Sunday, December 19, 2004

COLUMN: The Letter

My holidays finally are complete. Today, I received The Letter.

My great-aunt and -uncle live in Hollywood. They might be the only ones on my mom's side of the family who ever escaped the Midwest to go live the Bright-Lights-Big-City life.

And we get to read all about it ... in their annual Christmas letter.

Do you have anyone in your family who writes one of these things? My aunt's is always one typed page, photocopied and mass-mailed, summing up their year for friends and family. I suppose the thought is to share with loved ones their highs, lows and in-betweens. Instead, what comes out is like reading a Cliff's Notes version of a really, really, boring book -- all the trappings of a soap opera, just without the intrigue, jealousy, evil twins, Luke, Laura, Bo, Hope, and/or mad tycoons with devices that can control the weather.

I love my great-aunt and -uncle, I truly do. But does that mean I need to know how the shopping was on their road trip to Colorado? I certainly don't need to know that they took a different route to Colorado this time, or that my uncle got a speeding ticket on the way back. Yet they feel the need to share, each and every year, and I soak it in with morbid fascination.

When I first started receiving The Letter, three years ago, I felt as though I were finally a man -- on equal footing, an independent thinker, a fellow adult. I no longer sit at the kids' table and now can finally partake in the good news of my uncle's improving golf game.

This year, The Letter got me thinking. Should I, too, send out a Christmas letter? I guess I'm not traveling on a cross-country shopping spree or even getting a speeding ticket. But still, I live my life regardless, and surely there are tales to be told.

Therefore, this year, I'm sending out my 1st Annual Christmas Letter, and it goes something like this:

MERRY CHRISTMAS 2004! Oh, hello, friends and family, and join with me as I bid adieu to yet another year of blessings and good cheer from the Island of Rock!

Where did the time go? I spent most of January catching up on my television watching. February soon followed, and with it a huge change in my life, as I bravely decided to change my television-watching position from the left side of my couch to the right.

In April it was road-trip time, as I commenced with my annual out-of-state spring shopping trip. I departed Rock Island on the 5th, and after an arduous and trying journey, 15 minutes later I arrived at sunny NorthPark Mall, in the far-off land of Iowa.

Tragedy stuck in May, however, as I lost five of my closest Friends all in one week. While Ross, Rachel, Chandler, Monica and Phoebe are no longer with us, I still reminisce about them fondly (usually every night around 6:30.)
My other Friend, Joey, moved to California to pursue his acting career, and while I still hear from him once a week or so, he's just not quite as funny as he used to be.

Summer was tough as I bravely fought through rerun season, but August brought unexpected joy and a new addition to the family with the birth of my first kidney stone. I've named the little fella Rock, and while the delivery was every bit as painful as I'd imagined, oh, was it worth it!

The fall season is my favorite time of the year, and 2004 was no exception. Between ``Lost'' and ``Desperate Housewives,'' I barely found time to enjoy my passion for golf. My game appears to be improving this year, however, as I challenged and defeated both Arnold Palmer and Jack Nicklaus in ``Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2005'' for Xbox.

In October, I finally figured out a way to earn a little more money. As incredulous as it may be, it seems that a local newspaper out here is willing to pay me to write a weekly column for them on whatever gobbledygook I can spew out! So far it's pretty easy, and they havent caught on to my scam yet! I just babble about my ``wacky family'' and holidays and stuff, and they keep on paying me! The editor must be a real big [editor's note: fantastic individual to work for.]

Well, that about wraps it up for 2004! Many hopes and dreams exist for an exciting 2005 -- starting with a new couch position for me! Love, Your (circle One: Son/Nephew/Cousin/Grandson/Friend/Work Colleague), Shane.

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