Norman Rockwell Doesn’t Live Here

I’ve gone through stages of hating the Holidays. First off, they were incredibly stressful while growing up. A byproduct of having a Pastor for a dad and a choir director for a mom. While we were stuck at church for hours and hours, we never actually sat together. For some reason, I always hated that. Why go to church if we’re not together? Being at church was never about family togetherness in a church setting. Oh sure, we were all there, but never together. Yuck. If Christmas Day was unfortunate enough to fall on a Monday, that means Dad had to work up a regular Sunday sermon, a Christmas Eve sermon, a separate Candlelight service sermon AND a Christmas Day sermon. Which means he was stressed which means mom was stressed which means us kids (well, really just me and my brother cuz sister was the baby and she was rarely on the receiving end of Ma’s stress) were up the creek for a week. Hey, doesn’t Christmas sound fun?

As I’ve aged and have watched as year after year the media and retail chains have tried to force us to believe that it is our American duty to skip that pesky Thanksgiving holiday thing and get in their stores and shop. Uhhhhh, piss off thanks. That’s not our Christmas. Screaming children waiting in line to see Santa cuz it’s tradition right? Hey, that sounds fun!

There was the one Christmas when I was in junior high that my brother bought me a ginormous tube of Bonnie Bell Dr. Pepper lip smacker (still my favorite) and a pair of cute bootie socks. But the socks were too small. So I guess that made him sad (at least my mom said so when she yelled at me for telling him they were too small which was actually completely obvious.) Sad enough to hibernate in the basement the rest of the night which made me sad. Of course what I didn’t know then is he was actually down there smoking pot and happy as a clam so only I felt bad the rest of the night when I guess I ruined Christmas when my socks were too small. Ya, that was fun too.

There was the speed opening of presents because we had to get back up to the church for the Candlelight service. When all I really wanted to do was sit and watch the Christmas tree lights and listen to Christmas music. That’s it. Get lost in Christmas, the fire, the smells of dinner (Lutefisk smelled the house up for at least two weeks.)

To this day, this is what I crave for Christmas. Simple. Little things. Drinks with friends in Hutchinson magnified by an unexpected appearance of our friends from Denmark. That was Christmas. Watching our beautiful daughters laugh about silly things, all working so hard to make a life as they work towards their future. That was Christmas. Having Matt next to me through it all, that was Christmas. Being with Oz who I miss so much not having on a daily basis, this is Christmas. But there is a recognizable Christmas sadness due to my other twin’s current struggles. He’s in a dark place and I need for him to know he needs help. But he’s not there…yet. And I have no promises that he’ll remain safe until he get’s there. And that’s hard for this Ma.

So I’ll be thankful for every. Little. Thing in our lives this Christmas. It’s not a Rockwell painting but really, it never has been and we’ve been just fine. In fact, I’m pretty excited about it. As, I hope, are those close to me. We’ll make it simple and be happy to be together, even while we miss those who aren’t. I actually know many who don’t live life as a Rockwell painting, I probably love them more for their strength as they walk through hard days. So especially to those of you who are…

Merry Christmas all.

When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.

Bob Hope

About tosabarbell

For training opportunities at tosabarbell, call or text Juli at 320-296-9313. e-mail to At tosabarbell, I build relationships cultivated in a strength and learning environment. There is no 12 week magic pill program to strength but rather a lifetime commitment to be the very best and most useful human you can be. tosabarbell is a private, home grown gym with three lifting platforms; squat rack; prowlers; throwing implements; bars, bumpers and everything else needed for an effective strength and conditioning program. Straightforward barbell programming including the Olympic lifts; sound (read: not fancy bullshit) diet advance for weight gain or loss; and strong coaching will ensure you will meet your goals such as becoming stronger, more explosive, and better conditioned. I have been coaching teams and athletes for over 30 years. I grew up participating in various sports at various levels but was always drawn to those that require strength training. I have multiple local, national, and world records in the sports of Weightlifting and Highland Games Heavy Events as well as a combined total of 5 World Championships. My 5 years of training and coaching under Mark Rippetoe provided a wide range of influence from some of the top strength & conditioning and throwing coaches in the country. I will strongly encourage tosabarbell athletes to compete (and prepare you to do so.) However, tosabarbell is also for those who wish to be stronger and go through life feeling better. Matt WanAt is a retired Professional Strongman who competed frequently with Strongman Champions League in Europe. He played a year of D1 football with Iowa before concentrating on his Chemical Engineering degree in Iowa City. He is a native of Wauwatosa and still remains a staunch supporter of Tosa East. This blog will be a mixture of strength notes, coaching and nutrition tips, personal shit; bacon delicacies, and a whole lot of fun.
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