On Dad's WatchMy favorite Christmas movie is “The Polar Express.” It’s an amazing work of animation that creates a magical mood nearly on par with the final scene in Terminator II. Seriously, it’s quite enchanting to watch a young Santa Claus doubter climb aboard a super train headed for the North Pole on a classic “big flake” snowy night. He and a group of Norman Rockwell kids encounter a ghost, pesky caribou and treacherous, icy, mountainous terrain on their wild ride. The theme of the adventure is to “believe!” The kids and I watch it every Christmas Eve with hot chocolate, pillows and blankets…made of light California cotton of course.

Although our children are far beyond the Santa Claus years, we’re taking the “believe” aspect of Christmas to the next level this year. For years, and I truly mean years, they’ve been asking for a dog. The campaign started when they were toddlers. Now my daughter sends a daily tweet to her fan base excoriating her animal-hating Dad. It’s amazing how much vilification a 13 year old can pack into 140 characters…and that includes the #mydadisabigmeanie hash tag.

Anyway, when I suggested the idea, my wife asked if the pod people came down and replaced my brain. I can’t explain the change in heart. What it comes down to is, “I’m ready for a pup!” It didn’t take long to locate the most adorable little bichon frise…a 9 week old fireball ironically named “Kiwi,” our daughter’s nickname since she poked her fuzzy little head out of my wife’s freshly lanced belly. I know, “T.M.I.” but that’s what happens when you let Dads in delivery rooms.

So here’s how it’s going to play out. For the last two weeks I’ve been randomly asking our daughter to say, “Believe!”


“Just say it. Like the Polar Express!” I knew what response I was after and wondered if it would come. It did!

“Say believe!”

“No, not unless you say I’ll get a dog!”

BINGO! I jumped into Mr. Grinch character.

“NO! NO! NO! We’re talking about believing in REALITY! NOT FANTASY!” she’s too smart for that but MY fantasy was playing out exactly as planned.

“DAD! THAT’S WHAT BELIEVE MEANS! It means BELIEVE in something you know won’t happen!””Yeah,” I said with a diabolical snicker, “but not in this case. I’m just getting you in the mood for our Christmas Eve movie.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” she said, walking away without a clue. Ooooooo, I loved it!

This Saturday, on a drive to their cousins in San Diego, we’ll make a stop in Carlsbad under the fabricated reason of picking up a important document from one of Dad’s work colleagues. There’ll be box waiting in the front yard of the dog’s foster parent’s home with a big bow and the words, “Merry Christmas Mikey and Dom!” written somewhere on it. Hopefully they’ll get a chance to see it and wonder before the frisky little pup jumps out. Our iPhones will capture the moment.

For me, when the excitement dies a bit I can’t wait to look at our kids and say, “Believe!”

Merry Christmas to all and to all…whatever your dream…”Believe!”

Authored by: Michael Malgeri

Michael lives in Redondo Beach with his wonderful wife and their beautiful children, the stars of "On Dad's Watch." He makes a living in the software industry and pursues writing in between fun family events. Along with "On Dad's Watch," Michael believes there's a need to teach young people about the morality and practicality of Capitalism as well as provide them with an alternative perspective on environmental issues. His books on these topics can be found at

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *