Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Twelve Years of Christmas--letters

I never did it before. I swear. I was a Christmas letter virgin.
I spent years and years mocking the self-important, flaunting look at us newsletters of those much more successful and much poorer spellers than us...
and then I said, Well, now Linda, if you can't beat them over the head with a tire iron...
write your own.

The first year of my family ANNUAL REPORT was 1998.
We had just moved to New Hampshire from California.
No, I'm not kidding.
Stop laughing.

We lived like KINGS! KINGS and QUEENS, I tell you.

I wrote this and made it look like a tri-fold menu. Okay, use your imagination.
Here's the text:
( with a few name alterations to protect the innocent, yeah, I know, I'm not changed or protected at all...)

ANNUAL REPORT 1998

Have you ever read all the verses of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing?" Take a look sometime. It’s amazing what you can find when you aren’t seeking—which is what happened to us in 1998.

It is so good to be able to see my feet again. Being pregnant was a great excuse to play taste-tester at the bakery... but I really needed a double cap with that creme horn.

It was really fun to see snow, and some more snow, and yes, even more snow. Okay, it wasn’t that much fun. And I sure am I glad we found that snow plow guy in July.

The novelty of the flake wore off quickly for Mr. S, thanks to a few ice storms. But being the good sport he is, the surfer dude even went ice fishing—on a snowmobile—on the lake—where the good old boys parked their trucks and sat in little shanties over black holes sipping blackberry brandy.

Can you believe it? I know. I didn’t think anybody really drank that stuff, either.

Kallahan got over his fear of snow. "Hey, what’s this? It’s cold, It’s wet. It’s cold. It’s wet. Tastes good. Less filling..."

But he’s still a wimp about peeing outside in cold weather-uh, Kallahan’s the dog, okay?

So, Mr. S dug out a path and found one good reason for snow. A respite from Dog Doo Duty. If you can’t see it, you can’t smell it—especially at -10 degrees.

Boy C tried some ice skating, and so did I. Actually, I was just trying to get to the mailbox.

We didn’t even attempt a ski outing last season. My excuse was fear of injuring a loved one— our unborn child. Mr. S claimed the same excuse—fear of injuring his own lovable self.

Boy C favored snowflake counting—from the fireside, with a plate of cookies, a mug of cocoa and a Batman puzzle. Yeah, there’s still a lot of California in that boy.

After months of snow and cold, there was rain and cold and mud. Ayuh. New Hampshire is the only state that proclaims Mud as a season. Gee, why wasn’t that in the guide book?

Then, Mr. S’s job changed due to reorganization. They reorganized him right onto the road. So, he traveled. He ate many steak dinners. Yes, the Spring was especially memorable, exciting cities, airline food, delayed flights, expense reports and wonderful weekends home with a hormonally imbalanced pregnant wife and a four- year- old.

Mr. S worked out in the yard—a lot. Two plus acres are great.

Later this year, we learned that even if you take the people and the job out of California, you can’t just take the money and run. The Taxman is kinda like Santa. He knows if you’ve been good or bad, so be good for goodness sake, Oh, you’d...

We celebrated Boy C’s birthday with a rainy day Safari Party, complete with a battery operated 4wheeler, which took Mr. S. 5 1/2 hours to put together and Boy C 3 days to break, Linda 2 weeks to get through to the company, 30 minutes to exchange at Wal-Mart and 1 hour, 40 minutes to correctly re-assemble—yielding a new Fisher-Price Powers Wheels record. And the thing’s still running.

We continue to be amused by the Yankee way of life, where it is more important to brew a good home beer, than... have a full set of teeth.

As homeowners and handywoman, we learned a whole lot of stuff about country living. Stuff that will prove just as useful as algebra in years to come. Stuff about leach fields and healthy bacteria and stone walls and blackfly bites and ice heaves and midnight burns.

The leaf catcher/pool strayed into the green zone only once, when we were in the White Mountains. But our well water has remained a lovely hue of burnt umber for months. It gives a whole new meaning to the term, "daily mineral allowance".

We have also come to understand the hidden meaning of, "quaint". Read, "Yeah, just try to find us, now that we screwed up that job at your house." Yes, the natives sure do get a kick out of , "those nice folks from California." Until we started cutting down trees. But they love to drink our beer. I think it’s the novelty of the glass bottle.

And then, we had a baby.

True to her gender, Baby girl P arrived late—eight days late. Papa and Beba were here to help with big brother, and encourage me—every damn day—to PLEASE have this baby. There were golf tournaments to get to, for God’s sake.

And the front yard grew grass. Of course, it took weeks of raking , rock pulling, loam spreading and seeding and watering. I still can’t believe we paid so much money for a few truckloads of soil. "Dirt cheap?" My butt.

We hosted another Family Labor Day Weekend. The men worked, the women shopped. The boys broke a window. We drank beer—in bottles. Lots of it.

Boy C is in pre-school. It keeps him out of trouble. Baby P sleeps most of the time. Which leaves Mr. S to worry about Linda, who is systematically pissing off all the proprietors in our tiny town. She thinks it’s funny. He thinks we’ll be grocery shopping in Vermont before long.

Hey, you can return spoiled meat, can’t you?




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