I got Mom’s text two days before Christmas. “I’m taking your daddy to urgent care.”

Not the emergency room. Urgent care for a man who couldn’t walk and slurred his speech. He didn’t want to know if he was having a stroke.

The urgent care folks sent him straight to the ER. A CT scan later, Dad was admitted to the ICU with an acute subdural hematoma. He spent Christmas in Intensive Care.

Apparently, he hit his head years ago, causing what should’ve been a debilitating surface clot. But Dad is Dad, the walking, talking, book-selling miracle. When the old area started leaking, he suffered reduced motor skills.

On Christmas Eve, doctors opened his skull and drained the fluid. And within 48 hours, he was receiving guests, cracking jokes, and regaling everyone about the hole in his head.

Hard-headedness is classic Watkins. Dad overdid it with his audience, sprung a new leak, and was rushed back to ICU for observation.

He’s back in a regular hospital room now. Telling stories. Flashing the nurses. And eager to be back in his comfy recliner.

We got our Christmas miracle.

Dad and I are closer now than we ever were due to our time on the Natchez Trace. Read all about it in “Not Without My Father” or -as he calls it – “The Dad Book.”

Our Christmas tradition. For nine years running, MTM and I have spent Christmas in Montreal. Learn all about our secret to a happy marriage.

Our Christmas tradition. For fourteen years running, MTM and I have spent Christmas in Montreal. The same room at Hotel Gault, the same Christmas Eve gastronomy, and the same Christmas Day routine.

For those of you wondering which one of us has family in Canada, neither of us do. Our secret to a happy marriage is our Christmas tradition of not spending family holidays with family.

Christmas Day, we tune in to Radio Classique Montreal. They always broadcast a version of the complete Handel’s Messiah. (To download the best one ever, follow this link to the Dunedin Consort’s Grammy-winning version.) Without Handel, Christmas is incomplete. The whole pomp of it has come to represent the day for me. [A bit different from Hard Candy Christmas. ;)]


We listen to the Christmas speech by Queen Elizabeth II, recorded prior to her decampment to Sandringham House and broadcast on Christmas Day. Always, we order room service, sometimes breakfast and dinner, others breakfast only. Movies are always on the agenda. One Christmas, MTM suffered through the entire BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. I take a bath or two. We nap, and we watch the snow fall. With all my being, I try to beat MTM at cards and Yahtzee.

We never leave the room. Nue de Noel is the only way to celebrate the day. 🙂 If you’re around today, please share your Christmas traditions in the comments.

Merry Christmas, Dear Reader.

May peace, happiness and prosperity follow you throughout the coming year and in life beyond.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

I bought MTM the Mylo Xyloto CD. Coldplay for Christmas was HIS gift. Could I open it and listen to it without any evidence of tampering?

One year all I wanted was Coldplay for Christmas, but let’s go back to where it all started…

My Mom likes to tell the story of lugging all ten pounds of me around for an extra month of pregnancy. Apparently, I wasn’t interested in moving. Multiple times, she thought I was dead in there, because I didn’t kick, poke, turn cartwheels, prod, practice my jazz hands, or whatever it is fat unborn babies do to torture their mommies. Heck, I didn’t even care to go through the trauma of labor enough to engage. The doctor ended up having to pull me out with forceps and held me upside down by the ankles. I thanked him for rescuing me with loud emissions of gas along with my tears.

Mom loved me in spite of my multiple ejaculations.

Still, I wasn’t in any hurry to move. I didn’t walk until eighteen months. Today, that would put me in the zero-ith percentile or something, but back then, it didn’t matter much. And I excelled in other areas.

I could whup four-year-olds at talking. I talked all. The. Time. Real words. Complex sentences. From a tender age, I could even ‘read,’ code for making my Mom plow through the same book hundreds of times in a row. Arty the Smarty and The Saggy Baggy Elephant were the Disney movies of my era, and I memorized them down to the turn of every enthralling page. I could never, ever get enough of those stories. We read them over. And over. And over again.

Children morph into adults and leave maddening traits buried in the past. Not me. Nope. I am the Peter Pan of maddening traits, and my most obnoxious one, according to dear MTM, is my repetitive tendency to play certain music. Over. And over. And over again.

Specifically, the British band Coldplay [for Christmas].

For Christmas, I bought Mylo Xyloto, Coldplay’s latest CD, and stuffed it in MTM’s stocking with tingling fingers and ringing in my ears. It was HIS gift. Yet, I coveted it. Could I open it and listen to it and then somehow force it back into the shrink wrap without any obvious evidence of tampering? If I bought two copies, how would I listen to mine a million times in a row when I could never be sure when he would come home and catch me in the act of cheating on him with HIS Christmas present?

I controlled myself. Now, he’s paying for it. The other day, he drew the proverbial line in the sand. Andra, we cannot play Mylo Xyloto for the twentieth time in succession. Stop the insanity. Pick something else.

Parachutes. Coldplay. That’s what I picked.