Though we both love politics it was our discussions of parenthood that I savored the most. The most poignant anecdote involved a former friend of Charles’ beloved son Daniel turning on and bullying him, causing Charles such acute pain he couldn’t eat a full meal for a month. Charles did all he could to not allow his paralysis to alter fatherhood — taking Daniel skiing though he couldn’t join him, sharing themed movie marathons locked in a room every Christmas Day while asking his devoted wife, Robyn, to “throw food at us,” and imparting a love of learning that Charles was raised to embrace by his own father. I loved the story of him driving a young Daniel to New York, and pulling up to the hotel just as the climax unfolded in the audiobook they were listening to. “Keep driving,” the enthralled Daniel commanded his father, who did just that. I hold it up to this day with envy as an unrivaled parenting triumph.
Charles respected the hard work of parenting, that it wasn’t supposed to be easy. Many years ago, when my three teenagers were young, Charles encountered me before the show one night in one of my traditional Christmas collapses. Why so morose he asked me? I lamented the burden of keeping the magic alive — I was tired, broke, out of ideas for presents, out of time to buy them and wrap them and decorate and pack for whatever trip we were taking the day after and, I admitted to the entire makeup room, I hated Christmas. Dr. Krauthammer didn’t even pause — he said he was taking over my case, for which he would prescribe: 1) conversion to Judaism, 2) bedrest; and 3) sedatives, if necessary. I will forever cling, as I have each jolly season since, to his prescription that makes me smile through my Christmas grimace.