Monday, December 25, 2006

Christmas in the Poconos, 2006

The Clarks and the Davidians pose in Milford, Pa.

The good life, according to the Roman philosopher Lucretius, requires two conditions: a body free of pain, and a mind free of fear and worry.

Look at these faces in the above holiday photo taken by remote control at 124 Vandermark Place in Milford, Pa. Are there any hints of fear, worry or pain? None at all.

Lucretius did not mention Christmas gift giving in his classic “The Nature of Things.” It was written in the first century B.C. But I will take a moment to mention a few of the gifts exchanged in the Pocono foothills. Poppy (middle row, far right), received a printer for his computer. Aaron (the stoic little angel in the middle row, far left) received a toy truck track. Michael (front row, third from left) received an unusual pinball game, and Madeline (front row, far left) warmly received a nano-Ipod, capable of playing digital music.

These toys and machines are all wonderful, but do they lead to the good life? Lucretius is silent on the topic. I suspect not. Rather, the glowing faces and sparkling eyes in the above picture are fueled by the joy of family, friendship and the laughter of children. A modest proposal: Next year, no gifts! We’ll just sit in the big room and sing songs. (Please respond below in the comments section of this blog entry.)

In other holiday news, the team of Casey Clark and Mike Davidian won the prestigious Clark Family Holiday Euchre Tournament.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Christmas in New York

Theo, left, appeared for the fourth consecutive year in Santa’s Park Avenue corner office.

The 9:12 train to New York City arrived at the Metuchen train station right on time. Off we went to Daddy’s Park Avenue office for a rendezvous with destiny. Santa Claus was in town, and the Clarks of New Jersey, along with Uncle Danny, Aunt Tedra and baby Aaron, were coming to meet him.

Look there! It’s the Empire State Building, seen through the crosstown opening of 33rd St. Look there! It’s CafĂ© 34, where Daddy buys his no. 14 breakfast special ($2.98 for two eggs, toast, coffee and breakfast potatoes – the best deal in the tri-state) when he’s not in a hurry. Look here! It’s the elevator to the subway platform. Isn’t this a cozy fit for two strollers?

Santa Claus was very generous this year. He gave Theo a Lightning McQueen racecar and gave Natalie a toy radio. Aaron, a late entry, received a Teddy Bear. And all boys and girls received cupcakes and juice boxes.

Look there! It’s the world’s greatest electric train show – the Station at Citigroup Center. And here’s the world’s most famous toy store: FAO Schwartz. It’s also the world’s most crowded toy store.

Here’s our holiday tip: avoid FAO Schwartz during the holidays.

* * * Special New York City moment * * *
A woman on a crowded Fifth Avenue sidewalk shouted “Yeah, Indiana!” when she saw Theo’s I.U. jacket. Wait a second! Isn’t that woman the former girlfriend of daddy’s old college buddy Brad Carlson? It is! It’s Lola. You've heard of the Miracle on 34th Street? This was the coincidence on 59th Street.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Oh Tannenbaum

The Clarks of New Jersey pose with their Christmas tree.

A Christmas tree is more than just an indoor plant. It’s a member of the family.

On a gorgeous Saturday afternoon in mid December, the Clarks of New Jersey joined Lulu and Ron of Metuchen on a Christmas Tree expedition at Simonson’s Farms in the wilds of Plainsboro, N.J. A few minutes after leaving a $10 deposit for a handsaw, we fell in love with a beauty (above), cut her down, loaded her into Ron’s Ford pickup and headed home.

A special holiday thanks are extended to Lulu (short for Iluminada) and Ron. It was very nice of them to invite us to join their holiday tradition, and we intend to make it our own. Lulu and Ron have been very good to us since we moved to Metuchen. Lulu introduced Margie to Saturday morning yoga, for instance, and Ron introduced Casey to the massage parlor in East Brunswick (true story: $45 for 60 minutes).

Lulu and Ron, for your steady friendship and holiday spirit, the Clarks of New Jersey salute you!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Portrait of a young girl

Natalie Rose, approaching 18 months

“Nat Nat,”
by Michael Davidian III

Cyoot, speshl, small,
Crying, running.
When her Mom is not holding her
She will
Want to go down and find her

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Anticipation of Christmas

Viewed from space, 56 Voorhees Place emits a spectacular solar rainbow.

“Christmas is the time of year when people of all religions come together and worship Jesus Christ.’
-- Bart Simpson

Have you heard of this little holiday called “Christmas?” It’s a big thing here in central New Jersey, where many homeowners decorate their houses and lawns with festive lights, symbolizing the stars that centuries ago guided the wise men to the cradle of our savior. Russian cosmonauts, looking down over Metuchen, might notice a particularly colorful patch of lawn – that would be 56 Voorhees Place, home of the Clarks of New Jersey. (I just ran outside at 9:09 p.m. in my slippers to snap the above photo.)

Theo’s excitement for Dec. 25 is contagious. He studies the toy catalogs with intense concentration – like a gambler at the track might study the Daily Racing Forum. He has strong convictions about Santa’s ability to deliver certain toys. And mom and dad love the idea that right now, in the bathroom closet, there's a package of wooden toy trains that will consume his little four-year-old body with a joy that is primal and massive.

Meanwhile, Natalie runs around, experimenting with her vocal cords. She has no way of understanding this jolly ritual.