Isn't That The Business

Ever since I can remember, my life has been determined by my dad's job. It's the reason my parents moved to Michigan in the 70s, passing down to me in their DNA an insatiable obsession with America and a longing to live there myself. It's the reason we moved all around the world while I was growing up, the reason I went away to boarding school six thousand miles from my family when I was eleven, and the reason we were transferred to Connecticut in the mid-90s, where I just happened to meet that boy I'm going to marry this fall. My dad has been working for 36 years, and it's only now that I'm part of the workforce myself that I can properly appreciate just how many PowerPoint presentations a person would have to give in 36 years, how many conference calls he'd have to attend, how many times he'd have to write his name on his sandwich to prevent someone stealing it from the work fridge.  

At the end of the year, my dad is officially retiring. I'm not exactly sure what this is going to mean for my family yet---apart from the fact that there are suddenly going to be a whole lot more half-completed Sudoku puzzles around the house---but we're all really excited that he's finally going to be able to stop working. The inevitable joke, of course, would be to say something about how he's going to spend a whole lot of time on the golf course now, but my dad has never really been a golfing sort of chap: instead he is going to learn to surf, he's going to play a lot of guitar, and he's going to embark on The Great American Roadtrip he's always wanted to take, spending months traversing the country from coast to coast and inviting various family members along on legs they might find interesting. It may not surprise you to hear that I have already signed up for the Wisconsin portion of the trip.

My dad's last day of work was last week, and on that Friday evening, my whole family went down to meet him as he walked home. He was only expecting my mum, and instead he got the four of us kids too, strolling towards him along the river in the dusk, holding hands. My dad is half German and German kids have it made when they start their first day of school; tradition dictates that they're given what's called a schultute (literally a "school cone") filled with candy and school supplies and things they'll need for the year ahead. Growing up, we'd always marveled at the pictures in my grandmother's photo albums of kids with their schultuten, and so for my dad's last day of work---the finale of his education, as it were---we made him him a schultute of his very own.

It took bloody ages in case you were wondering.

We also made him a very crafty but vaguely disturbing card, which featured his 57-year-old head on his five-year-old body, clutching an original schultute in 1956:

Needless to say, he was pretty pleased with both:

So then we went home and ate a whole bunch of cake:

One of the things we always laugh about with my dad---doesn't every family have some private set of jokes ridiculing each member of it?---is that when he likes something or is otherwise impressed by it, he says "isn't THAT the business!" Many things have been the business in the past 28 years I've known my dad: new shoes, new haircuts, new cars, new ice cream flavors. My dad pretty much is the business himself, actually, although he'd never be immodest enough to say it.

Yesterday, in part two of our Great Retirementpalooza 2008, we all went out to a champagne brunch, and when we came home, we ambushed my dad---who was just trying quietly to read a book by himself---with several things: our own homemade acoustic performances of The Twelve Days of Christmas and Still Crazy After All These Years (renamed The Twelve Days of Retirement and Still Crazy After 36 Years), a list of 36 Reasons We're Glad Dad Is Retiring, and the screening of a video put together by my brother Luke, after which there was not a dry eye in the house.

So yes, the truth is out, we are the sort of dorky family who does things like this---has singalongs and gives presentations and makes enormous cones from construction paper to fill with sweets---but you know something, I wouldn't change it for the world. Happy Retirement, Dad! Now the entire Internet is going to see you dressed up as a butler, a cowboy, and a woman.

(It's best watched in full screen mode, so you can actually read what it says.)

Dec 28, 2008

You'll love Wisconsin. It's beautiful here!

Dec 28, 2008

Well, that really WAS the business! I totally cried at the end of that video. I have a crush on your whole family! Many congratulations to your dad not only for retiring, but for having such a loving bunch around him!
House of Jules

Dec 28, 2008

OMG that was so sweet. Happy Retirement to your dad, mine is still putting great use to his motor home and it's been over 15 years. :)

Dec 28, 2008

totally and completely THE business. the ending just killed me. where is the kleenex?

Dec 28, 2008

Awwww, what a great thing to do for your dad! I love it.

And that cake totally needs to get into my belly.

Dec 29, 2008

Well that was just freaking adorable. Your father is certainly lucky to have such a caring family! And I'm going to add "the business" to my catch-phrase repertoire in honor of your dad's retirement.

Dec 29, 2008

Aw, that was most definately The Business. So cute. What an amazing experience to have lived all over the world like that, I'm totally jealous.

btw..I totally have a crush on your blog like most of your regular readers I'm sure, you have a great style and voice.

Dec 29, 2008

Cried. For the record. I would like to be adopted by your family, please.

Dec 29, 2008

Thanks for making me cry just before walking out the door to work! I miss my dad!!!!!

- M

Dec 29, 2008

Made me cry too. What an incredible tribute!

Dec 29, 2008

Wow your parents remind me so much of my parents in the 70s photos we have! That is a fantastic video, I hope your Dad has a long and happy retirement!

Dec 29, 2008

You're family is so sweet. Happy Retirement Mr. Burns!

Dec 29, 2008

Aw, happy retirement to your dad!

I always like your stories of moving around as a kid because I moved something like every year for 11 years while I was growing up. There is something that Kids Who Moved A Lot have (a vagabond language perhaps?) that other kids who lived in the same house their entire childhood just don't.

I didn't watch the video yet. I try not to cry at work if I can help it.

Dec 29, 2008

Happy retirement to Mr Holly's Dad!

Dec 29, 2008

Happy retirement Holly's Dad! If you're passing through NM, look us up.

Dec 29, 2008

I too have a crush on your family!

All y'all are the business!

Dec 29, 2008

Your family is gorgeous! What a great video. :)

Dec 29, 2008

That was awesome! It was totally THE BUSINESS!

Happy Retirement, Mr, Burns! Even if that makes me think of The Simpsons.


Dec 29, 2008

No joke, if you want to see a Real!Live!Farm! or Cheese Factory! or Brewery! in Wisconsin, we will hook you (and/or your dad) UP. Just tell him to bring wellies, there is a lot of poo out there...(on the farm, not at the brewery...I hope)

Dec 29, 2008

This is beautiful! Happy Retirement, Holly's Dad! Your family is clearly The Business.

Dec 29, 2008

Awww, what a great video! I can just see you all crying while watching this. And I never realized how much Luke looks like Dad Burns until I saw the pictures of a young Dad Burns.

That made me crack up thinking of your dad say "well isn't that the business!"

Congratulations on your retirement, Mr. Burns!

Dec 29, 2008

What a lovely video! Thank you for sharing it with us, and best wishes to your dad on his retirement.

Camels & Chocolate
Dec 29, 2008

Holly, that was AMAZING! And not sure why, but it totally made me cry!

(And in a weird way reminded me of one of the scenes at the end of Love, Actually where the cute artist goes to profess his love to Keira Knightley under the ruse that he's a caroler.)

Dec 29, 2008

Is it strange that I cried too? You're not even my family, and I don't even know you! But you all just seem like lovely people, and I think it's wonderful how you're all celebrating your dad. The video was lovely, and I'm a total sap. Definitely the business.

Also, I don't find that card creepy. I find it AWESOME.

Dec 29, 2008

I don't have a family of my own yet, but when I do I hope we are just as "dorky" as yours! You are truly blessed- thank you for sharing! And congratulations to your dad in his retirement: the world is now his oyster!

Dec 29, 2008

you have such a beautiful family, it makes me jealous!

Dec 29, 2008

Hurray for your dad!

Anne in SC
Dec 29, 2008

Congratulations to your Dad! You are all so lucky to have each other.

And no one has asked yet, but are you at liberty to let us in on the "famous green jumper" that appeared 7 times? I've got to go back and watch it again to see if I can pick up on it.

Anne in SC
Dec 29, 2008

O.K. I went back to check out the Famous Green Jumper. Thought at first it may be the number of times he was kissing your Mom (not quite enough). Then I thought maybe number of times someone was napping/sleeping (still not quite enough I don't think). Then, in the middle of counting the other two, I realized that a green collar was peeking out from under other sweaters many times (didn't count - my fingers were already full of kisses and naps). I then realized that there was also a green sweater that kept making an appearance. So, I'm guessing the shirt or the sweater. Am I right?

Dec 29, 2008

I love your family. And your dedication to arts-and-crafts.

Happy retirement, Mr. Burns!

Dec 29, 2008

Oh my goodness that is so touching. Thank you, Holly, for sharing this moment in your family's life. Hurrah for your dad! Hurrah for the Burns family!

sensibly Sassy
Dec 29, 2008

That video was so wonderful! Congrats to your dad and to his many years of hard work!

Dec 29, 2008

That video was great! I hope he enjoys retirement and his "Great American Road Trip." I live in Wisconsin and love it. Well, I love it better when it's not below 0, but that comes with being here. If you need any suggestions about quintessentially Wisconsin things to do and places to go, feel free to contact me.

Dec 30, 2008

What a sweet video! I love it! I very nearly cried.

It is EXACTLY the sort of thing I've been attempting to create for years but have lacked the Mac to do. Windows programs seem to particularly suck in this area. Wah. Poor me and my crappy Windows machine.

I am so glad that Windows did not hamper your Dad's video.

Dec 31, 2008

That was just fantastic. I cried. And I don't even know your dad! (Or you for that matter, but let's just disperse of the formalities and say we're friends...)

Dec 31, 2008

Anne in SC -- yes, the famous green jumper is a green sweater my dad has had for AGES (well, since about 1986 according to that video), and which we always make fun of him for. A jumper is British for a sweater, so you were right on!

(PS: he still has it. He's bringing it to San Francisco next week when he visits.)

Heather B.
Dec 31, 2008

Well thanks for making me cry.

I really love your family. Huge congrats to your dad.

Dec 31, 2008

My dad died a little over two years ago. Judging by the photos and what you've had to say about yours, my dad and yours had/have some similar personality traits. Watching the video made me happy for your family, happy for mine, and reminded me again how much I lost when mine died.

I hope your father enjoys every minute of his retirement; he's a lucky guy, and you all are lucky to have him, too. Lovely post and video.

The Over-Thinker
Jan 02, 2009

This video is fantastic, Holly---you have such a great relationship with your family!

Congratulations, Mr. Burns!

Jan 02, 2009

fantastic! congratulations, mr. burns.

Jan 04, 2009

Just another Wisconsinite chiming in here. If you are planning to be in Madison during said road trip, my sister and I would LOVE to give you fantastic ideas about where to go (right, Sadie?).