The Marsh Family Christmas Newsletter (2012 Edition)

It was not my intention to write this. This blog entry actually started as a rumination on the upcoming 2012 Phenomenon or, as I like to call it, the Mayan Apocalypse, but the Christmas music that has been playing incessantly in the background since I sat down at my desk this AM coupled with something my wife proposed to me last night has got my mind going in a completely different direction. A yuletide one. And that never happens, does it?

All together now: Sarcasm fully intended. 

If you are reading this then you are likely familiar with the practice of giving and getting Christmas cards every year. And if you are not familiar with that practice then to Nibiru with you, you cold-hearted Scrooge. What you may or may not be familiar with is the practice of sending a newsletter with your Christmas card or, in some cases, in place of it.

I don’t begrudge the newsletter senders this practice, especially the ones that I only correspond with once every Mayan Apocalypse via phone call, email, snail mail or Facebook. I’m happy to hear about what you’ve been up too and admittedly? I’m oft times embarrassed that you have done so much in the last year while I have done so little. But last night when I returned home from a long day at the office ruminating on valves, motors and various shaped and sized Apocalypses my wife handed me one of these newsletters.

I started reading it while I sipped on my Frappe and ate my crab cakes, potatoes and crescent rolls. The more I dug in to its content the wider my eyes opened. One monumental event after another unfolded on the professionally rendered page of stationary in front of me until I reached the end. There, directly beside a blessing and a signature was a picture of a lamb and a deer standing upon the snow-covered ground. They were looking up at the twinkling Christmas star. The only thing missing from the scene was the sound of a chorus of angels singing Handel’s “Messiah” in the background. It was so very, very perfect, and I knew what Nicole was going to ask me before she even spoke it between a mouthful of crab cake and corn:

“Why don’t you write one of these for us, honey?” The actual question was slightly less intelligible.

Me? I chuckled because I knew that the 2012 Marsh Family Christmas Newsletter would read like a set of directions on how to spend countless hours sitting upon a couch with a restless baby on your lap. It would read like an expert account of how to watch “Tangled” two dozen times and not shout at the end that “it’s not her real mother, honey,” thus traumatizing an innocent three and a half year old for the rest of her natural life. It would be a treatise on how to beat the new, Hoth level of “Angry Birds: Star Wars” or how to drop a 101 point word score on your “Words with Friends” opponent (hint: Position “JAZZY” on a triple letter and a triple word score and marvel at the results).

Sure, there were momentous events in our life over the past year. Natalie’s arrival in late May; me finishing my “Endworld” rewrite in January; me winning big at the Roulette table last month by playing Cara’s birthday, thus offsetting my wife’s heavy losses (love ‘ya, dear). But save for a few isolated incidences like those the year was pretty saccharine. Still, my sweetie asked me to so here you go. Without further adieu I give you the Marsh Family Christmas Newsletter (2012 Edition): 

12/12/12 (or, if the Mayan’s were dyslexic, 12/21/12 AKA the end of the world)

Family and Friends, 

Seasons Greetings and salutations from the Marsh Homestead in Broomall, Pennsylvania! I hope this newsletter finds you healthy, wealthy and wise! 2012 has been a banner year for the Marsh family and I’d like to share a bit of it with you if you will allow me to. You will? Great! 

2012 began with a proverbial whimper, i.e. it began with Cara sleeping and Nicole and I eating ring bologna, pepperoni and cheese while watching a marathon of “Boardwalk Empire.” I still can’t believe they killed off Jimmy! Wait, you did know that, didn’t you? If you didn’t oops. My bad. Next time I’ll post a spoiler alert. 

Okay, SPOILER ALERT: I can’t f*cking believe they killed off Jimmy Darmody! And that truth that he dropped on Nucky about not being half a gangster right before Nucky planted a cap in his a**? I remember saying to Nicole at the time that it would make a great tagline for Season Three. Guess what? It did. Wow. Sometimes my capacity to predict mundane things that have absolutely no bearing on anyone’s life but mine and my wife’s amazes me.

In late January, I completed my rewrite of “Endworld – A Novel” and immediately questioned why the f*ck I had copyrighted it back in 1998 as “Endworld – A Novel” and not just “Endworld.” I know I was a bit of a pretentious little sh*t back then but really, anyone who picks it up can tell instantaneously that its a novel and not a cookbook. I edited it and shipped it off to an editor and a couple of Beta Readers. Only one of the latter read it through to the end and got back to me with his/her thoughts, and he/she pretty much told me that it was terrible. So, I took his/her observations and applied them to a re-rewrite which I then shipped off to him/her again. He/she read it, came back and told me in no uncertain terms that it was slightly less terrible than it had been previously. Needless to say, “Endworld – A Novel” has not yet been published. It is “Pending Further Feedback” and another inevitable rewrite. New Year’s Resolution FAIL.  

The next few months passed without incident but in early April, there were a few complications with Nicole’s pregnancy. Long story short, she went in to premature labor at 32 weeks and ended up on bed rest for the rest of her term. We were forced to step up our preparations for Natalie’s arrival because really? Nicole was pretty much in constant labor from early April on. I converted our office in to a nursery and our basement in to a combination office/playroom/Man Cave by mid-April, always wary that Natalie was going to show up before I was done. I even hung a ceiling fan without maiming myself. Okay, maybe I maimed myself a little, but it’s just a little scar and it’s on my shin. You can’t even see it unless I wear shorts. By the time May rolled around we were 100% ready for Natalie’s arrival. 

Guess what? She didn’t show up until May 30th and that was only because the doctors got tired of waiting for her. They induced Nicole and within four hours of when it started it was over. Welcome to the world Natalie Theresa Marsh! 7 LBs, 0 OZs and 19″ at birth and she’s been growing exponentially since. As of this past Monday she weighs almost 17 LBs and is 27″ long. Which is really just the scientific/mathematical way of saying that she’s a six month old beast compared to how big her older sister was at six months old. But she’s got a wonderful disposition and has been the perfect baby since we brought her home. Who cares about her new habit of waking up between 1:30 and 3:30 AM every night and howling until someone comes in to check on her? Not me and not Nicole. We get a chuckle out of  it despite the fact that neither of us has gotten a decent night’s sleep since Halloween. Ha, ha and HA. See? There has been some isolated talk of training Cara to get up when the baby cries and go check on her but as of yet, we have not committed to it. That’s a lot of responsibility for a three and a half year old though admittedly, Cara probably wouldn’t mind it. It would give her another excuse along with her myriad other ones to stay up past her bedtime. 

Natalie arrived at the end of May and a month later, Cara turned three. I simultaneously decided that it was time to introduce her to “Dora the Explorer” and have been paying the price for that decision since. The Marsh Homestead has been overrun by everything and anything Dora. Backpacks, plates, flatware, stickers, movies and dolls? All f*cking Dora and her good pal, Boots. The good news? It’s not “Spongebob” which my niece and nephew introduced Cara to a few weeks ago, much to my chagrin. We appear to have quelled Cara’s “Spongebob” curiosity for the moment but from what I’ve been told it’s like the Dark Side: Once you give in to it, it will forever dominate your destiny. I’m trying to buy myself a few months of continued innocence from my first born by re-introducing her to her old favorites like the Biscuit books, Dr. Seuss, “Caillou” and “Sesame Street.” So far so good, but she keeps asking me for a crabby patty. I tried to pass an actual crab cake off as one but to no avail. Cara’s a smart kid. She knows the difference. And she only eats chicken nuggets, Gerber ravioli and pizza so really, what was I thinking? 

I just realized that the last paragraph makes it sound like all that Cara does is read books, watch television and eat. Let me restate that: She does the stuff that most three and a half year old’s do, too–playgrounds and play dates, sleepovers and birthday parties–and she also takes ballet every Tuesday afternoon and gymnastics every Saturday morning. 

I‘ve not yet been to a ballet class but gymnastics is ‘kinda my “thing” with her. Needless to say, I’m a bit put off by her gymnastics class and have been since day one. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that she’s learning a little discipline and athleticism but it‘s so damn regimented: Like Soviet Russia for tumbling tykes. The teachers make her and her little friends march in formation from one station to the next every time someone rings a bell, and they constantly yell directions at the kids like drill sergeants. And the head of the joint? He looks like a scientific experiment, the result of some mad scientist splicing the genes of an ex-Hippie with those of Bela Karolyi. From his perfectly groomed beard and wild, Einstein-y hair down to the clipboard he never relinquishes, his flannel shirts and Birkenstocks he and I have had a hate-hate relationship from the beginning.

Despite it, the experience has been a good one for Cara and that’s all that matters. If there’s one thing I’ve learned this year it’s that my feelings don’t. I get a little nauseous each week from the overwhelming stench of feet mingled with piss mingled with unwashed hair that seems to pervade the place but I’ve learned to deal with it. I’ve even stopped showering before I go so as to fit in better. I don’t know if its working but I’m less grossed out and Bela Karolyi’s Cousin’s Former Roommate steers clear of me, now. Yep. #Winning. 

Cara also has a pet, now. A fish named “Lucy.” I won the original Lucy for her at the fair but within 12 hours of when we brought her home she keeled. Belly up, baby. Complete parenting FAIL. Rather than explain to Cara why Lucy was sleeping so much I decided to leave work early, go to Pet-Smart, buy a female Beta and sub said female Beta in for Lucy. Hence, Lucy 2.0 became a daily part of our lives. Sure, she’s pink and not orange and sure, she looks nothing like a Goldfish but that eventuality is easily explained to a three and a half year old. Cara: “Daddy, why is Lucy pink now?” Me: “Lucy knew pink was your favorite color, honey, so she changed for you.” Cara: “Wow. My fish is magical.” God bless her. May she retain her innocent belief system forever and never have to face the sad and sordid truths that we adults do on a daily basis.    

As for Nicole and I? We’re good. Still working the same jobs and same hours that we were working at this time last year. I’d call our respective existences mundane but I’d be lying. Nicole recently discovered “Song Pop” and I recently re-embraced blogging. I’m also trying to publish a short story but I can’t remember its name, presently. My mind has grown ‘kinda numb from all this 2012 recollecting. What a fascinating year! If it gets any more fascinating I may have to take up hard-core drinking to offset the fascinating-ness of it. But hey, ’tis the season, guys! Rejoice and be glad! All the more so with a tumbler of Single Malt Scotch in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Breathe in and breathe out. Smell that December air. Smells like feces, doesn’t it? Ahh. The sweet smell of parenthood. We. Are. BLESSED. 

And we hope you are, too. Hopefully your respective years have been as eventful as ours has. We look forward to seeing many of you over the upcoming holiday. For those of you that we will not be seeing don’t worry: It’s not you. Okay, well maybe it is a little bit but indirectly. It’s not that you smell or we’re suffering from anything communicable. It’s just that if given the choice between an extra few hours of sleep and getting together/being social, the Marshes will opt for the former. That said, have a wonderful holiday season, whatever your spirituality. Happy Hanukkah, Joyous Festivus, Merry Christmas and Happy Kwanzaa! And to all my Atheistic family and friends out there? Hi. Happy December. 

All our Love, 

The Marshes. 

Okay, so maybe our year wasn’t that uneventful. I mean really, it’s all in how you look at it. I just read back over what I wrote and I’m ‘kinda impressed at how much actually has happened to us in 2012. If the world ends in nine days (or, as some dyslexic Mayan’s predicted, tonight at 0:90 MP), at least I’ll be able to meet my maker, secure in the knowledge that I didn’t just spend the entire year farting in to a seat cushion. To the extent that I could I lived my life. I taught Cara how to write her name (with the help of her school, of course) and how to spell everything from it to daddy, mommy, pop-pop and mom-mom (we’re still working on Natalie). I finally managed to get her to a Phillies game and the Devon Horsey Show. So what if I also memorized the lyrics to “I’ve Got A Dream” and can recite whole “Dora the Explorer” books and episodes from memory? So what if the Marsh Christmas Newsletter isn’t overflowing with milestones and pictures of farm animals deep in prayer? I’ve got plenty of time for that in the future. After all, Christmas does come once a year. So long as Nibiru keeps its distance next Friday, it’ll return again in 2013.

In the meantime, I’m done but I don’t feel done. Incomplete. FAIL. I think I know what I need to do but not today. Today, I’ve got a date with a couple of younger women at my three and a half year old’s Christmas concert/cookie decorating spectacular. Perhaps tomorrow I’ll write the Completely False and Over-Exaggeration Laden Marsh Christmas Newsletter (2012 Edition). Tune in then to find out what its like to scale Everest with a six month old in tow.