Greetings Friends and Family of the Highlands Ranch Fergusons. Mark Twain once said, “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” Which is exactly why we were putting off writing the Christmas newsletter until TOMORROW! And we would have continued to put it off till TOMORROW had it not been for the notes, text messages, and two death threats demanding to know where the Ferguson Christmas letter is. Having never been particularly brave, we’re WRITING THE LETTER NOW! (We can take a hint!) We plan on leaving all mail and packages unopened on the porch until after the Christmas Newsletter is signed, sealed, and delivered, out of an abundance of caution. Y’all are scary.
The biggest news this year is that Byron and Toni celebrated their 30th anniversary. Early in the year plans began for the uber celebration. Both Byron and Toni felt wholly unprepared, so they began “training.” The pair spent all year attending more parties, traveling more, and “celebrating” more than ever just to make sure they were ready. Don’t hate us because we’re beautiful.
To better enjoy the ultimate anniversary trip, Byron decided to get some spiffy hi-tech hearing aids. Byron found himself saying “Huh,” “What,” and “Say again?” way too much, and finally went to check on it. Byron’s audiologist wanted to know how many metal concerts he’d been to. Byron admitted he’d never been to a single one (Something for the anniversary celebration, perhaps?). Apparently Byron had the hearing of a metal-head, but not the rebellious attitude, tattoos, or old concert shirts also required.
Toni started her training this year with a trip to New York with daughter Kyra. The two met up with Nolan, Alexis, and family friends Kim Mustillo and son Marcus. The five planned to see the sights, watch Broadway shows, and to eat at all the NY Pizzerias. All were primarily in NY however, to see a “play” called “Sleep No More.”
Sleep No More is an immersive noir production of Macbeth (and Hitchcock’s Rebecca) featuring music and dance with no words. The scenes take place throughout a giant multi-floor warehouse made up to look and feel like a giant vintage hotel. Kyra first discovered information on the play online, and now all were ready to see it- or so they claimed.
Sadly, Byron discovered that Brad Pitt was scheduled to shoot a film in NY the same week that Toni was visiting. Byron smelled a rat. A good smelling, very attractive, and talented rat, but a rat all the same.
Byron called Brad’s Plan B office with the full intention of giving Mr. Pitt a piece of his mind, only to find himself talking directly to Brad. Brad convincingly conveyed he had finished shooting in NYC. Byron, slightly embarrassed about his behavior, asked if Mr. Pitt might consider sending a quick note and picture to Toni in order to help Byron make up with his wife for his unwarranted jealousy. Brad complied. Toni was happy. Not as happy as if she had found Brad in NY, no doubt, but happy enough to move forward with more 30th anniversary training.
Byron and Toni decided they needed more training in a warm climate, and so decided to head to Vegas and meet up with Byron’s sister Diane and her husband Rick for pooltime in May. The four mostly hung out at a Vegas pool, sipping drinks under the shade of a cabana, floating on a lazy river in neon green tubes, and trying to reuse those little paper umbrellas to keep the sun out of our eyes. Both Byron and Toni briefly considered a trip to Vegas for their anniversary, but after Byron insisted on seeing Mac King, AND a bar magician, Toni decided some place without magic might be better.
In June, Byron decided to train by camping with Kyra and Penny the Wonder Dog. Byron, who is now entirely too old for tent camping, after much cajoling from Kyra, decided he’d at least attempt it. Kyra and Byron spent the wet, cold, rainy weekend attempting to maintain a fire, cooking up vittles, and whittlin’. Because of the rain, much of the whittlin’ was under a pop-up covering the picnic table, then eventually sitting in the front seat of the car while running the heater. Byron scratched Alaskan cruise from the anniversary celebration ideas list.
Many of you may be aware that Toni is a fan of all things “Wizard of Oz.” After years of collecting, she finally got the one item she hadn’t gotten, this year–a tornado. Yep, Highlands Ranch, not known for its extreme weather got hit by an EF1 with winds and hail in excess of 100 mph. Both Toni and Byron happened to be away at work when the tornado took a meandering tour of the cookie-cutter suburban homes, of which ours was one. From security cams we could only watch helplessly as trees toppled, fences crashed, and Penny, upset, sat inside barking. Fortunately for Penny no witch came riding through the air shouting “I’ll get your little dog too!”
While training was delayed to fix damage from the tornado, it is now mostly repaired. Damaged trees were removed, holes repaired, hail-blasted paint redone, and only the house’s roof remains to be replaced once shingles are once again available to our roofer.
As we had started to zero in on a possible Mexico–not Alaska–trip as one of our ultimate celebration venues, we were particularly excited about the reopening of the newly improved and remodeled CASA BONITA as the perfect site for some pregame training. Casa Bonita, a ginormous world-famous Mexican restaurant known for (all-true) puppet shows, cliff diving, magic shows, mariachis and unlimited sopapillas, but not for any of its other food, closed after the pandemic and appeared unlikely to reopen. Swooping in to save the venerable landmark were fans Trey Parker and Matt Stone, creators of South Park (a very irreverent cartoon).
With opening attendance limited to lucky email lottery winners, and desperate to “train” there, Toni was unwilling to completely let chance prevail. Sitting at the computer, Toni unceasingly typed thousands of email addresses- firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. to mathematically increase her chances of winning. Even with the new email addresses, Toni began to wonder if we’d get our invites. Mathematical inevitability finally prevailed. After months we finally received our welcome email invitation- Toni was in. Or should I say, ToniRigatoniCosplaysFrodoOnStarTrek@gmail.com was in!
Unable to pick a time that worked for the kids, we instead called once again on Byron’s favorite/only sister with the most-est frequent flier miles and her hubby Rick to go with us on our Casa Bonita visit. Diane, who also grew up in Colorado, jumped at the chance. Toni, Byron, Diane, and Rick set the nostalgia dial to 11 and marched through the winding order line for a fabulous return to the giant pink palace. Everything about the place was just a little bit better planned, a little better executed, and a little better overall, with perhaps the exception of the loss of “all-you-can-eat” sopapillas. Since the food’s better, though, we probably did eat less sopapillas. Byron and Toni finalized their decision right there that Mexico would be the winner for their 30th anniversary, and began attempting to order everything from the non-Spanish-speaking waiters in Spanish- “Dos cervezas mas, por favor!” The waiters just rolled their eyes quietly and headed off to the secret “South Park” break room to cry.
The culmination of all our training then, was our big 30th celebration bru-ha-ha- a week long, all-inclusive, adults-only vacation at the TRS Yucatan Resort in the Riviera Maya near Cancun. Of course, even with all the training, one can never be too careful while frolicking in the sea and sand. Byron followed ADA recommendations for sun protection, nearly filling a separate suitcase with reef-safe lotions, sprays, and chapsticks. Byron also packed jungle survival gear, mosquito netting, sun hats, snorkels, and water purification tablets. Toni packed a swimsuit, and flip flops. Both sipped beverages near the ocean and slow-roasted in the sun, one fashionable and elegant, the other slathered in spf-100 and zinc oxide.
The best part of the anniversary trip was, without a doubt, our butler team. Yep- a team of butlers. Like more than one. Any time we wanted something, we could text our butler team to fetch us another bottle of tequila, more sodas, dinner reservations, or a golf cart to haul us the 300 feet from the pool back to our room.
We enjoyed our butlers so much, in fact, that we decided when arriving back home, that daughter Kyra should now be our full time butler. Kyra took none too kindly to the request, however, and replied with a legal cease and desist, and lawsuit claiming physical and mental distress. We’ve withdrawn our request for now in the hopes that a settlement can be reached. Full resolution of the legal matter may take years, and we’ve given up hope of having an in-home butler. We may finally have found a vacation place worth returning to, though.
Ironically, after our trip to Mexico, Byron has decided to improve his Spanish. Now, three of the Ferguson household are studying languages using the phone app- Duolingo. Byron is at day 184 studying Spanish, Nolan is studying Ukrainian, and Kyra is studying Irish. Apparently, none of them have any desire to be able to talk to each other.
Duolingo features all sorts of languages- even Klingon! It’s missing one very important language, however- Wife! Earlier in the year, when Toni said in perfectly clear “Wife”, “Hey- see this pinterest picture of a really cool fireplace wall? We should have one of those someday. It’d be great for Christmas,” all Byron heard was “Isn’t this pretty.”
Byron does speak some basic “Wife” phrases, so really he has no excuse for not understanding. Byron completely missed that Toni was actually saying, “Hey! You have till sometime before Christmas to actually build me one of these. Get going.”
Instead, about a month or so before Christmas, Toni said (now in perfectly clear “Husband”), “You’re building that fireplace wall before those Christmas parties we’re having, right?”
Byron replied in the only way he knew how with, “What the hell are you talking about?”
Toni replied, apparently as a penalty for the late start, “We should redo Kyra’s bathroom while we’re at it.”
Byron, while he complains incessantly, secretly likes doing these Toni projects. Byron leverages these projects as an opportunity to use the magic phrase- “it sounds like you really don’t want me to finish this,” to force Toni to be really nice to him. Byron is happy to announce, as promised, exactly on the deadline, just as expected, that the bathroom and wall are now, uh, roughly 80% done. Fortunately, enough of the wall was done, tools cleared, and drywall dust vacuumed to suffice for the party. Unfortunately, there may be several more months of Toni having to be nice to Byron. Toni started to say something about it, but Byron didn’t hear what she said- his hearing aids were turned off.
We hope all your home projects are simple ones, your year is full of practice, and your New Year is splendid!
Byron, Toni, Kyra, and sometimes Nolan