The Christmas Card

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Dear Cousins,

Thank you so much for the Christmas card. I’ll be honest, when I saw Houston I thought it was a pink slip. Or hate mail from a possible HR rep. It’s not that anyone hates me at work, it’s just you never know how sarcasm hits on an email.

Anyways, I would send you a card back but it’s depressing when you constantly date a revolving door of women from the internet. I’ve attached a picture of the latest girl I’ve been dating. Her name is Taylor and as you can see she has a great “personality.”*

But how do you guys like Houston? I hear it’s nice! Plus a hell of a baseball year! Unfortunately, its been a tough weather year. Can win them all. I think I heard you didn’t move until after Harvey, which is good. I saw a lot of the aftermath from our crews. On the train I met a few refugees. One told me a story about swimming away from a water snake! Crazy! During that time, Michia called me asking me if I was okay. Strange considering the distance from Houston to Dallas but thoughtful. Same with a few others of the family. The last one to call was my mom. I tried to stop her by saying “Look save it mom. I’m safe from the hurricane. It’s a couple hundred miles away.” She responded, “Yea I know dumb ass. You owe me $35.00 for the life insurance policy I took out when you were 7.” I love my mom.

Taylor: I love the guitar in the picture! Although I’m not much of an acoustic fan the irony isn’t lost with me. And I gotta say, thank you for playing a C chord. Most of the guitar pictures are of people just holding the neck. Glad to see someone in the family with musical talent doing something with it! My advice, drop out of college and move to L.A. or Nashville. I’m sure you’re mom’s rolling her eyes. But real talk, Sista to Sista. You’ve got the Brains. You’ve got the beauty. You’ve got the talent. The only question is…. Do you have the drive? Do you have the audacity to handle criticism? To play gigs in empty smoky bars? To network? To flirt? To lead on? To give yourself to the audience in a way that makes them think they know you in a different level? I don’t just KNOW, I believe 100% that YOU CAN! I’d bet my entire life savings of $53.82 on it! Just remember when you make it big, your 2nd cousin believed in you and has played guitar for 17 years. Plus, he remembers when you use to awkwardly chase him around in Middle School, telling him you wanted to merry him. #Blackmail

Steve: Digging that 23 number. I had the same one back in my football days. I never got to pitch with it on before. Actually, I only got to pitch once wearing 12. It was short lived.  I nailed a batter, which lead to the game getting canceled. Needless to say my pitching career ended pretty quickly. If you’re projecting that much focus by biting your lip, I know you’re gonna be a stud. All the greats do it, Maddux, Kerry Wood, Kyle Hendrix, and now you. Keep it up kid!

Derek: Unfortunately I can count the number of times we’ve spoken on my hand. No disrespect to a new comer of the family. We just met at a weird time for me. I hear you’re a bad ass salesman, and not just from the old man but lots of fokes. From a kid who’s never felt comfortable with our extended family, for you to come in like you did is nothing short but immaculate! I’ve always felt like I’ve never lived up to what’s expected of me. I can’t help it. I like my booze. I like my porn. I like making jokes. I am who I am. But I have a close friend who use to work at the B.H. wings and she tells me nothing but wonderful things about you. She said you barely knew her but set her up with an Accounting interview at Whirlpool. Super nice of you! She did say you tried to touch her butt once, but like a gentleman, apologized profusely about it. Believe it or not, ME FUCKING TOO! Only I didn’t apologize. I was at her wedding. It’s still nice!

Last but not least cousin Kelly: You are the epitome of cool! Ever since I was a kid, you were one of the coolest people I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. My sister won’t ever admit this, but I feel like she’s always been jealous of you. I’ve always pictured as a young Madonna for some reason. Not the “Ray of light”, Stella got her groove back, but the original. Gummy bracelets, Celebration, Material girl type shit**. I remember when you’d show up at our Great-Grandma during game night and play Uno with us. You were cool. You’re Michigan State ass didn’t have to put up with my five year old antics. Trust me I know. I’ve seen myself how I act over 20 years later. You’re a saint!

But I have to say my favorite story is when I went to sell you knifes. I showed up late on that rainy day. And I felt awful, I had to hit up my recently divorced cousin. The same one trying to sell her house and pickup the pieces. You could of told me to fuck off. Shit you should’ve. Instead, I came over and you let me give my sh-peal. Normally, I’d go right out of the book. But not this time. I went off script. I couldn’t help it. We were having fun! We cut tomatoes and I made jokes about how Rachel Ray was your bitch. We laughed about our family. You weren’t a victim like I was told. Just a human being. I’ve never felt more awful in my life.

You gave me shelter. Life kicked me in the teeth that week. I lost friends.  Every appointment I had canceled. I spent my last 20 bucks on gas to drive to your house not even sure if you were going to be there. Look to you it was probably a small blip in the radar. But you really have no idea the type of shock waves it sent to another soul. I had another appointment after yours which offered me another job. The same job which propelled me to get back into school.

Look kids, I know our family. I’ve been a part of them since birth. I love everyone of them, but we have this smile for the camera type persona. We look fantastic on paper. We get together because we assume that is what you’re suppose to do. Tradition upheld, year after year. And that’s completely okay. It’s just, look, things fucking happened to me this year. I got the shit kicked out of me in Oklahoma. I fell in love with a childhood actress in L.A. I lived one of my childhood dreams, only to have it fall apart on me months later. I made friends. I had people tell me they never wanted to see me again. I’ve gone toe to toe with life. Round after round. I got knocked down. I got back up. Though most of this, I felt alone. And now I’m going to miss our Christmas party for the first time ever.I don’t even have a fucking tree and my last tinder date laughed at me about this.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, I’ve always thrown away Christmas cards. I don’t mean I didn’t read them. I’d check for money first, but then just toss them into the trash. But for some reason there’s something about this one. This one flooded me will all these memories. This one that reminds me I’ve loved. This one that gives me the slightest bit of hope on following a dream. This one that has a funny imperfection above one of the pictures that I’m sure the perfectionist of the family will notice. This one is beautifully flawed. And I’ve decided that THIS EXACT ONE is going to stay with me all year. It’s going to move with me, where ever that may take me. It’s going to be a conversational starter, the reminder, and all the memories I never want to forget.

Thank You!

-Darby

*Edit: We are no longer together.

**PS: I may or may not have danced around to “Get into the Grove” when writing this letter.

**PSS: I may or may not have lost my lady friend because of the dancing. In which I may or may not have cared cause let’s be honest, no one wants to date someone who’s not into Madonna. Am I right?

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