Hard-working people need a break from the hectic jungle out there. Modern stressful times take a toll on every fabric of a human’s total being. A few days to recuperate each year is vital to one’s body and soul. It can happen if you don’t have children in your house.

I remember when our children learned to walk. Do we hire a guard to watch them? And I remember the holidays when my wife and I nearly broke down. Taking four little children tricking and treating is nerve-wracking. And parents know that candy will rot a child’s teeth, some of which haven’t pushed through the gums yet.

Recently, an article in the Wall Street Journal addressed the Halloween sugar problem. It suggests that parents conduct a “Parent’s Candy Review.” You’ve already preached to them not to waste food. Listen children, if we let you eat one piece each day, there would be enough left for 10 more years. Why don’t we send it to needy children? No, Dad, for each piece we eat, we’ll give a piece to the dog, too.

The big holidays seem to bunch up near the end of each year when parents are losing steam. Daddy, why do we have to go Gramma’s house to give thanks? I’m glad you asked. Thanksgiving Day is a time to give thanks for all that has been given to us. Food doesn’t drop down from the sky. I want you to go to Gramma’s house. Mind your manners and eat everything on your plate, including the cranberries and the broccoli casserole that is not made from weeds. You don’t want to make Gramma feel bad, do you? She’s been working on this meal since Labor Day. Yes, Grandpa always prays too long, but he’s trying to remember all his blessings, which he worked like a dog for. Show your appreciation to them and remember that when we return home, Daddy must begin decorating our entire house for Christmas.

On the way home after the stuffing, our children began telling us what they wanted Santa to bring them. I responded with the “be-good” sermon again throughout the month of December. Another concern is that we don’t have a chimney. If we did, I’d need to explain why Santa wore a fireproof suit provided by God, who also provides Santa with a master key to all locked doors, if “good” children live inside.

How does Rudolph lead an over-loaded sleigh through space? You’ve watched rocket ships go to the moon, haven’t you? Why don’t you let Daddy drive home safely without explaining what Christmas is about? Yes, we know it’s about wise men taking gifts to a manger. Dad, could you build a manger under our tree?

The month of December tests the souls of parents. Mother asks, do we have enough presents to express our love, and if Mary has 14 presents to unwrap, do our other three have the same? Go count them, will you? She runs out to shop, while Dad checks his checking account. A full month preparing for the birth of Christ. Will we ever separate the spiritual from the material?

It’s Christmas Eve, thank God! If you kids don’t go to sleep, Santa will bypass our tree. With his last ounce of vitality, Daddy must put toys together with screws, glue and tape until after midnight. Mother has conked out on the floor.

After two hours of fitful sleep, Daddy hears a racket on the stairs like reindeer on a rampage. Paper and boxes ripped apart, strewn all over. Be careful, there could be a child under there. And when they’d opened all the boxes, one would try stacking them to the ceiling.

One week of cleanup and semi-recovery, then New Year’s Eve. It’s tempting to drink your cares away, but life is not a continuous party. Exhaustion is no way to begin a new year, another 12 months of grinding it out.

Soon after the new year passes, it’s time to celebrate the birth of Christ. Explain how hiding Easter eggs fits in with it. Whatever, which is cuter, a child carrying an Easter Bunny basket, or one loaded with a Halloween garbage sack?

After Easter, Independence Day comes next. We’re never independent when children consume our lives. A worked-to-the-bone father comes home. A weary Mother greets him. “I’ve had it, they’re yours.”

“Hey, Daddy, hurry and we’ll show you how we can climb a tree.” Children are a blessing like no other. Isn’t that why we have them?

— Contact Terry Cummins at TLCTLC@AOL.com.

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