Dear friends and family,

To borrow a phrase from the late Jerry Garcia, “it’s been a long strange trip” this year. I’ll get to the gory details a little later, for now I’m happy to report that the four of us are healthy and well, even if a tiny bit frayed around the edges.

Tara’s in-love. We met the new beau last April while we were in Pittsburgh for Tara’s graduation. Mid-way through the visit my beloved daughter whispered to me that Charles was on his best behavior because he wanted to make a good first impression. I took in what she saying, but to tell you the truth, I just wasn’t seeing it. Although the guy was spending every moment in our presence, I could barely catch a glimpse into his personality as his face was always in his computer. Trying not to brand him a loser too prematurely, I decided to offer him a chance to redeem himself. Marching up to him I said, “Charles, I hear that you’re trying to make a good impression.” He tore himself away from his screen long enough to smile brightly and reply that yes, indeed, he was working hard to do just that. Feeling overly generous, I decided to throw the loser a lifeline and said, “Well Charles, you’re failing miserably.” He nodded in grave understanding, but later on he told Tara that he liked me because he could see that I was going to keep him on his toes. Well, the kid was right about that. Just a few weeks ago while they were driving to visit Charles’s mother in Virginia I called to talk to my baby on her cell phone. After chatting for a while, I asked her to put Charles on the line. I could sense some hesitation about whether or not he was going to take the call, but in the end he answered the phone. He greeted me with a nervous hello, and I went in for the kill. I screeched, “Charles, you failed the test.” Then I asked, “what kind of a guy drives precious cargo around with only one hand on the steering wheel?” He responded that he knew that it was a test, and then he sputtered something about not knowing which way to go with it, and finally, he just gave up the explanation completely and handed the phone back to Tara. Smiling on the other end, I thought that perhaps this guy wouldn’t be so bad after all.

My darling Andrew. The sun rises and sets on him, but I think he’s just beginning to see that. So I guess that means he’s growing up. He has an apartment in Columbia, Missouri, where he is a sophomore in college. He’s become a vegetarian, and surprisingly, he’s also quite the good cook. A few weeks ago while Funk and I were traveling to Jefferson City we decided to surprise him with a little visit. We called when we were 30 minutes out to make sure that he was home. When we arrived, I was surprised to find that my infant had dinner waiting on the table for us. It was the first meal that my son has ever prepared for me – spaghetti topped with tofu sauce, with winter squash on the side. The two dishes didn’t exactly go together, but both items were cooked to perfection.

Funk continues to come into his own as the Mayor of Kansas City. Most everywhere he goes, people come up to him and thank him for the good job that he is doing. They appreciate that he’s not only a visionary thinker, but that he’s ballsy enough to carry the vision through. It’s clear to the voters that Funk is a part of the new politics and that he is the guy with the white hat on. That said, you can imagine the feelings he invokes in those clinging to the old ways. Let’s just say that the guys wearing the black hats are giving up their rule none too easily. Instead, they’re going out kicking and screaming and firing off arrows at what they think is Funk’s weak spot – me.

So while Funk has become somewhat of a folk hero, I am whatever the opposite of that would be. I’ve taken to referring to myself as Yoko, as all that is wrong in Kansas City is either my fault, or it will be my fault any day now. Which brings us to the gory little details. Last year, a 15-year family friend sued us for racial and sexual discrimination. The allegations were baseless, but the charges were purposely written in a such a vulgar way that, above all, they were intended to embarrass us into a windfall settlement for the woman. Unfortunately for all of us, the ex-friend didn’t realize that Funk and I would never do the politically expedient thing and admit to something that we did not do.

If the lawsuit weren’t enough, some council members decided that the charges against us were true based on my Christmas letter of last year. They insist that the way that I described Funk’s first prostate exam was sexually explicit – X-rated even, and the newspaper went wild with it. Here is the most graphic part of my description of Funk’s exam as told in last year’s Christmas letter:

“I waited in gleeful anticipation as I watched the doctor’s sausage-size fingers go up under the sheet. Trust me, it wasn’t too hard to tell when the doctor hit his mark as it was at the exact same moment that I saw Funk’s eyes bulge out of his head.”

Mind you, the only way the council members were privy to that letter was because a reporter, with whom I had an off-the-record relationship, leaked it to her own newspaper. I was shocked that the newspaper ran with it, especially after what the same reporter had just recently recounted to me about a party that she attended at her Publisher’s home, the details of which were enough to make even this old gal blush.

By now, I’m sure you’re thinking that you’ve come to the end of this pitiful story, but unfortunately, you haven’t. The council didn’t wait for the case to go to trial, instead, they exacted their own brand of punishment by passing a law that bans this First Lady from stepping foot inside of the Mayor’s office. That’s not all, the penalty for breaking their law is that Funk goes to jail for six months. It was because of this final piece of outrageousness that national media outlets picked up the sordid tale and made the story go nationwide.

Sadly for our opponents, their strategy to discredit Funk backfired on them as the nation couldn’t imagine what all the fuss was about in Kansas City. Further, their efforts have only served in bringing us unintended fame. I’ve had an editor for Newsweek magazine describe my letter as “the best Christmas letter in the history of Christmas letters” and it was deemed good enough to warrant a space in Harper’s Magazine. And that was just the beginning. The craziness grew to such weird proportions that my girlfriend in New York called me the other day to say that wherever she turns, there I am. I’m on her local news station, I’m in her local newspaper, and just recently when she turned on her TV, there I was, on Good Morning America. She said, “leave it to you, Gloria to have your husband be a big-city Mayor, and yet you’re the one getting national attention.”

Trust me, I would much prefer to go back to my little desk that sits right outside of Funk’s office and continue to quietly serve him while he serves the people of Kansas City. But that’s my wish. Funk’s wish is that I immediately find an agent for my book while my 15-minutes of fame is still on the upswing.

So, that brings us to the end of this year’s telling. We hope that the New Year finds your days filled with good health and loads of love and laughter.


The funks

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