Holiday Greetings from the 2012 presidential campaign headquarters for Byron L. Ferguson. With the most recent campaign still fresh in everyone’s mind, we realize that launching a campaign as part of our yearly Christmas newsletter may put a few people off, but campaign advisors assure us that it’ll take 4 years (or even longer) to make Byron a household name.

Of course, with his libertarian leanings, it is unlikely that Toni (and now Nolan) would vote for Byron- making him an even greater long shot, or… as he’d prefer to say “Maverick!” However, since the Colorado ballot had eighteen presidential candidates- the requirements appear lax enough that he can at least get on the ballot.

For those of you who supported McCain or one of the other non-winning candidates (especially Ralph Nader), Byron encourages you to support his 2012 run. The proposed “Will Rogers” party is probably more in vain, but won’t try to convince you they have any actual chance. Instead, the party will concentrate on trying to say funny and/or pithy comments. The vice presidential candidate, Cheryl Kouns- a good friend of the Fergusons lists as her prime qualification that she can’t see Russia from her house.

Of course, since Byron’s new campaign hadn’t started yet at the beginning of the year, the Ferguson’s had plenty of time to do a few other non-political things this year. Only three weeks after finally filling out the paperwork at employer DirecTV last year for “every channel for free”, Toni gave notice and started a new job. Byron cried for a week, and still changes channels wistfully trying to find the Showtime, HBO, Cinemax, NHL, NFL, and TWELVE channels of NASCAR that no longer show up. Now he’s stuck watching CSPAN-1 and CSPAN-2, which Toni gleefully reminds him, is better for his political career.

Toni’s new job, as a teaching assistant at the kid’s school, fits the family’s schedules perfectly. Toni goes to school when the kids do, is done with school when the kids are, and gets the same bazillion holidays, one week off for fall break, one week off for Thanksgiving, 2 weeks off for Christmas, and entire summer off that the kids do. Byron, meanwhile, gets three days off- and those are unpaid. But he’s not bitter about that, just about the loss of the free cable.

In her new position, Toni now teaches a drama elective for the middle school students at the school; works the car pool line; works the lunch room; and does whatever is needed and requested at the school. Other teachers at the school often buzz Toni whenever their classes get out of control- she’s affectionately known as Mrs. Punisher. Perhaps that explains why Nolan and Kyra didn’t take the drama elective; instead opting for rocketry, team sports, and technology.

In February, Byron visited the doctor about foot pain he’d been having for years, or since the Regan administration, depending on which of the Fergusons you ask. Having already self-diagnosed his problem using the “medical degree” obtained by searching symptoms on Google, Byron was not surprised to learn he had a heal spur- “the worst the doctor had ever seen”. Toni notes, however, that it was only the worst the doctor had ever seen because Byron avoided getting someone to look at it for so long.

The surgery required that Byron put no weight on his foot for 6-8 weeks which prohibited driving. Toni, having done the whole “for-better-or-worse” thing, begrudgingly operated as butler, chauffer, and girl Friday. Each day, Toni drove Byron to his office and schlepped his menagerie of electronics from car to office. To say she was not happy about it would be an understatement.

After weeks cooped up inside with “the invalid,” Toni decided to brave a day out with Captain Crutches and the rest of the family. Together the intrepid clan arrived at the zoo ready for a day of family togetherness. Toni quickly decided the best course of action required renting a wheelchair. Byron, none too sure, surrendered his crutches for the day, and did his best to not cry out “crazy driver,” or any other phrase that might push Toni over the brink. Toni seemed to get a certain crazy glint in her eye at the top of every hill, near the Tropical Discovery’s piranha tank, and outside any of the exhibits housing large feral cats.

Byron has now returned to crutch-less-society, and is grateful to Toni for her help, but is just as happy to be self-sufficient again. An occasionally twinge of pain in the other foot and any consideration of future surgery, however, is met with a cold knowing stare from Toni. If there’s ever a next time, Toni will insist that the doctor give her pain pills for “her pain.”

In April, the kid’s school- Challenge to Excellence charter school performed the Wizard of Oz. Intrepid producer Toni, while nursing invalid Byron, still found time to produce one of the school’s most elaborate productions to date. Toni, who’s two loves are “Gone with the Wind” and “Wizard of Oz,” refused to settle for a school versions of WOZ, but instead insisted on doing the real deal- the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Wizard of Oz with full M-G-M music, flying monkeys, melting witches, and all.

Byron, ever the skeptic, worried that a show of such magnitude might be a bit much. The final product required an extra during-the-school-day rehearsal, and was performed for the first time without an end-to-end dress rehearsal. Even with the challenges- it was amazing. Particularly moving was the performance of a new-to-the-school fourth grader who sang as Dorothy. We’ll keep our eyes on this one. We’re going to be buying her album some day- if we can’t convince her to give us one for free for old “Wizard of Oz” day’s sake.

In June, Toni, Byron, Nolan, and Kyra happily met up with Toni’s Uncle Don and Aunt Christel in Glenwood Springs, Co. Nolan and Kyra, who save their poker money year-long, loved the opportunity to match wits and card playing prowess against their Great Uncle Don. Don gleefully rubbed his hands and took every dollar he could get from the kids while winning- and less gleefully proclaimed, “their making me bankrupt,” when lady luck turned in the favor of the Ferguson kids. Between card games, the group perused the sights in Glenwood, driving to the top of a 4-wheel drive dirt road for a great view of the canyon, swimming at the hot springs, and perhaps best of all, taking a white water raft ride.

Uncle Don, who wanted no part of rafting, stayed behind to keep an eye on sporting scores while his lovely wife Christel, four Fergusons, and a river guide from Ireland, went hurtling down the Colorado river. It should be noted that there is little possibility of white water rafting without getting extremely wet- a fact that seemed to surprise new-to-rafting Nolan, Kyra, and their Aunt Christel. Uncle Don, who had waved goodbye at the beginning of the trip, met the intrepid crew as they returned wearing his slippers. The clan was touched by his obvious concern for their return that required such a mad dash that he forgot said shoes. The veil of concern broke, however, when Don asked, “Who’s going to make my lunch?” We think Aunt Christel spent the rest of the trip trying to bottom-deal aces to the kids against her own husband.

Also in June, the Fergusons finalized their plans for a road trip to see Byron’s Aunt Sharon in Montana- and to drive through Yellowstone. Earlier in the year the plan included using their gas guzzling jeep and travel trailer to “save money.” Unfortunately, as gas prices sky rocketed towards four dollars, plans had to change. The plan first ditched pulling the trailer, next ditched taking the Jeep, and ended with us driving the just-bigger-than-a-sardine-can Toyota Echo. Fortunately, gas prices did not deteriorate to the point where the Ferguson’s needed to ride mopeds or those little Shriner cars.

While the downsides to driving the Toyota to Montana included less space for luggage, less space for people, no window tinting, and reduced air conditioning on up hill climbs, the car provided at least two upsides- better gas mileage, and a chance for Byron to drive. It usually seems that the Fergusons take Toni’s jeep everywhere- and Toni drives. This time, however, Byron excitedly dusted off his practically never-used Andretti driving gloves- since they’d be taking his car. Not surprisingly, the little Echo was far less sporty with a trunk full of luggage and three passengers, than during Byron’s daily “Formula 1” style commutes. Undeterred, Byron did his best to emulate racing with radically quick lane changes and multiple pit-stops at every rest stop, historical site, and road side attraction, much to Toni’s chagrin.

Only hours after leaving on their road trip, Byron had already deviated from plan and left the highway in search of “Oregon Trail Wagon Ruts.” Thirty miles on a bumpy dirt road and one hour later, the family stood in the ruts and toured historical signs. Toni- never a fan of historical sites- revoked Byron’s driving privileges on the spot. If Toni and Byron had traveled the Oregon Trail in a wagon- Toni would have insisted on driving the wagon.

Toni, Byron, Nolan, and Kyra finished the trip to Montana with less stops and less swerving. In Montana the family enjoyed met up with Aunt Sharon and her mother. Together they took in sights including; a historical museum, an dam and paleontology interpretive center, a full-size T-Rex, and a lovely local production of “Seussical The Musical.” The kids enjoyed most, however, learning to play Pinochle with Aunt Sharon They studied hard to try to beat her- but alas, it appears their going to have to wait to play poker with Uncle Don again to make any more money.

On the way back the Fergusons made a before dawn drive through Yellowstone. The flaming red sun rose over the mountains providing ample opportunity to see wildlife including bears and cubs, buffalo, wolves, and even some Japanese tourists. Nolan displayed a knack for wildlife spotting, blithely calling out finds before anyone else. In addition to wildlife spotted by Nolan, Byron took his turn spotting far easier to spot geological formations, which of course don’t move around all that much. The family made stops at falls, geysers, paint pots, and of course, Old Faithful. Nolan observed that Old Faithful isn’t really all that regular, instead preferring to work according to its own schedule. Nolan has requested that we now refer to him as “Old Faithful Chore Boy.”

At fall break, the Fergusons visited Byron’s sister- Diane and her husband Rick, in Tennessee. At the family’s insistence, Diane acceded to visiting Dollywood with the whole family. The Dollywood amusement park owned by Dolly Parton is situated in what can only be called the Las Vegas strip of the Ozarks- Pigeon Forge. Getting there is half the battle, since traffic craws along as gawking tourists peer at every building made up to resemble a giant animal, castle, or multi-level go-cart track, and is covered in blinking lights. Ironically, Byron, the family’s atheist, had chosen national gospel week to visit. Every show in the park tried to instill some of “that old time religion,” into his heathen soul.

Fortunately for Byron, the rides were not religiously themed but instead featured thrill-a-minute timber themed roller coasters, and inverted mine rides. Even better for brother and sister- Byron and Diane (who grew up in Missouri) was Dollywood’s selection of food. Both raced to the giant wok vendor cooking up fried ¼” thick baloney sandwiches, practically knocking down some old ladies to get theirs. The two posed as poster children for “Hardened Arteries Magazine” as they chowed down on the sandwich loaded with mayo, lettuce, tomato, and… baloney. Fortunately the park included some “regular people’s regular food” that Toni could enjoy too.

Nolan and Kyra- who both started the school year as honor roll students, have both taken to a wide variety of sports. Nolan began the year with flag football; Nolan followed with soccer; and now both are playing basketball. Kyra begins soccer in the spring. Both seem to enjoy being part of a team; and running. No really. Running. Lots and lots. Byron’s parents once received a letter from his 6th grade teacher telling them they should try playing sports with him more since he was so particularly ill-suited for it. Instead, he and his friends would play “Star Trek” on the playground equipment. Obviously the athletics gene must skip a generation.

With the year now drawing to a close, and the potential tax benefits- we encourage you to contribute to Byron’s campaign. Should he be elected he promises no underhanded senatorial dealings- he’ll just flat-out put ‘em up for highest bid on Ebay. We hope your holidays are full of fun and frivolity, and devoid of political calls and surveys. Have a very merry Christmas…

Byron Ferguson (Office of the Future Potential Presidential Candidate)
Toni Ferguson (Office of the Future Potential First Lady and Secretary of State)
Nolan Ferguson (Secretary of Sports and Legal Council)
Kyra Ferguson (Secretary of Justice and First Pet Wrangler)