Since the inception of TRS in 2000, I have written about life "on the road". By plane, train, or automobile, I tell the story of trips; but the real story in each one is about the journey, not the destination. On March 15th, 2008, Daddy's Little Speed Bump was born. 21 months later, Speed Bump Number Two arrived. I thought it fitting to create a place, with a Road Scholars theme, to share this new journey.

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Our Charlie Brown Year

With as much writing as I do, I've never been a "Christmas letter" guy. A few years ago I quietly published one as a parody that I doubt anyone actually read. Reflecting on events of the past year, and as holiday greetings arrive from assorted friends, family, and enemies around the country, I feel compelled to give it another go. Not being a Christmas letter guy, I will do my best, using letters I've received as my guide. Since it seems that every letter shares some element of random excruciating detail nobody will actually care about, I'll start there.

Our Charlie Brown Christmas TreeEvery year, in the days leading up to or immediately following Thanksgiving, we begin to install Christmas. It's become somewhat of a tradition for us and it typically culminates the week after Thanksgiving with the purchase, placement, and trimming of a large ten to twelve foot Christmas tree in our family room. The purchasing of the family Christmas tree is something that I like to think I've perfected over the years. Growing up, my dad was the "lights" guy, and that was the extent of his Christmas tree responsibilities--at least once I was old enough to load one into the car. That allowed me quite a bit of practice scouring tree lots with my mom in search of the perfectly proportioned tree with limbs in all the right places.

Now that I have a family of my own (and my parents have resorted to an artificial Christmas tree and are 1200 miles away), I like to think I've streamlined the process. Last Year's Christmas TreeEach year as a family we drive to Lowe's, spend about 30 minutes comparing a dozen trees, then finally, with frostbitten, sap-infested extremities, we inevitably select the tree we first examined. It's usually a hefty brute and requires two or three strapping Lowe's associates to assist me in hoisting it onto the luggage rack atop the ol' all wheel drive family sled. Once home, I recruit a neighbor or two to help me roll the tree off the car and carry it into the house. 

Truth be told I spent far too much time in Ms. Ramsden's advanced high school english classes to actually insert "random" thoughts, so here comes the bridge (I've tried to keep the excruciating detail).

This year, during those days following Thanksgiving when we should have been fulfilling tradition, my entire family was sick. Instead of installing Christmas and washing sap off my hands, I was using up sick days taking care of two little girls and their mommy. This Year We Collected Hospital BraceletsWhen I finally managed to steal away an hour to get a tree it was December 14th, I was by myself, and the Christmas trees were all but mulch. I had to visit two big box stores this year just to find a tree worth wasting money on. As I drove it home, I tried to ease my mind. I thought "it'll look much bigger once it's in the house". But when I got home, rolled it off the car myself, and carried it into the house with one hand, I knew better. This was a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. As I hoisted that skinny little eight foot tree into position it was quickly dwarfed by the thirty foot vaulted ceiling. I sank into the realization that this tree was perfect for the year we've had. 

Nothing says Charlie Brown Christmas like a loving Christmas card from your brother. I though it was a beautiful beginning to a new year. On December 27, 2009, Alyssa Anne Genovese entered the world and gave daddy a nice year-end tax deduction. Surely a "year" in the Gregorian sense was just a number, an arbitrary line in the sand used for tax purposes. Then Leslie Nielsen died, and now not only am I proved wrong, but I feel strangely guilty using the word "surely" in a sentence. It turns out Alyssa's arrival actually had nothing to do with 2010, it was just a beautiful end to 2009.

2010 was the year we kept our pediatricians in business--we've gone through two of them. Alyssa spent her first six months with gastrointestinal issues and her next six months with MRSA infections. In her first year of life she underwent surgery, spent 14 days in the hospital, sampled nearly every antibiotic on the market, and dutifully met her annual insurance deductible. And she wasn't the only one. More days passed in 2010 with a member of my family sick than not, and that includes the dog. I've cleaned vomit out of cribs, beds, car seats, and carpet. I've vacuumed shit out of nearly every room in the house--and it's a big house. I've iced bumped heads, bruised ankles, and strained muscles--some of them mine. I have a pharmacy in my bathroom.

My Christmas BonusI guess I'm not very good at this Christmas letter thing. This is supposed to be the part where I brag about our exotic vacations, our major purchases, the vacation home(s), new recreational vehicles, graduation from fancy schools, etc. We experienced none of that this year. The vacation budget was spent getting Alyssa baptized in California and whatever was left over (and then some) I blew on the two weddings I attended alone. I installed a solar powered attic fan in an attempt to help offset our summer power bill and get a modest tax rebate on the purchase. We refinanced the house and I'm still making payments on the $500 laptop we bought last January that I'm typing this on. There's a roof over our heads, cars in the garage, food on the table, and more toys in the playroom than even daddy knows what to do with. So even though I carried that tree in with one hand this year, with lights, ornaments, and a little love, it didn't turn out all that bad. After all, a Charlie Brown tree is still a tree, and a Charlie Brown year of life beats the alternative.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and let's hope that, through the grace of God, at the very least we can be thankful for Charlie Brown again in 2011.

P.S. - If you sent us a Christmas card or letter this year, the first paragraph probably caught your attention. You're undoubtedly wondering if you are classified as "friend", "family", or "enemy". It really doesn't matter unless you plan to visit us, in which case remember this when you get your sleeping assignment: there's only two of us that know where all the vomiting and shitting took place, and the dog's not talking.

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Reader Comments (4)

Your Christmas letter was great! I was glad to see you never added that part that I get offended with, where the writer starts bragging about his/her job, achievements, worldly goods, etc! LOL! Thanks for the New Years Day smile! cousin Judi

January 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJudi Serin

I loved this Christmas letter, Sean. Honestly, your posts makes me want to start writing for fun again. Too bad you didn't spend enough time in my advanced classes to learn to capitalize "English." Surely I must be a failure. Or a B+.

January 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCate Ramsden

My capitalization might be amiss, but at least all my nouns and verbs agree. A- for both of us. Shirley can have the B+.

January 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSean

Works for me! :-)

January 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCate Ramsden

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