This is my all-time favorite Lackey Christmas letter. It tells the truth. Mostly.
The High Plains of Texas
For those of you who chastised me for not sending a letter last Christmas, I am sitting here staring at my computer screen trying to think of something exciting or remarkable or at least humorous to report. The innocent, cute remarks made by the boys years ago now ring a bit sarcastic when made by towering teenagers whose voices have dropped two octaves. Telling you about their collective athletic prowess or stellar academic success would make for rewarding writing, yet, boring and - in some cases - fictional reading. As I search for the words to paint an accurate view of the 2002 Life of the Lackeys, I am mentally scanning my house. Perhaps a detailed description of the state of our home at 9AM on this bright Friday morning will suffice as our yearly report.
Living Room: PlayStation 2 game controllers snake down the entertainment center across the floor. Reed's electric guitar lounges across the two slipper chairs. Alan's "vintage" acoustic guitar (seldom played by the father in the 70's, but often played by the sons) lazes on the floor in front of the fireplace. A crumpled Coke can sits amidst the "Annalee" Santa tableau on the sofa table. (At least the reds match.) The pillows which belong on the couch lay crumpled on the floor in front of the TV still freshly molded with impressions of boy heads. Two guitar picks lay in hiding just under the couch's skirt awaiting an unsuspecting vacuum cleaner. The coveted Musician's Friend catalogue - pages ruffled and dog-eared - sits askew on top of a pile of neatly stacked magazines (Southern Living, Architectural Digest, and Martha Stewart Living) seldom thoroughly enjoyed by the adults in the household. One size 12 skateboarding shoe lays on its side in the middle of the room, its odor competing with my "Stress-Free Rosemary Mint" candle softly burning on a nearby table. Today is actually a good day. There are no discarded dirty socks or shirts to be found on the floor or the furniture.
Kitchen: The breakfast remains from boys in a hurry to skid to school are quite telling. The Cocoa Krispy box sits open on the table with the "Welcome to Cocoa Stone National Park" joke-filled seek-and-find facing a bowl 2/3 full of pale brown milk in which a few swollen, leftover "Krispies" are floating. Nearby, the milk jug languishes sans lid. The droplets of water that had earlier condensed on the sides of the jug have all but evaporated. A 16 oz. glass containing about 6 oz. of lukewarm chocolate milk accompanies the cereal bowl. Hmm. There on the counter under the microwave, I spy an empty bag of chicken nuggets which has been hastily cast aside. My eyes can follow the trail of nugget crumbs to the bar where a dinner plate, also peppered with crumbs, sits abandoned. One of my creme brulee ramekins, now only 1/2 full of ketchup sits on the plate amidst the crumbs. [Bryce prefers breakfast foods like leftover pizza, chicken nuggets, or happily discovered leftover tamales. He has never in his whole life had a bowl of cereal. He actually went through a gagging phase a few years ago making it impossible for him to be in the same room with anyone casually enjoying a bowl of Frosted Flakes.] Let's see...there is no trace of Jonathan's breakfast. He's a late sleeper. Oh, wait! There it is. The spoon. He had just enough time to sail through the kitchen for a quick spoon of Cool Whip before scurrying out the door. The wadded gum wrapper next to the spoon is evidence that he also didn't have quite enough time to brush his teeth. The raucous Breakfast of Champions has softened into the peace of the chatty hour on the Today Show. Welcome, Matt and Katie.
Jonathan's Lair: Jonathan's kelly green walls scream with pages ripped from magazines, Coca Cola signs, and whatever else he can affix to the wall with staples. A quick scan reveals the following: movie ticket stubs, name tags from church youth events, clothing labels, posters of skateboarders frozen mid-trick, a paper Krispy Kreme hat, a cardboard Sonic "Fountain Beverages" sign, and a DC-NYC train ticket stubb from the summer of 2001. Tucked into the frame of a Coke sign is his ticket stub from the Top of the World Trade Center elevator ride also saved from the New York trip. The bed is "made." The plaid comforter has been thrown up over the pillows and whatever else happened to be on the bed during hasty bedmaking. A quick frisking tells me that no cat has been trapped within. Jonathan refused the offer of a coordinating dust ruffle for his bed. Therefore, the box springs are generally in full view along with the collection of clothes that he "stores" under the bed. The floor is littered with cast off this-looks-dumb-on-me-today clothing, and, in contrast, his collection of CDs is meticulously stacked next to his stereo. The closet doors are plastered with stickers. On his desk just above the pile of dirty clothes growing up from the floor, a bottle of Davidoff's Cool Water por homme perches at the ready.
Bryce's Kingdom: After 13 1/2 years of sharing a room with a brother, Bryce is finally the master of his domain. Now, the room sports a few interesting amenities. Crammed between the foot of the bunk beds and the closet door looms the Walmart weight set Bryce purchased with his accrued allowance this fall. The weights are scattered about the room amidst discarded clothing. A few weeks ago, Bryce returned from a Savers' shopping spree lugging a wingback-ish blue chair without legs. [The mother who drove the pack of boys to Savers profusely apologized for letting him buy it, but he kept insisting that I wouldn't care.] He plopped that lovely chair smack dab in the middle of his milieu and declared it the perfect height for watching the big screen TV he plans to purchase someday and put "right there." His walls are adorned with the following: One large poster of Einstein, numerous signs that he has rescued from roadsides and dumpsters, a poster of guitar chords, and a huge Baker skateboard banner. One of the found signs reads "Wide Load." Another advertises Kodak film processing. An interesting side note: Since the boys started doing their own laundry last summer, Bryce has discovered that the fewer clothes he wears, the less he has to wash. I'm pretty sure that since 10/31/02, he has been wearing the orange boxer shorts with the black bat design that I gave him for Halloween tagged "your costume." My new mantra: "I will not give in and do his laundry. I will not give in. I will not."
Reed's "Room" (fka the guest room and still doubling as my office): Reed has been very congenial about sharing his new room with me. Knowing that the mess restriction level would be high since we share the space, he has tried to keep the floor clear of debris. The walls of his room are painted a sour dill pickle green and decorated with framed vintage postcards ala Route 66. The adjoining bathroom's walls are a sunny mustard yellow. He chose the paint colors. His electric guitar and mini-amp lean against the side of his/my desk and seem to be anticipating the boy's return like lonely little puppies. By the way, I LOVE the mini-amp. It's about the size of a purse and makes about as much noise. Reed's beloved Raider's football helmet (as in the YFL 5th Grade Super Bowl Champion Raiders) apparently rolled off his bed and is now resting upside down against his dresser. Propped up on display against one wall is the prized Simpson's "3-D" chess set that Reed purchased as his "special souvenir" during a family trip to San Francisco last summer. The chess pieces are miniature Homers, Barts and Marges. A peek into his closet reveals...aha!...a mountainous pile of all the stuff that was on his bedroom floor before he "straightened up" this morning. On his bed, The Lord of the Rings patiently awaits bedtime reading. I could tell you all the little hiding places which keep his money safe. Reed saves money forever. One day last spring, he asked Alan for a ride to Toys-R-Us so that he could "pick up and XBox." Sure enough, he had squirreled away about $300 between his allowance and birthday checks. Say...wouldn't it be nice if someday he asked Alan for a ride to college so that he could "pick up" his tuition?! On second thought, I won't reveal his little hiding places.
The Master Bedroom: Ahhhh. The bed is made neatly with the decorative pillows placed just so. The carpet is fully visible throughout the room. The bedside lamps glow a subtle invitation to stay for a while to read my book du jour. In the corner by Alan's side of the bed is a helter skelter stash of travel and ski magazines, travel books, and random catalogues. Oh! There is the Simpson's A Go-Go book that he and the boys surreptitiously pass back and forth with hearty recommendations. "Dad! Page 86! Homer is trying to convince Marge to buy him a $300 toilet-thingy for his birthday! Doh!" On Alan's bedside table, a used cereal bowl sits waiting for the "little magic fairy" [Alan's words] to whisk it away to the kitchen. Along the walls of my bedside corner the floor is stacked with books: books I want to read...books I need to read...books I want to reread...books someone else wants me to read...and the October, November, and December issues of magazine that I have yet to crack open. Lily and Dixie, our 2 black and white cats, are curled up together in my bedside chair looking very much like a hibernating two-headed cat. I long to curl up with them and several of the magazines.
There you have it! All is well in the Lackey household! We are thoroughly enjoying our 3 active, humorous, messy sons! Whenever their piles of rubble begin to get to me, I remind myself that in a few short years I will be lonely because they have ventured out into the world leaving us on our own in a very clean house. The thought makes me feel tearful and giddy at the same time. We are truly living our dreams. I hope that the boys' dreams come true, and that they someday marry their own "little magic fairies."