks like you did. Even if it isn’t gruesome — no compound fracture or unsightly bulge or nauseating Theismann-esque new bend — you will learn …

The Sixth Lesson: Because a broken arm is surprisingly evident at a glance, the family will spring into action, helping the injured into a chair, creating a splint from a pillow and duct tape, calling local emergency rooms to assess wait times, and bursting into tears because “I said not to do that!!!!”

The Seventh Lesson: In times of crisis, our family gets very focused. One of us went, turned off all the burners on the stove and began putting the par-cooked dinner away. Two of us consoled Nine. Two of us treated the intrepid rider. One of us came downstairs, having missed much of the initial commotion, and casually asked the biggest question of the night:

“Where are the dogs?” 

The Eighth Lesson: You’re familiar with the “fight or flight” response in animals? In the three dogs present, the reaction to being woken up by a person landing on the floor hard enough to break a bone was flight. “Fight” never even came up. Wasn’t even close.

Three of us went out the door after them. One of the doggos is too old to flee much anymore — she was in the driveway looking pleased — but the other two are 10 months old and were pretty fired up about this unplanned excursion. They could tell it was unplanned because they weren’t wearing collars. This led to a brief but exciting handicap match as one person attempted to wrangle two adrenalized bernedoodles by grabbing their ears and forelegs. No one enjoyed this. 

Lesson Nine: While it feels more festive to wear dress pants and nice shoes for family holidays, jeans and gym shoes are a better choice in case one has to chase and subdue two puppies. The shoes the dog wrangler was wearing got dragged on the sidewalk in such a way that they might as well have just been given to the puppies directly as toys. The lady at the Allen Edmonds store offered an unreassuring assessment of the chances the shoes could be repaired, which I have reproduced here verbatim: “I guess we’ll try.”

How was your Christmas?

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