2011 Holiday Letter

Readers should count themselves lucky that my original plans for a “themed” holiday letter didn’t make the cut. You’ve narrowly escaped suffering through either the “Christmas letter written from the perspective of the family pet” or “Christmas letter written entirely in Iambic Pentameter”. I also considered the “Christmas letter mostly consisting of thinly veiled bragging”, but we didn’t want to make anyone jealous of our third yacht or the private island. Add to that the fact that the main reason we’re publishing this online rather than in print is so that I can procrastinate writing this a few more days while the cards are in the mail, and what you get is the “hastily written stream of consciousness Christmas letter”. Enjoy!

When we began 2011, we had already added a new member to the Ford home here in Seattle; we just didn’t know it yet.  No, Katie’s not pregnant (yet). But we did have a second dog foisted upon us under the most hilarious of circumstances.

Right after Christmas, a friend asked us to take care of a dog for a few days. Our friend had been taking care of it for another friend but had to leave town earlier than expected. We did, but when the time came that the friend-of-a-friend was supposed to come pick up her dog, she didn’t show. Vague excuses turned into more vague excuses, which eventually turned into surprisingly detailed but somewhat dubious excuses. We received a text message purportedly from someone in her family claiming that she had been in a car accident and was in the hospital. We of course responded immediately, but we didn’t hear back.

Several days passed where she continued to ignore our calls. We began to second-guess ourselves and started entertaining thoughts that perhaps she had been telling the truth. This didn’t last long because it was at this point that we called her from a different phone number and she answered almost immediately.

The conversation was surreal, the kind that leaves you wondering what the hell just happened because people only act that crazy on TV. She had answered the phone “Hi, this is Karina”, but once she realized who was calling, she suddenly became the Lance Armstrong of backpedaling. “Uhh, no this isn’t Karina this is Marina… and I don’t have a dog named Koji, my dog’s name is Cody” as if it were totally normal to dial the wrong number and get someone whose details rhyme with that of the intended recipient. She explained that she had just bought the phone on Craigslist and I’m sure if we pressed her she could have come up with a reason why it happened to be from a Hawaii area code (where Karina was originally from). At this point though, we were mostly wondering what kind of person literally fakes their own death to get out of owning a dog, and whether we really wanted this person to take back Koji (who we were growing more and more fond of). Long story short, we decided (K|M)arina was far too crazy to take care of a dog and that there was enough extra room in our home for one more lonely animal, and so Koji became a permanent member of our home. She has some quirks (most of which we get to blame on the previous owner), but she’s very playful and loves to snuggle.

When she’s not snuggling with Koji, Katie is still working as a wedding photographer, though now she works primarily as a freelance second photographer. She works with a number of established wedding photographers to be a “second shooter” during an event, which frees her up from doing any of the complicated parts of running a business and lets her focus on just taking photos. She’s also still working as a nanny part-time and has started volunteering at a women’s shelter downtown. Dan still works at Amazon but doesn’t have nearly as many extracurricular activities as Katie.

The highlight of our year was definitely our trip to Europe in September. Dan needed to travel to Dublin for work, so we took advantage of the timing and made a vacation out of it (or, “holiday” if you’re trying to sound European). With Dan’s flights paid for by “Uncle Jeff”, and Katie’s being fairly cheap due to our decision to fly on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 (whoops), we were able to stretch it out into almost three solid weeks of puttering around Ireland, Spain, Germany, and the Czech Republic.

Our first stop was Dublin, where Dan had to pretend to work for a few hours each day. Katie spent this time getting over her jet lag and riding around on a very stereotypical double-decker tour bus. Our main take-aways from Dublin were that it has more pubs than Seattle has coffee shops (no small feat), and the entire city smells like a brewery three times a day whenever they’re brewing Guinness (actually, a big chunk of the city is a brewery – the St. James Gate Brewery takes up over 64 acres in the core of downtown Dublin). Katie popped over to Madrid to visit a friend from high school for a few days while Dan finished up his work obligations in Dublin, and then we both met up in Frankfurt, Germany to continue the rest of our trip. We spent the next two weeks taking the train through southern Germany, stopping to stay with friends and for the occasional wienerschnitzel, currywurst, and spätzle.

As luck would have it, we happened to be passing through Munich during the annual Oktoberfest celebration. Total coincidence of course, but we reluctantly decided to spend two afternoons there, during which we enjoyed Hendl, Brezel, and became perhaps a bit too familiar with the Maß. We also stopped by the BMW factory museum, where we spent about 20 minutes looking at cars we can’t afford and 2 hours using their free wireless internet (seriously, it was really hard to find – Katie was having Facebook withdrawals).

We had an amazing time in Germany, in no small part thanks to all the friends we stayed with. A big thank-you to the Bays, Martin, and Dominik for showing us around Heilbronn, Karlsruhe, and Nuremberg. Also thanks to Rebecca, without whom we would have been sleeping on the streets of Munich (before Gail has a heart attack – no, not really… but it was definitely nicer than our previous sleeping arrangements).

Our last stop was Prague, which was about three and a half hours away by bus from Nuremberg. Its a beautiful city with lots of recognizable landmarks. Katie spent most of the time exclaiming “OMG! I’ve seen that (bridge / castle / cathedral / whatever)  in a movie!” We were also beginning to get a bit homesick at this point, so we also spent an embarrassing amount of time hanging out with the Canadian ex-pats we were staying with and watching American TV shows.

After arriving home neither of us were very keen on travelling again, so we stayed here for Thanksgiving and cooked a big dinner for some of our friends. Katie wanted pumpkin pie, though due to our smorgasbord of food allergies, it had to be dairy-free, egg-free, and gluten-free. Normally those restrictions would put you at a serious disadvantage for making tasty baked goods, but never one to shy away from a challenge, Katie whipped out the deep fryer a friend had gifted us (thanks Zippy!) and made “gluten-free vegan beer-battered deep-fried pumpkin pie”. Yep, you read that right, and it was as delicious as it sounds.

We’re headed down to southern California to visit many of you in just a few days. For those of you who we won’t see, remember that we always love to have visitors and Seattle’s a great place to visit!. Its been quite a busy year for us, and we have no reason to expect that next year will be any different. We hope that everyone this letter reaches has a wonderful holiday season!


Dan, Katie, Samantha, Elliott, Perl, and Koji

One Response to “2011 Holiday Letter”
  1. Aunt Cutie says:

    Great letter! Love, Aunt Cutie

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