Every year I write a humorous holiday letter to go along with the cards that we send out to friends and family.

Well, let's be realistic. Each year I spend hours and hours writing, trying to come up with something that is at least amusing. Some years, it's fairly funny. Some years, not so much. For example, two years ago I wrote about why my roomba Alfred qualified as a pet. Last year, I co-wrote the letter with Sydney, our Australian Cattle dog mix (Sydney would like me to note at this point that he considers "mix" to be a derogatory term, but that at least it's not as bad as the speciest stuff that I usually write). I had hoped to put that one on my blog, but a contractual dispute nixed that deal. I don't care if he *is* a working breed, I'm not going to give him 30%.

The one common thread through this process is that a) I agonize over what I write, worried that it isn't funny enough (it isn't...) and therefore b) it's rarely done when I would like it to be. Many people send out their cards around Thanksgiving. We sent ours out yesterday, which means that it is technically possible for some people to receive them before the 25th. This is only average performance - in our worst performance (well, *my* worst performance), they went out around New Years Day. Though I must admit that sending out cards at that time does make your card more noteworthy.

So, here's the letter, which mercifully is only two pages this year:

‘oliday ‘05

Greetings, and welcome to the Gunnerson holiday letter. We have a great letter for you this year, including appearances by our usual family members. But let’s start with this year’s list:

Top 5 reasons the holiday letter is late

5. Scarred by Brad & Jennifer, worried about Ashton & Demi

4. On a European junket with Humor Action Committee lobbyists

3. Too busy working on “Programmers: Pango Pango“ reality show

2. Incessant bicycle riding produced dangerous pressure on comedy center

1. NASA satellite detects enormous “humor hole” over the Seattle area

If you watched any coverage of the Tour de France, you may have noticed that Team Discovery rides bicycles from Trek. If you take one of those bikes, add a little weight, and painstakingly eliminate all traces of talent from the rider, you have me on my new ride, a Trek Madone 5.2. Since such a purchase does not qualify as sufficiently expensive under subsection 8.3.4 (b) of the revised code of the male midlife crisis, I was forced to fall back on exception (iii), which says that “any purchase is acceptable provided it has flames painted on it”. They are yellow, on bright red paint.

This summer, we decided to do something different for our vacation, something with a bit more adventure. A far as I have been able to determine in my extensive research, in the vacation-biz, “adventure” is a synonym for “give me a lighter and I’ll burn that thing off“ or, at the very minimum, “do you have all your shots?”

Far be it for me to criticize those friends who embark on such adventures and think nothing of spending a week in the woods with only what they can carry. To criticize them would not only be uncouth, but would reduce the number of people I can depend on after the collapse of civilization.

But for us, it’s clear that the Gunnersons are not, either by nature or nurture, campers. We’re all over the “go outside and do new, fun, or challenging things” part. We are not down with “I thought you packed the dishes did you put out the fire what’s that poking into my back I’m freezing in here my sleeping bag is getting wet OH MY GOD is that an animal outside the tent”.

So, after intense deliberation, we chose a “Family Multisport Bicycle Tour” of the Columbia Gorge. For those of you who have forgotten your “Washington State History” (or worse, never had the chance to take it...), the Columbia gorge was mapped by “Meriwether” Lewis (so named because of his sunny disposition during the dark and damp Washington winter) and William “please name a candy bar after me” Clark. While in the gorge, they came across a group of native americans who navigated the river on cedar planks, holding wood frames with deerskin hides on them for propulsion. (think about it...). Our trip would mirror the original route taken by Lewis and Clark, in the sense that both groups would spend time both in Oregon and Washington (though they preferred Oregon because they didn’t have to pay sales tax).

The trip included four days of biking (15-20 miles per day), two days of hiking, a morning of whitewater rafting (including a 12’ waterfall drop), an afternoon falling off a board at Hood River (they claimed it was a windsurfing lesson, but my understanding is that “windsurfing” requires standing up for more than 30 seconds), and countless hours of eating great food and lazing around. It was, to use Samantha’s words, “the best vacation ever”.

Kim has been progressing well in her studies on her way to her PhD (Doctor of Philosphy), a holdover from the era when the philosphers ran the show. She is currently a PhC, which she says is short for “PhD candidate”, but is actually short for “Chauffer of Philosophy”. Earlier she was a PhB (Babysitter of Philosophy), and before that a PhA (Appraiser of Philosophy). In some countries, such as Vietnam, this process continues all the way up to the PhO (Doctor of soup).

After a couple of months of negotiations, Samantha decided in September to leave her current position and accept a new one at Highland Middle School. Like many new jobs, this one included some initial qualification tests, including “tuna surprise”, “how many books can you carry”, and, of course, the state-mandated “malfunctioning locker” test. She’s having lots of fun.

That’s all for now. Happy holidays from Samantha, Kim, and Eric.

 

 

How the weather stole Christmas (lights)

For years they have come, to watch and to marvel

The old, the adult, and the recently larval

With dogs and with cats (and even a mouse)

To look at the lights on the Gunnerson House

But there was one not entranced with the sight

That greeted the viewers each long winter night

The view did not fill him with joy and with wonder

The one they call Zeus, god of wind, rain, and thunder

The mortals had started a landscaping project

Removing that air of decay was their object

The backyard, to be fair, it did have some needs

We are not fond of pea gravel and weeds

In front, lay a deck that you travelled a-brisk

For dalying on it would be quite a risk

The decking decayed and the railings askew

And a hole where someone had put her foot through

So a plan was hatched to tear off the deck

Go into the back and clear out the dreck

Make it look nice, make some amends

And not be embarrassed to show it to friends

Our contractor started, in brilliant fall sun

In no time at all the work was half done

But the gods were a watching, and constantly scheming

Within their heads a plan was a-teeming

“We’ll do it with weather”, said Zeus with a sneer

“The lights will not go up on that house this year”

So on came the rain, and with it, the mud

And everything stopped with an audible thud

For weeks it went on, and our senses were reeling

(though snow in the mountains did temper that feeling)

And just when it looked like the forecast was better

Cold weather and snow made us reach for a sweater

And the lights are still nestled inside their containers

This year we will not be part-time entertainers

When it will be done we cannot estimate

And things are still in a deplorable state

Our only option is to just trust in fate

And we’re quite optimistic about 2008