Thursday, December 13, 2007

Holiday Missive, Redux

Feminist and Prince Charming is my best Holiday Missive, but this was the first ever and is reprinted here, because it's John's favorite. Happy Thursday, honey.

Tidings of Joy

December 2000

Dear Family & Friends,

It began when I stopped apartment roving and settled in with John and two dogs. Things escalated quickly from there: buying a house, getting married, having children. Now I’ve reached the height of modern domesticity—the traditional holiday form letter. Rules of format, style, and tone threaten to overwhelm: one must present recent career advancements, life milestones, children’s growth and exploits, and well wishes to all. The order of presentation may vary but never the tone, which is of paramount importance. Accomplishments (especially those related to money and children) must remain upbeat, yet moderate—no gloating or bragging allowed. Above all, no complaining or whining! This is holiday cheer, after all. With these guidelines in mind, prepare gentle reader, for my own foray into such festive fare:

First, in the year 2000 it became glaringly apparent that John has no rivals in the real estate business, selling houses right and left with such swiftness, such deft and cunning that his peers were left breathless, clients thrilled, and bank account neatly padded. Modest man that he is, he chalks everything up to luck and Alan Greenspan. I know better, and now, so do you. It’s brilliance. Of course, he had some help. Imagine having a devoted, even doting, Wife capable of preparing gourmet meals in a heartbeat (think crepes and soufflés), ironing shirts to the precise crispness required by a real estate mogul, shining shoes until they glisten, and cheerfully attending to his every whim and demand. Yes, just imagine that. Through it all, John managed to attend to his parenting duties with equal zeal and ardor. Does a man get any better?

John’s household and parenting duties reached a new peak this year, meaning he tucked in the children and did the dishes while yours truly finally plowed through that dissertation to earn a doctorate in English Literature and Feminist Studies. Some misguided souls, prone to dreary realism, may have thought my doctorate a lost cause after nearly a decade in graduate school. It may come as a happy shock to discover that I was incubating! Yes, incubating what certainly may be one of the densest theoretical treatises known to academia; a document that will undoubtedly propel me to the forefront of that fast-paced, dynamic, and slightly dangerous field of English Literature. Watch your covers of Time and Newsweek. Undoubtedly, once literary theory takes it’s rightful place in the universe, I’ll assume mine on those covers. While I wait for the world to right itself, I continue my position as an adjunct faculty member at -- University.

Did I mention the children? Here, gentle reader, I find myself at a loss for words, torn between decorum and the brutal reality of their perfection. As the enclosed photo(s) indicate, there are no finer specimens of beauty and exuberance. Stryker is now four, showing potential in too many areas to list. Wait, I’ll try: art, literature, dance, finance, physics, and astronomy. He draws perfect stick figures, scrawls his own name in nearly recognizable form, break-dances through family heirlooms, allocates our cash for only the finest ear-shattering toys, defies gravity, and stays awake late into the night for the sole purpose of plotting new constellations. He may be the next governor of Minnesota, considering his propensity for bold wrestling moves and attention.

At two, Scarlett is all princess, a child so attuned to both fashion and her own sensibilities that she’s shunned pajamas in favor of lace dresses and flowered tights at night! What taste, what style! Like her brother, she too has unusual abilities, including a voice so pure that her rare crying tantrums are a treat—just to hear that mezzo soprano pour through the house, the yard, into the neighbor’s windows! Already pulled in different directions by her multitude of talents, Scarlett is currently torn between a career as a principal ballerina, opera singer, and surgeon—demonstrating various skills in each of these areas throughout our house and on her dolls. John and I only hope we have the wisdom and humility necessary to guide these young protégés into their shining futures.

Throughout the year, we’ve also been busily engaged in a wide variety of ordinary middle-class activities: the children and I have begun attending Sunday meditations at Clouds in the Water Zen Center (even a two year old, especially one as precocious as Scarlett, can say “Buddha”); I continue to practice and teach yoga; John and I both held court at our respective 20 year high school reunions; John has picked up his guitar once again, knowing how the world awaits his music; I’m frantically finishing my next opus, a novel, and already beating back calls from Oprah; Stryker is nearly ready to teach the sign language class he’s taking in preschool; I’ve tossed out my parenting books (given the nature of our children) and am now parenting by astrology and psychic guidance; and finally, I’m available for spell casting and Tarot readings, two other recent interests. My fee is nominal.

Finally, my apologies, dear reader, for this letter’s brevity, for the way limitations of time and form required such brief descriptions of our children, for my strict adherence to moderation, for the plodding tone and humility you’ve found here. Despite this letter’s shortcomings, I find myself strangely buoyed by another domestic duty well done, and by my ability to remain attentive to, and respectful of, the exact tenor of tradition.

Season’s Greetings,



Mrs. G. said...

What a great letter. I hate to admit how much I enjoy reading these damn things. I have a friend who sends one out each year in the vein of the current book du jour. One year it was The Bridges of LA County.

Beth said...

Ah, just your typical, everyday sort of family!

(Made me laugh...)