2001 Christmas Letter

Welcome to yet another Christmas letter. Having been writing these annual summaries of my life since 1995, one might develop the notion that I somehow know what I’m doing. Over the years I have noticed that other people notice when I spell words wrong or put completely incorrect words where they just don’t belong. While I see this as “cute” and “charming”, the rest of the world generally does not. For example, the words “assess” and “asses” contain almost the same letters, but their meaning is quite different. If any of these types of mistakes have been made in the following letter, please rest assured that it is the work of the Evil Alien Overlord who controls all my outgoing communications. Having said that, please enjoy the rest of this letter.

After reading through my past Christmas letters, I’ve noticed a rather disturbing trend. Much like the Academy Awards, events that occurred in the first few months of the year are underrepresented in the end of the year production. While I don’t consciously omit stories from the beginning of the year, it just seems to happen. To correct for this grievous injustice, I have made the proactive decision to document events which occured in January. Let me think (envision me sitting at my desk scratching my head as I thoughtfully stare up at the ceiling)—I remember it was cold, and it snowed a little bit in Boulder. Hmm… that’s not really witty or insightful. OK, next year I will take better notes throughout the year so I can present a balanced portrayal of my life. I promise.

The most significant event of my life this year involved me getting the thought into my head that I should become a writer. The idea of finding another computer programming job just was about as appealing as a “Three’s Company” television reunion special (likely plot line: Chrissy isn’t pregnant—she’s menopausal.). While I’m generally not good at things like “making plans” or “developing strategies”, I did manage to come up with a vague notion of writing a weekly story for a web site I run. Since the beginning of February I have written about random thoughts and ideas that happen to be running around my head when I sit down at my computer. Notable topics include a squishy ball, playing laser tag, and dreams of becoming a lounge singer. And just in case I haven’t plugged my web site enough this year, all my stories can be found on the Internet at www.newfunny.com.

While I consider my weekly writing efforts to be a noble cause, it does make writing my Christmas letter this year is a bit more challenging than usual. For example, I could write extensively about my trip to Germany in August, but I’ve already composed three separate stories on my web site. For everyone who has not read about my adventures in Europe the first time around, here is the abbreviated version: I flew to Germany, experienced numerous amusing encounters with the local population, developed several insightful observations, and then got home safely.

While my efforts to establish myself in the writing world kept me in front of my computer for extended periods of time, I have managed to continue volunteering at Habitat For Humanity. As all men know, the call of the compressed air nail gun can not be left for the answering machine. In addition to helping out at the construction site, I have built a web site for the Boulder Valley Habitat affiliate. When my otherwise hectic schedule permits, I go and take pictures of people as they work on the houses. While making no admission of guilt, there seems to be a strange correlation between those who are not nice to me at the construction site and unflattering photographs of people picking their nose and scratching themselves inappropriately.

After spending last Christmas in Minnesota at my sister’s apartment where the temperature varied from a low of negative 20 to a high of zero, my mom and I declared that the location of the next family get together was to be held below the Tropic of Cancer. Hawaii was discussed, but in the end we decided to make my sister fly back to Denver. For the duration of her stay the temperature in Denver was actually lower than in Minneapolis. This helped Karen appreciate our jokes about Minnesota being a frozen wasteland just that much more.

Despite my general inability to buy interesting and unique presents for my family and friends during the holidays, I did have one flash of brilliance when it came to my cousin Ted. After seeing how much his daughters loved singing along with the karaoke machine, I went out and found a Britney Spears karaoke CD. Now I just want to return to Pennsylvania for the sole purpose of getting the girls all wound up singing “Hit me baby one more time” and then taking off after I grow tired of the experience.

Unfortunately, the rest of my Christmas shopping experience was not nearly as productive.

A week before Christmas I drove to Target to try and find two presents for my sister and cousin. I walked around aimlessly trying to visualize what two twenty something women might like to have under the tree this year. Somehow I ended up looking at new Playstation video games. While I did not seem to remember either of them owning a Playstation console, I could not dismiss the possibility they both secretly play video games whenever I leave the room. If this hypothesis was true, I would really have no other choice but to buy each of them a new Playstation game. If I happened to be wrong all they would have to do is send the stuff back to me and I would, uhhh, return the games and find them an alternate gift. Unless of course the plastic packaging was opened, in which case I would be unable to return the games to the store.

Fortunately, a nearby female shopper was reading my thoughts as if they were popping up above my head in cartoon caption bubbles. She grabbed the games out of my hands and told me that in no uncertain terms was I to buy anything from the electronics department.

As I continued my search, I experienced a moment of insight and clarity where I saw the light. To clarify: this was not a metaphorical light, but rather a light bulb for sale. While I’m usually not the type of person who gets excited about this kind of thing, this bulb was like no other I’ve ever seen. It was a green 40 watt bulb that looked as though it had lost a battle with a glue gun. I was totally mesmerized. I grabbed one and headed immediately to the checkout lane—figuring that Karen and Robin would be happy receiving my unconditional love and admiration this holiday season. Again.

That closes the books on another year for me. I have learned quite a bit in 2001. Like how my mom gets unreasonably upset when I make a “dead hooker in the trunk” joke in front of my Grandmother. Which I find strange since she finds them quite entertaining when its just the two of us. My mom and I, that is. As tradition dictates, I’m ending with some useful and inspirational advice from one of my favorite movies. As Vizzini from “The Princess Bride” once said: You fell victim to one of the classic blunders, the most famous of which is “Never get involved in a land war in Asia.”