Dear Friends (and blog readers),
Fifty years from now, when history textbooks will be written by those with a vague understanding of 9th-grade geometry, 2006 will be remembered as a point of inflection. Like Jethro Tull once predicted would happen to a train, the spread of evil across the nation and the world did not stop, but it did slow down. [Sentences deleted in light of Letter's prospective interviews with the federal government].
Meanwhile, states continued to amend their constitutions to outlaw gay marriage, but those who waste the nation’s time on such vitriolic demagoguery met defeat for the first time, and in Arizona of all places. Others continued to react, defensibly, to the Supreme Court's Kelo decision by moving to ban the use of eminent domain for private economic development. Many activists tried to capitalize on the public’s disgust with corporate welfare by coupling such bans with crippling restrictions on environmental regulations, but the good people of California and Idaho saw through the ploy.
But we here at the Holiday Letter don’t want to waste your time telling you things you already know. We want to waste your time telling you about ourselves.
In the Wiener household, 2006 will always be known as The Year Our Fourth Cousin Emunah And Her Allergies Kept Us From Finally Getting A Dog.
In addition, Karen and Bruce became empty-nesters, after 29 years with at least one child at home (26 with two). This fall, they celebrated their 35th wedding anniversary at Incline Village in Lake Tahoe. Said Bruce, “You know, things were actually pretty good before you came along.” More on him, and Karen, later.
Matthew, whom many of you may remember from previous letters as Bubba, graduated from Los Altos High School this June, ending a 15-year run of Eagle Wieners. Despite breaking his wrist and getting kicked off the swim team (only to be let back on by order of the school administration), he was named co-Athlete of the Year for the senior class and also earned the inaugural Ronald Grady Burke scholarship for leadership on his sports teams and in the community. “I feel like I’ve been pretty awesome this year,” said Bubba. “Haven’t I?” This summer, he introduced the town children to water polo and once again worked as a lifeguard. And in September, he started his freshman year at UCLA, where he played on the club water polo team, rushed a fraternity and still managed to get a higher GPA than the Letter ever did. However, the Letter does not remember having to buy his friends. Did the Letter mention that Bubba joined a fraternity? Cause he did.
Andy wrote an honors thesis, took the LSAT and graduated summa cum laude from Brown this spring. (Everybody but Emunah came. Although, in her defense, she did have Red Sox tickets). Then he put it in cruise control for the next six months, tutoring SAT classes and getting good at frisbee golf. Right now, he’s lying on a beach in Peru with his girlfriend Annie, and probably will still be doing so by the time you read this. Their “plan” is to go to Buenos Aires with his girlfriend Annie and teach English, despite the fact that a large percentage of the residents of that city who can afford to learn English already have. As per usual, readers of the Letter will miss out on the most interesting stories about Andy’s year under the terms of various confidentiality agreements.
Jon, in the words of a respected neighbor and friend, “quit f***ing around” and finally moved out of his bedroom and enrolled in law school. Unfortunately for Bubba’s efforts to change his name to Matthew, Jon is also at UCLA. Living in Los Angeles is probably some sort of karmic payback for the bitterness Jon spread on his blog this year. Jon further cut his umbilical cord to Los Altos by leaving the Western Hemisphere for the first time and spending three weeks aimlessly wandering around Europe. He also added left ankle to the list of body parts that his brothers cite as evidence that his body is broken.
Joc still writes about the plight of the poor for the Sacramento Bee, which recently decided it doesn’t want its readers to have to think about the plight of the poor. “Try to avoid getting me fired,” said Joc. She still enjoys turning happy stories into sad ones, such as the one about a homeless man who tracked down two young men who attacked him and brought them to justice (she focused on the effects of the violence on the attackers’ families). And she continues to date Will, who spent the year publishing hatchet jobs on federal judges simply for illegally ruling on cases in which they had secret financial interests or giving a few thousand bucks to the people who are supposed to be evaluating their credentials. Joc and Will went to the Kentucky Derby together and acted like dandies. Afterwards they toured rural Appalachia and mocked its newspapers.
Karen has asked the Letter to highlight “my desire to make the world a better place. For women.” Karen also plans to rekindle her interest in her job teaching resource classes at Gunn High School. To aid her in achieving this goal, her students would be well advised to act more like stocks – talk back less and be easier to trade over the computer. Karen recently learned how to text message and sends a nightly note to Bubba (and a monthly one to Jon).
Bruce turned 60 this year, and the family celebrated with a trip to a surprise location in July. This was particularly frustrating for Bruce, who hates it when he doesn’t know everybody else’s business, let alone his own. Ultimately, the family arrived in San Diego, joined by Emunah, Will, Bruce’s sister Carol and her children. The highlight of the weekend came when Bruce saw his nephew Joey floating out to sea, swam out to him and used his superior shouting ability to attract the attention of a nearby surfer. In a related story, Bruce reneged on his agreement with the Letter to become a water polo referee. He will undoubtedly blame this on someone else, namely Jon, who can tell Bruce when the certification clinics are scheduled but cannot attend them on his behalf.
Doris, known to all as Gammy, saw the most changes this year. After recovering from a broken hip, Gammy has moved into the assisted living facility at the Hyatt in Palo Alto. “I have nothing special to say other than that I’m a very proud grandmother,” says Doris, who has apparently yet to read the Letter.
Best wishes from all of us for a 2007 marked by good health, peace of mind, and, as always, the triumph of the opposition.