#ParentingFail or #ParentingWin? The Christmas Letter We Didn’t Mail

My son called The Husband one December and said, “If Mom hasn’t already bought my Christmas stocking underwear, let her know that I wear large now and not medium”. This sounds kind of adorable until I tell you that happened this year. And my son is 32. And married. I can’t help but wonder if this falls sharply into the #parentingfail category. Of course I rushed out and bought him large boxers. It’s a tradition dammit.

I really don’t feel that we failed as parents but there was a year where our path of life bifurcated and our family took the hard road. What would have happened if we had taken the other path? Is there an alternate universe where a perfect family now resides with perfect kids who buy their own boxers?

Back when I believed we were the perfect family, I used to send those Christmas letters, the ones touting the straight A’s Johnny made and the perfect SAT score Sally made. (Wait. Who are Johnny and Sally? My kids probably sat behind Johnny and Sally in class so they could cheat off them.) Our boys were never the straight A type, but we still had plenty to brag about…

Until 2001.

I wrote the 2001 Christmas letter (more of a jingle, really) but The Husband wouldn’t allow me to send it because 2001 was a really crappy year in our family. So we opted not to send the letter which was the right move. Had we sent it, most would have believed it was a work of fiction. Regrettably, it was 100% true. So here is an excerpt from our 2001 Christmas letter:

Jingle bells, our life is hell, all we can do is pray.
Oh, what fun we’ve had this year with teenagers at play, hey!
Dashing home to find that Taylor’s been up late,
hosting a beer party while we were out of state.
Jake got a speeding ticket and he’s been in two small wrecks,
then there’s the incident in court where he pleaded no contest.

The jingle went on to single out the kid we still liked that year while calling the other two to the carpet for making D’s and F’s. It wrapped up nicely with a little segment about The Husband losing his job, Taylor wearing a sling, Jake having hand-surgery and getting bit by a copperhead snake. Here’s the actual letter for those riveted with my prose:D92D4094-8E29-4078-A030-E7E413482943

If 2001 was a crappy year, things actually got worse. From 2002-2012, aka The Crappy Decade, I stopped writing Christmas letters because if you didn’t believe 2001 really happened, you would have called me a liar to my face for the things that I “alleged” happened during The Crappy Decade. But in December of 2012, my son got sober. By the middle of 2013, my two stepsons did the same thus ending The Crappy Decade.

We exchanged Christmas presents last night with my son and when he opened his size large boxers with the glee of a six year old on Christmas morning he announced with great pride that he still has never bought a pair of underwear for himself. “Hmmm,” me thinks, “#parentingfail?” Then I open my present from him and it’s his five year sobriety chip. Five years since we got off the crappy train.90EAEB7A-AC08-4ECA-9CCC-D2F65B4E36FB

Now that’s Christmas.

Somewhere in an alternate universe the perfect family’s son is whining, “Mom, why do you still get me boxers? I’m 32 for Pete’s sake”.

#sothisischristmas #wegotthis #sobriety #parentingwin #buyyourowndamnboxers


  1. once again well said If you all hadn’t gone through what you did you wouldn’t have gained the wisdom you all have now to bless others with
    Merry Christmas

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw, thanks, sis. If we hadn’t gone through it all we would miss the beauty of the small stuff. Life is made up of small stuff woven together as our tapestry. Hope you guys are having a great December. Merry Christmas!


  2. Well, I am glad things have turned out well in the end and that you are still a united family. Congratulations to your son on his 5 year sobriety and may it long last.
    All families go through hard times. We had a spell when we thought someone had out a curse on ours, but I won’t share that as it is too painful.
    Happy New Year to you all.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great gift your son gave you this year for Christmas! Congratulations to all of you!

    I loved your 2001 Christmas letter. I know you said you didn’t send it out that year, but perhaps we should all have the courage to send out honest letters like that instead of trying to keep up the appearance that our lives are perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If 2001 was crappy for our family, it was crappier for the nation after 9/11. I think that was the prevailing reason for not sending our letter. I gave up on trying to appear anything but honest many years ago. Thanks for the nice remarks. Always good to hear from you.


    1. I feel the same about you sometimes when I read your posts! Thank you for the great compliment and for the friendship (even though we’ve never met). Happy new year to your precious family.


  4. oops. I hit “send” accidentally and too soon. I just want to add that your honesty is impressive. Families full of imperfection and forgiveness are relatable and ubiquitous. Families full of perfection are on TV and in your crazy aunt’s Christmas letter.


    1. I’m in good company then! Thank you for the nice compliment and here’s hoping for a nice 2018 (see I don’t even reach for “great”, “nice” will do!)


  5. This made me smile and chuckle. 🙂I’m sure my life has been close to 70% good, 10% great and only 20% bad. I never have written bragging letters since it “tempts fate!” In my mind, at least. . . 😀😀

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved that Christmas letter! It was honest and entertaining. But I do understand why you didn’t send it. As for your son’s gift, it was perfect. Also nothing wrong with giving your son underwear for Christmas if that’s what he wants…

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s