Season’s Greetings!

Yes, I’m a freak. The truth is, I like writing Christmas letters. It’s pretty much the only time of year I have a captive audience and form letters extolling virtues and shortfalls are universally accepted.

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Good stuff—the arrival of Tristan for Kathy and Ed, the Iron Chef, Christmas lights in the summer, teaching the dogs to swim with Al and Carole, Michelle’s margaritas, refinancing, watching Nolan and Caryn dance, the annual Peace Corps trip and the Fjord Lord boat all to ourselves in Norway, afternoon naps with the dogs, kids’ movies with Dan and Nick, family-style Chinese dinners, wine tasting, stuff Barney and Molly remember that I’d forgotten all about, lavender growing by the front steps, Elvin at the grill, New England autumns, Joel’s baseball trip with his Dad and Nettie, dinners with good friends, roses that bloomed, postcards, the van Gogh/Gaugin art exhibit, safe landings, the Aveda store, restaurants we can walk to, flannel sheets, Urszula’s Polish vodka, and sing-along ABBA musicals.

Bad stuff—watching friends fall victim to dot-com layoffs and almost being one myself, watching a backhoe dig up our front lawn to get to the sewage pipe, parents’ consistent booking of oh-dark-thirty flights, the lecherous creep at the wine store, sunburns, the way my car smells after a road trip with both dogs, knowing the Cubs will have to wait until next year (same as last year), wondering if Brian and Michelle were okay on September 11th, god-awful phone bills to Australia, visiting the accountant, working over holidays, and no, Mom, I still haven’t done the bloody wedding photos.

Stuff that makes you laugh—the Bears are in FIRST place?, how come we always see Tapani pitch at Wrigley?, that Korean guy with a very Texas accent, Urinetown: The Musical (and that title’s not a joke), plastic lawn flamingoes (Samantha couldn’t resist), how Muddy always has one ear turned inside out, Joel when he does the voices of the unused kitchen appliances (somehow loneliness overcame the food processor and the blender and together they spawned the mini-chopper), Reba protecting Muddy from the horrors of the vacuum, and I made Michelle laugh by almost falling out of the tree while picking apples (I still say the best ones are at the top).

Stuff Reba and Muddy ate—the bathmats (all three of them), Joel’s slippers, Murray and Tammy’s sunglasses, Joel’s Palm Pilot, both of Kristi and Kevin’s leather couches, that big hole in the basement carpet, both basement chairs (we’re talking no one would steal them off the sidewalk any more), a Mellencamp CD, several dog food dishes, shoes, BiteTheMan became AmputeeMan after Reba tore out his squeaker and then ripped his arms off, Muddy’s drumstick toy, feet, books left in the backseat, sticks, almost a cat, various crap abandoned to the back of the car, three stuffed geese, the 1996 atlas, a Pete Townsend CD, and stuff we probably haven’t found yet and now never will.

We hope this finds you healthy, happy, and with a life full of joy. And as always, the guest bedroom is always open should you happen by (we promise to keep the dogs upstairs with us).