Sick of hearing your friends pontificate about their “perfect” life in their annual holiday letter?
Growing up my parents had friends that sent one every year that went on and on and on about their trips to Aruba, their summer homes, and their honor roll children. We read it with humor more than jealousy at how ridiculous they were–everyone gets at least one of those right?
So years ago I decided to do the opposite. I write a realistic view of my year (originally as a single and now as a family), which has become something that is anticipated by the recipients. After having Zain, I held my letter to go into the baby announcement, and thus it went out late and I was getting emails every day…”My letter didn’t get here!”…”Did you take me off your list?” The only complaint I ever get is that its print is too small…a lot of “stuff” happens to us each year and I am NOT having a two page holiday letter. But I will make it 8 point font!
So for the month of December, I’m going to share some of my favorite excerpts from years gone by as my throwback Thursday. Enjoy!
Circa 2003: Combustion
Now that I’m working for myself, I went from taking the train everywhere and driving an average of one hour per week, to spending the best part of each day driving. This fall we traded in the tiny Honda Prelude for a Ford Explorer, but just prior to that I was driving along when I came upon a cushion in the road–not a pillow, but a couch cushion in the middle of the road. I surveyed the situation quickly; there was someone right beside me, and behind me, so in my head I had no choice but to drive over the cushion. After I did, I looked in my rear view mirror to see if it had come out from under me, but there was someone right behind me so I couldn’t see, but I promptly went through a huge pothole and was convinced that while our alignment was probably way off, that the cushion would definitely not still be under the car and proceeded on my way. I drove about 2 miles before having to make a series of turns. On my second left turn I pulled over to the side of the road and saw that the cushion was right beside me…I had just dragged it 2 miles under the car! That of course made me crack up. so I proceeded to park and then go inside for an appointment chuckling to myself. About 10 minutes later, I hear a woman say, “There is a cushion outside…” and I interject with, “Yeah, I dragged it all the way from Stop and Shop!” and then she finishes her sentence with “…and the fire department is putting out the fire!” Yes…the cushion had spontaneously combusted! In a review of the situation, Sam explained to me that I had many option in handling the situation like driving up onto the curb, or driving up onto the cushion–funny, those options never entered my mind!
Circa 2007: Thank You Zain
One night, during bath time, Zain had pulled himself up on the circa 1960 integrated soap holder in the beauteous yellow and black tiled shower and proceeded to pull and tug and rock back and forth on the holder as you could almost hear the 47 years of caulking giving way. We got caught up in the moment of the situation, because it was so cute to watch, and allowed him to continue…in retrospect, perhaps not the wisest decision. Because a few tugs later, the 75 layers of caulk could no longer withstand the tugging and it came loose in his hands, which stopped him in his tracks and he looked at us with horror waiting for the scolding. Sam grabbed the handle of the holder and gave it a good tug and 47 years of nastiness came tumbling out of the wall. Zain then proceeded to crawl up my body to escape the avalanche that followed. Once Zain was safely asleep in bed we went back into the bathroom to survey the damage. I had recently purchased a “tile repair” kit so that I could band aid what was becoming an unsightly bathroom, so we took the tools and decided to do some grout and caulking removal to “clean up” the situation around the holder and then we thought we would just tuck it back in place and be “all good”. A few swipes later with the grout tool, tiles were popping off the wall left and right clambering into the tub and I thought to myself, I may actually get a new bathroom out of this situation—thank you Zain! It reminded me of when I was about 10 and had hosted a sleepover and drummed up breakfast for my guests in the morning only to have a grease fire in the kitchen before my parents awoke. The flames were shooting out of the very heavy cast iron fry pan and in our 10 year old infinite wisdom knew that we were to throw salt on it to extinguish it, but as my friend Sara shook the salt shaker over the flames (as if that was going to get us anywhere) I couldn’t hold the pan any longer spilling molten oil over my mother’s kitchen carpet. After a good scolding I was thanked in private since it all had to be replaced—and don’t even ask why we would have carpet in the kitchen!
Circa 2004: Angryman123
Sam is forever changing our service providers for our phone service. It seems every day one is outwitting and out pricing the other, so he just goes with the lowest bidder—our phone bill is generally 90% international charges, so I guess price is an issue when you are a chatter box like him! So we were using a group that had promised us a cut rate for calls to Pakistan and Sam talked and talked and talked, but when he got the bill the rate had increased. So while he may seem to be the most reserved of individuals in his everyday life, those that know him well know that he demands exceptional service, so this was not going to do. So he called the company, went from the lackey that answered the phone to the highest ranked individual on duty at 10 o’clock at night on a Sunday until he got the rate back to where he wanted it. He then proceeded to ask how he could monitor his account to assure that this does not happen again. So they told him that they would email him a password to access his account. The next morning an email popped up with his password: Angryman123.
Circa 2010: Worst Vacation Evah
In October I had to go to a conference in Atlanta for 3 days. So we had two choices, I could bring everyone with me or I could go alone and Sam could hold down the fort in my absence. I’ll give you one guess what he voted for! So we packed everyone up and traveled together to Atlanta where each day and night I was going to be occupied by conference “stuff” and Sam and the boys were on their own adventures. Before going I decided that I wasn’t going to dictate what they did or how they did it—I was going to let them figure it out. So on the afternoon of the first day I called them at 3 and they were at the Children’s Museum where they had been all day and no one had eaten. Later they rolled into the lobby where Mir looked like a white trash baby with cracker ick from his mouth to his belly button. So the second day I wrote out a schedule so that at least he would know when and what to feed them. They went to the Aquarium where Sam was tapped on the shoulder by another father alerting him that Mir has squirmed himself out the bottom of his stroller without notice by anyone in our family and was making a get away and upon returning I asked why Mir hadn’t had his bottle to Sam’s response, “I thought he only had a bottle at nighttime.” So much for the schedule. That night I ran back to the room to get something and Sajid was giving the boys a bath in the colossal sized hotel tub and right as I came in Mir had pooped in the bath. Sam was pulling them out and draining the tub when I narrowly escaped being sucked into the drama. I guess he’s the better parent. If it had been me I would have moved them both over to the other side of the tub and finished up—did I mention it was a giant tub?
After the conference was over we decided that we would drive the eight hours to Orlando to visit Disney. We headed to Orlando on Saturday with little fan fair outside of sitting in traffic for the last 2 miles which took more than an hour where we kept throwing crackers back to a screaming Mir (on this trip he developed an acute addiction to whole wheat Toppers) and Zain started getting car sick. The next morning we decided to drive out to Kennedy Space Center. As soon as we got there we went to see an IMAX film and when we came out Sam said that he didn’t feel good—this is never a good sign. So after spending $120 on a movie we high tailed it back to Orlando where I dropped him at an urgent care facility who took one look at him and sent him by ambulance to the hospital—there goes day 2 of this vacation. Yadda yadda yadda Sam is released from the hospital at noon the next day so we get to Disney at 2 pm only to find out that they would be closing at 7. So we decided that we were going to have lots of fun—fast. Zain and I run off to ride on the flying rockets and return to a frustrated Sam and a screaming Mir. So I take over Mir duties, walking in circles until he went to sleep, while Zain and Sam rode the go-karts. In the next 3 hours Mir waffled between screaming and passing out/sleeping, which was very unusual for him, but since we had paid approximately $1 a minute to be at the best place on earth we stuck it out—I know, great parenting. After leaving Disney we drove directly to the hospital (why did we even pay for a hotel), this time for Mir. After x-rays, an IV and blood tests he perked up and was good as gold, so we still don’t know what was wrong with him—perhaps cracker withdrawal.
In the end, after every vacation if you ask Zain what his favorite part was he’ll tell you, “the building”, which is his term for the hotel. As soon as we check in he goes straight for the phones with the buttons and cords and he has to locate “Gord’s book” aka the Gideon bible. So I think this year we’ll save ourselves the trouble and go down the street to the LaQuinta and call it a day.