The occasionally-updated blog of M. Scott Smith

Satire: An Unconventional Christmas Letter 🔗

I am terrible at mailing Christmas cards. My track record in recent years hasn't been good, and this year looks no different. I do enjoy receiving cards and the "form letters" that often accompany them, describing a family's adventures throughout the past year. This gave me a mischievous idea: what if I wrote a year-end summary letter, but made it completely fictitious? For example, I could include subtle references to a wife (I'm unmarried) and kids (I don't have any kids), causing much confusion by the reader. This idea was almost delicious enough to make me actually send out Christmas cards this year.

Alas, I'm too nice, and would never do such a thing to my friends and family.

But since I have a need to write satire now and again, I decided to write the letter anyway. So, here I present my year-end summary as I extend best wishes for the holiday season. Enjoy!

* * *

2007 has been a year of many memories and milestones. January started well when Sarah was finally paroled. Although she remains on house arrest, and complains incessantly about the discomfort of the electronic sensor connected to her ankle, having her at home has really reduced the stress of raising the triplets, Calvin, Charity, and Alfredo. Particularly given Alfredo's newfound interest in galvanizing pastries! That four-year old continually amazes me. We had a scare in late January when Alfredo tried to galvanize Charity, but after their initial shock the paramedics were awfully timely and nice and the plastic surgeon has worked wonders, at least on the right side. You really have to watch kids like a hawk these days.

Speaking of hawks, we discovered in February that they make a poor choice for a pet. I can tell you now, if you see a wounded hawk at the side of the road, do not bring it into your home. And don't let your kids give it a name! That only causes them to grow attached. Although Calvin continues to struggle with speech and interpersonal relationships, we were delighted when he showed an interest in the hawk and named the hawk Huck. His first word! Huck, unfortunately, did not reciprocate Calvin's kindness and randomly attacked Calvin, often in the middle of the night or any time that Calvin wore the color brown. I had no idea a hawk with one leg and one lazy eye could move like that. Thankfully, Huck's depth perception is a bit off, but this only led him to attack Charity by accident (her left side, thankfully). Charity has had a very rough year, but she's our little trooper.

We had a monster of a snow storm in February, and as usual, Sarah insisted that I shovel the snow, once again claiming she can't go outside due to the house arrest. Sometimes I think she robbed that cattle feed store just so she wouldn't have to shovel. But I made an amazing discovery which really shaved time off of the shoveling. After a small argument with Sarah, Calvin, and Huck (don't ask), I poured kerosene on top of the snow and lit it on fire. You wouldn't believe how quickly the snow vaporized! The neighbors were absolutely shocked by this profound idea. I caught many of them peering through their blinds with obvious jealousy. I had learned last year that trying to wash the snow away with a hose only generates new problems (and once again, I extend my deepest apologies to Aunt Edna and hope she visits again soon), but I think I have something with this kerosene idea.

But it wasn't a good idea to let Alfredo help. That kid has really taken an interest in kerosene now, and even though I stopped buying kerosene after he bathed Huck in it, somehow he has figured out how to distill the stuff from common household candles. Kids! So now I have had to hide all of the candles, which really upsets Sarah. She loves those scented candles, but secretly I think it's a good idea to hide them from Sarah too, given her past affinity for lighting rest area trash cans afire with scented candles. I know she claimed she stopped doing that in high school, but the jury obviously felt differently, and I'll admit sometimes I harbor my own doubts.

They say that April showers bring May flowers, but they never said anything about April bringing a tornado! Sarah and I appreciated all of your letters and phone calls of support following that unfortunate twister. Fortunately, the tornado spared the first story of the house, but due to my layoff early in the year we have had to put off rebuilding the second story. Sarah, as you can imagine, is still bitter that I let our homeowners policy lapse last year, and she harps about it every time it rains. But the sudden reduced square footage of our house finally gave us an excuse to send Sarah's mute brother packing. He's now staying in a tent in our backyard, but I often find him just standing there, staring into our kitchen window. I have to tell you I find that guy creepy and I'm glad he's out of the breakfast nook now.

Speaking of breakfast, I did temporarily re-enter the job market in May, working the night shift at the local IHOP. I know what you're thinking -- I didn't need to go to graduate school to do that! But it turns out I wasn't very good at the job, and it lasted barely a week. And to preempt Uncle Bob's question, yes, the litigation is continuing. I had no idea that IHOP was so strict about adhering to their recipe cards. Don't get me wrong, I understand the value of having a consistent product across IHOP's 1,328 stores, but shouldn't each store be able to exercise some originality too? Obviously the regional manager and I differed very strongly on that point. In retrospect though, I probably should not have brought Alfredo with me to the restaurant's kitchen each night. Or Huck, for that matter.

I have given up the job search temporarily as I focus on the pending lawsuits -- from both the restaurant and, if you can believe it, the county as well. It never ends! At least the judge tabled the class action suit for now. And yes, Sarah is pretty upset about the whole thing. She's so unsettled that she refuses to make pancakes now, but that's probably just as well. I don't need to remind you about the pancake incident in the state penn that delayed her parole by a year.

But, our family always focuses on the positive, so in September we hit the road for a much-needed vacation. Except for Sarah, of course. Traveling with three young children is not something you do lightly! Especially given Charity's recent weight gain. It did not help matters that Sarah insisted we take Huck. Huck gets very car sick, which only serves to delight Alfredo and, subsequently, frighten Calvin. Sometimes I wish Huck would just fly away, but that would be quite a feat, considering the number the kerosene did on that bird's wings.

The road trip was fun. We did not have a destination in mind, so we mainly traveled from one Red Roof Inn to another, or sometimes to the same one, given my poor navigation skills! We had a bit of a scare when we inadvertently left Charity at an Amoco station in Des Moines. But, bless her heart, she was standing right where we left her by the pump when we arrived back the following evening. There was a bad thunderstorm that entire day, which made the roads quite slippery.

Calvin, Charity, and Alfredo were supposed to start preschool in the fall, and Alfredo did, for a short while. The school suggested holding back Calvin for a year, since he is only able to say the hawk's name, something he does repeatedly for hours on end. Charity did not want Calvin to feel bad, so she insisted on delaying preschool for a year too in a display of solidarity that makes Sarah and I so proud. Alfredo did start school, but I need to have a few more meetings with the school superintendent to find out whether he can return. It's not looking good. I think he is having some trouble adjusting to school, but Sarah thinks the school is just not challenging him enough. The other parents have little tolerance for these explanations, especially Bobby's parents, which you can sort of understand. The superintendent has explained that if Alfredo is allowed to return to school, he cannot bring Huck. On top of everything else, the school nurse was so upset about the lice and flee infestation that she retired early, leaving the school in a bit of a pickle.

The kids are growing up so fast. Charity gets bigger every day, and Alfredo is really taking after Sarah. We have found Calvin to be a bit of a disappointment, but two out of three isn't bad.

We hope you have a wonderful holiday season and extend our best wishes for the new year.

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