Rocky Mountain Snyder Family XMAS | 09

Dear Family and Friends:

I spent most of the past year peering over my glasses to read things. So after five years with the same prescription, I got new glasses.

I’m reminded of the Brian Regan line, ‘how can improving your eyesight not be at the top of your to-do list.’

I’m a bit of a procrastinator.

So I’m at the liquor store picking up a little, well, liquor, and the guy working behind the counter asks me if I’ve got new glasses. And I said, “As a matter-of-fact, I did.”

Then he says, “You’re one handsome dog.”

That made me feel good, but it also made me wonder if I’ve made too many trips to the liquor store.

I recently made a visit to my doctor’s office. As a diabetic, I tend to see her fairly frequently. The good news is that my hemoglobin number was lower than ever. But I did get a new prescription for cholesterol. My number was just 159, but studies indicate that diabetics need cholesterol medicine to prevent inflammation in their blood vessels.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: From now on all holiday letters will contain overly-detailed medical reports and health updates; that’s what you talk about when you get older.)

Since we were on the topic of pills, I asked my doctor about a warning label I just noticed on one vial that states: “Do not consume alcoholic beverages when taking this medicine.”

I said that had me worried until I realized that I always drink water when taking those pills.

Oh and about being one handsome dog, it really would be difficult to argue with that assessment. This year I invented to new hairstyle that I call ‘the brush over,’ which isn’t anything like a comb over.

Sam, who is 10, visited his doctor this year too. His doctor estimated that he’d grow to be at least 6’2” or even 6’4”. He has forearms like Popeye.

Actual conversation …

Sam: “I’m hungry.”

Me: You can’t be hungry. You just ate a sandwich.”

Sam: “Yeah, but that was 10 minutes ago.”

The doctor asked Sam to strip down to his underwear for the examination, but when she returned she found Sam laying buck-naked on his back with his hands strategically placed to cover up his naughty bits; Sam neglected to put on his underwear that day.

Our home, Colorado Springs, was named the best city to live in by Outside magazine. But by the end of the year, our little town became “A City Worth Fighting For” as budget shortfalls ended funding for maintaining our parks, community centers and pools; not to mention cutbacks in police and fire. Colorado Springs couldn’t even figure out how to scrap together enough money to have Fourth of July fireworks.

So we packed up the car and spent the holiday in Telluride. They had a great small town parade and amazing fireworks. We stayed in a lodge surrounded by mountains. I bought Sam a cowboy hat.

Leaving Telluride, I saw an eagle jump from an outcropping of rock and fly right in front of the ol’ Family Roadster.

On the long ride home, a silver car passed me near the Collegiate Peaks, going at a fast rate. I said to no one in particular. “I will catch you speeding Silver Car Man, oh yes, I will.” Then I said something about giving the guy the finger.

Now I don’t know what got into me to say such a thing. I’ve never given anyone the finger – that I can remember – and I certainly shouldn’t have said that in front of the kids.

Further on down the road we turned right onto Highway 24, which cuts across the plains heading towards Wilkerson Pass.  You can see the road stretch out in front of you for miles into the distance. As we make the turn, I notice that the silver car is with striking distance for passing.

I said to everyone, “I told you I would catch that silver car guy.”

Carli chimes in, “And give him the finger.”

“I never said that.”

“Yes you did.”

“No, I didn’t.”

Then Gina suggests, “Let’s all give him the finger.”

“NO!” I shout.

“YES!” everyone yells.

The car is filled with screaming and laughter.

I said, “Well, alright, but keep it down low. If this guy sees us all giving him the finger, he might pull out a gun and start shooting.”

I step on the gas.

I wish we could bottle the feeling we all had as we passed that silver car. That was the most fun moment of 2009 as our entire family turned to the right and flipped this unassuming motorist the bird.

Carli has begun high school swimming and she loves every minute of it. They’ve got a team shirt with an inspirational quote on the back. Who do they quote to get fired up? Is it Vince Lombardi? No. Barack Obama, in Briargate, no. They quote rapper Lil’ Wayne. “I’m the only fire that can live in the rain.”

I took Carli to her first concert this year. Someone asked, “Was it Hannah Montana?” Um, no. Her first concert was The Killers. It was awesome except for the six drunken chicks standing behind us screaming the lyrics to every song.

Rose and I went to a concert in Denver … Bob Dylan. We were blessed to be in the same room with this musical and lyrical genius. And while we couldn’t understand his gravelly, world-weary, Tom Waits-esque vocals on most songs, we were ecstatic to hear Bob Dylan ask, “How does it feel?”

I went to other concerts. I heard Carli sing her first solo, a cappella, in front of her high school. She also earned a part in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Gina played Bert, the chimney sweep, in an interpretative, middle school performance of Mary Poppins.
She was also invited to audition for the Colorado Springs Children’s Chorale. And Sam donned antlers as part of the Galaxy Singers in a rousing elementary school holiday performance.

Rose and I shopped for flat screen TVs this year. We went as far as picking out one TV and sound system at both Best Buy and Ultimate Electronics, but after a lengthy discussion we realized that if we can’t afford to buy the kids braces, we probably couldn’t justify a new home theatre.

Word of advice, never download that Quicken software. It makes you feel like an idiot. You find out embarrassing things about yourself like the Snyder Family spent 27 percent of our income at Wahoo’s Fish Tacos.

I guess you need to know that.

We are up to our ears in debt, not a good time for the old TV to fall apart. We actually had to watch the season finale of “The Biggest Loser” on a 13-inch set.

Our kids had to imagine what those morbidly obese contestants might have looked like on a 50-inch, high definition plasma screen. My failure as a father to provide for my family is a shameful burden that I will have to carry for the rest of my life.

But the simple life has its benefits for this formerly well-to-do family. Rose has been making lunches for everyone for the past few months.

Did you know that meals that you make yourself cost less than meals you buy at restaurants?

We had no idea.

Our big basement was completely covered in clutter, so we cleaned it up and felt like anthropologists in the process. We discovered a foosball table and ping pong table under all that stuff, so lately we’ve been playing together as a family downstairs.

I decided that all those magazines I had been keeping from the mid-‘90s might not be all that essential to my well-being, so they’ve gone to the recycling place.

We decided that we should fill up our freezer with nutritious, easy-to-make food. But there was a problem; I hadn’t defrosted the freezer since we bought it … seven years ago. The top shelf looked like it had elephantiasis of frost. It took hours and hours of blow drying and chipping away at all of that ice and snow, but now we can actually store something larger than a row of Flav-o-Ices in there.

Sam played baseball last summer. One of the opposing coaches told him that he looked like Babe Ruth at the plate. Sam’s Uncle Chuck coaches a local high school team and took Sam to a couple practices where Sam got to take 100 pitches in batting practice.

I’ll never forget the look on Sam’s face when he returned to practice with his team and sailed about 10 balls in a row 100 feet over the outfielder’s head in right field.

This year Sam and I went on many bike rides, Carli and I visited art museums, Rose and I went for walks and Gina and I visited the Denver Botanical Gardens.

All very lovely.

Several years back in the holiday letter, I mentioned that Rose had turned 50. Well, she actually did turn 50 this year, so we celebrated with a night at The Broadmoor. We did some fine dining in 2009: Rose’s birthday at The Tavern at The Broadmoor; Valentine’s Day at The Blue Star and our anniversary at The Warehouse. All of the good restaurants in Colorado Springs start with a capitalized The.

There is really no need for an update on the dogs. They sleep and bark and lick and eat and poop and pee and sleep and bark and so on. We love those little doggies.

Here is wishing you and yours the very best for the holiday season and the coming year.

Merry Christmas.

Charlie | Rose | Carli | Gina | Sam | Kirby | Rocky

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