Thursday, December 20, 2012

Over the Holiday Cliff

Years ago, in protest against the same old annual updates about little Johnnie's straight As and Susie's ballet lessons,  I decided to spice up the Christmas letter tradition with my own brand of relevance and irreverence.  12 years later, I am still protesting.

Not everyone will receive the hard copy (stamps aren't free you know), but here's the 2012 family letter along with sincere wishes for a safe and peaceful holiday to all.


Like the fiscal cliff negotiations, the debate over the content of the Sherrier Family Holiday Letter 2012 is coming down to the wire.  At the end of the year, without a signed Holiday Letter, our family will fall off the Holiday Letter Cliff (Thomas calls it a “slope”) and the uncertainty that would be faced by friends and family would be devastating to their holidays.  Failure to mail a letter by year end would result in automatic cuts to goodwill and mandatory increases in family-related stress.  
The in-house jockeying, the horse trading and the backroom deals have been kept secret, but thanks to WikiLeaks, here is a summary of the Sherrier Holiday Letter Cliff negotiations:

Marra will only sign the Holiday Letter if we agree to lift the family debt ceiling and allow her to tax our patience and spend our money without limitation.  Of course, this will happen regardless once she goes to college in September 2014.  We just started looking over the edge of that looming fiscal cliff and it’s a long way down. 

Thomas has called for more words spent on his quest for Eagle Scout rank while Marra prefers those words be spent on her self-described ‘crushing’ load of AP classes this year.  Lucy is against any reference to a debt ceiling in our letter as she contends that a family debt ceiling limits her ability to purchase as many American Girl doll accessories as the house will hold.

Cherie refuses to eliminate any references from the letter about education, specifically her long-term stints as a substitute in kindergarten classes in spring and summer.  Marra has countered that she has binders full of accomplishments from the past year, such as her swim team coaching job and lifeguarding experiences that must be part of any final agreement. 

Cherie thinks she has capital to spend because she served in a leadership position on the swim team Board of Directors.  Joe believes he has more capital at his disposal since he is now President of his local HR chapter.  

All parties believe that any final Holiday Letter agreement must address the effects of global climate change on the summer.  Cherie wants us to emphasize that Wrightsville Beach, NC was wonderfully warm, but Joe insists the final letter highlight the violent derecho storm that poked a nice hole in our house and killed our favorite pear tree.  

Thomas believes the draft letter lacks a stimulus effect and is demanding more mentions of his soccer field exploits.  Joe disagrees, and argues that additional references to his prolific blogging ( ) and his impressive inline hockey exploits is enough stimuli.  Marra demands more investment in the arts, specifically a mention of her 4 night per week of dancing.

Marra would trade one paragraph about obtaining her driver’s license if Thomas would agree to exclude even a sentence about his entre into middle school theater.  Joe would sacrifice a mention of his 50th birthday for a reduced emphasis on Lucy’s swim team success.

Marra, Thomas and Lucy are in agreement that their entitlements should represent a large portion of the final letter.

If the letter doesn’t get finished by year end, there is always the possibility of a continuing resolution that kicks the hard letter content choices past the December 24th deadline.  It’s been done before but frankly, we all expect the same tired arguments to slow the process a year from now.

Next year, maybe decisions on the content of this letter will have to go to a Super Committee.  That will solve this mess.

You’d think the parties could at least agree to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and Happy New Year by the deadline.  Nothing is simple anymore in Washington or with the Sherriers.

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