Xmas Letter 2000

Greetings to those in this world and the next and maybe some with a foot in both (or at least living as such)

It has been a long year. I haven't had a job for nearly 15 years and working all year is . . . well, it's work. John Fogerty described my situation perfectly, 'Left a good job in the city, workin' for the man every night and day'. (Tina Turner for those of you on the other side of the great late 60s/early 70's divide who thought she actually wrote the song, rather than just making it famous.) So what's work like? Well the hours are worse and the holidays less but I'm sure it will get better and they do give us breakfast.

Joan on the other hand was actually enjoying working at Softline (as long as she wasn't in my department). So now she renewed her taxi license and is back at the more difficult task of juggling the driving and the household along with helping out at school. She finds her relaxation in horseback riding. There is joy in driving rather than being driven. Hannah gets to come along and clean the stalls. She views this as a benefit - go figure.

It's one thing to be outnumbered by the kids; it's a whole other game being outnumbered by the teen-agers. And girls at that. Don't get me wrong I'm enjoying it. I'll take all the honest feedback I can get. As loudly and enthusiastically as possible. It's more effective that way. This too will pass, hopefully before I do. Given the fact that Rachel wants to start driving, I'm not so sure.

We're still trying to get to the cabin as much as we can. Seems a bit less this year. Wasn't much winter last year compared to some others. At spring break we saw as much grass as snow on the ground. Got up there in the summer and some weekends too. Over all it's still somewhat of a sanctuary, mixed with a bit of alternative lifestyle. Hey, we've finally got that all season Styrofoam outhouse seat everyone raves about. All I need now is a still and we can retire and live like the Beverly Hillbillies.

Our big trip this year was to Halifax. I had enough points to fly us all out there. (Great reward - fly enough and we'll let you fly somewhere for free. Sounds like an all you can eat buffet with desert thrown in). It was only a week but we saw drove a fair bit. First we went to Pier 21 and saw where both my parents landed when they came to Canada. We got pictures of both the ships they arrived on. After that we drove to Sydney, did Ft. Louisburg, drove the Cabot Trail and then spent one night outside of isle of mecca - the only reason the kids put up with the first part. We then took the ferry to the Land of Montgomery. PEI. Green Gables. Lots of tourists. Everyone enjoyed it.

Hannah actually moved there, but decided to come back home with us until she could afford the rent. Rachel and Bethany are firmly entrenched in high school. Enjoying the parts that don't involve studying and homework. Class time is okay if the teacher isn't looking. Both are in the choir and Rachel is taking Bass Guitar lessons. Hannah is on the flute; Tabitha is taking a stab at Clarinet. Sometimes I'd like to as well. Tab is also spending 16 hours a week at the gym doing her gymnastics. Another hour in the kitchen, one in the living room and one in the hall. Meanwhile, Natalie spends her time on Pokemen and Digimen or is it Pokemons and Digimons. It's too bad there isn't a test on this, her knowledge of their evolution is scary.

I was in South Africa in January but that's been it for being off the continent. Mostly heading to California and back. I was in DisneyWorld in August. Without the kids. That went over well. The conference is there again this year. We'll see if we can all go.

Joan and I also got away to Napa Valley. Had a great time. Need to do that more. Get away. Relax. Take time. Boy, how the thought of two days of peace and quiet with someone you love can make you cry. Anyway, back to Christmas.

Unlike most of the (northern) world, that sees Winter as the middle of the dark period of the year and Spring as the time of new life, I think it is, historical facts not withstanding, wonderful that we celebrate the arrival of new life in the dead of Winter and then celebrate death and rebirth in the midst of Spring. I just think that the four months in between doesn't give us time to appreciate the life that was lived.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good year.

John, Joan, Rachel, Bethany, Hannah, Tabitha and Natalie (the dogs can do their own card this year)

P.S. This letter has been reviewed by the children. In their own words - they read it and understood it but didn't get it.

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