Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas 1999 - The Beginning

Christmas 1999


Dear Friends and Family –

Our third baby, Tommy, was born this past summer, and I sent out a letter to all sharing news of our new addition and how well things were going. I – regretfully – did not show this letter to Robb. Despite his ongoing delusion that wives should always consult husbands, I mailed out the letter without his review. Days later, he called me from work. He asked about “this letter” I sent out. It seems that some friends and coworkers commented on the letter. Probably, foolishly, they thought they were being polite. So, I read the letter to Robb, and he groaned. Everything, he said, was entirely too happy. People don’t want to hear happy things, he said. People don’t want to know about how great things are going for other people, he said. “Why do you think people always put out holiday letters,” I asked. “People want to know how you’re doing.”

Not so, said he. He said people want to hear something like, “We’re headed for a divorce, and our children are going to juvenile court.” So, in that fine spirit, I thought I would write a letter that Robb would approve of:

We’re not headed for divorce, but I am married to an idiot.

Our children are not headed for juvie (yet), but Kerri was put in time-out for pushing her beloved guinea pig, Penny, down the slide. Penny’s little life flashed before her eyes. Actually, it is pretty amazing how much speed a little rodent can pick up going down an eight-foot twisty slide! At four, Katie has reached a stage where she does this terrible screeching noise when she is having difficulty doing something like putting on her shoes. She seems to be easily frustrated lately. Maybe she is coming down with the middle child syndrome, which will surely result in years of therapy and counseling. No doubt, it will all come back to the fact that she was raised in a household where people aren’t supposed to be happy. Maybe her unfortunate happiness is why she is constantly pretending to be a kitty cat, down on all fours, meowing and (dangerously) rubbing against unsuspecting legs. During the summer, she was being a kitty cat in the pool near a group of women who played along with her. Katie became so engrossed in her role that she forgot herself and licked a woman’s knee.

We have some real trauma in the household. Sosi, our pound-puppy of nine years, has a growth on her shoulder. Our other dog, Nala, has incontinence. My sister, Michelle, visited, and her dog, Kinder, who cannot be stopped from eating people’s underwear, broke loose into the backyard while Penny the pig was grazing and nearly killed her. This may also lead to years of therapy for Kerri, who was screaming helplessly as Penny’s little pig legs tried to outrun an ambitious Doberman Pincher. While Penny did escape, making it under the fence just in the knick of time – or click of teeth – all our neighbors were drawn outside because of the screaming – a vague recollection indicates the loudest screams were coming from me (how embarrassing).

We got a brand new minivan this year, but it’s hard to keep clean with three kids, two dogs and two guinea pigs. Robb doesn’t understand how cheerios can be mashed so permanently into all the fixtures of the backseat, but, then, he rides alone in his own precious truck, listens to his own music, and doesn’t have the theme song of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves constantly drumming through his brain. He’s crabby because he joined a new group at work where everyone got huge bonuses except Robb. He came in too late and gets nothing.

I’ve gotten a few more book contracts but nothing big, and my dreams of writing the great American novel seem to be too far to reach. Kerri believes that it is good luck for me to write with Penny perched on my shoulder. While she is a sweet pig and does love to snuggle against my neck under my hair, it is just a tad distracting to write with a pig on my shoulder. The fear of pig urine down my back looms mightily.

We almost hit a duck the other day. The slamming of brakes to save momma and ducklings, which resulted in being rear-ended, was complicated by the fact that Michelle had recently had neck surgery, was still in a brace, and now believes that I am trying to kill her. Kerri has a planter’s wart on her little foot. Katie’s teeth are too far apart, and she might have to wear a retainer later in life. It is always raining here in Ohio, so when the sun does make a rare appearance, the natives appear to be confused by the blinding ball in the sky.

I have a dentist appointment next month that I’m not looking forward to, but Robb flat out refuses to go. He’s probably going to lose all his teeth, but Robb says this is a non-issue because he believes he’ll be dead before he reaches the age of 50. There is no known reason for this belief; this is just what he thinks.

And so, as we muddle through our daily, dreary little lives, I wonder and think about our friends and family. We can only hope their lives are better than ours. Perhaps it is your love that will keep us strong, allow us to forge ahead, and give me the strength to deal with the fact that I’m married to an idiot.


P.S. There is every possibility that this letter won’t even get to you because of the terrible weather or the impending Y2K and all the problems that will surely surround it!

Love,

Alex

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