Personal Essays

Our 2008 Holiday Letter

No matter how factual the accomplishments gained or the tragedies sustained, holiday letters, like the season itself, are often sugarcoated. But not this time.

Dear friends and family,

The time has come again to take pen in hand and update you on all the exciting things that have happened to us this year.

For starters, as some of you have heard, I was laid off from my job back in July. It was nice of the company to give me two weeks notice; during those two weeks, every time I used the office bathroom I peed in the corners of the stalls.

To be honest, I think it was a fortunate firing. I’m not sure the job was such a great fit for me. Earlier in the year, at a party in a very crowded conference room, after drinking too much, a colleague grabbed my hands and put them on her boobs while she told me how much she enjoyed working together. And I know I have told many of you about the business trip to Yemen in June, but I still cannot get over the idea that that tribal sheikh expected me—a vegetarian—to eat goat brains cooked au naturale (“in the skull”)! Thinking back on it now, perhaps that was what scotched the big contract.

In any event, my colleagues threw me what sounds like a very nice farewell party. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much of it. Apparently I came home at 4 a.m. drunk out of my mind, stripped naked, lay down on the floor, and said “The strippers all had cancer” before I threw up my entire meatloaf dinner.

One evening shortly thereafter, feeling depressed, I ate an entire pint of ice cream. Then I ate a whole second one to get over feeling guilty about the first.

On the home front, our big news in the spring was that I stopped drinking every night! On the other hand, I started smoking again. This fall I also yelled at the kids, more than a few times. (I blame the whole unemployment thing.)

Back in January, we moved to a new place. Thankfully, my father was willing and able to help. When we arrived at the new apartment, he graciously opened a few boxes of books and started lining them up on shelves—he put our full-color photo version of the Kama Sutra on prominent display.

Of course, there’s always a silver lining. While it might not sound like a great idea to lock yourself out on the balcony of your new apartment in February wearing nothing but a tank top and boxers, it sure is a great way to get to know your neighbors as they gather to gawk on the street below. And it’s also a fantastic way to know for sure that the fire department hook and ladder can reach your new address.

Though I’ve always been prone to bouts with anxiety, there was a moment this year when I thought I had finally laid this monster to rest. For nearly 20 minutes, I had been standing in the stifling subway car, but my new medication had managed to alleviate my distress, and I zeroed in on the woman seated below me, assiduously writing in her notebook. I marveled at how her delicate fingers held the pen, how her florid script danced between the lines on the paper. Then, suddenly, perspiration popped from my forehead, her hand jerked backward, and those lovely letters morphed into rivulets that ran down the page like arterial blood. She snorted in disgust, and I recalled the one side effect my doctor had warned me about: increased sweating. Nowhere to run, I stared blankly ahead, pretending not to notice as my sweat rained down on her. I got off at the next stop. From then on, I resumed my routine panic attacks.

After that, I decided to stop wearing underwear for a week. It didn’t turn out so well.

Thankfully, the rest of us had no major medical maladies this year, aside from when I cut my nipple while shaving.

To wrap it all up, we only had sex twice this year. Both times were kinda awkward.

Wishing you a happy new year,

PS: Not sure if you heard about our older sister, but I’m sure she’d want you to know. This year she underwent pelvic floor rehabilitation to correct some nerve damage from a back injury, and for several months went to the hospital twice a week to have biofeedback electrodes attached to her vulva and urethra while a physical therapist had her perform kegel exercises around her gloved and lubed finger. While the nurse, who used to work with our father, chatted with her about how fun it was to work with our dad! Even more exciting was when our brother-in-law came by her apartment to pick up some theater tickets she’d bought for our younger sister and saw her vaginal dilators drying by the sink.

TMN’s Contributing Writers know where to find the purple couch. Long live the pan flute, mini mafia, and Michael Jackson. More by The Writers