Christmas 2021, and a Happy New Year!
Starting in October of this year, I began to celebrate fiercely with members of a community that had endured eight long years of actual, physical harm. When the Skittles community heard the news that there would be a return of the green to the lime flavor, after nearly a decade of green apple, we knew the colossal, greedy corporations could maybe learn and evolve. After years of literally shaking on this road of our lived experience, and mentally demanding that Mars Wrigley “do better” and “be better,” they have finally made space for us. Miraculously, I even recently saw green bags of commemorative “all-lime” Skittles in a store line, and, I wept. I may have even gleeked. But, all the same, we’ll now begin our hunt for the Mars Wrigley managers who made that problematic green apple decision years ago and will be calling for their continuous public apology for that injustice. We know that just because they’ve made the switch and said, “The joy of lime can’t be denied anymore. It is back. This time for good,” they probably still consider themselves green apple-adjacent, and it doesn’t mean they could actually ever change their inherent lime bias. So we’ll be asking them to train to be allies, to be more mindful, and that we’ll be watching and calling them out, if and when we have time between dental fillings appointments.
Adriane got hit by a city bus up at the mall a few months ago after buying a black wedding bra. It was Julia’s little white Volvo that bore the impact. Not one to be, well, hit by a city bus and just take it, Adriane got out of the car and ran up a few car lengths to the bus driver’s window to have a conversation of mutual sharing and growth, just to understand his background and lived experience, and maybe end him. The bus driver was no doubt sweatin’ like a sinner in church as he shakily handed over his insurance papers. Out of preservation, he was actually quite forthcoming in his apology, and we ended up getting some insurance money for the car, which, since it’s the teenagers’ car, we totally spent on something else (just kidding, we wouldn’t never do that). She felt so bad for the older fellow when all was said and done, she’s even talked about doing the 12 Days of Christmas thing for him, but I keep derailing it with suggestions of making it the 12 Days of White Elephant with gifts such as new eyeglasses, printouts of open desk jobs, or a framed photograph of the dented car.
She’s given great comfort by the image of Jesus that she keeps as her phone’s home screen, even though it’s an obvious spitting image of late 1980s Kenny Loggins, and I can’t get past it. Jesus wouldn’t ever tell me to kick off my Sunday shoes. Also, she has reached the limits of teaching music to children in masks and now we’re watching the impact of this omicron with, I guess, bated breath. The whole concept has sunk below even that period in church where we hummed the hymns in unison. She has finally been assigned to be a youth teacher at church where I think she’ll keep things real and they’ll appreciate her youthfulness and excitement. I’ll probably need to reign her in with expounding on the benefits of the teenage make out sessions, though.
Amelia has had to learn to live with a husband this year, something I’m grateful I never had to do. I’m also always glad I never had to learn English as a second language. I mean, through, trough, though, tough, bough, how would you keep it straight? It can’t be too dissimilar from trying to discern what a man is thinking or feeling, or how it’s possible he’s not. And to insist on his vulnerability without shaming him, encouraging him to share his feelings of ineptitude, but demand he not fall off the horse, and, you know, all the other Brené Brown stuff. Tyler and Amelia were married in September, and we couldn’t be happier for them. So much so that for the reception we hired a sophisticated and highly sought jazz band with its’ hunky lead singer. Suave, statuesque, and luscious are only a few of the words to describe me, though, in my rental suit as Adriane and I surprisingly took the dance floor to sing a classic Sinatra duet. The constantly employed wedding band and the DJ said they’ve never been part of a reception like this one, and we’re so grateful for all those who helped and showed up. We’re so grateful to my inimitable cousin Chris in Philadelphia who called upon his endless supply of Italian hospitality to host Amelia there for a few months while she worked as a lifeguard at the very tony Philadelphia Country Club, while Tyler sold pest control. Driving across the entire country with just Amelia, listening to the Station Eleven e-book and stopping at fun sites was definitely a life highlight for me this summer.
While Tyler and I spoke on the phone for about 45 minutes before his marriage proposal, before a similar conversation he’d have with Adriane, he expressed commitment to staying true to the Gospel and, just as importantly, had a very good explanation of why he loves our Amelia. Amelia works, goes to school, still engages in some BYU hijinks and tomfoolery now and then, and loves to read and learn. She works at the student counseling center on campus, helping people get checked in to get checked out, and is presently studying sociology and has acquired a cool new internship. Adriane and I love her beyond imagining, and we look forward to watching her and Tyler live and grow together. All that said, it just occurred to me that I’m unaware of his stance on the green Skittle. Great, here we go.
Eliza lives in Provo and is anything but Provo-lone because she’s made more friends than a lottery winner in a dystopian trailer park. She’s the second Hapgood girl to now dwell out there, and, look, if I’ve been a mournful attendee of the Our Green Skittle of Sorrows church congregation these past years, she’s been both the archbishop and the swinger of the incense thing. When we heard about the switch back to lime, we danced, and then we laughed, and then we cried, and then we got on our knees, and we looked under the couches for the years of green apple Skittles we had disgustedly kicked under there, and we laughed at them, and we pushed each other around, and now we’ve started to live our best lime life. She’s begun the process of signing up to serve a mission for our church, and we’re very excited for her as she starts the BYU Graphic Design program, and roams the mountain west with her camera. We love her beyond reckoning, and we’re so grateful for the presence of Nana Kathy Palmer in the area, too, to love on her and all the college kids.
Julia now drives officially and I’m once more robbed of one-on-one daughter time in the car. As her 16-year-old friends get brand new Teslas and Mercedes, I know she wouldn’t say no to a new Jeep, but also know that the bus-begotten dents in her fourth-hand Volvo can facilitate a woe-filled college entrance essay or poor-me scholarship application. People love the complexity of everyone’s injust origin story more than ever today, and the more beat-up your car is, however pretentiously Swedish, it will probably help. She loves her friends, family and friends, and can fold each ear inside itself and it sticks for a little while. She can grasp things with her toes to rival those chimps, has a great deadpan delivery on jokes, and appreciates a hot breakfast. She has incredible skills in dance inherited from her ancestor lines that don’t included me. We love her beyond understanding.
Olivia’s club soccer team lost in the finals of the Arkansas state tournament last month. Her amazingly coached team, the Gunners, had won the tournament the previous year, prompting the opposing team’s 14-year-old girls from Little Rock to state that they hoped we all die in a car wreck on the three-hour drive back to Fayetteville. Yet, weirdly, this time they beat us, and then repeated their same curse. So it certainly wasn’t grief and pathos from a loss – it’s something much deeper. Maybe girls need a good supplement of Brené Brown, too. I think so now. Sitting on the sidelines all over the region and watching my favorite sport, yucking it up with the other parents is one of my favorite things, especially when it’s high level. We love her beyond reason. It’s beginning to dawn on her that she’ll be the last one at home and will be situationally thrilled to, or not, have the full, undivided attention of her parents, not to mention a white fifth-hand Volvo that leaks air and oil and reputation. I’m thinking of driving her over to the weekly PA group for her pomegranate seed mining addiction. I wake up to an apparent murder scene in the kitchen each morning as a result of her efforts. She loves her work on the junior high yearbook, suffered cross country, and can seemingly juggle the soccer ball for all time and possibly eternally, even with new braces.
I have a goal to play more pretentious classical guitar next year, sitting up all straight, but to also be sure not to ever break Taylor Swift’s heart, ever. That heart has a long, long memory and we would all do well to steer clear, lest we end up in a weaponized YouTube music video years later, accompanied by millions of devotees with their terrible swift swords. I guess, just hold onto your scarf, people, hold onto that scarf, until the person is right. Additionally, I think to help with difficult conversations this year, I’ll start each sentence with “it’s been proven,” “research shows that…” or “according to the prophecy…” I still don’t have any interest in traveling into space, recently became LinkedIn friends with Seinfeld’s J. Peterman actor, and recently found myself incredibly inclusively taking probiotics and antibiotics AT THE SAME TIME. I’m positive that this metaverse being set up by the Einsteins over at Facebook is going to be such a boon to human relations with the black headsets, the constructed cartoon identities and the group dopethink that we may not even need the thousand years of the millennium of peace anymore – we’ll be all set there.
Since I’m older now, I like to lecture on how the “great and spacious building” described in the Book of Mormon verses is definitely social media, with the endless stream of mocking and roasting from up in that weird cloud building. Additionally, I think the commandment to honor our parents might actually be directed not only towards our living parents and grandparents, but equally as importantly those back through the ages who have passed on after living in completely different times and circumstances. “The past is a foreign country. They do things differently there,” as the saying goes. I love the concept of being here for learning and growth, and repentance, and I’m so grateful for my heavenly parents who won’t give up on me, index my faults and mistakes for easy searching, nor block my calls when I pray to my Father in heaven. I don’t know how much it matters to anyone reading this, but I know that Jesus lives and Christmas is real. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to celebrate His birth, and His life, and the restored church and Gospel. If we can try to be like Him, to be humble and love each other through disagreements, and remember our blessings, things will get better. We love Him beyond eternity and hope. You made it this far, so you get a Merry Christmas!