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To All of You, From All of Us

Yes, yes. We know, we know. Here we are again, right on schedule. Time again for our one-size-fits-all, here-we-are, look-at-us, oh-how-wonderful-we’ve-been-this-year, annual holiday letter.

Power of WordsWe submit it to you on perfect paper stock, and we have chosen just the right decorative font. Plus we’ve tucked your letter into a most tasteful holiday card depicting a snow-covered field, perfect poinsettias, or winter in long-ago Victorian London. You get a photo, too. The four of us posed in matching sweaters down by a dreamy lake. With stalwart trees that date back a century rising up behind us. And Spanish moss drooping low from their stately branches.

We are blissful. We are perfect. We have taken many wonderful trips this year. Don’t you just adore us?

For the love of Rudolph, let’s get real.

First, we regret that you didn’t receive this letter until well after Christmas. Maybe if Mom and Dad knew how to synchronize Google calendars, the holidays wouldn’t hit us like a tsunami every December. Also, we are still deep in lights and toys and faith in the guy with the big, white beard (and we’re not talking about Dad’s Facebook profile picture, either). So forgive us for using our children as an excuse for our lack of holiday efficiency. And by the way, we didn’t include a photo of the kids, because first we’d have to figure out how to get it out of the cell phone, which is the only camera we own these days.

But yes, we are happy to report that we did do quite a bit of traveling this year. First there was that midnight trip to Walgreen’s to buy the bottle of children’s acetaminophen. Then the multiple deliveries of Will’s violin to school on all the mornings he forgot to take it with him. Let’s also recall that last-minute stop at Ben Franklin for the Styrofoam balls Lucy needed to build the scale model of an atom due the next day. And don’t forget the daily runs to the market for bread, milk, and other meal provisions. No, we haven’t been to Europe, but we live just like Europeans, and we haven’t had to redeem a single frequent-flyer mile.

Yes, the kids are growing faster than ever, and so is their appetite for YouTube videos, especially one in which an overweight woman keeps asking “Where’s the Chapstick?” and another that shows a toddler spilling an enormous bowl of blueberries on her head. Now that Lucy has her own school email address, she insists she’s ready for a cell phone, too. Dad tells her she’s too young for a telephone, but apparently this confuses her. “It’s a phone, Dad, not a telephone,” she says. You would have thought Dad was talking about horseless carriages.

In other news, Lucy lost four baby teeth in a week, and now a fifth one is coming loose. The drain on make-a-wish finances has caused the tooth fairy to consider appealing to the union and maybe even calling for a general strike. Gaps in her smile haven’t delayed Lucy’s wedding plans, though. She will be marrying Justin Bieber, she informs us, and adds that she also plans to take his last name. “What’s the point of marrying him if you don’t?” she says.

No, we didn’t visit any exotic locales this year, but Will is learning to love the good life by reading Condé Nast Traveler every month and using Google Earth to find luxury hotels in Tokyo, New York, Honolulu, and Las Vegas. He’s built the Bellagio out of blocks in his bedroom and uses his desk lamp to illuminate it at night. He also fancies himself a globetrotting gourmet whenever we watch Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel, even though he says mashed potatoes make him retch.

Mom did not run a marathon or climb Mount Everest this year but continues to teach world history and ancient civilization to high school girls, which she says requires her to be an expert on everything from eyeliner to yurts in Ulan Bator. She also decided to have the entrance hall at home professionally painted a shade called everyday white. The fact that the hall was originally painted a shade called everyday white only causes steam to come out of Dad’s ears.

For his part, Dad continues to work as a writer, which consists mainly of him sitting in his home office with his computer keyboard in his lap laughing at all of his own jokes. He did achieve a personal goal several weeks ago by spending Saturday cleaning out the minivan for the first time since last winter. He threw so much stuff onto the front lawn that the neighbors thought we were having a yard sale.

Anyway, if you’re in the neighborhood, we would love to have you stop by. We’re always ready for visitors, and Nanny and Poppa’s terrier, left with us while they took a two-month trip this fall, is the only houseguest we’ve had all year. For the record, she was no trouble at all, even if she did burrow under the backyard fence, forgot where the bathroom was, and brought us a dead mouse or two. Apart from the wetting, the digging, the barking, and the killing, we hardly knew she was here.

So from all of us to all of you, Season’s Greetings, Happy Hanukkah, and Mele Kalikimaka – that’s “Merry Christmas” in Hawaiian. Yes, if Will has his way, we’ll all be stretched out on the beach at Waikiki this time next year. Well, at least we can dream a Google dream. Because our sweaters don’t match, the minivan needs four new tires, and there’s no Spanish moss to be found anywhere, just a yard full of leaves that still need to be raked. On this most blessed holiday, this is as perfect as it gets.

Tony Farrell has written about parenting for many books, magazines, and websites. The father of two, Tony has written the DadZone since 2009.
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