It’s one hour before Christmas Eve day and I don’t have my Christmas cards out yet. FYI, that line could have been written at this time each of the previous 53 years.
So I’m going to write my Christmas letter on my blog. Pardon the laziness, but this way is much cheaper and much more timely and the postal service is broke anyway and I needed something for the blog because I haven’t posted in a while. And I’m going to do it in a stream of consciousness way that will annoy you or entertain you. We shall see.
And it’s not going to be one of those Christmas letters where I just tell you about all the great things that happened to my family this year. I’m going to tell you about the sucky things that happened too. Because that’s life and sometimes God deals us deuces when we want aces. I’m guessing most people’s lives are like that too, but they don’t put that stuff in Christmas letters because it is the season of joy. Maybe we could call this the New Year’s letter, which is the same thing but not as joyous.
Speaking of cards, for starters, at the blackjack tables this year, God dealt me sixes when I wanted face cards way too often. Bad year at the tables. Sometimes it’s not good that I live 45 minutes from Deadwood. But mostly it is good, because my best friend comes to Deadwood a couple of times a year and I get to horse around with Ulm and his family. Not quite the same way we used to horse around, but fun none-the-less and fewer sirens.
About four months ago I popped the knuckle on my ring finger while changing a flat tire. Hurt like heck, but I figured that too shall pass. It hasn’t. The knuckle is still swollen and hurts all the time. Should go to the doctor, but she’ll tell me I should’ve come four months ago and there’s not much she can do about it now. No big deal but it does affect my toping once in a while.
Seems the years of running took a toll on the lowest disc in my back, so I get shooting pains down my legs after a couple days of running. So I retired from the road racing scene. I don’t think anyone noticed. I jog shorter and slower now to get the dogs out of the house and exercised and we go on hikes. So I took up weightlifting. Never really done that before. Got to the point where I’m not embarrassed to be curling in front of the mirror with the muscle men at Planet Fitness. But a couple weeks ago I think I tore something in my shoulder. Hurts when I lift my left arm. Should’ve mentioned it when I went to the doctor for my sixth-month checkup last week, but didn’t. We ran out of time discussing all my other maladies.
I’ve been on a heart pill the last couple years because my heart was skipping a beat and then double-beating to make up for it. Made it tough to sleep. So I drank more coffee in the mornings and Red Bull in the afternoons. A vicious cycle. “Don’t do that,” the doctor said. So I quit doing that. Now I don’t drink coffee, energy drinks or alcohol. Over 20 years on that no-alcohol thing. If you need a donor to cheat on your court-mandated urinalysis test, give me a call. I’m your man.
Good news is the doc said I could go off the pill, since maybe my life-style changes where accomplishing what the pill was supposed to be doing anyway. Been three days now, so far so goo … d. Health is good enough where I don’t have to come back for a year now. Cholesterol, BP and all the stuff they measure was in the good zone. Famous last words, right?
Good news is, as far as health goes, a guy who really should be complaining but who doesn’t, is my friend and brother-in-law. He was diagnosed a couple years ago with a rare cancer and given like a 15 percent chance of living. That’s my chances of ever getting a face card on my ace. I wrote a blog post about how I was sure he would beat it, but didn’t want to jinx him so didn’t post it. As Michael Scott says, I'm not superstitious, but I'm a little stitious. He went through hell and back and got a bone marrow transplant and is in remission and he’s got 100 percent of the bone marrow from his donor, which is great I’m told. He and wifey came out to visit a few weeks ago for the first time in that period and it was awesome to have them here. God delivered in the affirmative there, that’s for sure.
My wifey got canned from her job of ten years, with a half dozen other employees, because the church she worked at decided to “go in another direction” with the youth and young adult programs. I wrote the priest a letter about said “other direction” and expect I’ll probably be going there in the after-life now. But all ended well there too. Wifey got a new job working for four doctors in town, no nights, no weekends, and a boss she likes. She’s happy, as usual. And why wouldn’t she be; she gets to spend more time with me now.
Oldest daughter’s divorce became final about a year ago. She got out of a bad thing at the right time. She’s back in Rapid City, has a new friend, a great new job and is as happy as I’ve seen her in years. God works in mysterious ways.
Middle child is teaching seventh graders in Champagne, Illinois, for the second year. She and hubby, who is working on his PhD at the U of I, are doing great despite being Packers fans. They got a cat, which they seem to like but which I don’t understand.
Junior is a junior at Minnesota State – Mankato. He’s been Dean’s Listing it, which goes to show the value in dating a girl who works at the library. He barely sniffed an honor roll in high school but has really hit his stride at college. He’s a law enforcement major with minors in international relations and sociology. He worked last summer at Quantico, Virginia, for the Defense Security Service, a branch of the DOD, and really enjoyed it. He’s a “theft prevention specialist” (catches shop-lifters at Scheels) when not on campus. It’s amazing the number of morons they catch shop-lifting.
I got a new rabbit last spring. He was a good rabbit before some coyotes or neighborhood dogs got hold of him. Now he's dead. I’m out of the rabbit business until I build a new rabbit hutch, one with a great big beautiful slatted wall around it.
Stanley the lab has cancer. About a year ago the vet suggested amputating the leg, but of course could not guarantee the cancer wouldn’t pop up again two weeks later. After much ruminating, I decided not to put the old guy through it. He’s nine and still doing great a year later. He’s my best pal and is seldom more than ten feet away from me. Stan is super spoiled now, showing no ill effects except the lump has grown a little bit. It’s going to be tough when the Big C prevails there, but we’ll cross that bridge when it comes.
Huckleberry the basset hound continues to be the orneriest dog I’ve ever owned. But he’s so danged cute and loveable it’s hard to stay mad at him. He’s not one of those fat bassets you see. He’s lean and runs with Stanley and me. He’s about sixty pounds of muscle and 1 ounce of brain.
My work is going well. I got a promotion, which is nice. Fourteen years there now, far surpassing my previous longevity record of five years at the same job. Helps to have a great boss and coworkers.
I’m putting the finishing touches on a book that’s been a long time in the writing. Good Lord willing it should be out this spring, perhaps summer. Buy it, you’ll like it. It has hookers in it!
I still haven’t fixed the garage door or the dishwasher. But did fix the sink downstairs and built a little deck on the front of the house. Jeesh, I’m only one man!
I had a fight with the homeowners association regarding political signs on the lawn a couple months ago. I won. I didn’t fight the HOA on the lawn, we fought over signs placed on the lawn. Might not have been clear. But I would’ve won that fight on the lawn too, because did I mention I’ve been lifting weights? And this was before my shoulder injury.
Wifey and I even fit in a trip to Key Largo and Clearwater, caught some Twins preseason. That’s about the best they played all year. Don’t get me started on the Vikings, my heart can only take so much. We hadn’t been on a vacation, just the two of us, for a long time. It was fun. I only got seasick once. Then again, we only went on the boat once.
So that’s the life of the Haugens in 2018, more or less, warts and all. It was good. God’s been good to us.
Just hoping for more aces in 2019.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!