Friends and Family:
I noticed my first two age spots on the back of my right hand; that was the big news this year.
Who will be named 2008’s ‘Favorite Kid?’ I told the kids that this year that honor would go to the highest bidder. I’m hoping to snag an ambassadorship out of the deal.
Sam has an large vocabularyfor a nine-year-old. In fact, just the other day he used the word, ‘re-dunk-cu-lous,’ correctly in a sentence, as in ‘don’t be redunkculous.’
Carli’s streak of straight A’s was in jeopardy this year. She was upset, but then I let her in on a little secret … grades don’t matter until high school.
Gina thinks it’s cool to get an ‘M.’ At her school, the teacher said that ‘M’ stands for ‘meets.’ I told Gina that ‘M’ actually stands for ‘misappointing your father.’
I bought some biking shoes this year with some black socks. The bike shop guy actually tried to talk me out of buying the socks, saying among other things that ‘you don’t need special socks’ and ‘there’s nothing special about these socks.’ But he was missing the most important thing about the socks … they looked cool with the shoes.
I wrote 50,000 words in the 30 days of November for a novel about me, Gina, Sam, the dogs and Grandpa on a road trip.
I own the first 48 issues of the literary magazine, ‘The Believer.’ I haven’t read any of them.
Gina can make cheese cake.
Rose wrote “10 Commandments for Swimming Parents” in the early 1990s. Did you know that article has been reprinted on club websites in 12 countries? Go sign up for her newsletter, and then book her for a consulting gig.
Rose presented to 500 athletes, coaches and administrators of Team USA as they prepared for the Special Olympics World Games; another national group and a record-setting audience.
My Dad turned 90 this summer. He grew up on a farm during the Great Depression. In third grade he drove his own horse-and-buggy two miles to school.
While visiting Audrius this fall, a guy named Clancy stopped by. He looked familiar. He was the guard from Shawshank Redemption, but here’s the topper: he’s also the voice of Mr. Krabs from SpongeBob.
Gina gave a large amount of her hair to “Locks of Love” an organization that benefits kids who lose their hair due to cancer.
Sam likes the band, “Five Finger Death Punch,” who sings, ‘The Way of the Fist.’ Fans of the band are called ‘Knuckleheads.’
Gina, who plays volleyball and is nearly taller than Rose, met the U.S. Olympic women’s volleyball team at the airport after Beijing. Some players wore their silver medal. Gina got an autograph. I asked from whom? Gina said, “The tallest one.” (Number 3 in the photo.)
Carli is making all of her Xmas gifts by hand. I hope she can construct an iTunes card out of that colorful Archivers’ paper.
Rose went to her 30th HS reunion in ‘08. She turns 50 on Jan. 9.
Carli and I went to the Olympic Swim Trials in Omaha. She met many great swimmers from the past 40 years, but the best part for Carli was having lunch with Misty Hyman and wearing Misty’s gold medal in the picture.
Misty and I went on trips together all over the world, including Brazil, Sweden and, Australia. She and Carli share the same birthday of March 23.
It was fun seeing all of my swimmers again, but my favorite part was when Bob Bowman, Michael Phelps’ coach, said to me: “Oh, I heard you ran a marathon.”
Carli was named her swim team’s MVP for her age group for the second straight year.
Sam played basketball this year. He learned how to play low post. He gets a lot of assists for a power forward.
Last year I boldly predicted that I would live to be 88. I need to revise that. You know about the age spots, plus I had a gigantic wax ball removed from my ear canal. So-called eye experts want me to wear the bifocals.
So there were no physical achievements this year, no scaling of the mountains, or running of the races, instead I had the growing of the heel spur and the tearing of the rotator cuff.
It would appear that I have peaked mentally, physically, spiritually and financially.
It’s all downhill from here until the eternal dirt nap.
Wait, wait … I can’t let the warm and fuzzy feel-good Rocky Mountain Snyder Family Christmas Letter end like that.
That is depressing.
I feel like Scrooge on that fateful night when he was visited by three spirits. Am I looking at the shadows of things that Will be?
Scrooge spoke to the Ghost of Christmas Future:
“Ghost of the Future,” he exclaimed, “I fear you more than any spectre I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me?”
“Lead on!” said Scrooge. “Lead on! The night is waning fast, and it is precious time to me, I know. Lead on, Spirit!”
‘Before I draw nearer to that stone to which you point,’ said Scrooge, ‘answer me one question. Are these the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?”
“Men’s courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which, if persevered in, they must lead,” said Scrooge. “But if the courses be departed from, the ends will change. Say it is thus with what you show me!”
The Spirit was immovable as ever.
Scrooge crept towards it, trembling as he went; and following the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected grave his own name, Ebenezer Scrooge.
‘Am I that man who lay upon the bed?’ he cried, upon his knees.
The finger pointed from the grave to him, and back again.
‘No, Spirit! Oh no, no!’
The finger still was there.
‘Spirit!’ he cried, tight clutching at its robe, ‘hear me! I am not the man I was. I will not be the man I must have been but for this intercourse. Why show me this, if I am past all hope?’
For the first time the hand appeared to shake.
‘Good Spirit,’ he pursued, as down upon the ground he fell before it: ‘Your nature intercedes for me, and pities me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows you have shown me, by an altered life?’
‘I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach.”
If Scrooge can change for the better, maybe I can too.
As God is my witness, I will make this right. I will turn this boat around. I will wear the bifocals. Who cares? It sure beats squinting. And I will react quickly at the first sign of ear wax buildup.
I will dream the impossible dream. I will achieve a physical goal, so bold, it will shock the world.
This year I turn 46, so I vow with no trepidation, that 2009 will be the year of the 40-Sixpack.
I will be sporting a set of six-pack abs that will make Dara Torres feel flabby. The good news is that I already have the six-pack … it is just snuggly nestled in a blanket of lard.
I will be able to say in the next Christmas letter that I am not the man I was, too.
It gets harder to change when you get older. Unlike the kids who change moment by moment, in such a way that makes us proud to be their parents.
Same goes for Rocky and Kirby, our best purchase since we got the king-size Sealy-Posturepedic.
A Merry Christmas to all,
P.S. While I consider this one of my thematically cohesive Christmas letters, Rose says I “phoned it in.” I have to disagree; I think the paragraph about the bike socks alone was worth the price of admission.
Last night I went to Senor Manuel’s with some friends from work and I had my usual: the Mondongo Combo and a couple Midori Margaritas, then I stopped by the DQ for a blizzard. I might have to adjust the diet a bit. But then bright and early this morning I was at the YMCA … doing sit-ups. It’s on like Donkey Kong.