‘Tis the season for mom- and pop-petition to click into high gear.
You know what I’m talking about: those wonderful Christmas letters detailing your friends’ unparalleled successes and their kids’ extraordinary achievements.
Over the years, I’ve received holiday mail recounting records broken, awards received, scholarships won and college-test triumphs. I’ve read of expansive remodels, expensive vacation home purchases, exciting trips to remote locales and tireless Mother Theresa-like volunteerism.
Don’t get me wrong; I really do love reading about my friends and their families, and I am truly happy for their wonderful lives. I’m just concerned that no one tells the complete story. When you only hear about the superlatives in one’s life, you miss the details that create a full, realistic picture of adulthood and/or family life.
And, I admit, I can get sucked into the mom- and pop-petition. “Oh, they think Bill Jr. is so amazing on the soccer field? They should see our daughter’s tennis serve!” Then, I catch myself, and let another year go by without writing a Christmas letter.
However, this week, I decided to draft an imaginary Christmas missive, to hint at the kind of issues real families deal with in any given year. (Okay, I admit, my letter is a bit exaggerated. And, please note—as my kids would urge you to do – that the following is complete fiction. It does not reflect real incidents in my household, although it probably could…)
Greetings, Friends and Family, Near and Far,
We hope this letter finds you happy and healthy, and enjoying the holiday season.
It has been a roller-coaster year for our family, but that’s life, isn’t it?
Martha applied to 38 universities—thanks to a wonderful list drawn up by her college coach – and after reviewing her options, decided to take a “gap year.” She is gaining a broader world view and a good lesson in tolerance at a downtown Seattle McDonalds. We hear that she may be promoted to assistant manager for the midnight-to-6 am shift, so we are of course very proud of our young lady.
Unfortunately, her engagement to “Skitch,” who she met several years ago at the tattoo parlor, has ended. She reports that it was just “too stressful” to maintain a relationship with someone who is incarcerated. However, she has met many nice young men at work, and her dance card seems to be quite full at the moment!
Our 17-year-old beauty Agnes – who now goes by Venus – is doing extraordinarily well, too. We are happy to report that our once math-challenged daughter now has an A-plus in algebra. We are so grateful for the many late hours her teacher has dedicated to helping her. He even took her to his cabin for a weekend-long study session! No wonder our community gets accolades for its top-notch school system. Agnes’ other grades are not as strong, but we do anticipate that with some extra tutoring and summer school classes, she can avoid repeating her freshman year a third time.
On the bright side, Agnes – or Venus – is already earning lots of money doing film work. We have not seen any of the movies yet, but hope to find “50 Ways to Enjoy the Men’s Room” on Netflix soon.
Winston Jr., or “Stoner,” as his friends call him, is off to a great start in high school! After spending much of the soccer season on the sidelines, due to some confusion about the school’s “Code of Conduct,” he quit the squad and decided not to join the swim team, either. Instead, he is focusing on his studies.
We are so proud of our little man. He is really a natty dresser, wearing designer shoes, an Italian leather jacket and a Rolex watch to school each day. Can you believe that he makes that much money selling homework to his friends? Our neighbors expressed concern about the steady flow of young men dropping by our house at all hours, but we think they are just jealous. We know our little entrepreneur will go far in life.
Winston Sr. is doing well. He seems to have ironed everything out with the IRS and is happy for the opportunity to start over in a new field. You could not imagine the demand for gutter cleaning in our city! We will miss the vacation homes in Paris and Belize, but appreciate the togetherness we can enjoy in smaller quarters. We have found the key to happiness is “simplifying.”
I continue to enjoy the life of a typical suburban “soccer mom.” I count my blessings every day, and – although I no longer have a driver’s license (honestly, what’s wrong with a few drinks at lunch?) – I enjoy tooling around town on my electric bicycle. I get added pleasure knowing that I am helping the environment. On that note, we have gone completely organic at home. Our yard is a bit crowded – with all of the chickens, the goats, the bees and the vegetables – but we know we are adding years to our lives.
By the way, for those wanting an update from last year’s letter: Grandma Betty is out of rehab, has broken up with her boyfriend – who, it turns out, didn’t really have a medical degree–and has a new lease on life with her casino work. Winston’s cousin is finally out of jail. We are sorry he can’t go back to his football coaching job or see our kids any more, but we are grateful for second (or third) chances in life.
So, we hope the rest of you enjoy a blessed holiday season and a profitable New Year!
– Linda Williams Rorem, 10 Dec. 2011
If you missed last Monday’s post on how a suburban Scrooge deals with the holiday mayem, click here: https://permissionslips.wordpress.com/2011/12/05/survival-tactics-for-a-suburban-scrooge/