Xmas Letter 2005

Greetings and wonderful Christmas blessings to you all[1],

Apparently last years letter was too rushed and didn’t work well according to my harshest critics and biggest fans[2] (my children – one in particular who(m)[3] I won’t name) so I have decided to start this a week earlier than last year.

The year began and will presumably end as usual with plans, doubts and misgivings along with hopes, joys and sorrows and the occasional bottle of wine, Dylan concert or double tall latte. But in the middle I reached[4] fifty and became a pentagenarian. This doesn’t come with any particular perks or required rituals but I do get seats on the bus occasionally and am more likely to be mugged.

Joan continues to do her charity work at home and abroad[5] but most of her charity involves me – a most patient saint is she. This summer her and Natalie made a pilgrimage to the ancestral land of the Sunflower[6]. As expected they were still there. Both the ancestors and the sunflowers. Most of Joan’s free time is spent with me, the rest of the time she’s driving….Tabitha back and forth from school to gym, Natalie to friends houses, Hannah to hockey and Bethany to school. I enjoy my 5 minutes here and there.

Rachel started the year by losing her job, and then Uncle Len[7] lost an employee so Rachel went and worked for him. Now she wants to be an accountant – go figure - literally. Guess he makes it look easy. Now she’s going for her CGA, taking 3 courses at Kwantlen. That’s considered being a full time student. Standards have changed. Used to be that….when I was your age…..I remember….forget it, just showing my age. As far as I know Rachel still lives with us. It’s hard to know unless she’s telling me to keep my music down….maybe I’m not so old after all. She must still be here because we do see Andrew come around for the occasional meal and visit and to help Rachel with her homework.

Bethany finished her year of early childhood education at CBC[8] and was instrumental in publishing their yearbook. She spent the summer looking for a job, which she found two weeks[9] before the summer ended. She’s working at Please Mum, which continues a long trend[10]. She has decide to continue her schooling at Kwantlen College pursuing a career as an elementary school teacher. As long as she can master the math she’ll be alright. Here she wants to be a teacher and I’m still trying to teach her[11]. The other significant events included turning 19 and getting her own car. A Saturn – not black, not purple but blackberry.

Hannah started the year by turning 17 and continuing to work on her L[12], spent the year learning to drive and finally got her N. Now she’s marking[13] time getting through Grade 12 and deciding what comes next. She was sure last year but now she’s not. Any ideas can be forwarded through the help desk on the website. Hannah continues to play hockey. This year she played some 3 on 3 in the spring. Fast paced, lots of action, mainly guys and Hannah. I made sure I was at the games but I’m too dense to really pick on the subtleties that happen[14]. To pay for her driving freedom, Hannah got a job (casual/temp) at London Drugs.

Tabitha’s highlights over the past year included her travels – to Guatemala (along with Rachel and Hannah), Hawaii, Japan and Barkerville. In each case she was treated well by the locals[15]. As she turned 16 recently, she has also got her L. Not sure if the family car (or my heart) can handle one more rookie driver. After you’ve seen your life flash before your eyes so many times you realize how boring it really is[16].

Natalie is the beginning of the last teen…the last of the girls to hit 13 and enter high school. Oh, Mama, can this really be the end..[17] The goal now is to get the remaining 3 girls out of high school and get all 5 of them on someone else’s payroll. Natalie is also working toward that by taking acting lessons on the side. She already has an agent (professional) and manager (me). So far though 15% of nothing is still nothing. But she did land a small role in the Shakespeare play at school.

In the summer I had dinner with my new boss. Told him I was turning 50, he told me he’d read an article in Fortune called ‘Fifty and Fired’[18]. Two months later I was[19]. Restructured actually…I love the newer friendlier vocabulary – it makes it easier to fool the kids about the real situation. Sold my bike and am looking for a rocking chair – it seems like a safer place to cry myself to sleep.

As usual we got some R&R time at the cabin and we spent a weekend at Parksville with the extended Goossen family. It was an unforgettable Father’s Day[20]. The only other all-inclusive family time we have is when we all watch hockey, which we’re all glad is back[21]. Joan and I also went to Sonoma Valley to visit friends and drink some wine. Did both successfully. No corporate travel perks this year.

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas[22],[23] and a Blessed New Year as you bask in the meaning of the season and open yourself up to the grace of the coming year.

Love and peace,

Natalie, Tabitha, Hannah, Bethany, Rachel, Joan and John[24]

PS. The consensus is that we didn’t do enough interesting stuff this year[25]. There is no PPS or PPPS this year as there are enough footnotes to make up for it[26].



[1] Note this letter is filled with footnotes. They don’t need to be read and you can continue through the whole letter ignoring them, unless you feel you need additional explanation and information.

[2] No choice I feed them

[3] Never know what’s correct but couldn’t afford an editor.

[4] a la George Carlin who observed that – ‘you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60. Then you build enough speed to HIT 70!’ – full passage at http://www.suddenlysenior.com/geocarlinonaging.html

[5] Abroad being the MCC store, Ten Thousand Villages, School Library, Delta Gymnastics, Operation Red Nose and anywhere she’s needed.

[6] This would be Altona, Manitoba where her parents are currently settled and resting after wandering from the childhood homes of Kane and Grossweide (formerly near Plum Coulee)

[7] My brother Len the accountant, as opposed to my brother Rick who isn’t.

[8] Now she’s ready for Grade 1.

[9] She claims 3 weeks but the last week of the summer doesn’t count because we always go to the cabin then.

[10] This is the kind of inference these letters are known for. It’s not really funny but people think it might be so it gets a chuckle. All I am really saying is that Bethany has really said Please Mum a lot in her life and now it continues as a job.

[11] Just a pun

[12] The L and N system was explained in a previous Xmas letter.

[13] No comment.

[14] Another no comment.

[15] Makes you wonder, doesn’t it.

[16] Please don’t get tired of the footnotes, they are there to avoid cluttering up the letter and yet they add some interesting and mainly useless extra information. I suggest you get back to the letter.

[17] Cheesy Dylan song reference

[19] Didn’t realize my new boss would be as subtle and honest as I usually am J

[20] Ask Len

[21] We also watch Gilmore Girls and The Apprentice but don’t want to admit it.

[22] Not the Seasonal Greeting of a society afraid to make a commitment

[23] Christmas not Xmas to honor the C S Lewis essay in the year of the Narnia, not because I have any particular objection to Xmas.

[24] Reverse order in honor of Natalie turning 13 this year and also to see if I could do it backwards at my age

[25] My contention is that the kids are getting older and the interesting stuff is none of anyone’s business.

[26] If you really need to read more of this kind of stuff you can go to the website and check out a couple of pieces I wrote in 1994 or so see the side bar and click on the Random Sample links .

 

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