1. BULB CONFUSION. Every year, at this time of year, I remember that I forgot to follow through on the vow I made to myself the year before: take a quickie electronics course before Christmastime arrives so I won’t have to waste hours trying to figure out how to get all the bulbs on our tree to light up.

2. MISSING BUTTON. On a recent, particularly cold day, I was driving my wife’s car with her in the passenger seat. She had the passenger-side heat settings all the way up, but announced she was still a little cold and asked if I would mind turning the driver’s side up too. I looked down at the complicated array of controls that I’ve never been able figure out and told her, “I don’t know how to adjust all these stupid settings in your car.” She didn’t respond to my agitation and instead hit the “sync” button between the driver’s and passenger’s side controls. As the heat coming from the vents reached a perfect balance, she grinned at me, but I couldn’t help but wonder if she was wishing that husbands came with a sync button.

3. WILLING SPIRIT, WEAK MIND. One of the advantages of having teenagers is that they keep you aware of leading-edge cultural trends. So whenever I am around adults, I attempt to rollout the knowledge I’ve gleaned from them to create an aura about myself of ultra hipness. The only problem is my 54-year-old brain can’t always remember the exact details of the information I’ve picked up. So when I am at gatherings with my peers, I let them know there is a new social media site that is like Twitter but is local and allows anonymous postings, but I end up calling it Bric Brac or Fric Frac – an insight that my cohort is perfectly willing to accept as evidence that I am tres au courant. The only problem is when there is a twentysomething in the crowd, who will inevitably roll their eyes before asking, “Are you talking about Yik Yak?” To avoid such embarrassments in the future, I can either take copious notes when I am getting new information from my kids or I can ask my friends to ban anyone under 40 from attending our get-togethers. I am opting for the latter — it just seems easier.

4. OKEY-DOKEY. I was in a fast-food restaurant with my oldest daughter, when she elbowed me to take notice of the twentysomething girl working the cash register. This young woman had a hoop nose ring and hombre-style blonde tips to her long black hair. Clearly, this was a woman my daughter considered the epitome of hip. When it was our turn, this stylish young lady asked if we wanted our order to stay or go, and when I let her know we needed take-out bags, she said, “Okey-dokey.” I couldn’t help but smile, and I expected at least a slightly sarcastic smirk from my daughter, but her expression didn’t seem to register that anything unusual had just occurred. As soon as we exited the store, I was bursting with the desire to make a point, so I told my daughter, “Okay, if a girl that young and cool-looking uses an old-timey expression and it doesn’t faze you, you can’t make fun of me when I do.” She responded by telling me, “C’mon, dad, that girl was using ‘okey-dokey’ in a kind of fun and ironic way. When you say things like ‘jeepers,’ it’s like you literally just walked out of an episode of Leave It To Beaver.” Yikes, maybe I did. And maybe the next time TV Land is playing in our house, I should try to walk right back into one of those episodes to enjoy a time when dads like Ward Cleaver could occasionally win an argument with their kids!

5. NO MORE RUNWAY? As someone who always had thick hair in my youth, the pace at which the hair at the top of my forehead has thinned over the past few years has both surprised and alarmed me. When I lamented this fact in front of my kids recently, letting them know my forehead would soon be two inches higher, my oldest daughter told me, in what I’m sure she thought was a reassuring tone, “What are you worried about, Dad? You had a pretty good run.” Apparently, she thinks I’m near the end of it!

Family hanging ornaments on Christmas tree.We are eternal optimists, convinced each year’s tree will be more beautiful than the one before!

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