Christmas VanDam Style

Last week we started doing our Christmas shopping. Christmas is a big deal at our house. We like to make it a family celebration with lots of emphasis on our relationships with each other and a recognition of how fortunate we are.

I take the boys shopping so they can buy their mother a gift. That's important, no man — or woman for that matter — should forget his or her mother. And she'll take them shopping for me under the same line of thinking. It's about respect and thought, not money or goodies or what we get.

Of course, Sherry and I will shop for each other, and we'll take Jackson and Nicholas with us when we do that. Like I said, we believe in Christmas and the message it sends. It isn't about spending money. It's about doing nice things for the ones who mean the most to us, the ones we truly love.

Now, don't think for a minute that I'm neglecting the religious aspect of this holiday. I'm not. That's very important to our family. But we all have our individual beliefs, and I don't want to step on anybody's toes. Our family has ours and we'll be celebrating them in accordance with our beliefs. Everyone else should do the same.

Our extended families will get together on Christmas Eve. Basically, we have a big family party. The women all fix something to eat — nothing formal — with the greatest emphasis on deserts. The ladies go to great lengths to show off their best efforts. Believe me; this isn't about cherry, apple and pumpkin pie. These are big-time deserts prepared by women who know how it's done.

My favorite is Sherry's Oreo ice cream desert. To be honest I don't know what it's called but I do know it's good. And I know what it looks like. (That helps when there's a dozen on the counter.) It has cookies, ice cream, hot fudge and whipped cream. There's also a really good butterscotch-peanut butter combo that's gets my attention.

I don't know how many nutritionists would recommend all that stuff, though. I'm sure the calorie, sugar and fat content is through the roof. But hey, it's Christmas; a little decadence at the table won't do any permanent damage. I can always work it off next year.

We celebrate Christmas morning at our house, that's reserved for the boys. They get a few hours of our full attention.

Did I tell you that last year I got them bows so we could hunt together this year? I've got another great surprise planned for them this year but I can't say anything more about it until after Christmas. You'll have to wait until after Christmas to find out about it. They might read this, you know.

When all the holidays are over I'll start seriously looking at my boat and tackle for the upcoming Classic.