This time of year brings to our mailboxes that hardy perennial, the Christmas letter. Accompanying a card or a family photo, this letter more often than not is typed on festive green or red paper, and catalogues the manifold blessings that have rained down on the McNugget household over the past year. We are treated to news of Junior’s acceptance into Harvard, or John’s promotion at work, along with victories, large and small, won by the happy McNuggets in the game of life throughout the year. Reading through these letters is the literary equivalent of Pinterest, everyone’s lives sound awesome, a series of titanic accomplishments interrupted by heartwarming vignettes that make your own life sound rather empty by comparison. And, make no mistake, these letters are all about comparisons.
Well, this year I’ve decided to fight back. I have written my own Christmas letter, but unlike the garden variety brag-fest, I have taken a different approach…news of the ordinary:
Dear Family and Friends,
Hope everyone is healthy and happy this Christmas season. I thought I would get you all caught up with news from the Dunnevant family. 2013 has been a pretty average year actually, but what follows are some of the highlights.
January was just about the suckiest month in history for crappy weather. I swear, if there had been one more day of 40 degrees and rain, I would have sold everything and moved to Key West. February wasn’t much better, and by the time March rolled around everyone at 3308 Aprilbud Place was on suicide watch. But, with improved weather came improved spirits. I ended the first quarter in good shape financially so that helped. Kaitlin was withdrawn into her thesis-writing shell, so I hardly heard a peep from her for three months. Patrick was busy accumulating grad school debt, but enjoying every minute of it, despite working two jobs and having to put up with New Jersey 24/7.
April was great. To distract everyone from the fact that I was about to turn 55, I took the family down to Myrtle Beach for a Spring Break week of family togetherness. We stayed at my friend’s condo, and had a blast. The weather was phenomenal and it would prove to be one of the best vacations ever, which was a good thing because the month of May was about as bad as it gets. My dog Molly was diagnosed with cancer and died 3 weeks later in my arms, a soul-crushing experience from which I have still not recovered. May did manage to redeem itself when Kaitlin graduated from Wake Forest with a Master’s Degree in English Literature.
To add insult to the turning 55 injury, I had to undergo rotator cuff surgery the first week of June. It was just as horrible as everyone warned me it would be, and if I had it to do over again, I probably would have put it off. But, what’s done is done. Pam was very patient with me through all the moaning and groaning, as she always is. Actually 2013 was another banner year for her, what with her new found fondness for baking gourmet cup cakes, and the fact that she once again finished the year looking younger than she did the year before. Secretly, I resent her. If this trend continues, before long some old dude at the mall is going to ask me how it feels to have such a beautiful daughter.
We did manage to have a wonderful Dunnevant family beach vacation down in Hatteras. Kaitlin’s boyfriend Jon finally managed to screw up enough courage to ask me for her hand in marriage. I said “yes” and the whole family rejoiced. While I’m on the subject, just recently my son, who is famous for withholding any and all information about his love life from his parents, arrived at our house for Thanksgiving and suddenly wouldn’t shut up about a girl he is currently dating, a positive development. As if on cue, and just in time for Christmas, his car blew up, stranding the two of them on the side of some God forsaken snowy New Jersey road around midnight. Sometimes I think that God is just screwing with me.
So, there you have it. 2013 had some good stuff and some bad. There were weeks of productivity, happiness and good health. There were also weeks of grief, despair, and raging diarrhea. I lost my beautiful, loyal dog. I watched my daughter graduate. I made lots of money and managed to write a novel. I remain married to a wonderful woman, and I put on 8 pounds during my shoulder rehab that I can’t get rid of, so it was a mixed bag.
2014 will soon arrive and I have no idea what it will bring, probably some good and some bad. I look forward to it with great delight since it’s the only life I have. Hope you and yours have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!