Actually, the ironic headline isn’t accurate.

I had a great Christmas break. I didn’t go to work for two weeks. I hardly checked email.

I didn’t return to this blog.

Why? I don’t know. I needed a break. I spent more time with Ella and Trish, including a new appointment as Ella’s official tucker-in. I slept at night. I let story ideas flow in and out of my brain, and didn’t worry about remembering them. I didn’t check to see how many people were reading my blog. It was football season. I was busy building a freakin corn hole game. (look it up)

So. Why come back now? I figure it’s time. Nancy keeps nagging me about it; she’s a good friend to keep me accountable. Football’s almost over. I miss it.

Christmas morning was a blast. Ella, who turned 3 in November, understood the whole Santa concept for the first time. Her usual sleepy-eyed saunter into our bedroom was replaced by a blur of yellow footed pajamas and straight brown hair, squealing, “let’s go see what Ho Ho left! Let’s go see!”

Ho Ho left a lot. Trish and I spent very little on each other so we could equip Ella with toys. The look on her face when she saw all the presents, which Trish and I stealthily laid out on Christmas Eve, was priceless. A red wagon! Dinosaurs! A doctor kit! A blue baby! This really cool incarnation of Tinker Toys called SuperStructs that I love, and Ella likes, too.

I’ve never seen a kid so excited. I’m talking about Ella. I honestly had more fun watching her have fun that I’ve had doing anything in a long time.

The day after Christmas we drove 11 hours to Kentucky to visit Trish’s parents.

It started when I woke up at 4 a.m. to the sounds of the first rain in weeks. I checked for weather delays; Asheville and the North Carolina mountains were under a winter weather advisory, so we started an hour late. We stopped at Lowe’s to buy a tarp to cover the dadgum corn hole game, which sat on the rack on the back of my 4-Runner, under Ella’s bike.

And, 40 minutes down the road, Ella asked, “Mom, did we bring Blue Baby?”

This doll was one of only two gifts Ella explicitly asked for (the other was a blue cap).

Trish and I looked at each other. I took a deep breath, exited the highway and came back home for Blue Baby, who was in her crib beside Ella’s bed, tucked in nice and snug. What else could we do? Besides, why not? It was an opportunity to exercise my golden rule of parenting: remember what my family would have done and do the opposite.

And, hey, we were going to my in-laws. I could spare an hour and a half.