Friday, December 30, 2016

Our Holiday Newsletter

Ken and I did not get around to writing our annual newsletter. Somehow, it wasn't "in us" this year. After 30 years of producing our droll song parodies, graphic mash-ups, and comic spoofs, we have hit the proverbial wall. Now it's almost New Years and it's almost too late.

Nor has it been "in me" lately to write my blog, "Brave Neuf World!" Indeed! How ironic for someone who is not feeling very brave these days. And then there's my sub-heading, "Field Notes from Life's Little Moments," which I fear comes across as quite trivial when so many Big Moments have arisen this year. Endeavoring to be a humor writer in such a fraught environment as 2016 has presented its challenges, to say the least. The real pros accomplish it, but mostly current events have prompted more biting satire and scathing sarcasm than folksy, Erma Bombeck-esque observational witticisms.

Sure, you could paraphrase the old saying, "When the going gets tough, the world needs laughter," and I would agree wholeheartedly. Laughter, love, kindness, charity, tenderness, tolerance, helpfulness, compassion. All needed in abundance, among other human qualities. But notes on inconsequential daily events? Maybe not so much.

But then again, maybe the mundane day-to-day stuff is exactly what keeps us going. We still have to go to the grocery store, as Ken is fond of saying. I love to cook; dinner prep is my favorite time of day. Ken's expertise is wine selection. We enjoy a glass or two with dinner. I got new cookbooks for Christmas and now I'm working through recipes that The Barefoot Contessa prepares for her beloved husband, Jeffrey. Ken wrote a tag on the gift, To: Lesley, From: Jeff-er-rey; gentle mocking of a TV rival. 

We take Riley for walks. Each of us has our own style and rhythm. Ken likes the brisk, long trek through Hills and Dales (literally, that's the name of the park near us) and I'm given to understand that they gossip about me along the way. When the dog and I go out, we prefer a more rambling, "Stop and smell the roses," approach. I call Riley's nose-driven excursions, "Checking his D-mail." The dog version of social media.

We get away now and again. Nether of us has ever been bitten by the "see the world" travel bug. So our trips are modest. Florida, British Columbia, New York, Michigan in 2016. We like a nice hotel, a long beach, art galleries and museums, seeing Broadway shows, visiting friends, eating great food and drinking great wine. Riley stays at Wags Inn, the ultimate in canine summer camps. We did an overnight in Cincinnati this week. We have a favorite pub that serves excellent fish and chips.

Christmas is not over at our house. We keep the tree up and the lights on until the first week of January. I saw a "real" tree on December 26th, left out on the street for garbage collection. It was so sad that it had been kicked to the curb a day after Christmas. After, what ? 63 years of live, pine-scented trees of all shapes and sizes, we got a fake one last year. You'll be glad to know that it is a tremendous success. Not a needle on the carpet. A Frasier Fir candle masks the musty fragrance of our mildewy basement where the tree has been stored since last year.

I take my cue for taking down decorations when the house up the street starts to wind things up. Their nativity display follows the liturgical calendar with amazing precision. I love the absurdity of large, kneeling, plastic, lighted figures that begin their pageant a few days before Christmas. The manger awaits with sheep and cows already lowing. Mary and Joseph and a donkey kneel their way over from the garage across the lawn, taking a few days to reach their destination. Overnight on the 24th, the baby Jesus appears, as do the shepherds. Soon the three wise men and a camel genuflect their way to the blessed site from the direction of the driveway. They arrive on Epiphany, hang around for a bit and then ago home by another way, in the opposite direction, around the back of the house across the patio. Mary, Joseph and the infant also make their way back toward the garage from whence they came. I don't know if the family in this house performs this rite with great sincerity and reverence, or with a touch of whimsy. I am tickled by the delicious irony of it all.

I put tubes of chapstick in Ken's Christmas stocking every year. Neither of us ever sees them again. I have no idea where they go. I also have no idea why people wear down vests. Don't their arms get cold? The other night after I had come in from shopping, Ken asked me, "How's your knee?" I said, "Yes, I got what I needed." But I don't need hearing aids. I took a can of broth out of the pantry this evening. The Best Before date was January 28, 2017. I thought, "Gee. Is it too close to the expiry to still be good?" I used it anyway. We're still here.

Maybe that's enough. We're still here. The world has not ended. There is beauty and love all around. We are grateful for our wonderful life, our friends, our family. And if we need to "cross the Alps" we'll let you know. 

Much love to all,

Lesley, Ken and Riley