Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Keeping it real: Dec. 19, 2010

Part of my job involves public relations, so you'd think I would love glossy presentation and positive spin and optimized reality. But I honestly hate that stuff. Give me some good old truth anytime, even if it's ugly.

Life is short. I'm a busy woman. I ain't got time for any bullshit.

When holiday newsletters and the truth collide
    I love the whole idea of holiday newsletters – those annual family updates some folks compile and send out to friends. But because I am afflicted with a dark sense of humor and a teensy cynical streak, I am generally put off by the tone of these missives.
    They’re always all about awards and vacations and glorious professional and personal triumphs: Mom’s promotion; Dad’s newest graduate degree; the kids’ total dominance in all things academic and athletic. I have always joked to my husband that I’d like to read one of those things that tells some unvarnished truth about the strains of family and work life -- about the universal pressures of the human condition.
    He doesn’t think that sounds very festive, and he’s right. But no one has ever accused me of being festive. So here is my family’s first-ever holiday newsletter, featuring some truth dressed up as humor and genuine wishes to all of you for a holiday season that makes the everyday stress only slightly more intense.
    This was a great year for the Fortunes. (We all still like each other more often than not, and we feel lucky to be together even when we fight like cats in a sack).
    The boys are 10 and 5, and they are a bundle of energy and fun. (They’re unbelievably loud. It’s deafening and window-rattling and stunning.) They love to play together and are best friends. (They constantly fight and wrestle and yell, but if we try to separate them they mope and whine and beg to be allowed to play together again.)
    Jack is in fifth grade and has developed a passionate interest in art and drawing. (Jack draws cartoons all over his assignments and his workbooks. It drives his teacher crazy, and we have tried everything we can think of to make him stop defacing every sheet of paper he comes anywhere near.)
    Technology is also a real interest of Jack’s. (He is obsessed with the computer. In fact, the only way we could induce him to stop drawing all over everything was to take the computer away.) Jack has also developed a real gift for analysis and debate. (He picks apart and argues with absolutely everything we say. Everything is a negotiation or a disagreement or a point of contention. It’s completely exhausting.)
    Ben is in kindergarten and is really imaginative and whimsical. He keeps us constantly entertained. (Ben makes stuff up. We have no idea what’s true and what’s not. He doesn’t really seem to know, either.)
    He also has a fascinating, complex way of looking at the world. (He’s moody and capricious. Yesterday he told me, within the same hour, that I am the best mom in the world and that I am the worst mom in the world. I would get mad, but I completely understand how he feels.)
    Jim’s custom woodworking business has been very busy this year, and he also has the flexibility to spend lots of time with the boys. (The poor man is stretched to the limit, working all day in his shop, meeting with clients, picking up the kids from school in the afternoons and entertaining them until I show up and ask what’s for dinner. I would not trade places with him for anything.)
    My job is terrific and I feel lucky every day to have challenging work and fantastic colleagues. (We are utterly, abjectly grateful that I have a steady paycheck doing something I enjoy.)
    Our holiday plans are pretty simple – hanging out close to home and enjoying time together. (We’re too broke to go anywhere, and I shudder to think how nuts we will drive each other over the long school break.)
    From our family to yours, here’s hoping 2011 is full of love, laughter and reasonable expectations.

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