Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Eve

It’s Christmas Eve, right? So I’ll try to be positive. It’s not going to be easy for me, because I’m quite cognizant of the fact that life sucks. I went last minute Christmas shopping with Erika and Monika, my eldest and youngest daughters. We had a good time together, and I enjoy making them laugh, or at least trying to make them laugh. Of course I have to be on my best behavior. I controlled my road rage, except for one instance when some guy was moving too slow in front of me and, feeling personally slighted, I cursed him and his mother to hell. I caught myself, though, and made light of it. “I’m just kidding, kids. Love people!”

My job for Christmas these days is to be the stocking stufferer, a role I relish, since it’s an easier job than buying the big presents. As the girls have grown older, it’s become difficult as hell to buy gifts for them anyway. So what do I do? I get them tons of gift cards. It’s pretty much like getting them money, which kind of sucks, but at least they can get what they want, no? Today Jessi got her biggest Christmas gift already: a black lab puppy. She’s still trying to figure out a name for him. It wasn’t my idea, but I won’t get into that right now.

I ate a lot of chocolate today and feel painfully bloated. I kept sneaking off to the basement to tear into some of the stocking treats I had hidden earlier this week. I’m tempted to become a bulimic, but I’ve heard there’s a downside: the acid from your puke gives you bad teeth and awful breath. I think I’ll take a brisk walk tonight in the snow.

We’re sending out a family newsletter again this year. Do you ever do that? I’m not a big fan of these annual Christmas letters.  With the exception of my friends the Campbells, who have the decency to write something interesting, I don't read other people's newsletters. People shouldn’t know your family business. And if you’re sending out such a letter regardless of people wanting to know your business, that’s fairly narcissistic and arrogant, isn’t it? To my mind, the better family newsletters are the ones that straightforwardly give an update. But I’ve read plenty of those letters that put a positive spin on everything, essentially using the Christmas card as opportunity to brag about their family. Last year we divided our annual letter chronologically into seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall. This time we’re dividing it into family members, and each of us is responsible for own section. The following paragraphs, then, is a first draft for my part of the newsletter.

I find Pierre Bayle’s description of the 16th-century theologian Wolfgang Musculus apt for the family’s experiences this past year (in an 18th-century English translation, mind you): a life chequered with many extraordinary particulars. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but we did have some excellent adventures in 2010 and I would like to highlight some of them.  For spring break we went to the white sands of Gulf Shores in Alabama, just a few weeks before the BP oil spill in the area. Erika didn't join us, as she had to work.  On the way down we visited the Jack Daniels distillery in Lynchburg, Tennessee and on the way back we went to Graceland in Memphis. A few days later, at the top of April, I went to San Francisco for my Army annual training. I had one weekend free to visit my family in Los Angeles. In July I went to the Boundary Waters Wilderness Area in Minnesota for a nine-day canoe trip with a few buddies. The biggest event for me this year was clearly the Basic Officer Leadership Course in Fort Jackson, South Carolina. I was there for three months, received some quality military training, and met some wonderful people.

As far as junkets and trips go for 2011, I plan to go to California with a couple of friends in July.  We'll fly into San Francisco, rent a car, and head for the Redwood National Park over the Golden Gate Bridge to the north and then head southeast toward Yosemite.  That's the plan, at any rate.  I hope to arrange another visit to Istanbul, Turkey with our friend Aysen Ngo, a native of the country, but whether it comes to fruition in the course of 2011, what with time and money, is an open question.  I'd take Jessi with me, but if other family members want to come, all the better.  Aysen wants to take her daughter and some other girls too.  We'll see what happens.