I’m beginning to wonder if starting the tradition of writing an annual Christmas letter was a wise decision. I have numerous concerns about the whole thing. First and foremost, is the fact that Amanda and I have to continue to try to do cool and exciting things in order to have “Xmas letter worthy” content. That is a lot of pressure. In prior years, we’ve gotten married, bought homes, moved to a new city, accepted new jobs – you know, big life milestones and things like that. Sure, that made writing the letters easy, but it also set the bar high right off the get go. If I was more smarter, I wouldn’t have mentioned any of those things in the first few letters. That way, I could have gradually built the letters up, year after year, until finally, at the ripe old age of 62, the grand climax would occur – which I imagine will be the year Amanda finally kicks me to the curb for a younger, better looking, higher functioning model. At that point, I will be too depressed to continue writing Xmas letters and you (the reader) will finally have one less piece of paper to immediately discard into the recycling bin.
My other major concern about the pressures of an annual Xmas letter is that we will start doing things we don’t really want to do (or simply shouldn’t do) just for the sake of having something to write about. This concern, I fear, has already begun to manifest itself in the happenings of this past year.
For example, if someone were to ask me what motivated us to start putting uncoordinated and/or aquaphobic people on thin slabs of floating foam and take them out paddling on the coldest lake this side of Pluto, I would only be able to respond: “Oh, ummm, well you see, we started SUPerior Paddle Boarding because there is this Xmas letter thing we have to live up to….” Honestly, I’m not sure there is a better way to explain why Amanda and I decided to start our own paddleboard outfitter. The fact is, we did, and it was a great first year, I think. We were featured in numerous publications, partnered with other local businesses to put on some really cool events, received positive reviews, and no one died. So that was good. But why? Why did we decide that we basically don’t want to have a single minute of free time in the summer if not to get some decent Xmas card content?
The same question must be asked about our trip to Iceland. The place has the word “ice” in its name for crying out loud. Why would we leave Duluth during its only nice month of the year (August) and head to a tiny island country a stone’s throw from the Arctic Circle renown for poor weather, flesh-melting volcanic eruptions, and the tasty national dish of harkal. Why indeed? Again, I’m not certain why, but Amanda and I did find Iceland to be a fantastical place. The only way I can describe it is like something out of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth. We camped around the entire (and I mean entire) island and loved every minute of it. Mostly. There was that one night in which I decided to partake in a scientific study of the national pastime of Runtur. As it happens, Runtur mainly consists of staying out all night enjoying a potent variety of schnapps made from a very specific type of highland moss intermixed with sips of some sort of liquor fondly referred to as “Black Death”. As a man of science, I took my studies very seriously. Amanda did not partake in the Runtur, but she did create a new event called the “ranter” when I returned from my studies. Amanda’s “Ranter” has now eclipsed the great eruption of Skaftaredar as the most violent and earth shattering event in Iceland’s history.
Sadly, we didn’t do anything else worthy of the Xmas letter this year. We got settled into our new home here in Duluth. We went on a ski trip to the Keweenaw Peninsula with old friends, became the first documented paddle boarders in the Boundary Waters National Canoe Area with new friends, cross-country skied to an old logging camp in the Superior National Forest with best friends, and generally had a great year – but nobody wants to hear about that crap.
So that’s it. There is nothing left to say. I mean, I could say some of the obligatory things like that Amanda is still excelling at everything that she does, such as being a Real Estate Analyst for Maurices corporate headquarters and teaching some type of inferno yoga designed to suck every last ounce of sweat from your body. She also ran the Grandma’s half-marathon this year. I drove it, but still couldn’t keep up. Amanda has also spent a lot of time making friends. I’m from Duluth, and yet somehow Amanda knows more people here. Go figure.
That really is all there is to say. Except that we loved having family and friends visit us this year in our new home. We really enjoyed when our nephew Lane could come visit and steal my childhood toys. He is so cute the way he can find boxes full of my treasured childhood items and walk out the door with them. We also loved it when our nieces from Alaska came down during Halloween. They are so charming the way they pelt you mercilessly with rotten apples when you play “Ghosts in the Graveyard” with them.
I’m done. Besides to say that we really, truly, from the bottom of our hearts, can’t thank everyone enough for helping Amanda’s mother this autumn when she broke both her arms. It is those acts of kindness that, especially during this busy holiday season, make us stop and think about how lucky we are to have such great friends and family.
That’s a wrap folks. Until next year. Maybe. After the whole Runtur thing, Amanda could decide to make that upgrade a few years early.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Sincerely, Andrew, Amanda and Loki Imes
 A delightful treat consisting of putrefied shark which has been buried in a shallow pit for 12 weeks and then hung outside to dry for six months before it is deemed worthy of testing the limits of one’s gag reflex.
 For you cooler people out there, Middle Earth is the world in which The Lord of the Rings books take place. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about, I’m not sure you were meant to receive this letter.