Communication may cost less than a 47-cent stamp in these days of Facebook and blogs, but the poor family holiday letter’s reputation continues to be the butt of many jokes this time of year.
So I’ve deliberately gone with the flow over the years and given my circle something to laugh at and share. If you can’t poke fun of yourself, well, then who can? So as a guideline, of sorts, on how not to waste your time and money on this tradition, here are some of the best hits of the Sturgeon holiday letter over the decades. Believe me, people want to know this about your life, too:
(Won’t) Drop Out. We’re ashamed to take our dog back to the kennel, which we tried out over the New Year’s Eve weekend to see how he’d respond. I’m now the proud owner of a report card telling me that Dribbler received an F in defecation. Now every time he does something irrational, we just shrug. What can you expect from a dog who flunks pooping?
Can’t Hold My Drink. Or, more accurately, my friends can’t. In a span of 14 months, I’ve found myself wearing a lapful of soda four times and only one of those was from my own wild gesture at Logan’s. Kevin hit the bull’s eye at On the Border, although he did miss splashing salsa all over my shirt. Ron got me twice – a super-sized glass I swear held a half-liter of Dr. Pepper at Mother Bears, followed up by a chain reaction on our cruise ship, where he threw his hands up, hit the bar attendant, and whoosh! I just rinsed my hair in Coke.
Sticking to the seat is starting to feel normal now.
Letting It All Hang Out. My husband is, naturally, the IT guru for Indianapolis on the Cheap, which is why when I discovered from a hotel room in Texarkana that all of my Black Friday posts disappeared at 1 a.m., Ron got the wake-up shove followed by an hysterical message that my life was over, and, if he loved me, he needed to kill the people at MacHighway.
So Ron got up, verified that I’m crying for a reason, and dialed up tech support to explain the problem, where the database is on the other server, and how to fix the URL pointer to clear up this mistake. It was about three hours of our life we’ll never get back, and I can vouch for the fact there’s not much pacing space in a La Quinta Inn and Suites room.
Yet Ron sat there in that little chair completely calm, completely focused … and completely naked. His new superhero tag line is “Saving the World. In the Buff.”
Bowling for Humans. How much talent does it take to fall off your treadmill? Actually, none at all — a dog who drops toys at the front end to chase them when they zing! off the back can trip you up in a heartbeat. Oh, it’s not the little chew bones and balls that really cause a problem. It’s when he drops an entire towel while you’re concentrating on that NYPD Blue rerun that you’ll find yourself grabbing wildly at air.
Lesson: Always clip that red emergency stop button to your shirt — it’s a beautiful thing to call a halt to bad things. Too bad I didn’t know that one before I crashed. But what can you expect from a dog who flunks pooping?
Naughty Not Nice. Ron and I celebrated our 25th anniversary in May. That was very evident, not because we went to Costa Rica, but because of a particular international phone conference Ron sat in on.
Folks, this man always has his Bluetooth doohickey stuck in his ear. Because he often talks to himself, it’s not immediately evident he’s on the phone. And when he’s on mute in the conversation, I have no clue that this is anything but my husband fiddling with a computer at his desk before he leaves for work.
He picked that moment to mention he wouldn’t be around on Saturday, and I didn’t waste a breath reminding him that was the day before Easter and we had egg dying plans with the niece and nephew. Ron wanted to rearrange. I argued it was too late.
And then he dropped the bomb. “Do you always have to be such a turd?” Only he didn’t say turd. He got out the universally recognized four-letter “s” word. I’d be lying if I pretended my virgin ears had never heard that response before. I merely yelled, “Yes” and marched off, with him close on my heels, a stricken look on his face. As a wife, you love that look because it means he’s sorry and you’re about to start your day with some nice ego-stroking groveling, ending that evening with some “please forgive me” dinner that costs more than Fazoli’s and has better atmosphere than Burger King.
Only he grabbed his iPhone and started frantically tapping buttons. “They heard me,” he whispered. “Now they’re trying to figure out who said it.” Believe me, this is much funnier than the same old self-righteous end to an argument. He spent the whole day trying to blend in with his colleagues in guessing who was that crass jerk who called his wife a bad name on the phone.
Don’t leave home without it. It’s 8 a.m. Do you know where your credit cards are? Then you’re ahead of Ron. We dropped everything to search the house looking for that missing wallet, but by evening it was clear we had to cancel all the numbers and start over. Well, OK, in the morning because one of us might dream where it was or something. It turned out to be as simple as getting dressed for work – Ron located his missing life in his dress shoes where the dog apparently deposited it.
So that was enough to put us on the straight and narrow, right? The next time he didn’t have his Visa card, it turned up with the store clerk. The third time we went through this panic, he eventually pulled it from a very weird spot – the credit card slot in his billfold. The first time I sold a story to Bankrate to make lemonade. At this point, I’m thinking he’s a candidate for Psychology Today. The dog we can excuse – after all, he flunks pooping.
Happy holidays from the staff at Indianapolis on the Cheap to you, our readers at Living on the Cheap!