Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Christmas Letter, 2010

Esteemed Friends, Relations, Etc.

Once again the time has come for the annual faux-modesty fest, I mean snark fest, I mean holiday letter.   Have you written yours?  Well get on it.  I’m waiting!  I confess at the time of this writing I am perhaps just a touch hung over.  Whether this bodes well remains to be seen. 

It has been a year full of good stuff, which makes for letters that sound like bragging.  Sorry.  To make this more palatable, I will try to couch it in the most deprecating terms.

Here’s an example:  We are slumlords now.  The rental house next door came up for sale.  We bought it.  If we had known what a jerk the seller was before making an offer, we would have let someone else give him money.  Oh well.  Our first tenants moved in.  6 weeks later they told us they had great news:  they’d gotten a puppy! .  The kind that digs up the shrubs and shreds the carpet!  Oh, and they didn’t believe in cleaning up the poop!  Then they broke up.  Perhaps they disagreed over whose responsibility it was to deal with the puppy.  Fortunately the girl’s dad paid the full rent for the rest of their lease.  Thank you, Dad.  A few weeks after she moved out, she called to see if I was going to refund her deposit. Funnily enough, I was on the other line with the carpet guy.  Hmmm.  No. 

The new tenants are Chinese undergraduates.  Despite having very limited English, they like to give bartering their best shot.  There were some issues in the beginning because they wanted to negotiate the rent price down, and get me to be their chauffeur.  We had to hire a translator to convince them that 1) the rent is not negotiable and 2) I only chauffeur my children.  With that established, things seem to be fine.  They are very quiet.  We keep thinking maybe they’ve hightailed it back to Shanghai.  Hopefully the party we threw last night did not bother them. 

More good stuff:  those children, what are their names again?  Oh yes, the Larger Hooligan (10) and Smaller Hooligan (7).  This year they are mostly on the nice list, and make up for their transgressions by being willing to eat ANYTHING, as long as there is a lot of it.  We took a big crazy awesome trip to Italy and France last summer.  There were many highlights.  My favorite was the food in general, and watching the Hooligans fight over the last snail in particular.  I gained seven pounds.  What they say about your metabolism slowing down after 40?  It seems to be true.  

On the subject of sibling fighting, I am not bragging when I say that mostly, they don’t.  However, I have noticed that my sons get along best when they are in cahoots.  Examples: Climbing out the Larger Hooligan’s window to launch paper airplanes off the roof ("They go really far!"); Leaning the extension ladder up the doug fir so they can start climbing @ fifteen feet.  I discovered them @ 40 feet ("It's fun up here!").  They have taken the axiom:  “It is better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission and be denied,” to heart.  THIS IS WHY I HAVE GREY HAIR!!! As I type this I am noticing it’s  very quiet upstairs.  I am afraid to look.

Eugene’s public school district is facing a 20-30 million dollar budget shortfall—I’m not sure this is something to brag about, but hey!  That’s a LOT--Like 15-25% of the District’s operating budget!  Wowza!  I’ve been keeping busy going to meetings, writing letters, talking to lobbyists, and agitating for a city income tax--oh, sorry, revenue enhancement.  I’m not supposed to say tax.  People don’t like it.  I’m learning a lot, which is ironic since Eugene kids’ education looks to be severely curtailed. 

The Birthday Fairy brought The Man Who Lives In My House a mountain bike.  This brings his bike collection up to 4.5.  The .5 is the front half of the tandem.  Now he can grind up mountains and come hurtling down over cliffs and logs and streams, getting covered with mud, whipped in the face by twigs, and maybe breaking a collarbone or worse in the process.  Doesn’t that sound fun?  He thinks I would like it, but my mind is just not that open.  

I do like hanging out on the back of the tandem while The Man Who Lives In My House bikes us along the river.  Apparently I am not a good stoker.  What can I say?  Nobody’s perfect.  Maybe if I pedaled harder, I would burn off some of that gelato I’m still hauling around.  It’s doing wonders for The Man.   He has grown a beard and garners comments from his co-workers such as: “Raw steel and sex appeal!”  Theoretically he’s not shaving until the Ducks go to nationals, but with that kind of feedback, I think he’ll end up looking like ZZ Top. 

Speaking of macho stuff, how about those Ducks?  Kidding!  The only good thing about football is the game broadcast over the PA is preferable to The Little Drummer Boy.  I realize that  (locally)I am in the minority in this opinion and I don’t care.  The Man Who Lives In My House is making his peace with the realization that I will never bike with him across the country or watch football, and I am accepting that he will never enjoy thrift stores or Miss Marple mysteries on public television.

Around this time last year, I was polishing up the annual letter and enjoying myself immensely.  I decided once a year was not enough.  I have a blog now!  I have fans!  Never mind that they are mostly relatives!  If you read it, you know that several of the preceding paragraphs are regurgitated from recent posts.  I have to cite my sources, even when they’re me.  The Man says that my snark muscle has grown thanks to regular workouts.  I’m interpreting that as a compliment.  I’m hoping to host a Christmas-Letter-Off on line.  Please submit your most extreme examples to  All names will be changed to preserve privacy.

Snarkiness aside, every morning when we read the headlines we are reminded of our good fortune in our families, our friends and our lives.  We feel lucky to know and love so many people who are working to make the world a better place.  Our thanks and best wishes go out to all of you.

The Hooligans' Family


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  2. I have only had a couple of glasses of wine, but I'll go ahead and say it... I LOVE you guys! Cripes you have me laughing (and I've already read this on paper!) Let me know when you plan to haul that gelato over this way.