As I do every year, let me start by saying, "You're welcome." You have no doubt received my final edits on your own Christmas letters in the mail by this point. I will say that on the whole, I found them as endearing as they were littered with cliches and errors. Your well-intentioned efforts revealed that your hearts are clearly in the right place even if your semicolons are not. I'm sure there are many people out there who would say that's enough.
Now on to my annual gift: for the families, I sincerely hope you heeded the advice on the envelope and are reading this aloud before your encircled family on Christmas Eve. For the single or unhappily married women, I hope you are reading this alone and in the nude, as I stipulated. In return, I intend to move you -- to reach through the page and caress your heart with the power of my words until you weep from happiness. This is the giving season, after all.
Consider yourself touched.
What a spectacular year! It's hard to believe it was only last January when I founded that Burmese equestrian school for the disabled. You may recall that in my last Christmas letter, I was gearing up for a trip to cover the ravages of war in that crumbling nation on behalf of Good Housekeeping Magazine. While my goal was to articulate the relentless atrocity the Burmese people called daily life, I had not anticipated how depressing that would be. I abandoned the piece almost immediately and instead devoted myself to pairing deaf horses with crippled children.
Seeing the two species function as one despite no common language was truly awe-inspiring. The bond forged between horse and child was so remarkable that my school of synthetic symbiosis may very well go down in history as the most important humanitarian effort that war torn country has ever seen. I am headed back in the spring with a team of physicians and surgeons to ensure everyone is healthy, and also to initiate the fusing stage of Project Centaur. I will take your good wishes with me.
"From about here on will be 100 percent you."
As many of you know, I am a great lover of cultural treasures. I am always on the lookout for artifacts that can potentially unlock the mysteries of our ancestors, and that might also match the color scheme of my guest house. In April of 2010, I unearthed the lost Anasazi City of Lukachukai with a band of Navajo pot hunters. Like you, I assumed lost cities were confined to ocean floors and 19th century jungles, but this massive, century-old cliff dwelling is a testament to the few undiscovered wonders still hidden in the world. Or rather, it was before we carved it open looking for riches. Incidentally, the clay walls of the ancients were clearly not designed to stand the test of time, they could barely take a single swing from a pickax.
A hole I made with my fists.
The artifacts we found showed little potential for display: bracelets made of human hair, a few dusty clay jugs and some dull cliff art depicting the final reason the Anasazi fled the southwest. I won't bore you with the intricacies but suffice it to say that the trip was essentially a bust, and after a drunken knife fight with one of the bandits, I only came away with a few arrowheads and bones. Fortunately, the Navajo believe a curse falls on anyone who touches or desecrates the bodies of the ancients, so I got to keep as many skulls as I could carry. In your envelope you should find a few fragments I was able to pry away with a hammer. These illustrious pieces of American history are now yours to keep. Merry Christmas.
The summer was fairly inconsequential. I won a handful of journalism awards, lost funding for my research project on determining the five best kinds of monkeys and finally got those drapes I've been wanting. I also fought a cow.
"Get up you coward. Ha! COWard. I am the best."
Then, in the fall I bounced around Venezuela doing my part to quell the growing resentment toward the U.S., by way of political essays and sex. My name echoed throughout the country in only a matter of weeks and children rushed to meet me in each new village I visited. "You are the man who articulated our struggle and purpose" they would say while trampling one another to touch my clothes. "Come, my aunts want to meet you."
It wasn't long before I was summoned by Hugo Chavez and together we discussed the strengths and limitations of the People's Democratic Rebellion and our fantasy football teams. At his request, I wrote a poem dedicated to him entitled, My Heart Is the Size of a Fist which has since been translated into four languages and spread throughout Central and South America.
During our forest walks together, Hugo would insist on throwing rocks at trees because it was "cool" until he accidentally dislodged a nest of eaglets. Before he allowed me to examine the babies, he made certain that I understood the national symbolism of the event. We moved the birds to his property and successfully confused a Troupial into adopting them as her own. "Someday they will grow big and eat her," Hugo sighed like maybe that was a bad thing.
Freedom has never been so adorable.
The last night of my visit, we stayed awake in our sleeping bags and whispered about the future of neoliberalism, oil dependency and which Die Hard was the best. We still keep in contact and I treasure his friendship. (I hope this letter finds you well, Hugo.)
Finally, I'm afraid I have to end this letter on a sad note. I lost someone very dear to me this year, permanently. I did all I could to save her, but ultimately, in the arm wrestling match against the soulless hand of providence, I lost. So during this season filled with joy and cheer, please take a moment to remember those who couldn't be here with us, and more specifically, with me. I take some comfort in knowing she is probably in a better place now, living with that doctor she married in their stupid house.
That goddamn guy.
If, by chance, she sees this Christmas letter, I want her to know that my year of outstanding achievements and glory are not intended to win her heart, though I would be open to the possibility of starting over if they did. I'm neither angry nor bitter and have, in fact, taken this hiatus from love to become a better man, a man she would probably find herself desperately attracted to if she passed him on the street one day, or say, caught him out of the corner of her eye just beyond her bathroom window one night. Any night.
On the other hand, if this letter doesn't find her, then I will at least take heart in knowing that I tried, and that one of the other 16 I mailed to her office and parents' house likely will.
In closing, I want to offer you all a hearty thank you for your support and for cleaning my house (if applicable). You have been an important part of my year, (your name), and you helped me to realize that aside from the catastrophic loss and crippling depression, these might be days of my life. A realization I wouldn't wish on anyone. And for any of the frustrated and skirtless females reading this letter who haven't yet climaxed more than once, I offer you this final mental image: me standing over you in nothing but a 2011 sash, staring off into the future, a hand shielding my eyes from the light of a glorious new year.