It’s holiday time in the McAllister-Johnson household and that means it’s time for our yearly catch-up letter. What an eventful year it was here at 2427 Whispering Streams Drive! We’ve got so many “likes” we could practically be a Facebook page!
Our Robbie, 16, mostly “likes” playing video games what with the whole ankle-bracelet monitor situation. He’s nearly finished all of his community service after this summer’s early experiments in arson, which were, according to his court-appointed, $175-an-hour shrink, an “expression of rage and hostility toward his oddly intrusive-yet-neglectful helicopter parents.” Thanks for that, Dr. Thomas. Merry Christmas to you, too.
Our Rachel, 14, gets plenty of “likes” on her YouTube channel, “Reasons I Hate My Family,” which has more than eight thousand subscribers. Many of those subscribers are our neighbors, so it’s a little annoying when I’m at the grocery store and Mary Peloski, the Amway lady from next door (I told you about her last year), smirks and says, “So, I hear you like your wine in the evenings?” Yes, Mary. I do. And if you had kids, you’d understand. Rachel also “likes” telling Mom how “freaking stupid you are—like you are literally making me want to join a convent so I don’t repeat your mistakes. Literally.” (Which, as a former Catholic, let me just say, good luck with that, sweetheart. Twelve years of parochial school makes Orange Is the New Black seem like the Hundred Acre Wood. Literally. I’m a survivor. I’ll just take your straightening iron; you won’t need it there.)
Our sensitive “Oops Baby,” Ruby, 9, “likes” to worry! Oh my goodness, the worries! She’s worried about school and cancer and heart-shaped buttons and the environment. In July, she accidentally stumbled upon one of Robbie’s many serial killer books (Why can’t this kid ever put his stuff away?). Now, she is convinced that we will all die at the hands of saw-wielding, nihilistic strangers in scarecrow hats who want to turn us all into skin lamps. We had to eat the cost of our circus tickets because: clowns. (And yes, Nosy Neighbor Mary, if you are even reading this, occasionally, Ruby’s worries lead me to the wine pantry. You listen to a 9-year-old whispering about The Man Who Takes our Livers While We Sleep for an hour straight and see if you don’t reach for some liquid sustenance.)
Good Old Dad/Husband Randy “likes” webcam services, though that pornography addiction is mostly in remission. Severe Carpal Tunnel will do that to a man. Since his “conscious uncoupling” last year from his corporate job with the good benefits, he’s gotten back to his punk-band roots and launched a start-up devoted to the making of rare, artisanal musical instruments. So if you know anybody who needs a $4,000 fruitwood hurdy-gurdy or a $5,000 lute with hand-tooled scenes from the Kama Sutra, let us know. For real—let us know. Insurance is expensive. And a fleet of therapists don’t pay for themselves.
Our beloved kitty, Mouser’s, “likes” are behind her now. This spring, we found her nestled deep in the crevice of the ancient pull-out sofa. At first, we thought it was one of those mummified things Robbie orders off the Internet from time to time, but, alas, no. You would not believe how fast a cat that big can decompose. Or how long it takes to get the smell out of your upholstery. We’d buy a new sofa but we’re still paying off Robbie’s lawyer. That kid better get into a decent college and study something like finance. Haha! Just kidding! We love our rascally little guy, and my Pinterest page—“Turning Robbie’s Room into My Dream Office”—should in no way be seen as anything other than whimsical fantasy.
Our intelligence-challenged dog, Mr. Wriggles, is still with us, though—ten years and going strong. He “likes” his new habit of dragging tampons out of the trash and scattering them all around the living room. Sometimes it looks like a menstrual party crime scene is what I’m saying here. The kids won’t bring their friends over anymore. Although that could be because of the lingering Mouser smell, even though we’ve bought enough scented candles to practically qualify as a Yankee Candle outlet. (Sometimes, I catch Robbie holding his hand over their flames, a strange light in his eyes. But there’s only so much worry I can take on.)
As for me, I “like” crafting. Yes, I’ve taken up knitting again! It’s such a joy to have something to do with my hands, especially when I’m feeling a little “amped.” I’ve made 48 sweaters, 8 pairs of gloves, 2 throws, and a scarf that never ends. Sometimes, in the early evening hours, I sit in the basement and scream into a paper bag as I ponder the godawful loneliness of the world, the terrible mistakes I’ve made as a human and a parent, and the breath-stealing knowledge that we all careen wildly toward a sucker-punch future whose only certainty is death, probably at the hands of an ax-wielding maniac dressed in a red rubber nose, if Ruby’s fears are well-founded. Then we all watch The Simpsons while following Reddit threads on our phones. It’s that commitment to family time that makes all the difference.
In the spirit of the season, we hope you will join us in supporting a rehabilitation habitat for reindeer rescued from various shopping mall North Pole Santa’s Village reenactments (Ruby’s idea). They have seen so much, you can tell. It’s there in the eyes. Except you shouldn’t look them in the eyes. It’s considered an act of aggression. And those fuckers are biters.
May your holidays be joyful and bright and filled with the love of family.
The McAllister-Johnsons: Randy, Roxanne, Robbie, Rachel, Ruby, Mr. Wriggles and Mouser (2001-2015).