By Maria Schulz
Well folks, it’s that time of year again. Suddenly, you’re hearing from all those family members, best buddies and once-a-year friends thanks to the one piece of snail mail that refuses to die: the holiday card.
I get a lot of cards with “Happy Holidays” scribbled across the bottom. I really look forward to the cards that come with a handwritten note from old teachers, high school pals, grade school friends, and other people that I really love but don’t always get to talk to during the year. Then again, I also get those cards with all the photos that show how grown up all the kids have gotten. One of the best ones I got included “then” and “now” photos of the kids, which made me tear up a little. It also reminded me that I am on my way to being decrepit.
The one card that I kind of dread is the Holiday Newsletter. Relentlessly self-congratulatory, unflinchingly pretentious, and blindingly self-absorbed, the Holiday newsletter is to Christmas cards what Macbeth is to Cats. Luckily, I have fallen off the newsletter list of several people who used to send them to me. I wonder why?
This is the type of newsletter I dislike:
Dear Fam & Friendz !!! J
Another year has passed in the Howell family’s little saga, and we just couldn’t wait to share our good fortune with all of you.
For those of you who don’t already know, Thurston just got promoted to Grand High Exalted Mystic Ruler of his local Raccoon Lodge. He is now the top ranking Mystic Ruler in the Southwest! He begged me not to mention it since he doesn’t like to brag, but he forgot that I do! Besides, why start listening to him now? LOL LOL LOL
Of course, he also just cashed in those stocks his great granddaddy left him. You know, the ones Dudley Howell bought for Coca Cola back when it was being sold in Atlanta drugstores for a nickel? The fact is, we will never be able to use all that money in one lifetime, let alone pay all the taxes!
Our son, little Thurston, may be only 6, but he already speaks 4 languages including Swahili. Our Nanny, who is from that region, has been teaching him her special dialect. I think it’s charming, and the first grade teachers in our neighborhood can’t get enough of him! Do you know how to say, “I am a god?” in Swahili? Little Thurston says it’s “Mimi ni mungu.” He says it constantly while telling us what to do. It’s an absolute laugh riot!
Our daughter, Adele (formally Lois, for those of you who got past newsletters) has created a sensation on the local beauty pageant circuit. People from all walks of life feel compelled to stop me on the streets and marvel at her ability to sing “Rumor Has It” with such passion and feeling. It’s almost like she knows betrayal, heartbreak and Jazz better than any other 9 year old I’ve ever encountered!
Our dog, King Ernesto of Poseidon III, is such a handsome specimen that we were certain he would one day go on to take the coveted “Best In Show” title in every dog show. Unfortunately, one of the snobs from the governing body said Ernesto couldn’t compete just because he is blind and quite possibly mentally deficient. I considered suing, but Ernesto seems to be enjoying his early retirement, lounging in the yard, chasing the occasional varmint and even bumping into trees at times. Maybe I will just get him a job as a doggie model. He is really that handsome!
As for me, I’m on my 4th (but don’t worry, it’s definitely not my last) stint of redecorating the house. Each day, I contemplate whether to go with marble or granite, ceiling fans or chandeliers, burnt ochre or smoked sienna. Just last week, I completed my purchase of 900 yards of damask fabric with which I will cover all of my furniture in just a matter of hours. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure I’m destined to be your Home Designer of choice in the future! If I could get out my Magic 8 Ball, I’d say it’s safe to say that you’ll be getting “Frederika’s Fabulous” business cards in your mailboxes soon. Coupons to follow!
For those of you who don’t remember (ha, ha), we moved to Arizona about 5 years ago. Did you realize that Arizona is really hot pretty much all year round? But what they say is true: it is a dry heat, so it is very tolerable. Not like that humidity my dear friends and family up in the Northeast face all summer long! Oh, remember what my hair used to look like in July?
So sorry to cut this short, but I’m going to join my family now for a swim. That’s right, a swim—in December! Happy Holidays to all of you snow-bound fools!
XXOO, The Howells
P.S. We went swimming with the dolphins this year off the coast of Bimini! Adele sang with them and Little Thurston rode on one particularly friendly dolphin’s back. I think he is the next Jacques Cousteau!!!!
Peace, love & joy.
This is the newsletter I’m pretty sure the Frederika Howell’s of the world would rather send:
What can I say about the last year? It totally stunk. Thurston got kicked out of his Raccoon Lodge for cooking the books. It was in all the local papers. He asked me not to mention it, but I’ve been drinking eggnog since Halloween and so my inhibitions are pretty low right now.
Those stocks I’ve been talking about for the last dozen or so years weren’t actually for Coca Cola, they were for the once rival brand of Kona Cola. Apparently, it was a special Hawaiian blend that promised a splash of pineapple and a taste of the tropics in every drop.
Never heard of it? Neither did our broker. Those stocks weren’t worth the paper they were printed on. I was going to use the money they were supposed to generate for Thurston’s bail, but oh well. Fortunately, he only got 10 years for embezzling and he is serving his time in a very lovely low security, white-collar prison. The months he’s had to spend there already will count towards his time served. So there is a silver lining!
Now that I’ve got three minutes to think about something other than Thurston’s impending jail sentence, I’ve come to the conclusion that Little Thurston is trying to drive me insane. He constantly runs around the house, speaking in imaginary languages and dressed in a toga. His first grade teachers call endlessly to complain that he thinks he is a god and refuses to follow directions. Our Nanny, who is Swahili, says he is definitely possessed. I think she may be on to something.
Our daughter, Adele, changed her name from Lois earlier this year. I can’t get her to stop singing songs from that stupid album. It isn’t bad enough that it plays all XXX!@ day on the radio, now I have to hear it at every Beauty Contest she drags me to. I wish she would realize that Rumour Has It—she doesn’t even have the looks or talent of Honey Boo-Boo, let alone Miss America.
Remember in last year’s newsletter how I told you about the dog we adopted? His official name is Champion Ernest Borgnine of Poseidon Adventure III, but we like to refer to him as Ernie. Ernie is just drop dead gorgeous, and Thurston got it into his head that he was going to be eligible for the Westminster Dog Show. I think he watched “Best in Show” one too many times.
Anyways, Ernie was disqualified because the judges say he’s blind. I beg to differ; my dog is not blind, he’s stupid. He walks into walls and pees in inappropriate places. There was a time that I thought Thurston was deaf, but it was just that he was ignoring me. I think that Ernie learned that trick from Thurston and just got it wrong. So now he walks into trees and chases imaginary squirrels. Maybe Little Thurston can use his god-like powers to cure him and make the blind dog see. LOL
As for me, I see no gainful employment in my immediate future. I have decided to redecorate the house in a style I like to call “Retro 70s,” which basically means I’ve arranged five beanbag chairs around an ancient black and white TV, where my Nanny and children sit around and play PONG all day long. We are keeping one of those beanbag chairs ready and waiting for Thurston just in case he gets out on good behavior!
Has anyone ever told you that Arizona is tolerable because the heat here is “dry?” What the XXOO!@!* does that mean? Would you crawl inside an oven, jack it up to 110 degrees, and consider yourself lucky while your skin sizzled and burned because it was a dry heat? If the answer is yes, then you should definitely move to my neighborhood.
I would go swimming but my pool is hotter than hell. I’m going to go sit in my beanbag chair and play PONG now, if I can get my Nanny and kids to give me a turn.
Nuts to you,
P.S. We went swimming with the dolphins this year. Did you know that they become vicious when subjected to my daughter’s endless renditions of “Rolling in the Deep” and a young delusional boy tries to ride them? I jumped in to save Little Thurston and one of those XXOO@* fishes bit me. Tore my pinky finger right off! One of my old Brooklyn friends now calls me “Four Fingers Freddie.”
Peace out yo.
[Now that’s the kind of Holiday newsletter I would really enjoy!]
Here’s one of my favorite Christmas cards:
Let your inhibitions disappear just like Four Fingers Freddie! These Eggnog recipes look delicious and may make the holidays even more merry and bright. The first one is even from Rachel Ray!
So, Hungry Lifers…what do you like best about holiday newsletters? What do you like least? Please leave a comment here and let us all know. Happy Holidays!