Season’s Greetings


2013 was quite the year.  Although our fights, failures and bad luck followed us everywhere from Anchorage to Tokyo this year, our travels culminated in all of us converging in Washington, D.C. so Tim, my dad, and me could run the Marine Corps Marathon (shout out to everyone who donated to my charity fundraising, this one’s for you).  Not to shove our greatness down your throats, but with their finishes, the Andersons have collectively run 11 marathons, excluding Deirdre and despite Kevin and Kemba’s refusal to participate.  Unlike others’ Christmas updates, I won’t overwhelm you with every Anderson victory of the past 12 months; I mean, the marathon stat is pretty good and will be tough even for me to top.

While somewhat of an underachiever this year, Kevin received an oversized piece of paper in the mail from a rural town in central Connecticut.  My mom, sensing it may be of value someday, removed it from under Kevin’s bed and paid someone to frame it.  The item is now framed, yet remains under his bed.  In the meantime, he has assumed my post as family migrant worker.  After demonstrating a higher aptitude for painting and landscaping than his predecessor, he was quickly promoted to family chauffeur with the additional responsibilities of what I like to call Tim and Kemba caretaker extraordinaire.  Sometimes I don’t know how he does it all, given how time-consuming his life bucket list is, which includes ordering from a Home Depot Hotdog stand (#51), making an oragami swan (#34) and having a cat and naming it Dennis Quaid  (#65).  As long as he lives at 1709 Edgewood Lane, however, Kemba will be the only four-legged creature allowed.  

The last I saw Kemba, she was not doing well.  I tried to take her for a walk around the forest preserve one summer day, and about 15 minutes in, she collapsed in a puddle of mudd.  She was so exhausted that while lying on her side she began drinking the murky water she was submerged in and making groaning noises.  Fearing an imminent death, I called Tim to ride his bike (neither Tim nor I knew where our 3 cars and other family members were) to bring water and to help carry our half-dead dog to a cool shelter.  Her tongue was sticking out ten times more than it normally does, and I wasn’t sure it was still connected to her mouth.  I am pleased to report she survived the event.  My mother now has Kemby, who is 3, on the same diet she has had Morgan and me on for years– one for inactive, aging and overweight dogs.  After all, Mom was a nutrition major at Bradley.  

My frantic emergency call that day had disrupted one of Tim’s basement jam sessions with his bandmates.  Tim won’t own up to it, but since becoming lead guitarist of his rock band, he has overthrown me as resident family hipster.  I, for one, got my hair cut and have not worn a Saint Viator Cheerleading State 2005 t-shirt in this calendar year.  The same cannot be said for Timothy.  And if it’s not combusting in the middle of Arlington Heights Road, my parent’s red ‘85 Pontiac Fiero is Tim’s preferred mode of transport. It has two seats and doesn’t even have a cassette player (too mainstream).  Tim was diagnosed with senioritis as a freshman, so the jury is still out on whether his greatest accomplishment this year was starting a band or staying in school.  Timo finds great satisfaction sitting in his basement mancave eating gummy bears (Haribo brand only), drinking Mountain Dew and watching Alaska State Troopers.  Because he is so easily pleased, it remains unclear as to whether or not Timothy will pursue higher education next fall (go ahead Mom, sue me).

Speaking of moms and suing, my mother has spent the last year using her other degree, a Juris Doctor, for something other than getting the four of us out of traffic tickets.  She enjoys working at her firm which specializes in foreclosures, because the way she looks at it, “Even if I mess up, at least someone gets to stay in their house longer.”  And because of the nature of foreclosures, she counts herself as one of the few unemployed Americans who has found a job under President Obama.  After a mere 3 weeks on the job she was unanimously named the office’s “Best Dressed.”  My father claims he misses her working for Berkley, but as Ming, one of the engineers, vividly reminded my dad, “remember when she stormed in and…called you blankety blank blank blank?”  

It’s great that in the modern workplace you can publicly recall an instance of your boss’s wife humiliating him and still have a job at the end of the day.  That’s why Berkley is not only on the Fortune 500 list this year, Smart Money Magazine also recently listed it #3 as on its list of “Greatest Companies to Work For in America,” trailing only Google and Zappos.  While it does not have a nap room, Wii Fit, or an inhouse locally-grown organic café (yet), Berkley International did surpass the Walt Disney Company in the rankings because of its unmatched flexibility for working fathers who need a few days off to go to China or want to skip out early to hit up greater Chicagoland’s dive bars to watch their son’s rock band.  There is a fine line between supportive parent and obsessive groupie, and Paul Anderson is dangerously flirting with it.  

Morgan is now eligible to enter bars legally, but she has little interest in such frivolity.  College has had an interesting effect on her.  While academia does aim to expose one to a broader, more sophisticated world, Morgan has perhaps been overexposed.  But then again, that could be what happens when you attend South Carolina’s Darla Moore School of Business (ranked #3 by US News and World Report for International Business)! (The same Darla Moore who along with Condi Rice were the first female members at Augusta National Golf Club this year) (But you obviously already knew that).  Morgie’s sheltered existence in Columbia, where it is sunny and 81 degrees in December, was sustained by a healthy democracy, human rights and modern plumbing.  It became so mind-numbingly unbearable that she decided to move to a place where you can neither freely breathe the air nor express yourself: the People’s Republic of China.  

Aside from my Dad nearly getting arrested by the Chinese equivalent of the KGB for carrying an antique sword he purchased, Morgan’s favorite memory in China was representing Shanghai University in a gymnastics competition.  The university suspiciously obtained information regarding Morgan’s acrobatic past and employed her to represent them.  Morgan claims she voluntarily competed at the request of her teacher, but I suspect her other options involved taking her talents to an iPhone factory.  Her performance, while regarded as nothing short of astounding because the judges had never seen a blonde white Chinese student before, was penalized for going 10 minutes over the time limit for routines.  Morgan blames herself because she could not read the rulebook in its entirety– gymnastics vocabulary isn’t covered until you get to 400-level Chinese.   

As for yours truly, I am struggling to make ends meet in young adulthood.  I failed to visit a doctor or dentist this year, not because I am uninsured, but because my mom always made my appointments.  I also ran out of gas on the way to work this winter, and called 911 because I didn’t know how to call Allstate.  It turns out I can’t even call out sick from on my own, my mom had always done that too.  I tried.  Work didn’t get my message one day and no one had any idea where I was.  This worried my friend Kelly enough to drive up and down the Connecticut highway looking for my mangled car on the side of the road and break into my apartment .  The only thing more troubling than my ineptitude is the notion that the first thing someone thinks when I do not answer my phone is that my corpse is rotting in my car on the side of the road.  To cap it all off, I just found out that Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel were a couple. So there’s that.

And there you have it, dear friends and family. 525,600 YOLO minutes of Anderson squeezed into a few squeaky clean paragraphs.  May your 2014 be filled with origami swans and gummy bears and short on foreclosures and car trouble.  We love you.

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2 thoughts on “Season’s Greetings

  1. Love you too Manda! Hope to see you at the home of the dying dog and the dusty picture frame under the bed on Christmas Eve.

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