The Annual Christmas Letter

By Warren Miller

Warren MillerThe holidays are finally over. We had our annual Christmas tree bonfire and leftover potluck dinner on the beach on New Year’s Day. The decorations have come down and now that we’re finally tossing all of the holiday cards we received, I actually have time to read them.

As our circle of friends widens, our haul of holiday cards becomes more interesting every year. The annual Christmas letter has become the dumping ground for way too much information. I’m often left more confused than if I hadn’t received a card at all.

Consider the following letter that arrived on red paper with no return address, nor a last name. Neither my wife nor I recognized the names or images of anyone in the photo, which included a hard-bodied, smiling older man with a full head of shoulder-length hair, surrounded by nine people, any one of whom could have been one of his kids. It didn’t look like there was anyone old enough to be his wife in the picture, which was taken on the big island of Hawaii with the people in bathing suits, along with five surfboards, a windsurfer and the greeting “Mele Kalikimaka 2004.”

The enclosed letter read this way:
“You are probably wondering where we have been the last three years because we have been too busy to send Christmas cards. Honestly, we have been so busy blending our two families after Henry’s wife sued him for divorce because he and I were taking too many business trips together. Anyway, in the photo reading from left to right is Henry and you probably don’t recognize him since he had the hair transplant and liposuction.

Next to Henry is Obie, who is in his 6th year at Harvard and is majoring in Native Eskimo literature and going on to Oxford for post-graduate work. Emily has finally earned a coveted position in the Russian ballet troupe and they will be touring South America next year if they can get sufficient funding. Clyde, my youngest son, is on the free riding team at Squaw Valley and spent last summer in a full-body cast as a result of trying to ski on a fence that was taller than his legs are long.

Next is Daphne. She is Henry’s favorite daughter because she has actually graduated from college. She is currently the Chairman of the Board of a small biochemical company here in our hometown. They have discovered a way to double the output of a chicken and are currently negotiating with the two largest egg companies in town.”

Come on, admit it, you’ve received letters like this that leave you dazed and confused. After reading this far, I still couldn’t register who any of these people were…

“On the far left in the front row is the most successful child so far in our blended family of seven kids. After getting out of a drug rehab hospital last summer, Faith flew to Beijing where she is studying acupuncture and Tai Chi. When she returns home, she is going to open a combination sushi bar and oriental exercise gymnasium so her customers can purge their bodies with traditional Chinese food and harden their bodies with martial arts. Henry has promised me that he would finance this inspirational endeavor for my oldest daughter.

Moving right along because I know you are very busy with Christmas stuff and I just wanted to let you know where and how everyone is.

After Henry and I tied the knot in Las Vegas, we got in his 52-foot motor home and visited dozens of different relatives in about 10 different states. Would you believe that we traveled from our brand-new, nine-bedroom home to Florida, Maine, Michigan and the San Fernando Valley? Then we finally sold the darn thing in Bend, Oregon where a drunk driver smashed into us midway between the kitchen and the bathroom. It was a real mess because I was driving and Henry was in the shower at the time. You should have seen him reading the riot act to the drunk driver while he was soaking wet and only in his Jockey shorts. The drunk driver was in his coat and tie from the party he had just left. The cop didn’t believe Henry at first, but we got it sorted out.

Anyway, right after we sold the wrecked motor home, we flew to Switzerland and visited his daughter Bertha. She hitchhiked up from Venice where she’s going to gondola rowing school. Honestly, she wants to get a job as a lip-syncing gondolier in that wonderful new place in Las Vegas (which is the one where they take most of the water out of the Colorado River so people can float from one gambling place to another while listening to a recording of Pavarotti singing over the loudspeakers.)

That’s all from here in our beautiful new home on the hill. Do stop by if you are in the neighborhood, but please phone before you do so we won’t be out riding our horses. Christie and Henry”

Note: Any help with the identity of these nine people would be appreciated. You can simply send their names and address to me with your Christmas letter next year.