The Bakers’ 2017

Wednesday, January 30th, 2019

Sorry that our last Christmas letter was way back in 2012, but our toner cartridge ran dry towards the end of that print job and then the Office Max went out of business so we were pretty much at a dead end. Then a few weeks ago I was at Walmart looking for a replacement bulb for my tanning lamp and it turns out that they also carry printer toner cartridges, so the letter is on. I’ll apologize in advance for the letter’s brevity; the kids and I are trying to get out the door to catch the new Star Wars movie and I still need to replace the batteries in Meredith’s light saber and Alex can’t find his Leia wig.

February brought a weird smell to the house, reminiscent of bad yogurt but kind of elusive. At first I suspected Alex – whenever he makes an extended visit to the bathroom he always brings a couple of cups of Oikos Greek with him, because as he likes to remind us, ‘gotta refill the tank at the same time it’s getting emptied to keep the machine humming’. However, I couldn’t find anything in any of the bathrooms or in his private spot out back that he uses when he wants to ‘feed the Hostas’, so we pretty much accepted that the smell was just a new feature of the house. Then in April I went to my triannual dental appointment and they told me that the smell was probably coming from my teeth, and that I just needed to brush and floss once in a while. I’m not sure that I’m ready to buy into all of that new age dental philosophy without seeing the hard data behind their research, but I did chew a stick of Doublemint on the way home and noticed that the house in fact seemed to smell a little fresher that evening. I bought quite a bit more gum so we should be good for visitors now.

In May Meredith finally got her own makeup kit for her birthday. We had held off for a long time since we first wanted her to learn how to produce her own makeup using whatever raw ingredients she has at hand. She can work wonders if she can get her hands on some cocoa butter, arrowroot powder, desiccated porcini mushrooms and some bat guano, but it was time to let her experiment with the mass-produced stuff if her future is going to be in the face arts. She practiced her contouring a lot on Alex & his friends and was able to totally transform them into lovely young ladies. Her style currently tends to lean towards the Latoya Jackson / Courtney Love look so I think there’s still room for improvement but I don’t want to stifle her creativity – I doubt Da Vinci’s parents criticized his art when he was younger. I’ve been working with her on eyeliner fundamentals and of course concealers, since the whole household could benefit from some coverup of our back acne once she gets the shading perfected for our different skin tones. Call me a proud dad.

Emily turned 14 in August and I’ll admit to some serious mixed feelings. On one hand, I inwardly wept at the loss of the little girl who used to fetch things for me and wouldn’t cop an attitude when I told her to pick up any of the toenail clippings from the floor that I didn’t want to chew. On the other hand, at 14 it’s hard not to get excited about the dowry that will be coming my way hopefully any month now. Some background info is probably justified: Laurie and I had always felt pretty strongly that had we lived in an older era that we’d likely have been nobles – probably a duke & duchess or maybe an earl. Somewhere above a baron but short of a king & queen, mainly since diplomacy has never been my thing. The point being, ours is a traditional household that tries to honor the ways of my forebears. I’ve therefore always assumed that my girls would be getting married no later than sixteen years old. I’ll admit to being a little put out by the fact that I only have two offers as of the writing of this letter. One from some guy I met in an online chat room with the screen handle of ‘$ubwayJareddd’ and a negligibly more promising offer from a kid that works the concessions at York Theater here in town. We still have next summer’s Renaissance Fairs and maybe a few visits to Medieval Times that ought to be our best opportunities to find someone who’ll take her so I’m not at freak-level-red quite yet. I’d be lying though if I said that I wasn’t a little nervous with only 20 months to go and Emily being, well, Emily. Not sure I see a path to pull this off but I guess there’s always the convent.

Alex turned sixteen in November, meaning that the State of Illinois now deems him old enough to drive. It’s no secret that I have differing opinions than the State on a wide range of issues – don’t get me started on the methodology for calibrating fuel dispensing meters that’s employed by their Department of Weights & Measures – but one of my biggest beefs has been that Alex has clearly been ready to drive for years. For the State to have prevented him from getting behind the wheel where he belongs is about akin to keeping an eagle imprisoned in a cage where it can’t stretch its wings. The kid has been beating me in Pole Position since he was three. He’s a savant. To rub salt in his wounds the State required that he attend driving classes. We obviously opted to forego the drivers ed class offered at his high school in favor of Top Driver, figuring that they’d cover the more advanced stuff like bootleg turns, power braking, blindfolded maneuvers & wheelies. You can imagine my reaction when I learned that his first two classes only covered the remedial stuff like signs and four-way stops. I spoke with the instructor to at least see if the driving sessions would include some time with the nitrous oxide system engaged, but he just gave me a blank look so I’m not even sure if he’s seen Fast & Furious – worthless. Anyway, Alex was a real soldier and gutted out the class so now he can get his license. It’ll probably be early 2018 before he’s officially legal, since his salon gets pretty backed up this time of year and there’s no way he’s posing for any pictures without a fresh ‘do. His tips will be highlighted within a few weeks and then that bird will soar.

Going to have to cut this off now – Emily keeps leaning against the wall and her Yoda grease paint is getting green on everything. If you need to hear more about what we’ve been up to then just call us, or better yet, don’t. We’re outta here. Later.

Serious footnote: 2015 and 2016 were awful years and not a day goes by where we don’t think about and miss Laurie. 2017 has, all things considered, gone very well and the kids are doing great due in no small part to their ability to retain their senses of humor in most any situation. I debated whether to send a funny letter this year but the past couple of years reinforced in my mind that there’s almost never a ‘bad’ time for a laugh. Many thanks for everyone’s support, warm wishes, etc. etc. etc.

Merry Christmas to You and Yours from Us and Ours!!!