A strange thing happens sometime between when you get married, have a kid, or turn 30. That strange thing is friends, family members, co-workers, the guy who picks up your trash and occasionally Barack Obama feel the need to send you a Holiday card.
(Here’s a freebie for my more conservative friends…..you can modify the ‘occasionally Barack Obama’ to read ‘occasionally Barack Obama, who will soon be picking up your trash when this nightmare is over and nobody will hire him even for the speaking circuit because of the mess he’s made of this country’……I’m just kidding, he’s worth millions and will get paid more for a 30 minute speech than you make in a year. Sorry.)
Anyway, the mystery of the Holiday card happens around mid December each year, though some over-achieving a-holes are pushing it back into pre-Thanksgiving territory. For perfect clarity, if I get your Holiday card before I’ve had my first slice of pumpkin pie of the year, it goes in the fireplace. Not just the trash. The fire. And I laugh when the envelope burns away and I see the tortured faces of your adorable children melting and melting.
My wife and I started receiving a deluge of cards sometime after our first child was born. It’s as if having a child is an unsolicited invitation to others to tell you all about their own progeny. And this was before people had unfettered access to Facebook to share every haircut and science project. What we quickly realized was that, if these Holiday letters were to be believed, then our life was an absolute car wreck. We existed in an unclean, underachieving mess while everyone else was living an idyllic, summer in the Hamptons, winter at Aspen life. Their lives were all something along the lines of how Pottery Barn expects me to exist.
Here is a summary of the key points in everyone’s perfect Holiday letter. You can replace the names with any other WASPy name you choose. It’ll carry.
Brittany finished in the state finals in gymnastics, gets perfect grades, plays the piccolo in the national philharmonic and volunteers at the local shelter. While we’re at it, did we mention she competes in dressage on a white Andalusian stallion that was born with a single horn growing from its head.
Parker loves everything sports. He scored the winning touchdown in the state finals and then, on the bus ride home, performed CPR on and saved the life of one of the nuns who runs the all boys Catholic High School he attends as a National Merit Scholar.
After raising two perfect children, Nancy has gotten back to doing what she loves, which is selling hand-stitched shawls. She’ll clear $10M in revenue this year. On fucking shawls.
Not a crying baby and a crib filled with vomit to be seen. No mention of what Brittany does at band camp with the piccolo. And don’t get me started on what Parker was really doing with that nun.
The point of it is that my wife and I decided to call BS on the whole charade. We wrote our first Holiday letter with the desire to be a bit silly, give people a laugh, and call attention to the hypocrisy we saw in other letters. But mostly we wrote it to enjoy ourselves at other’s expense.
So here goes. This was the first Holiday Letter from 2005. The format has changed quite a bit since then, as even reading this I see way too many real updates interspersed with the nonsense. I resisted the urge to edit it, even to remove links to my own failures. We all grow as people, mostly via eating cookies.
Holiday Letter 2005
I know what you’re thinking. Another Holiday newsletter. Great. Now I have to act like I care in front of my spouse, and quite frankly I’m not even sure who the Brooks Family is. Or maybe you’re thinking ‘what’s wrong with the Holiday letter? We send one and people love it.’ Let me be frank. You know what’s wrong with it. In your soul you do. If you’re honest and not a liar who will be getting coal for Christmas because Santa doesn’t care for lying. He also doesn’t care for grown men sitting on his lap, as I found out down at the mall.
Okay. So the requisite update on all of our lives.
- Calvin is now 17 ½ months old. He refuses to speak, but has learned a number of signs, including signs for elephant, hot, milk and ‘please make an investment in my 529 plan such that my parents can afford to send me to college’. That one looks a lot like snot bubbles. He uses his signs only when it is convenient for him, and not to communicate with his doting parents at all. Sometimes we catch him signing with the dogs. They’re up to something. It might involve tipping over the water bowl. It often does.
- Erin is now a small business owner and the lifeblood of the local Mom’s fitness scene in our suburban community. In April, we purchased the local license for Stroller Strides in Ahwatukee (Gesundheit!). You can see Erin’s website at www.strollerstrides.net/ahwatukee. In October, she appeared on Good Morning Arizona. We were all thrilled with her interview by a ‘real’ media outlet until we saw the reporter (a tall, attractive black man) doing a Halloween feature the next day dressed as Wonder Woman (I wish I was kidding). She claims to spend 60 minutes, 3 times a week leading a cardio and strength training class. As far as I can tell though, they just schedule a lot of ‘mom’s night out’ events and leave the husbands with the children. Fortunately a number of the husbands have become close friends and we’re plotting our revenge in the form of a week-long Vegas trip with all the fixings, if you know what I mean.
- Speaking of husbands, Erin is looking for a new one. In the meantime, Andrew will continue to suffice. Andrew’s company SevenSpace was purchased by Sun in January. After 6 months, Andrew left Sun to ‘be his own man’ and ‘explore his entrepreneurial spirit’ which are both code for ‘stop getting paid’. He is now actively involved in building 3 exciting businesses, including personal achievement company Maximum Balance (www.maximumbalance.com), investment and consulting firm Mural Ventures (www.muralventures.com), and software company SMBLive (www.smblive.com). He is also taking odd jobs around the neighborhood, and panhandles on the corner of Interstate 10 and Ray Road. When not soliciting strangers, Andrew is actively training for the Phoenix marathon in January and as a result has blisters on his feet.
- Recognizing that the only thing less interesting in a Holiday newsletter than a story about someone’s podiatry problems is a story about pets, let me just note that Becca ate 2 dozen chocolate chip cookies 2 days ago and lived through it. We’re trying 3 dozen tomorrow.
In March of 2005, Andrew, Erin and Calvin journeyed to Florida to visit with both of Calvin’s surviving great grandparents. We were joined by Andrew’s father and the 4 generations of Brooks men took a family portrait. Great Grandpa Ray commemorated the event by lighting a cigar and offering one to Calvin. Calvin said he only smokes Cubans and went back to his coffee.
In July of 2005, we celebrated Calvin’s first birthday with Andrew’s parents and a few close friends. Bob (Andrew’s father) asked how he could help. Because we’re idiots we took him seriously and asked him to blow up the balloons for the party. He proceeded to tie the balloons to various household items with electrical tape. If you’ve ever met my father, you know that’s not a joke.
If you’ve received this letter, we at least like you enough to blow 37 cents on a stamp, and that should mean something. What it means is you have an open invitation to visit Phoenix and stay with us at any point in 2006. Especially in April when Erin and I will be in Mexico and need some babysitting/dogsitting/light household chores.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
– Andrew, Erin and Calvin.
There you go. The letter has become a tradition, if a tradition that has increased in ridiculousness over time (tell me another time you’ve seen ‘pool of my own urine’ in a Holiday letter before?.
If you like this one, stay tuned for each subsequent year in future posts.