Friday, December 16, 2011

The Christmas Letter

I haven't been writing much lately, but this post was inspired by a very recent conversation with one of my best friends, Nancy, whom I met in Mrs. Lazar's 7th grade P.E. class in 1961.  I have known her for 50 years and she can still make me laugh straight from the gut with her wit and her ability to just be real.  Thanks, you.

     People say they like to get my Christmas cards because my Christmas letter is funny.  I do try to make it is amusing wallowing around in its surplus of irony and I can usually tap several events from the departing year over which to chuckle...but this holiday season I don't feel funny.  I don't know what to do about that.

     I mean, should I send my Christmas cards anyway?  Should I just wish everyone a Merry Christmas and sign our names?  I certainly get lots of those cards, and in my doddering years I appreciate the connection, but I have to admit up until now I found them a little annoying.  I mean if I haven't heard from you for an entire year you should at least let me know if you opted for a mini facelift or the full Monty, or why your daughter didn't send back the present I sent when she cancelled her wedding, or if your husband finally came out of the closet!!

     My dearest friend from junior high school tells me she hates getting Christmas letters.  "You know they're not telling you the truth.....everybody lies."  "Really?" I said, "you really feel that way?"  I had to ponder that for a minute, then found myself harkening back to Christmas letters my husband and I used to get from some Army acquaintances.  The ones whose three children had names that all started with the same letter (what the hell?).  They were written, naturally, by the wife, who put a heart over every "i" in her children's names.

     "Dear Family and Friends...Our life is blissful stationed here at the foot of Diamond Head (of course it wouldn't be Ft. Polk located deep in a Louisana swamp)...we have traveled to Monte Carlo, Tahiti, and Machu Pichu and had perfect weather at our five-star accommodations provided free due to the three months I worked for Triple A when I was single.  David, our quarterback, is captain of his championship team, and has a 5.0 grade point average.  Dixie, our Olympic gold medal winner was voted most popular girl in her class and is Cheerleader Queen...and little Divinity, recently voted most likely to succeed in her pre-school class has heen asked to dance with the Royal Ballet and will interview next week at Apple for the position recently held by Steve Jobs.  Richard, (never Rick like the rest of us called him) is now flying Air Force One, and I am President (isn't anyone ever a Recording Secretary?) of the Women's League.  Still, we have plenty of time to surf and scuba dive with the children (she had children, I had kids) when we're not working as
co-teacher's aides in their classrooms, leading walks for quadriplegics, or donating platelets.  Blah...


     My friend was right...everybody tries to make their lives sound perfect.  Well.  No one should ever doubt the veracity of MY Christmas letter....

     Here's what's not so perfect.

  • Being relegated to the obsolete pile.  I now get dinnertime telephone calls marketing cremation services rather than three day packages at Club Med.  In other words, I now get dinnertime telephone calls marketing Club Dead.
  • The idea that kids should no longer learn handwriting because humans now use computers.  How will they ever grow up to be doctors if they don't know how to fashion wreckage out of their own signatures on a prescription pad?  On a light note:  my 9 year grandson asked me if I wanted to see his cursive and I actually had to stop and give that some thought.
  • Groceries are really cheap at Walmart.  But all the fun stuff is at Trader Joe's. 
  • I can now afford to go to any where in the world to visit a tropical beach ......I just can't wear a bathing suit in public...or private. 
  • My daughter still comes to me to hem her daughter's pant leg.  Of course sewing is a nightmare, but it's not my job anymore.  I gave it up many Christmases go when I was trying to finish two adorable flannel nightgowns for my little girls.  A little screw fell out of my sewing maching sending the bobbin flying (bobbin...look it up).  I found the bobbin, but could never find the little screw even after I spent an hour on hands and knees patting my shag carpet with a metal spatula.\
  • My first grade teacher, Mrs. Fitzgerald, is still working her second job as a Flight Attendant.  Swear.  I know because I saw her on our trip to Miami.  It was a sad sight..pushing her walker ahead of her while she dragged the beverage cart behind.
  • My husband had to show me how to play a DVD on our new flatscreen 14 times.  After that I made my grandkids watch so they could show me.  They don't view it as dementia...just their own personal achievement.  All this was after he made me take an entire semester of "How to Turn On Your Own Television Set".
  • This year I realized that my jowls now bobble to the rhythym of my tires if I go over 40 mph on the freeway. 
  • The amount of time, money and effort it would take to get Congress fired.  If for no other reason I wish I could be 23 again, just to git 'er done.
     Actually, it's been a pretty good year...some ups...some downs.  Some of the downs make it tough to feel funny...but all of our family and friends make it easy to muddle through.  We are together.through thick and thin..hither or yon...watching one Republican candidate self-destruct, after another.

     Maybe next year there will be a little more when the receptionist at my chiropractor's office snickered when I pulled out my Hallmark Date Book to write in my next appointment.  Ha-ha.  "You need to get an iPhone", she chortled.

     I've thought about getting a SmartAss or an AllAboutMePhone, or whatever...but I have to say it makes me nuts to attempt a conversation with someone who is scrolling north, south, east and west at 55 miles per hour entering deep self-hypnosis without even realizing it.  I don't want to go there yet.  I'm still trying to figure out how to text with my acrylic nails.

     "But it's so convenient", my nephew recently told me.  "You can write e-mail or check Facebook at work!"  "I'm retired" I reminded him.  I decided I didn't want to spoil the moment, though so I asked him to show me something the phone could do that would work for me.  He told me that I could enter an appointment and the phone would actually contact me and tell me what the appointment was and when.  "You're kidding me, right?"  "No," he said, "just'll love this feature."

     He fiddled around with the phone for an annoying amount of time...after all I had a perfectly good glass of Chardonnay warming up on the kitchen counter...but then he said..."Voila!"

     All of a sudden I heard a little voice say..."Reminder - Saturday, November 5th at 2:00 p.m. - Get Stella's Anal Glands Squeezed."

     "Now", I thought, "that's funny."     

                                                                      Merry Christmas!