Doug J - Finishing Up The Christmas Letter It was just half way through the month and already the weather gurus were predicting that this was going to be the hottest August on record, at least according to the truck driver that delivers our UPS packages. Judging from the two tones of brown that he was sporting on several areas of his uniform, especially under his pits and along the back of his shoulder blades and spine it sure did seem disgustingly obvious that was one hell of an August. So, it was hard to believe that this weekend I would be starting the annual Johanssen Christmas letter. In years past I was hot as a pistol. The letters were ingenious in the physical construction and content. How long have I been doing this? Almost 10 years? Wow. That’s a long time to maintain quality and creativity. A couple of those years I missed not because I didn’t have an idea – but because I had too many ideas. Or the level of complexity was too much for even me to fathom in order to get the 100 of them in the mail. But I learned from last year’s slip up – start early. And I remember saying that very thing last year when mid-January snuck up on me and I was still gluing and stenciling the failed – but totally inspired creation that would have cost me almost $3.00 each to mail – but it would have been worth it. It sure would have been great to get the accolades from the family and hear them gush about how amazed they were as the events of the year unfurled in the form of puffs of smoke (card stock cut in the form of clouds!) from a realistic old fashioned train that when moving the lever circled the pop-up Christmas tree. Man! That would have been my best yet. But as I said – the year ran away from me. I could gave done the old, “well it supposed to be a Christmas card, but now it’s a card wishing you a Happy Valentine’s Day” bit again. The last time was kind of embarrassing. “Geez,” I told myself, “Jeremy, you will have to start right after the Fourth of July next year.” So, yesterday, there I was, ready to start – and I would have told the UPS driver all about it, but he seemed like he was in a real hurry. Yep, this very weekend would be – or rather – was supposed to be the start of the next great Christmas Letter. I had told myself over and over again that this year’s idea would need to be a bit easier from the construction perspective. After all, no sense in going to all that trouble only to just not get it done again; you know what I mean? Yep that was my plan. But Ray Blaziak had to open his big mouth. Of course, I didn’t say anything to him but perhaps some of my other confidants were bragging about how this year they would be getting one of my custom Christmas card creations and he may have overheard. I sometimes see Ray talking to some of them, especially that newer girl Juanita, who seems just great; but I know Ray can turn her into a nasty person just like he has done so many others. I told her I would definitely put her on my mailing list and just to whet her appetite I told her about my best letters: like the one that you had to fold a bunch of ways to so that you could read the story; or the one where you had to scratch off the White Out to reveal the answer to a question about an event that happened to me during the year. She seemed really impressed and let me talk on and on about those classic ones. I knew Ray did not understand, and I would never add him to my mailing list no matter how much pleaded. And I’m not stupid – he might think that I’m stupid – but I’m not. Come on, I knew all along that he was not totally serious when in the lunchroom he got on his knees and tugged on my pant leg and said, something like, “please, please, please with sugar on top; please send me one this year.” Juanita said he was making fun of me, and she was at least partially right, but I also knew that Ray was probably a lonely insecure bully and that getting one of my cards would have just blown him away. Yeah, it would have just blown him away. But then later that night he actually looks me up. I wished he would not have confronted me the way he did. I mean sure I’ll find a real clever and serendipitous way of working it all in to the Christmas letter and that part will be fun, but why did he have to come up to me when I was all alone? All the other times we were always in front of people – and I was embarrassed a lot of the times – but then I would walk away and give him just the nastiest look – so I at least had the last laugh. He knew – I know he knew – that I wouldn’t have tried anything in front of all those people. But talking to me when I was alone? He was asking for trouble. He should know that I would have no problem with getting away with it. It’s just not that hard – never has been. But now, I won’t be able to start my world famous Christmas letter until the next weekend since I evidently have some cleaning up to tend to this weekend. I just hope nothing else will come up to delay my start – this year I’ve got just the best idea. Oh, yeah, the best. It’s just so hard to get these Christmas letters done.