The Bakers’ 2012

I write this with the knowledge that this will be my last Christmas letter. I can’t imagine the disappointment you all must feel. Laurie has been freaking out that we need to get the letter in the mail, but I keep explaining to her that with the apocalypse only a few days away half of you will be vaporized by the time this letter would reach you. Those of you who know me well know that I don’t have much positive to say about the Mayans. Their art is completely without nuance, and stepped pyramids are just lazy. Even their human sacrifices were uninspired – they never got really creative with them like the Aztecs did. Don’t get me started on their acne. All of that said, you’ll never hear me criticize their calendar system. That’s why the Bakers were prepared early on for the end of the world, and we’ve spent the better part of 2012 knocking out our bucket list items.

When Laurie and I started dating in the 90s, she mentioned something about wishing she could get her hair cut like Jennifer Anniston’s. I made her wait over 17 years and assumed it would be close to the top of her list by now. I wanted it to be a surprise for her so for all of February I would wait until she went to bed and then watch old episodes of Friends, Bruce Almighty and Rock Star, then cut Meredith’s Barbie dolls’ hair until I had it down pretty well. But, everyone knows that to truly surprise someone with a new haircut you have to somehow get them unconscious. She’s always game for Benadryl, a blindfold and ride in my Jeep so I set her up and starting driving. I figured I could lull her in a half hour tops but after an 8 hour drive to the Ozarks, she was still only groggy. Fortunately, a guy I went to school with used to be an anesthesiologist (before he lost his license), so he helped me out. Long story short, she was comatose and I nailed the 90s shag. She was so happy. We were all laughing afterwards about how clever I was to pull it off, and then Laurie wanted to try it on one of the kids, so the next night we drugged Emily and shaved her head & eyebrows. Emily wasn’t quite as much of a good sport about it, but she’s never really had a sense of humor.

Alex always wanted to win the contest for most Cub Scout popcorn sales so we went into action to give him the edge he’d need. We covered a lot of the basic stuff pretty quickly – I trained him on SalesForce.com and Laurie rented Glengarry Glen Ross. I also took him to my office and let him sit down with our sales people so they could share some of their secrets on the complex sale and how to hone his elevator pitch. Laurie even brought in some of the previous champs so that they could explain the popcorn vertical and the buying psychology of the typical caramel corn consumer. As a last step we looked up the Elmhurst listing of property sales so we could map out where the whales lived. Some of the other parents cried foul after they saw Alex’s QVC spot, but we were playing to win and in sales the difference between ‘try’ and ‘triumph’ is just a little umph. He ended up winning some Nerf bow & arrow thing, so I guess it was worth it.

Emily has always wanted to have her very own library card, so in June we decided to knock that off the list. My memory isn’t what it used to be, and I couldn’t exactly remember what the requirements were when I got my card. I figured it was better safe than sorry, because that walk to the library equates to 20 minutes alone with the kids and sorry, but more than once just ain’t happening. We brought her school ID, copy of her birth certificate, our closing documents from our home purchase, a hair sample and I hired out a notary public to accompany us. I also brought eye drops in case there was anything involving retinal scans, but our branch apparently is still on the older technology. The librarian threatened to call the cops when I set the dixie cup of Emily’s urine on the counter – I guess this community could care less if its library’s patrons are strung out on meth. If I’m being totally honest though, the possibility of urine testing was making me sweat bullets because I wasn’t even sure if the andro had passed through my system from my last cycle. I decided to play it cool and she ended up getting the card. It’s decisions like that one that make me a great dad.

Meredith has wanted to learn to ride a bike without training wheels since she was three years old. The neighbors mentioned to me in November that they saw her doing it over the summer. I hope it’s true – I’d probably be proud.

We started December as we usually do – with Laurie going batshit crazy on the kids because they won’t stay still long enough for her to get enough perfect pictures for the Christmas card. She just needs the pose to hold long enough for her to capture 5-10 pictures on our camera, another few on her iPhone, a couple of Polaroids and for the caricaturist we bring in every year to finish his work. It’s like pulling teeth to get the kids to do simple things like this. I got things back on track with a family game of ‘Guess Whose Hair’, where we take hairs from the bathtub and guess who they came from. We probably hadn’t cleaned the tub since our Arbor day cleaning, and had a lot of family stay at our house over Thanksgiving, so the challenge level was enjoyably high. Anyway, no need to clean it now since our time is pretty much up.

With all of my selflessness over the last year I never really got to finish all the things I dreamed of doing before I die. I guess I should be grateful for the few things I was able to do – I did get to operate a hydraulic press and I finally tried a McRib. That said, I’ll probably carry my regret into the afterlife for never getting to do body shots with the cast of Glee or to share a cup of coffee with Tim Tebow. My remaining hours are going to be spent on trying to finish my sculpture of Ed Begley Junior, but my bull-nose chisel doesn’t work the marble worth a crap. I guess my sacrifices are why I’ll be in heaven on Dec. 21st before most of the rest of you, but hopefully I’ll see some of you before too long. Until then, the Bakers hope your last moments are at least kind of decent. Farewell.

Merry Christmas to You and Yours from Us and Ours (if it happens)!!!