Friends and family:
As many of you know (or may have personally experienced/suffered), I am terrible with cards. From the birthday card that I carelessly selected from the “With Sympathy” section, to the time I sent out several dozen Christmas cards without postage—some of which were delivered C.O.D.—I’ve just never really nailed down the art. I once brought an “It’s a Boy!” card to a wedding shower. I mean, the baby was due two weeks from the wedding—it seemed like a two-for-one kind of thing.
For the last several years, I’ve opted for a holiday email instead. It’s not as personal (Aunt Karen personally signs every one of her cards), but you wouldn’t be able to read my handwriting anyway. The other day, Dylan wrote a lovely note on the chalkboard in our kitchen, and I wrote back, “I love you!” …and then signed my name so he wouldn’t think a serial killer broke in and replied with a threatening message. If the school could have held me back for handwriting, I’d still be in 3rdgrade.
I’ve exhausted most of my great Christmas anecdotes over the last few years, so I’ve been delaying writing this year’s email—that is, until inspiration struck yesterday. I was standing in the kitchen, loading the dishwasher, and I stopped to stare out the kitchen window at the unexpected snow fall. It reminded me of a time a few years ago when I was in 4th grade.
My mother had hosted a lovely dinner at our home, and when the guests departed, we were left with several years’ worth of Amway cleaning products. If you remember Amway, or have ever been victim to a similar party, you know that they all have generic labels that look nothing like the popular brands sold at the store. With that said, I’d like to preface this sentence with, “so it’s no surprise,” but my mother would hit reply to all and insist that it was, indeed a surprise, that when I came home from school to do the dishes, instead of dishwasher detergent, I added a heaping scoop of generically-labeled tile grout to the dishwasher and turned on the super cycle with nearly every dish in the house crammed in to the dishwasher. We didn’t subscribe to the idea that dishes could be broken down into more than one cycle, and to this day, that tradition remains the same.
It didn’t take long before it was clear that something had gone horribly wrong. The dishwasher started smoking like a rebellious teenager, and it sounded like a small sandstorm had grown into a drive by shooting inside the dishwasher. Realizing that my afternoon was about to be irreconcilably ruined, I threw on a sweater and made my way for the door. My mother, sensing that I could conceivably go several weeks on the couches of friends to avoid doing a load of dishes by hand, condemned me to the kitchen until the dishes were cleaned.
As it began to snow outside, I found myself tethered indoors, scraping hardened chunks of cement off of coffee mugs that said counterintuitive things like, “My Child is an Honor Roll Student.” In my urgency to get outside and build a snow replica of Ann Richards, I took to breaking the dishes that seemed too tedious to clean or too far gone to save. Seriously, you use a gravy boat twice a year. The colander? It had holes in it… how useful could it be? I don’t think we had glass cups in the house again until after I went off to college.
Anyway, back to yesterday: as I watched the oddly shaped snow fall onto the tarp draped curiously over the bushes outside my window—thinking about how I was still too afraid to use the Heated Dry setting—it occurred to me that what I was actually witnessing were clumps of sheetrock falling from my upstairs neighbor’s window as they replaced a rotting wall panel. And that’s really what New Years is all about, isn’t it? …Okay, maybe I stretched that metaphor into a hernia.
What I was trying to suggest here is that—notwithstanding my unorthodox, decidedly un-Hallmark way of saying it—is that, this holiday season, I wish each of you a vault of cherished old memories, and opportunities to make many more (which you can also let fester in that same vault for 20+ years before reliving them in an email you send to everyone you know)… and a happy new year!
Love and several cups of holiday cheer,
Ty & Dylan Pressley