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Jon Mark Beilue column - Posted November 23, 2012 noon
illustration by Andy Chase Cundiff

It’s that time of year once again...

After years of making fun of family Christmas letters, we decided to take the plunge ourselves

Merry Christmas and Yuletide blessings to all our wonderful friends and family,

Can you believe it? Yes, it’s true, after years of making fun of family Christmas letters, we decided to take the plunge ourselves. Consider this a boastful way of saying hello without really meaning to say hello. I know we barely stay in touch any more, and you’ve probably already skipped to the end to see who this is and the name barely rings a bell, but that’s OK. It will ease our holiday conscience in this half-hearted effort to say, “Come see us!”

We know we’re risking alienating some of our friends with a parody Christmas letter because some of you send them. What your family did for the entire year sounds possible, normal even. Not one trip to the Cayman Islands, no mention of your wife’s tireless charity work, the boat you bought, or the gifted and talented programs your kids are in.

But some of you, come on. Who are you trying to fool? Nobody’s that perfect or that accomplished. Your world sounds like a continual episode of “Father Knows Best,” except you’re much richer than the fictional 1950s television dad.

Don’t you have one little problem in your life? I’m sorry, but having you and the housekeeper frantically looking all morning for Denise’s passport before the trip to Australia, as you hilariously described, doesn’t count. Once again, your entire year was marked by a spring break trip to Hilton Head, a cruise for the umpteenth time, skiing in Vail, and de-stressing in Las Vegas.

You know what our big trip was? Frontier City amusement park in Oklahoma City, where it was hot enough to melt your shoes and the starter went out in the parking lot. But actually, you apparently do a little more than travel. I see from last year’s bragathon that Pembrooke got not one, but two promotions at work, and that Denise needs more time in the day what with being president of the PTA and the Art Auxiliary not to mention the four other charities that are lucky to have her.

All I could say was, “Whew!” when it looked like Katelyn might have to settle for a B in one of her tough courses at Princeton. I can’t tell you how it made my holidays when she got that A to keep her 4.0 GPA intact in her double major of Quantum Physics and Mandarin Chinese. Don’t wait until next Christmas to inform us of what fortunate law school gets her. I can’t handle the suspense.

Justin continues to amaze, doesn’t he? All-district in football and basketball, student council, Symphony Ball Escort, homecoming king. How he was able to do that and also get arrested for minor in possession really speaks of time management. I know, that didn’t make the letter, but it did make the docket in the newspaper.

Every time I brace myself to read these Christmas letters, it just cements what I’ve already come to know – I am one pathetic loser. Well, I’m getting off topic. It was decided we would do a Christmas letter this year. You should appreciate it. Once you read it, you will come to the opposite conclusion that I do when receiving them – Hey, I’m not so bad after all.

Before delving into our letter, I looked up the dos-and-don’t’s of Christmas-letter writing. Three times it said don’t brag, and once it said don’t make it long, and another said if you sell Amway, don’t push any of the products. Sounds reasonable.

OK, here goes:
Hard to believe another year has come and gone. Sandy and I are now empty-nesters where we enjoy our favorite pastime, the “Do-You-Think-We’ll-Ever-Be-Able-To-Retire?” game. Best we can figure the answer is yes, in 2042. That’s why I’ve been one irritable grouch in 2012.

We don’t see much of Blake, our oldest, who is living with a roommate in a duplex while working and trying to finish school. We still enjoy our occasional time together. This fall, he stopped by and we had one of those meaningful father-son talks.

“When’s the last time you changed the oil in your car?’

“I don’t know.”

“Well, you need to do it.”

“All right.”

It may not be quantity, but it’s quality. We know the little dickens sometimes comes by, usually at 3 a.m. We can tell because the next morning, there are four cereal boxes and two chip bags on the counter, four cabinet doors open, two lights on, and the front door wide open. Call it a hunch.

Chad, our youngest, is in his second year of college. Always seeking new horizons, Chad seems to be serious about his double major of Intramurals and Fraternity while putting us in debt faster than the federal government. Too bad there’s not a Dean’s List for parking tickets.

As for our precious pets, the cat is just there, and could care less about us unless she’s hungry or wants out, which is all the time. Maybe that’s not so bad because the dog now passes gas that has some otherworldly smell, has stage 1 Arthritis, and, after seven years of behaving, has suddenly started digging the Marianas Trench near the backyard gate.

But, hey, we’re still breathing, and in this holiday season, that’s not to be taken for granted. Peace on Earth!

The Beilues

Come see us! (Not really)

by Jon Mark Beilue

Jon Mark Beilue is an award-winning columnist for AGN Media. He can be reached at or (806) 345-3318.
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