Holiday Letter On Steroids
There are several reasons for that.
I have always liked getting holiday letters and I am often quite crestfallen when an envelope yields nothing more than a card. But I realize that not everybody loves holiday letters, and I also realize that the art of holiday letter writing is one that few have honed well enough to avoid making all their friends and family roll their eyes in disgust. I don't really know if I'm an exception or not. Nobody has ever commented, except Husband's Aunt Mary, who did express her enjoyment of our letters as well as a wish that I would resume the tradition.
So there's that.
But then there's also the fact that for many years, nothing changed. It's kind of embarassing to write essentially the same letter year, after year, after year. I'm still a stay at hom Mom. We still live in the same ugly '80's nightmare of a house. Husband still has the same job. The boys are still playing the same sport at the same park, often for the same coach. They still have ADD.
But this year....this year was different. This year, I had a whole shitload of stuff to write about. So I decided that since I'm a fairly competent writer, maybe I really should give it another go.
Well, competent I may be, but succinct I am not. Our holiday letter ended up being four pages long. I don't care who's doing the writing, nobody wants to read one that's four pages long. So I scrapped the idea and sent cards only.
But I kind of like my letter. And so I decided, what better place to post it than here...my own forum, where I can say what I want, in as many words as I like?
Here it is for you, my dear readers. I've neglected you of late, but this should make up a teensy bit for the lack of posts. Enjoy.
Happy Holidays to all our Family and Friends!
It’s been several years since I wrote a Christmas letter. I always sort of wondered if they were hokey and overblown, and whether people were secretly rolling their eyes as they read, but it seemed like the thing to do, and so I did. But honestly, I got tired of writing about the same thing over and over. It was a little bit demoralizing to write that I was still at home, Husbnd was still at his job, the boys were still playing baseball…and that nothing much had changed at all.
Little did I realize how fortunate we were to be living such a staid and boring life.
While most of our married life has been uneventful, and dare I say…monotonous even, this past year has been turbulent and full of upheaval. So I decided to revive the tradition and let everybody in on all the changes here at Antagonist manor. Also, one of Husband's aunts recently expressed how much she had looked forward to receiving our annual letter and had missed getting them. She seemed sincere (winking at Aunt Mary).
So, where to begin? Why…at the beginning of course .
In January, a dear friend of mine was murdered in a shocking act of domestic violence. It was especially upsetting because her death was initially declared a suicide. For that reason, the investigation was hopelessly mismanaged and nobody was ever made to pay for taking her life. She leaves behind two beautiful young girls, who are always in my thoughts.
In March, Husband lost both his beloved Uncle Jimmy and his paternal Grandmother within days of one another. It was a very difficult time for Husband and his family, particularly since he and Jimmy were more like best friends than Uncle and Nephew.
In May, we had to do battle with the school system to get a persistent bully situation resolved. We removed Diminutive One from school when the Principal failed to take measures to protect our son. Imagine our surprise and dismay when he, the victim, was expelled for truancy! We hired a lawyer who was worth her weight in gold (and cost nearly as much) and who managed to solve the whole thing with two little phone calls.
You guys think I'm formidable? This broad made me look like little Mary Milquetoast.
At the end of May, we discovered that Diminutive One had not passed the Math portion of the CRCT which is required in order to advance to Middle School. This made little sense to us, as he is an incredibly smart child and a competent student. He had made passing grades in Math all year. But he does not test well due to his learning disability. Meanwhile, Pubescent One, who failed Math every quarter (due to apathy and an extreme distaste for mathematics rather than a lack of comprehension) passed the CRCT, and was allowed to move on to 9th grade. Yes, that’s NCLB at work in the ________ County School System folks. We opted not to send Diminutive One to summer school as suggested but enrolled him in Sylvan instead . He did incredibly well, and even expressed enjoyment of the math instruction he received. He retook the CRCT in June and passed with flying colors.
The boys and I were celebrating the good news with lunch at a favorite fast food restaurant, when I got a phone call from Husband. The connection was bad, and I couldn’t make sense of his garbled words, but I experienced a profound sense of dread that I still can’t quite explain. When I called him back, he haltingly explained that he had lost his job.
Thus ensued a month of panic, stock taking and reorganization. Husband had just bought a new car for himself after 11 years of driving his beloved Jeep, which had over 200,000 miles on it and was falling apart piece by piece. We had just signed a contract with Sylvan for a ridiculous amount of money; Pubescent One was sporting several thousand dollars worth of metal in his mouth that had to be paid for….the worries were endless.
I don’t intend to wax political, because we all have different views, but I tell you, if it hadn’t been for ARRA, we could not have afforded the Cobra premiums to keep our family insured while husband looked for another job. They would have been around $1200 a month, but ARRA brought them down to $387 a month. That’s still a staggering and intimidating figure when there are zero dollars coming in, but much more doable than $1200. We briefly considered trying to go without insurance, but decided it would be foolhardy and irresponsible.
Thank God we retained some of our common sense amid the panic, for the next month we experienced several health crises that resulted in the need for many expensive tests and treatment. After going to the doctor for some dizziness, it was discovered that I had suffered a series of small strokes, one of which had damaged my cerebellum; the center for balance and equilibrium. This was shocking and frightening as I couldn’t remember having had any symptoms that would have indicated I was having a stroke. The doctor theorized that they might have occurred during a migraine attack and would have dismissed them as typical migraine symptoms. It was also discovered that my blood pressure was dangerously high.
I decided to take control of my health before I had a more serious cardiovascular incident, one much more debilitating or possibly even fatal. I joined Weight Watchers and began exercising regularly. My blood pressure is down, and I have not had a migraine in three months. Anybody who knows me knows that this is nothing short of a small miracle. The 22.4 lbs of fat I’ve managed to jettison along the way are quite gratifying as well.
Oh, yes, and there was that little incident where I spilled Ammonia in my face and nearly blinded myself. Actually, I did blind myself. But corneas are amazingly resilient, and I am no worse for the wear now. Word to the wise…corneal burns hurt more than giving birth. No exaggeration.
In August, I took a job as a content writer and social media consultant with an internet services company. I was very excited by the opportunity, but also completely and totally terrified. I had been considering going back to work, but with a 14 year gap in my work history, my choices were limited. So this seemed perfect, as I could work from home doing what I loved best…writing.
Unfortunately, I did not get paid. Ever. So I had to resign. Well, not so much resign, really, as just stop logging in. That was a little upsetting, but, c’est la vie. The upside of that experience is that I proved to myself that I could still hold my own in a professional environment and still deliver a quality product, though it would be have been nice if I didn't have to resort to small claims court in order to collect my salary.
In October, Husband received an offer of employment from a company called__________, which he accepted. As always in these situations, one questions whether they are making the right choice. But in the two months that he has worked there, he has realized that losing his job at ______________was a blessing in disguise; even though it was gut wrenching to leave after ten years of employment.
His skills were stagnating and he was becoming complacent about keeping up with the latest technologies. But working for ___________ has put him back on the cutting edge. He is being constantly challenged, both as a manager and as a programmer. If you know Husband, you know that for him, (and his progeny), boredom results in mischief, so it’s a good thing his mind is being kept engaged and his focus is maintained. He is enjoying the new challenges and feeling as if he is once again using his brain in a constructive way.
I’ve said little about Pubescent One, who started high school this year. How is it possible that we have a child old enough to attend high school? I know, those of you with grown children and grandchildren are laughing at me. He towers over me at nearly six feet tall, and eats like a horse, although his aberrant genetics keep any of what he consumes from sticking to his long and lanky frame. His greatest passion is baseball and he is hoping to make the high school team in the Spring. There are kids from four different Middle Schools competing for the few slots available on the Jr. Varsity team, so the competition is stiff. But he’s made a name for himself as a pitcher, so hopefully he stands a chance. The other all consuming passion in his life is driving. He is counting the days until he gets his learner’s permit, and I am counting the gray hairs that have sprouted at the prospect.
As previously mentioned, Diminutive One started Middle School this year, which is a big change for him and has been a bit of a struggle. He is amazingly smart, but his ADHD really complicates things for him. His greatest passion in life right now is WW II, which has been a pretty enduring obsession. He is also very interested in weaponry of any kind, which is a teensy bit disconcerting. However, unless and until he begins wearing black lipstick and a dog collar, I refuse to worry about finding him at the top of a clock tower with a semi automatic rifle. He has about a million and seven airsoft guns, which he leaves all over the house. I am just about fed up with finding those little colored pellets everywhere. They do get into the strangest places. Just ask the cat.
And so, we came ever closer to the end of the year that wouldn’t end, but not before November took a few more well aimed kicks at the collective Antagonist backside by leaving us with a heap of repair bills when every single appliance in the house decided to break down at the same time. Even the old new microwave breathed it’s last after someone…I’m not saying whom…let it run empty for 15 minutes, thinking he had set the timer. The new new microwave had to be replaced as well, because the turntable refused to turn and broke the tray holder thingy. At that point, we just had to laugh. It was maniacal laughter, but laughter nonetheless.
It seems I have done a lot of complaining in this missive, but really, we have a lot to be thankful for. We survived the year with our family intact. We didn’t lose our home and nobody starved to death, or even went a little bit hungry. Husband was lucky enough to find another, better job with amazing opportunities ahead of him. And I got a wake up call to take care of myself if I want to be around to tell my kids “I told you so” someday.
I hope all of you have had a much less eventful year. Happy Holidays to all and a safe and happy New Year.
Love, the Antagonists