Small Wonders: Checking off 'catching up' from the list

I hate people sometimes.

This year it was the Berrys from Seattle. A dear, lifelong friend, her husband and their two sickeningly adorable, wide-eyed, precocious sons. Theirs was the first Christmas card we received this year: snapshots of a day at the lake, brief notes about the boys (ages 4.5 and 7.75 to the decimal point), wishes of joy and prosperity.

And it came in November.

Man, I hate them.

It's a hatred borne of unshakable love, deep respect and a pinch of jealousy.

How can anyone, let alone parents with multiple jobs, countless responsibilities and school-age sucklings, get Christmas cards out before December? It's a 50-50 shot we'll get our annual salutations out at all each year.

So this blend of guilt and peer pressure sends me to my keyboard to bid you good tidings this Christmas Season; to enlighten you on the personal trivialities of my life you never asked to hear.

Writing it here also saves me on postage and a trip to Costco to have cards printed. If you must see pictures, friend me on Facebook.

The year 2012 started like every other: Ten pounds heavier and deeply in debt after holiday spending on things forgotten by President's Day.

Whenever we thought we were getting ahead, something came up to remind us we're no different than anyone else. We've just finished paying off the Sears bill for myriad appliances purchased to replace those that decided to leave this Earth during a particularly nasty Mercury Retrograde (a diagnosis from one of my more psychically attuned friends).

I joined a gym. Now, instead of sweatin' to the oldies, I sweat to the beat of techno music in a steamy spin class, pull muscles picking up free weights rather than socks, and discover rare, endorphin-induced trances in which it feels like everything is going to be OK. Go, me!

Thing 1 and Thing 2, our daughters, continue to grow... and grow tired of being called Things 1 and 2. At 11 and 9, respectively, you would too, I guess, if year after year smiling, well-intentioned strangers walked up to you in public asking which Dr. Seuss character you were named after.

Their days are filled with school, friends, gymnastics, Girl Scouts, iPods, ignoring their parents and leaving wet towels on the floor. We're both relieved and angered when they climb atop the refrigerator to fetch themselves something to eat. We continue to fend off pleas for cellphones (pray for us), and are still grateful they're sleeping through the night.

Our quest for a house continues; a place where each lady can have her own room, and a small corner for dad. Alas, someone forgot to tell Burbank that the rest of the nation lowered home prices in the greatest recession since live radio was the dominant form of entertainment.

We traveled this year, I'm glad to say. Spring Break in Las Vegas, avoiding the casinos and wet T-shirt contests; a weekend on that isle of romance, Catalina, with extended family; and a fortnight on Maui in August with the rest of the first and second world.

I continue to work full time in the fluorescent-lit cubicle mazes of a locally based entertainment monolith and write this column, now every other week. As you probably gathered, once again I did not make the New York Times bestseller list (but once that happens, so long, suckers!).

And the Wife continues to do God's own work helping those having trouble helping themselves. If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of prone in a hospital bed, be nice to your nurse. They're being nice to you.

In an effort to squeeze that last dram of youth from the toothpaste tube of life, we ran in our first mud run this year. A 5K obstacle course of mud pits, cargo nets, barbed wire and fire. We survived. Our shoes did not.

And lastly, at a dinner party hosted by another dear, lifelong friend, her husband and their three beautiful children, I learned that society is peopled with two kinds of human-like creatures: Order Muppets and Chaos Muppets. In a world where we're all controlled by an Unseen Puppeteer, we're either one or the other. And we always need each other.

As life crawls ever onward, new friendships have blessed me by merging into my path. And others have gone fallow — taken a season to quietly rejuvenate — but never forgotten.

If we haven't spoken in a while, I'm sorry.

If we have, it's not enough.

And if you are reading these words, thank you. You've given me gifts you will never know.

PATRICK CANEDAY can be reached at Read more at His book makes a great stocking stuffer.

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