Another Christmas come and gone.

My kids are getting to be the age where they\’re super-hyped for the big day. My two-year old son is a present opening machine – he attacks giftwrapping with a cold, steely, uncompromising venom that you see normally reserved for mob hitmen. That thin little piece of paper is all that separates him from the possibility of untold joy. If you\’ve ever seen cheetahs attack a gazelle on Wild Kingdom, it bears a resemblance to my boy ripping into his pile of gifts. Let\’s hope he shows as much enthusiasm for Algebra down the road.

Here\’s a video of my son from Christmas Eve – as you can see, he sings, tells jokes, does impressions… in Hollywood, I believe they call that a \”triple threat.\” I even left out his impression of The Count from Sesame Street. Danny Gans better be watching his back.

Of course, all that Christmas morning means for his dad is that I have to wake up at the butt-crack of dawn to document this monument to avarice on videotape. It\’s kind of a bummer, really – I\’m the one half asleep on the couch, but it\’s this illegal immigrant \”Santa Claus\” that gets all the credit for the gifts. I think parents should unionize to put this \”Big Claus\” out of business.

As for me, I got what I asked for – Guitar Hero III for the Playstation. When I tried to explain my gift to my mother over the phone, I got silence followed by, \”…how old are you, again?\”

It is a great game, though – it\’s impossible for me to play it without taking \”the stance.\” It\’s the typical rock star pose, with one leg in front of the other, which aids in the convulsing back and forth while making musical magic with your little toy guitar. (This video about says it all.) After playing about 10 songs, it occurred to me that I have these things called \”children\” that apparently need to be fed and cared for. Somewhere down the road, my daughter\’s going to be working the pole at Beansnappers, but I\’ll have the high score on Guitar Hero. So the years of neglect will all be worth it.

Despite my enthusiasm for my new video game, this was a really strange Christmas for me. When making out the list of things I really wanted, it occurred to me that anything that I really want can\’t be bought. Almost all of it is stuff I have to go out and achieve on my own. Having a happy family, losing weight, making more time to read books, achieving more at work, the Packers in the Super Bowl – if anybody knows where I can write a check to make these things happen, let me know. Otherwise, it might mean that I might actually be growing up.

Back to Guitar Hero.

SIDE NOTE: In November, my friend Stephen Thompson at NPR drove all the way from Washington D.C. to Wisconsin while listening to nothing but Christmas CDs. Here\’s his written review. He also appeared on Milwaukee Public Radio\’s \”Lake Effect\” show to discuss the experience. Good stuff.