The staff and management of View from the Bleachers want to take this opportunity to wish you the happiest of holiday seasons  – with the notable exception of those heartless people who decided to unsubscribe from my humor blog, in which case, may Santa’s reindeer do irreparable damage to your roof and ruin your lawn. (I’m talking to you, Roger Ledbetter of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, you miserable SOB.)

Traditionally, this time each year, I write a long Year-In-Review letter to all my friends – which list notably no longer includes Roger Ledbetter of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. But this year, in the interest of being eco-friendly – and not at all because I was too cheap to buy cards and stamps – I’ve decided to send out my annual letter via this blog, thus killing two calling birds with one stone.

To bring everybody up to speed, my wife’s name is Michele. She is an amazingly talented portrait artist whose only apparent failing is her shockingly poor judgment in choosing a spouse. Then there are our two daughters, Rachel and Emily, who, because my wife hates it when I reveal their true identities in this blog, shall henceforth be referred to as Rachaela and Emma, to safeguard their anonymity. After all, we would not want anyone to know that my two daughters are actually related to ME. Think of what it would do to their reputations.

Oh sure, I could boast about all our achievements, like Tim’s recent promotion at work, Rachel’s – I mean Rachaela’s acceptance into Stanford, Emma’s earning a spot on the U.S. National Junior Olympic gymnastics team, and the recent unveiling of Michele’s official portrait of Pope Benedict XVI, but then let’s face it. Who would believe for a second that Tim got a promotion?

So what exactly did happen this past year? I am sure you’re dying to read a list of every portrait my wife did in the last twelve months. But because there is an NFL game coming on TV in 10 minutes, I’ll summarize by sharing that she has done portraits of 5 federal judges, 4 governors, 3 university presidents, 2 turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tre – no wait, sorry. I got distracted by holiday music playing in the background.

Michele was asked to speak at the Portrait Society of America’s annual conference (true) on the challenge of growing your portrait business while being married to a humor writer with the stunted maturity of a seventeen year-old who when asked to comment on your latest masterpiece can only wisecrack, “the painting looks nice, hon’, but where’s the St. Bernard working on an inside straight?”

As for Tim’s work, this may come as a shock to many of you, but writing a weekly humor blog is not the only way Tim earns a living. He also supplements his six-figure humor blogger’s salary (recently estimated at approximately $000,000) with a weekday hobby managing sales and marketing for a start-up business.

Tim’s day job is going incredibly well. He was recently promoted to Chief Marketing Officer for European Operations, and has 150 direct reports. He now earns $850,000 / year (before stock bonuses) and drives a brand new stainless steel Bugatti, worth over $200,000.  I should perhaps clarify that I am of course referring to the highly successful career of Tim’s virtual persona in the online social media website, Second Life. In his first life, on the other hand, Tim is a bitter 56-year-old man whose career nose-dived recently when his employer discovered that he was spending most of his workdays hitting on hot virtual secretaries on Second Life.

What annual holiday letter would be complete without a detailed review of our family vacations to exotic destinations? I hope you won’t be too jealous when I let it slip that the breath-taking vistas of the Italian Cinque Terre, the majestic crashing waters of Africa’s Victoria Falls, and the jaw-dropping beauty of the Seychelles Islands were just a few of the unbelievable destinations we were not able to visit this year (due to Tim’s hectic blogging schedule).  I am pleased to report, however, that the Hampton Inn in Spokane, WA was both clean and moderately priced.

Every year in review letter by law must include a recitation of your kids’ amazing accomplishments, written primarily to make the reader feel anxiously inadequate about their own kids. So that’s why I am proud to tell you that Rachaela (might have) made Second Team All-America in high school soccer this fall, and (it’s possible that) Emma received a full-ride scholarship to Dartmouth for her research paper disproving the existence of Cambodia.

I am pleased to report that for the 15th year in a row both our daughters continue to get along perfectly all the time and build houses for the homeless when they are not studying for their SAT’s.  And just the other day, they refinished our kitchen’s hardwood floor just because they felt like doing something nice to thank their dad for the ice cream cones he had bought them.  I’m sure your kids would have done the same.

Perhaps the highlight of this past year was the two-week trip Rachaela, Emma and Michele took to China to volunteer at three different orphanages (true). It was a powerful, deeply emotional life-changing experience for the three of them. (Rachaela and Emma had not been back to China since we adopted them as infants.) But more importantly, this gave Tim two weeks to sleep in on weekends, not make the bed, and watch as much baseball as he wanted without his wife lecturing him, “Don’t you have anything better to do than sit on the couch and watch grown men run around a diamond?”

Finally, no holiday letter would be complete without a detailed discussion of the health of aging family pets that nobody gives a crap about except the writer. You’ll be delighted to know that our three cats, Dusty, Blackie and Weewoh, who for privacy demands from my wife shall henceforth be referred to as Buttons, Fluffy and Patches, are all doing well. Patches won a scholarship to Northwestern and Buttons is on the waitlist at Cornell. And Fluffy no longer poops in the front hall. We are just so proud of all three of them.

In closing, if you happen to bump into Roger Ledbetter of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, tell him that Tim Jones says thanks a lot for unsubscribing. And he wishes for Roger a life of broken dreams, despair, and career failure at every turn.

And to all my regular readers, here’s wishing you the most joyous, peaceful and happy holiday season!

–       Tim Jones and the Staff of View from the Bleachers (Michele, Rachaela, Emma, Buttons, Fluffy and Patches)

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2011


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