Friday, December 12, 2008

A Christmas Newsletter - Christmas 2008

(English Version) Part 1 is a reprint of Black Friday. If you read part 1, skip to part 2.

Part 1 – Black Friday

I told myself I was not going to do it. I was going to stay home and sit back and avoid the throngs of people at the malls. I was going to avoid the meandering circuitously through parking lot after parking lot searching for that one elusive parking space. I was not going to engage in the lunacy of Black Friday, the day that marks the start of the Christmas buying season, that day after Thanksgiving where hordes of crazed people get up at 4:00 a.m. in the morning to brave a world gone mad where everyone searches for goodies at some deep discount. This is the day of the year when the world puts aside sanity and reason for that one special day of the year where discounts or perceived discounts reign. I had even told the kids we were going to tighten our belts because of the economic crisis, and not buy a lot of stuff. But I too was infected with this lunacy.

At four in the morning, I hear taps on our bedroom door – short taps in rapid succession. This was not Hillary Clinton's 3 AM call; it was my 18 year old daughter Raeann waiting to hit the mall. She wanted to buy a classy pink camera which she saw in the previous day's newspaper. I was not about to get up – I wanted to sleep. I pulled the warm blanket over my head but the taps on the door became increasingly louder. My wife was the one elected to go with my daughter. When my daughter and wife finally returned home later that morning around 8:00, I decided to go with them to Costco. So off we went to Costco – but only to watch others shop – not to shop ourselves.

We walked thru the entrance of Costco, showed the clerk our Costco card, and continued on. And, what did our eyes behold - 37" LCD High Definition televisions flying off the shelves for 499 dollars apiece (after a 100 dollar coupon.) There were only two left. I grabbed one of the two remaining – come on - it was on sale. "Ka Ching", I continued to look around Costco. Every other shopping basket had a 37" LCD high definition television. I asked myself "Where is this economic slowdown?" We walked a little further; a blue ray disc DVD player caught the corner of my eye. It was 90 dollars off the original price – a mere 189 dollars after the discount. That would go well with my 37" LCD High Definition television, "Ka Ching." We left Costco.

As we arrived home, I left the television set and DVD player in their original packaging for my son to install when he arrived home from work. My son came home, and he began installing the television and blue ray DVD player, but he noticed he couldn't install the surround sound system because the receiver I was using was twenty years old and I needed a receiver that was capable of using fiber optic cables. So, it was off to Circuit City (you know that bankrupt chain of stores) to buy a receiver 30% off the original price, 399 dollars and I also needed to buy two fiber optic cables for 26.98 each. "Ka Ching", "Ka Ching", "Ka Ching". I think I was finally done.

My Black Friday shopping was now done. The total 1,235 dollars (taxes included) Ka Ka Ching, So much for my low-key, not spending, stay at home, take it easy Black Friday. I now only had one problem. How was I going to tell my kids we needed to cut down this Christmas because of the economy?



Part 2 – All the other stuff

For years Jonathan, my son (the one with a lead foot when he drives), has wanted to buy a motorcycle. One day, as we headed for our morning repast at the local diner, he posed the question, "Do you mind if I buy a motorcycle?" Since he was now older, I said, "No, I do not mind." I surmised he couldn't afford this machine anyway – this vehicle of death - since he still owed money on his credit cards. I was wrong. For several days, he perused newspapers, the Internet, and magazines looking for that one special motorcycle that would say, "This is me." He found it, a Buell made by Harley Davidson. It sat in our garage for a couple of months until he was able to take a class to teach him how to drive it. I suggested that he take the class in 2011 – that way he wouldn't drive it for a few years, but with a bemused smile he said, "I don't think so." Jonathan did promise he would not drive on the freeway for a year – a promise he kept hmmm let's see, about a week. Now he drives his motorcycle everywhere, and I guess the one pro is it is a lot cheaper on gasoline.

"Oh the travails of learning to drive!" ponders Raeann as she unknowingly changes lanes in the middle of the intersection without realizing it. Raeann believes it is time to break away from daddy and mommy and loosen the ties that bind her. This was the year Raeann turned 18, and at her birthday party, Raeann asked a series of questions to see how well party-goers knew her. One question was, "how many pillows does Raeann need under her when she drives?" Answer: one. What happened to those all too innocent years about the age of two or three when Raeann pulled around her tiny toy shopping cart, and muttered in somewhat unintelligible sounds, "I'm going shopping." Now she really does go shopping, and she loves to spend, and she brings home a special friend we shall call Alex. We will not call him boyfriend because that would mean I have to face facts and realize she really is growing up. Life is just going way too fast. And, I just want it to stop.

Jeanine and I are beginning to feel those aches and pains we tend to all feel as we slip into those obscure years we no longer want to count (anything after the age of 29.) One day last year, I woke up unable to move my arm in any direction and with excruciating pain. I went to the doctor and he told me I had "frozen shoulder" and that it lasts for six months to two years "WHAT?" I thought to myself, "What the &*^% is that? For six months, my right arm was useless, unable to move, couldn't type, and couldn't sleep except in a vertical position. I didn't think anyone could sleep vertically unless you were some sort of blood sucking bat. Again, I was wrong. I iced my arm, I heated it, I exercised it, and I went to physical therapy. I discovered that 2% of people over 40 get this condition, but after I had it, I started discovering people coming out of the woodwork who also had it – go figure. I now await the next ailment to befall me. Jeanine also has arthritis in the shoulder and carpel tunnel on the right hand, but life goes on.

And so ends another year, another economic crisis (well maybe not yet), and another election cycle. Hope all is well with everyone, and hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas


Mark, Jeanine, Jonathan and Raeann

Jonathan and his Buell

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