What’s the holiday season without the optimistic spirit of a child’s wish list? As a youngish dad, I sometimes envy the little ones because they get to unabashedly make materialistic demands on their caretakers during this time of year. We parents must stay strong, careful not to spoil our spawn. Oh, never mind … this is the Millennial Dad. Spoil away! Give the little beggars everything they desire.
I am feeling extra charitable today because, for the first time since becoming a parent, I am away on business for a week. I am not there to distribute hugs or pecks on the forehead, dad jokes or tickle-monstering. (Hmm, maybe they needed a break from me now that I think about it.) FaceTime and Skype are not enough to fill the gap of longing and despair, so in my downtime away from my family, I’ve decided to write my own holiday wish list – little goals I would love to achieve with my family in my hometown this holiday season.
Take the kids to the snow. Los Angeles is the envy of the country in December. We get crisp autumnal days marred by only the occasional weekend shower or sporadic heatwave. Don’t let that deter you from taking the kids on a short drive to experience snow. I have distinct memories of going to Big Bear and Idyllwild as a kid, joyously sledding down a hillside, trying not to collide with a ponderosa. My son Hank, who is 3, is in the memory-collecting stage, so it’s time for his first face-plant with powder — followed by hot cocoa, of course.
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Introduce Hank to his first hockey game. The Lakers and Clippers have not delivered much excitement the last few winters, but considering that the Kings have won two Stanley Cups in the last six years, I think it’s time for us to experience a hockey game together. I’m betting that the fast-paced, manic atmosphere of a King’s home game is something Hank will never forget.
Escape to the desert. Winter is the ideal time to head east of the mountains. Escaping with my wife, Kate, on a simple getaway from the stress of holiday planning and events is essential. We’ll drop the kiddos off at Oma and Opa’s and floor the Prius toward Palm Springs. Recipe for peace? Stay at a spa in Desert Hot Springs, hike Mt. San Jacinto and bask in some Coachella mid-century glory with a martini in the cool winter sun.
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Watch some Oscar contenders. Millennials are supposed to be up on things. We flaunt the latest gadgets, spit the latest lingo (I am trying to bring back spit and lingo), and shovel gastronomy from the latest pop-up restaurant into our finely waxed gullets. But Kate and I, once weekly moviegoers, have yet to watch a single Best Picture nominee from 2016. The common plight of the busy parent is less leisure time, and one of the first activities that gets knocked off the list is movie-going.
Let the chestnuts roast. By the time you finish visiting with family and friends, working through Hanukkah briskets and Christmas hams and raising New Year’s toasts, you could be buying a discount President’s Day mattress before you wake up and realize you haven’t spent any quality time with your family. Christmas at our house is all about a five-foot fir, nifty lights and presents. That’s not about to end any time soon, but actually getting in some warm family moments this season would be a divine gift. Here’s what I envision: On a cool December morning, we gather around the fire pit to roast chestnuts and make s’mores, a carafe of Philz Coffee at our side. We place the smartphones and tablets down for a moment – maybe 10 minutes (c’mon, I’m not crazy) – so that we can connect as a family and, for an instant, feel what this season can offer: the exhilaration of home. I’ll be there soon.
Isaac Parfrey is a writer, composer and L.A. native who enjoys roaming Southern California with his wife, Kate, and sons, Hank and Leo. Follow him on Twitter @IsaacParfrey.