Holiday Letter 2011

(Photo credit: Fotolia)

The children are nestled all snug in their beds. Well, actually they’re screaming with laughter from upstairs, and we really don’t want to know. We do hear water running, however, so maybe we should investigate. Or we could just tell you…

The Top Ten Things We Learned in 2011

10. Kids get it better than we think. Marjie was arguing with Hailey about why she won’t use a top sheet on her bed. Marjie finally gave in, yet again, with the parting shot, “When you grow up, I just don’t want someone to think you’re weird because you can’t sleep with normal sheets.” To which Hailey replied, “Mom, weird is good. Weird means you’re going to be successful. After high school, nobody wants to be a washed-up prom queen.”

9. People are nicer during the day. David has proof.  Now that he answers computer support phone calls for a living, he has noticed a distinct difference. He was on swing shift for a long time when he had the chance to switch to days. He came home much more relaxed. People were polite, willing to buy service upgrades, and most important, “No one was drunk.” The next time you chew out someone on the phone, remember that; a) it could be David, and b) they’re wondering what your beverage of choice is.

8. You never get good at being a parent. Marjie took the girls to Braum’s for a fast food treat. The girls slurped their milk through walrus mustaches (a screen of eight coffee stirrers), and Marjie opened her vegan salad. Suddenly, hands shot across the table stealing her tomatoes, purple cabbage, carrots, and even her spinach. She ineffectually tried to fend them off with her plastic fork, “Twelve years,” Hailey laughed, “And you still make rookie mistakes!”

7. Kids enjoy confusing their parents.  Marjie goes grocery shopping with a list. Always. The girls are allowed to buy one thing not on the list. This has led to some agonizing decisions over the years, but Marjie has stood firm. Then, with one of David’s abrupt shift changes, Marjie got caught list-less. You would have thought it was Christmas in February. Potstickers, taquitos, donettes, ginger ale, sour cream, and Lays all found their way into the cart. Marjie tried to draw the line at Milanos, pointing out that the girls were far past their one thing each, when the girls argued that all those items had been on the imaginary list. Taking pity on her confusion, Hailey patted her on the back, “Don’t worry, Mom. It’s actually a lot easier if you don’t think about it.” A lady nearby actually started laughing!

6. Traditions change without notice. Since they were babies, Marjie has played “This Little Piggy” on bare toes. Anna has been known to run screaming when she sees a gleam in her mother’s eyes. Then one sad day, when Marjie threatened attack, Anna flatly stated, “Piggy status – boots.”

5. We wonder what we fought for. Hailey finally found a summer camp she would go to, and we were thrilled, but as Marjie dropped her off at video game programming that first day, her heart sank. Hailey was the only girl in a roomful of boys. It happened again at archery class. Marjie walked back in her memories through all of those jobs where she was the only woman on all-male engineering staffs and the only girl playing pick-up basketball. Then she walked a generation farther back to remember her mother taking heavy flak for working full time and for being a city planning commissioner. Why did we work so hard to open doors that so few want to walk through?

4. America’s children are well-educated, just not in what we think. Marjie was struggling with a group of students trying to get them to remember 12 inches in a foot and 3 feet in a yard when one boy started singing, “Five, five, five dollar foot long.” Pretty soon, the entire class joined in. If only Subway broke down their pricing.

3. Social media is out of control. Yes, we live in Missouri, the state that wrote the famous, but now-revised, Facebook law. Marjie and her colleagues were attending a training on that law when one took a picture of the title screen in order to put in on, yes, his Facebook page. Then another whipped out her cell phone so she could look up his page. Seriously?

2. When you live in the country, never leave the garage door open at night. Ever. Mom warned us, but David had grown a little lax. Then we heard a strange noise. The next morning we found the trash can in the garage on its side. It happened twice more. Scat appeared. Not being poop experts, we could only tell that it was larger than a rat, smaller than a bear, and not vegetarian. David stayed up very late one night hauling everything out of the garage, tensely expecting to be jumped at any moment. Nothing. We hope it stays that way.

1. If you teach your kids how to drive, expect consequences. Marjie has been known to “speed shop” or tear around the grocery store with Anna gripping the back end of the cart. What she didn’t know was that David has not only taught Anna how to drive the lawn tractor, he has also let her park his car and operate the stick shift in the truck. All of this apparently creates false confidence in nine-year-olds. Blithely unaware, Marjie sent the girls off with the cart while she deciphered some coupons. That big crash couldn’t be her kids, could it? She rounded the corner to find the entire Crest display face down, with toothbrushes and toothpaste strewn across several aisles. Anna apparently needs a license, and every time we go into Walgreens, she asks if it’s that Walgreens.

We hope that everything in your garage actually belongs there, and we promise to put a student driver sign on Anna’s shopping carts. We hope your holidays were as happy as ours, and that your new year is as much fun as you want it to be.


David, Marjie, Hailey, Anna & Harley


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