Disclaimers: No cats nor cell phones were injured in the creation of this letter. We can’t speak for the Legos; that was a long time ago. The Oreos are goners and Bernie has moved on, but the cars are all fine, mighty fine.
The Top Ten Things We Learned in 2016
- Marching band is both intense and ridiculous. Vast bands compete across the Midwest with field shows that include custom compositions, story lines, individual marching orders, drum pits, dancers, flags, rifles, tour buses, semi-trucks, and wildly creative directors. At one point in the Nixa Crimson Corps’ Goodnight Moon show, the dancers acted like cats and played with seven “strings” which were really thirty feet of bright yellow plastic rope. But how to get that much neon onto the field? In kids’ pants. Yep, Anna marched half a show with enough rope to scale a cliff in the back of her overalls, and was voted “Cutest Awkward Couple” with the dancer who had to sneak up behind her and pull it out.
- Some things never change. On our road trip to visit Skylar’s college choices, Anna started yelling at a game on her cell phone. Skylar told her to give up and put it away. Marjie reminded Skylar that as a toddler she used to scream at her Legos. To Skylar’s reply, “Hey, I’ve grown since then,” Anna responded, “You just did the same thing four days ago!” Skylar’s retort, “That was four days ago. I’ve grown since then!” just didn’t carry much weight.
- In a year of crazy presidential politics, world domination is simpler than we thought. Anna took two bags of Oreos to school along with a bunch of tiny flags attached to toothpicks that said “Anna for dictator.” Apparently, it worked. Who knew that you could buy loyalty with an Oreo? It went over so well that Anna won Student of the Year in Social Studies as well as “Most Likely to Rule the World.”
- We take our music seriously. The Hamilton soundtrack has taken over our lives. Anna has even used it for “help” on a history test. (Hey, the teacher offered to play music.) The kids were driving to school one day, when Anna started crying. She took out her earbuds and managed to muster, “Say No to This.” It’s the point where Alexander Hamilton sings about his painful inner conflict but still starts an affair with Maria Reynolds. Anna says that you know a song is good when it makes you feel personally cheated by a founding father who has been dead for over two hundred years.
- Two old ladies can still cause trouble. Marjie’s mom was diagnosed with cancer, and the masses were large. However, the oncologist felt strongly that it could be cured. As we processed the news over dinner at Denny’s, Marjie said, “I guess size doesn’t matter,” which got us laughing so hard that the manager came over. Twice. So we shared our wisdom and she started cracking up. Then we heard laughter in the kitchen. We’re pretty sure every shift heard that one.
- Cancer makes for some tragic jokes. Chemo didn’t work, but Mom was feeling strong enough to have Christmas at her house where we play a white elephant game instead of exchanging gifts. The problem is that Mom changes the rules, steers gifts, and hides zonks in our bags as we head for our cars. However, we swear we didn’t intend revenge when our still bald mother picked the shampoo set. At least it was good for a laugh.
- Pay attention to the dashboard lights. Marjie’s mom offered to buy Skylar a car, so we went shopping. With Skylar not quite 18, David had to test drive the used VW bug, but Skylar got to drive home with Marjie following. Imagine her shock when they pulled over halfway up a freeway cloverleaf. We just bought that car! How could it be broken? It was out of gas. Skylar didn’t know what the little light meant; David had seen it on the test drive and had forgotten. Really? Who’s the car guy?
- Children can dampen your dreams. David is a patient man. A lifetime muscle and sports car enthusiast, he has waited nearly two decades to release the responsibility of four doors and a back seat. After some major nudging, or shoving, he found his Porsche Cayman S. It is pretty awesome. Skylar said, “It sounds disappointed when you slow down.” Anna’s first comment? “It looks like a giant squashed Skylar’s slug bug.” Yeah, it kind of does. Thanks, Anna.
- It’s all Bernie’s fault. It started with Skylar’s friend Emily joining us in a three-hour-long line in a freezing mist to hear Bernie Sanders’ stump speech. A few months later Emily moved in with us. Our ridiculously large house is finally useful, and our family is better for having her. She doesn’t laugh at our jokes, though. Why do none of our teenagers laugh at our jokes? They laughed at Bernie’s.
- Colleges don’t just recruit athletes. Skylar has changed so much these past few years – getting a handle on ADHD, turning those C’s and D’s into straight A’s, joining clubs, writing, singing, reciting poetry, acquiring shocking pink hair, and earning an academic letter. Who knew that an essay about that experience could be so powerful that colleges spontaneously sent five- and six-figure scholarship offers? Those few days were pretty heady stuff. Must have been the hair.
We hope your holidays were happy, full of wonderful surprises, and maybe even some heady stuff.
David, Marjie, Emily, Skylar, Anna & Crackerjack