Xmas Letter 1997

Greetings to our friends, family and old acquaintances not forgot,

Once again (after taking a year and a day off) the rambling scribe takes pen in hand (figuratively at least) and proceeds along a path others only dream of treading. Treading carefully because sending Christmas letters has nearly reached the 'status horribilus' of the gift-given fruit cake. The letters arrive and are heavily taken, filled with coloured candy thoughts of personal pride and accomplishment, left by their recipients to sit for a while before being tossed, wishing they too could offer a suitable treat in return.

Hey, you wouldn't believe what our kids did last year. Well perhaps you'd believe it, but I'm not sure you want to hear, or rather, read it. Tough, here it is anyway.

It all started in January, as most years do. Grandma and Grandpa arrived, just in time for Joan and I to head off to South Africa, with a 3 day stop over in London. A bit of work for me and we had time to check out a couple of Art Galleries and a couple of plays (An Inspector Calls and Buddy). Conf. at Mmambatho Sun and a couple of days in Rustenburg. Highlight was spending the night in a Game Reserve and getting chased by an elephant the next morning. We have the video to prove it. We survived, the kids survived and the in-laws survived. Next thing you know old John's a millionaire. Sorry wrong sitcom. We got past The Honeymooners, stilling hoping for Father Knows Best but most of the time I feel like we're on Gilligan's Island, and I'm no skipper.

Spring break arrives and Rachel and Bethany (and cousin Jeannine) are off to stay with Joan's parents in Altona, while the rest of us 5 head off to Cannon Beach. A time is had by all. And to all a goodnight. No yet, the stories not done.

Joan started working part time this year. The job's alright, but the boss is a real piece of work. She manages to put up with him, and the hours are flexible. She even gets to bring the kids in once in a while.

This year all five of our children are in the same school. From K to 7 we've got it covered. I've got to stop helping Natalie with her homework or she'll never get to grade 1. I used to have five theories on raising kids, now I have 5 kids and no theories have been left standing. Even I'm looking for a crutch. I hope these terrible twos end before puberty starts.

This summer we had a great time at a cabin (owned by my Dad's cousin) at Lac Le Jeune (near Kamloops)(in BC)(just off the Coquihalla Hwy). He decided to sell and we decided to buy. Another day older and deeper in debt. Hopefully it will be a long term family retreat. We'll head up after Christmas and stay until the new year. Then we'll finalize the deal.

I realize this is late and certainly we have done more than I could ever write about, although maybe this year I'll keep a journal. Here's to you and yours, hoping Christmas joys filled your home and wishing that we enjoy each others company at some point in the coming year.

John, Joan, Rachel, Bethany, Hannah, Tabitha, Natalie, Suzie and another dog to be named later.

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