Greetings from the Parker Fergusons- Byron (over the hill), Toni (age undisclosed under threat of severe injury to the editor), Nolan (8), and Kyra (8).
This year, more than ever, the Ferguson’s considered doing away with our Christmas letter. Not because we didn’t do anything this year, or don’t have time to write a letter. That’s never stopped us. No, we considered canceling because we were afraid. Retailing giants like Wal-Mart, Lowes, and countless others succumbed to the same fear. They now sell Holiday Trees, have Holiday Sales, and wish everyone a Happy Holiday. No more Christmas for these corporate behemoths. Is a Christmas letter worth the potential legal risk? Should we scrap it in favor of a more p.c. holiday letter? After about 30 seconds consideration, however, we have abandoned all reason, and will risk personal liberty and financial ruin to publish once again the Ferguson CHRISTMAS newsletter- and damned be the consequences.
This is the third year that Byron and Toni have produced a play with underprivileged orphan children. Ok, they’re kids from the charter school- so they’re not underprivileged, or orphaned- but it helps us to think of them that way. By imagining small Olivers, we don’t do something we would later regret, and they doubly so. This year, Toni and another mom from the school, Carron Maclean, deftly weaved the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes, with the Emperor regaled at various times as “Darth Vader,” or as the quarterback of the Denver Broncos. Kyra and Nolan, because of their immense talent and a personal relationship with the producer and director, were featured predominantly in this year’s production. Kyra, as little Sarah, thwarted every attempt by her sister Mary to kiss Young Roland. And Nolan, as the Underlord of Underwear, mugged about the stage showing off the fruits of his loom. And, while both excelled, next year’s roles are more perfectly suited for the two. Both Nolan and Kyra read with great zeal lines from “A Fairy Tale Courtroom,” in which the two will play bickering Hansel and Gretel- imagine that.
Gus the Saint Bernard, who by the requests for autographed pictures, emails, and phone calls, appears to be the favorite Ferguson family clan member, actually made money this year! Feeding a horse of Gus’s size often requires a government grant, and contrary to popular opinion that people actually win money in these shows, the typical prize at a dog show is only a buck-twenty. Please don’t confuse this with the reverse- which would be twenty bucks. Surprisingly, several times this year, a talent agent requested Gus to meet-and-greet silly rich people at corporate get-togethers in Beaver Creek and Vail. For the privilege of petting and being slimed by Gus, these people paid $200 per hour. This makes Gus better paid than Byron, which ticks him off since he actually had to go to college to make what he makes. Now if Toni could get Gus to work forty hours a week, we could stay home while he “worked.”
In May, Toni surprised Byron by purchasing for him, Nolan, and Kyra, a photo opportunity with William Shatner (the one featured in our Christmas card.) Byron modeled his entire life on Captain Kirk from Star Trek, except that he didn’t marry a green dancing girl from Rigel V. So, meeting William Shatner was a huge thrill. Byron and kids sat in line for two hours with other trekkies to finally sit next to “Uncle Bill,” or at least in a chair next to his. Byron hoped to even ask Capt. Kirk if it was possible for the Enterprise to cross phase its dilithium matrix with its warp core inverters to eek out another 12% from the anti-matter drive. Instead, when Byron finally reached the front of the line, he ineptly juggled his Type 1 phaser as he went to sit down and dropped it. Mr. Shatner, reached down, picked it up, and handed it back to Byron. Humiliated, Byron weakly croaked, “Thanks, Mr. Shatner,” smiled, and moved to the back of the line. Byron placed the phaser on a small shrine with halogen spotlights and printed a label from his Dymo, “Captain Kirk touched this.”
In June, Byron attended Microsoft’s Tech-Ed for work. The event is an opportunity for thousands of technical elite to learn lots of really important stuff. I swear. It’s not just a boondoggle. In addition, each participant spends hours of their high priced time listening to the sales pitches of vendors in exchange for some lame $3 tee-shirts. Somehow in the heat of the moment it seems like a really cool $3 tee-shirt, though. Since this year’s Tech Ed was in Orlando, Toni and the kids tagged along with Byron but skipped the conference and instead went to Disney World. There they purchased several $50 lame tee-shirts. Again, in the heat of the moment they seem really, really cool. Byron (joined by his sister and her fiancé) took over Disney duties for the following weekend. Toni, fully booked for weddings in June, returned to Colorado to take wedding photos. She too makes more per hour than Byron, but since she only works weekends- alas, Byron must press on.
Toni also traded in her Dodge Grand Caravan in June. Toni’d been fed up with it since we traded in her Land Rover Discover and bought it. Toni purchased license plates “4MYKIDS” for the mommy mobile, which most people took as a sweet sentiment, but in fact she wanted her family to be well aware we hadn’t bought the minivan for her. Toni left early one Saturday on a quest to locate the perfect PT Cruiser convertible, but came home with something Byron deemed even more impractical- a Jeep Wrangler. Apparently, on consideration, Toni decided that the PT Cruiser just didn’t have room for you-know-who, GUS. So, Toni brought home a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited- which is apparently exactly the same size as a WWII jeep with an extra 15 inches added to the back. There’s definitely a reason that the US military is driving Hummers now- they’re bigger. Our ability to haul stuff significantly diminished, Byron was a bit gloomy on the new purchase to begin with. When Toni finally let Byron drive the family up Kingston trail to the peak at 12000 feet, Byron could be considered hooked. As required by Jeep law, I must now include this statement: If you don’t have a Jeep, you wouldn’t understand. It’s a Jeep Thing!
For the Fourth of July the Ferguson’s visited St. George, UT where it was really hot. No, I mean it. Really, really hot. Like 110 or something. Of course, it was a dry heat- which didn’t really matter, surprisingly. The Ferguson’s were visiting Toni’s uncle Don and his wife Christel. Of course, we couldn’t drive the completely impractical jeep to Utah- no! With gas prices shooting up right after the purchase of the Jeep to nearly three dollars a gallon, and with the Jeep getting 15-17 mpg, we made the trip tucked into Byron’s commuter sardine mobile- the Toyota Echo. Its not as much fun, won’t go up mountains, and is completely boring, but yes, with a tailwind, it gets almost 42 mpg. For the 10 hour trip, Byron packed into the tiny interior a power inverter and our small TV with video player and grabbed a few family friendly videos from Wal-Mart to play on the trip. Unfortunately, half way through the first video, Benji, we had to pull over so Toni could hold Nolan who was crying profusely. Benji’s girlfriend, the white poodle, had been kicked by the bad guys and lay unconscious. Nolan refused to watch any more of the movie till we assured him it all turned out well in the end. We reassured him, but really neither of us could remember whether it turned out well in the end – it’s been a long time since either of us watched Benji. Byron dumped the rest of the videos- Old Yeller, and the Yearling, by the side of the road. Nolan’s sensitivity is a hard burden to bear for a little boy. And at times, Byron wishes he was a tough-shelled son of a biscuit, who plays football, and steals other kid’s lunch money. But the son with the heart of gold is quite alright too.
While Nolan has a heart of gold, Kyra has the heart of a lawyer. Most of the time, she’s completely unbreakable, cross examines all suggestions by her parents, and remembers everything. Kyra claims she intends to be a heart surgeon- but we’re not so sure sometimes. Kyra is loosing teeth by the handful, so the Tooth Fairy seems to be getting the brunt of Kyra’s interrogation. We know if we were the tooth fairy- which we’re not mind you, we’d have a hard time remembering to wake up and put stuff under Kyra’s pillow. Apparently the tooth fairy has the same problem, is busy, forgetful, out of money, or afraid of Kyra’s reproach. One of Kyra’s notes to the Fairy this year read: Dear Tooth fairy, I was wandering if you could tell if people are going to lose teeth? And do you take dog teeth? If not, tell me who does and what do you do with teeth? P.S. Why do you give money? Her last letter said: I hope you pick up this tooth. It was 11 days last time. I do believe she intends to file suit. If the teeth fit, you must acquit.
In September, the Fergusons journeyed to the land of cheese and cheese heads (Wisconsin), for the wedding of Byron’s sister- Diane. The weekend wedding featured numerous events including a golf outing for the guys where the groom high centered a golf cart on a tree stump (I think the beer cart came by one too many times), and fireworks launched from the backyard overlooking the golf course. Toni, ever the great sport, even shot wedding photos on her own anniversary- one now shared by Byron’s sister. Of course, Byron didn’t exactly get out of working at the wedding himself. Byron, now an ordained minister of the Universal Life Church, thanks to the Internet, performed the wedding ceremony. Byron’s next door neighbor, “a real minister”, rolled his eyes at the online ordination, proclaiming, “Hey, it took me six years of seminary school to become ordained.” Byron’s response? “What a waste! You could have got ordained on the internet!” Of course, Byron respects his clergy brethren, wants to attend Wednesday lunches with them, and is looking forward to receiving his official clergy parking pass.
Kyra and Nolan began attending the University of Colorado in Boulder in October. While we wish we could claim the two were savants, as is so typical of parents speaking of their children in these Christmas letters, the truth is they were research subjects at the school. CU runs a large number of twin studies and Nolan and Kyra were invited to participate. The study on learning disabilities compares DNA, etc. to try to find genetic indicators for, uh, learning disabilities. For a day of their time, Nolan and Kyra got paid handsomely, making them better paid than their father- again to Byron’s chagrin. Unfortunately, labor laws prevent Byron from putting them to work full time, or for that matter even part time in a coal mine.
Since we’re sending the newsletter out rather late this year, we’ve already received cards from lots of people. Most of those people were kind, and thoughtful, but others came right out and threatened us if Gus wasn’t in our photo this year. With the exception of one other year, we’ve included Gus every year. None of the other animals (twenty-five fresh water fish, one salt water fish, Guinness the Mutt Dog, and Jon-Jon the Chinese Crested) even rank. Well get used to disappointment- unless you’re a special recipient of a Ferguson family calendar- there’s no picture of Gus this year. We couldn’t get the latex ears glued to his head so he could be in the Star Trek picture. Toni’s not in there either- she wouldn’t be caught dead with a trekkie- except for her husband, course. Since we’ll be disappointing so many, we’ve decided to do the picture one better this year. Assuming we can find a way to get Gus to New York since the airlines want a boatload of money to fly a horse like him, Gus is going to be in next year’s Westminster Dog Show. Really, I’m not joking. Monday Feb. 13th. Check your listings. Or better yet, fly to New York and get slimed in person. At least I’m sure that a prestigious show like the Westminster will have bigger prize. Oh, wait a minute. Toni informs me the prize is as always- a buck-twenty.
Wishing all of you and yours a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS, and the consequences be damned!
P.S. Here’s the tooth fairy’s response:
Kyra: No. I only know when the teeth are under a pillow. No one takes dogs teeth – but the dog don’t mind so much. We save the teeth and then leave them under your parent’s pillow when you are much older, that way we don’t have to store too many. When we started, we gave rocks, but children didn’t sleep so well with rocks under their pillows, so we switched to money – so kids can buy some candy – or toys, and it seems to help the economy. Love Tooth Fairy