Dear family, family I never see, family I see more than I'd like, friends, acquaintances, friends who used to be acquaintances, and acquaintances who used to be friends:
I hope this letter finds you well and that you and yours thrived in the year 2013. Unless you're one of those people who always seem to fall backwards into good luck and prosperity even when you've done nothing to earn it, in which case I hope you at least had a terrible stomach bug or found a hair in your filet mignon or got a speeding ticket on the way to the new Mercedes Benz dealership in Fort Mitchell (where, and I am not making this up, you can practice your putting on an indoor miniature golf green while your luxury vehicle gets tuned up and crusted in diamonds.)
2013 was a good year for our family. Better than 2012 in that no one in the immediate family died. But we still went to a lot of funerals. Hey, Death. Can you do us a solid? Maybe dial it down a notch in 2014? Thanks, bro.
When we weren't at funerals we were travelling to swim meets, and while the latter is more enjoyable than the former, it's only by a small margin. We learned a lot this year as our young daughter became more competitive in this sport. For instance:
1. Swim parents are big drinkers.
2. Swimming is a wonderful sport that teaches children the value of hard work and perseverance, keeps its athletes in peak physical condition all year long, and can remain, more than many other sports, a life-long passion and its own way of life.
3. Swimming has the ability to suck the energy from a parent's soul and the money from a parent's wallet once every month when the whole family joins in the caravan of swim gypsies spending entire weekends in hotel rooms and crowded bleachers struggling for air and just a few precious moments of unscheduled time.
4. 1 and 3 are related.
But our kid did well, and while not the fastest girl on the team, she was the hardest worker and one of the most-improved. She has a significant collection of 4th- and 5th-place ribbons from last year, and I promise you I am more proud of those than the superstars' parents are of their swimmers' gold and silver medals.
Our daughter also gave a piano recital this year, played a few hymns in church, and, more importantly, learned to play an indie-rock song called "Ghosts" by the band The Head and the Heart, who we all also saw in concert. This is an exciting development, because we desperately want our child to have better musical taste than we did as kids so we're not forced to listen to her practice Tiffany's 1988 classic "Could've Been" 20 times a day the way our parents had to. Sorry, Mom.
The hubby and I are at our same jobs, which, God willing, we will keep long enough to get big, gaudy service awards from when we retire to New Mexico, which we fell in love with this year as we got caught up on Breaking Bad. Subtract the meth, the intense showdowns, the amazing acting, and the heartbreaking study of the addictive nature of power and greed, and that show was really just a long commercial for the desolate beauty of the desert southwest. I'm buying that blue stuff Walter White is selling, if all he's selling is the clear skies of Albuquerque.
We did not take a vacation this year, a situation we will surely rectify in 2014. In fact, we have bright hopes for the upcoming year. We'd like to get away for a week to somewhere with warm sun and blue waters. We'd like to do a little more home renovating. And we'd like to see a bit more of our friends, who are like family to us. And just like with our extended families, we have a bad habit of not taking time out of our busy schedules to simply enjoy their company.
If I make a New Year's Resolution, it would be this: to stop more often and be with the people whose company I enjoy the most, my friends. Because they're awesome people. And they usually have good beer around. And we are, after all, swim parents, and that sort of thing matters to us.
Just kidding! We'd love you even if you didn't drink. But we would worry about you, because seriously, not even the occasional glass of wine with dinner? How do you make it through the holidays?
Join us at a swim meet 2 1/2 hours away from home after driving through a snow storm, and we may convert you.
So, as the old song says, as we inch closer to Christmas, and the end of this year, and the beginning of a new one, and to our inevitable doom (sorry, I turn 40 this year):
May your days be merry and bright.
(Just not so bright that you find yourself on more than one occasion on the putting green of a Mercedes dealership, because that's just excessive.)
The Cranky Librarian