Christmas 2012   

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I was glad the world did not end in 2012, as predicted by the Mayan calendar, but we are not out of the woods yet; the Azteca calendar predicts 12 months of bland Mexican food, the calendar I get from my realtor predicts 2013 will be an excellent time to buy and sell real estate, and the Far Side calendar predicts talking animals. Remain vigilant.

This year saw yours truly being trendy for the first time in quite a while, and not just because I watched most of Kim Jong Un's video "Gangnam Style" but because I participated in the whooping cough epidemic that took our state by spittle-flecked storm. We hipsters love retro diseases. Nothing complements a pork-pie hat and handlebar mustache like a constant olde-timey wheeze. (Remember to get your hand-crafted artisanal vaccination from a doctor with a black leather bag.)

But I didn't let some pertussis bacteria keep me from renting a tiny trackhoe and throwing away half the backyard. (It's a great way to show the weeds you mean business.) To keep the other half of the yard from sliding down, I leaned 17,000 pounds of rocks against it, one by one. My other half, Beth, did not want me to dig a pond and waterfall, but she foolishly left me unsupervised each day, so now we have both.

Beth continues to be employed in Microsoft's security division, so if you want the low-down on the latest Windows vulnerabilities, ask her. She will not tell you. However, she will tell you about her side job making Frankensocks (available at local retailers and at

Beth's Jaguar got an engine transplant this year. It was like a heart transplant except not covered by insurance and it takes longer. In the interim, she commuted in one of my spare Roadmaster wagons--and loved it, though she hid her delight behind a mask of resigned disgust.

Jackie's in her sophomore year at Bush, where her grades are good and her volleyball team actually won several games. She went to her first concert: The Black Keys at (appropriately enough) Key Arena. I made her laugh until she cried by describing what video stores were as she flicked her thumbs on an Xbox controller to scan thousands of high-def titles on Netflix. "Wait... tapes? That you rented? And you had to rewind and return them?!" It does sound pretty stupid now. She caught an episode of 30 Rock this year, liked it, then decided to watch all 7 seasons on her computer in high-def, for free, sans commercials. I explained how back in my day, one had to be at home on a certain day at a particular time to watch a show, and had to sit through ads, and if you missed something, you missed it; there was no jumping back, no pausing. She looked at me with a mix of pity and boredom, but refrained from inquiring about T. Rex attacks. What hardships will she torment her future children with? Tales of gadgets one had to actually speak into, instead of merely thinking a request? Cars one had to drive oneself? Snow?

Four years ago, Veronica's gymnastics were cute. A year ago, they were impressive. Now they frighten me. Her latest trick is called an ariel; it's like a cartwheel but with no hands. And I can barely watch the things she does on the garage trampoline, yet command me to "Watch!" she does. She did competitive gymnastics for the first time this year. Her instructor put her with girls 2-3 years older and her team won their championship. When she performed at the Seattle Center whirlygig with other 9-year-olds, there were audible gasps from the crowd (except McKayla Maroney).

I accidentally killed Santa for Roni this year. It started with her questioning the Easter Bunny's existence this spring. "Now, hon, you don't actually think a giant rabbit hides colored eggs in our yard, do you?" Her face said that she did because her parents had told her it was so, but her mouth said "What about Santa?" Dammit. I didn't rehearse for this. Jackie had figured it out on her own. The conversation ended with Roni in the fetal position around a stuffed animal, and me realizing that for a lot of kids, this is the first time they lose a loved one, but by December she was full of Santa talk again. She knows how the game is played.

On the remodeling front, before tackling the backyard, I sacked one of our bathrooms so hard I was flagged for excessive celebration. (And targeting the head [sorry].) So nicely did it turn out that I encourage you to consume spoiled shellfish prior to any visit to our home, that you may have an excuse to linger.

Happy Happy Joy Joy,
Bill, Beth, Jacqueline, & Veronica

P.S. Apparently, our New York New Year's party is becoming a perennial as we are doing it again this Monday. This tradition was born of my wife's love of hosting, and my triple loves of not going places, not doing things, and being in bed by 10. Conveniently, New York rings in the new year at 9pm Pacific, making this party's apex well before my--and any children you care to bring's--bedtime. Children can find their way to the basement where video games, various toys, and teen supervision (oxymoron?) await.

An added wrinkle this year will be an optional exchange of elephant gifts. (You might know these better by the antiquated racist expression "white elephant gifts".) If you'd like, simply bring a wrapped gift for each participant to place under our tree. You're probably way ahead of me, but yes, this is the perfect opportunity to dump some items you and your kids got for Christmas, or to go out and purchase something that is actually desirable and be warmed by the glow of knowing you are better than the rest of us.

We will have too much food and hooch, but don't let that stop you from bringing something if you've a mind to. Anytime after 6:00 at the house with too many lights, 5103 S Alaska St. 98118