Christmas 1999

1999
12.25

Happy Holidays 1999! Please don’t die of shock because you are receiving this letter so early this season. As the holidays approach we should remember that Miracles do happen and that just maybe once I can get my act together before Christmas. A friend reminded me recently that Christmas comes on December 25th each year and that I shouldn’t be surprised and shocked that it does. Whatever happened to the “surprise and wonder” of the holiday season? You are surely getting yours by receiving this card and letter so early.

This year was more eventful than most and more stressful than many yet we have managed to survive it in spite of ourselves. It seems as if I write each year about how much we have traveled with the kids over the course of the year; it’s true. We do seem to get around quite a bit. But this kind of self inflicted torture in the name of family togetherness is character building for the kids and provides news for this yearly holiday letter, so I guess we’ll keep it up.

In March we flew to sunny Arizona to visit my parents who spend half of the year there in retirement. We managed to pick the only cold and rainy week of the entire season, so it seems fitting that we spent it inside dealing with two kids sick with croup and ear infection. Some people can think of more exciting things to do on vacation. Obviously we are “leisure challenged”. (If you doubt this, read on.) Mike had so much fun on this vacation that he dropped us off in Minneapolis (he went on to Seattle on unexpected business) and let me fly home alone with the three kids, all the while one of them was tossing her cookies in a gallon size Ziploc bag. Let’s just say she doesn’t handle motion well and the other passengers didn’t need an in-­flight movie for “entertainment”. Hopefully Northwest will lift the ban and allow us to fly with them again someday.  Whew! Was that a relaxing trip or what?? So, against good sense we decided to proceed with our previously planned ‘Wild West’ vacation.

The trip in June with our friends Mark and Kate Fejfar and family was a National Park frenzy. In thirteen days we managed to visit Mount Rushmore National Monument, Badlands National Park, Little Bighorn National Battlefield, Devils Tower National Monument, and Glacier, Yellowstone, and Grand Teton National Parks. All this with five kids under the age of seven in a maddening pursuit of the perfect chicken nugget. This isn’t so difficult if you are in the middle of a city, but when you are in the middle of the wilderness it becomes a real issue! We used two way radios to talk between the cars announcing to each other when a pine tree was needed or when there was a serious road pizza to be seen. Yes, we are a classy bunch! We managed to scare off several other tourists and to irritate one or two waiters (one in particular at the Old Faithful Lodge in Yellowstone I know will never be the same again. Only a novice waiter wouldn’t know that a one year old can clear off a table set with wine glasses and good china with one yank on the table cloth!).   The kids survived, but we adults were a little stressed, thus a subsequent vacation to Seattle in August just for the grown-ups.

After the Yellowstone debacle we returned home and within twenty hours had signed the paperwork and were moving into our new home.   Obviously we have some problems with scheduling and organization, but we did manage to pull it off. That was the first weekend in July and we still are missing a few things that are probably in boxes somewhere in the basement. It’s always exciting to open another box and see my crystal mating with the power tools or something equally as shocking.

Mike slaves around here trying to accomplish the never ending tasks that come with moving into a new house (e.g., painting, installing more shelves, etc.). The poor guy was even forced by his wife to drag the kid’s swing set from the old house. This involved digging up five legs that were embedded in cement and making six of our brawniest male friends herniate themselves by moving it to the new place. Currently the swing set is laying in a heap under our deck, a reminder to Mike what he did for love or at least domestic harmony anyway. Guess the swing set should be up by this time next year, but I’m not taking any bets.

At the writing of this letter I am just getting over jet lag from a trip to France. Many of you know that I am still in contact with my dear French friend Regine who was an exchange student at my high school. We have been friends for seventeen years now which apparently means that she can dare to ask me to be a “witness” at her wedding (she told me it was like the American position of “best girl”- you know the opposite of best man?”). Well, so I was the witness at Regine and Jean-Louis’ wedding and I was also asked to read a passage (in French!) from the Bible during the service. My French is still understandable, after all, in my previous life, that is before the Mommy days, I was a French major. I thought I did o.k. reading at the church, but one of the wedding guests informed me later that my pronunciation of love (1’amour) was more like la mort (death), so the funny looks I saw on the faces of my audience weren’t exactly pride and joy of having an American lecturer, but of incredulity that love is death in the context of marriage. Vive la France!

The kids are all doing fine. Will is eight, Emily almost five and Abby eighteen months. They love the new house and are currently after us to get a pet. Fat chance! We car pool with a family about .25 miles from here and one morning we got in the van and Will said, “Mom, what’s that black thing rolling on the floor?” We were running late and I was in a less than good humor. I said, “Will, it’s probably a toy, sit back and buckle up.” I started to put the car in reverse when out of the corner of my eye I saw a kamikaze mouse. It was a mouse on a mission mind you, not your slow moving hesitant variety. Little Mickey was freaked out that we had invaded his space and was hurling his body as fast and as wild as he could around the inside of the van with us. Of course, being the calm, collected person that I am I went, “BLLLLLAAHHHH!” and jumped out of the van screaming bloody murder! It’s each man for himself and damn the kids who are strapped in the van, unable to save themselves!

At this point Will was bawling, Emily was screeching and as she was trapped, strapped in her car seat, Abby was looking quizzically at me like, “Mom, what the heck is the matter with you?” I had no other choice but to get back in the car and take Will to school. So I put it in reverse. Now, let me mention here that this should not be done by another family in the interest of safety, but my kids (one still screaming, the other blubbering hysterically) sat on the backs of their van seats while I went from 0 to 85 mph to the other family’s house. I drove, twisted like a pretzel, with one foot completely in the air, the other foot jammed on the accelerator. I whipped into their driveway and ended up taking their car the rest of the way to school. Then their retired neighbor came over and tried to help me get the mouse out. At this point Emily and I decided that there were two mice as she swears she saw one bail overboard and the other was hurling itself all over the inside of the van. After 45 minutes of trying to skewer the darn thing with a yard stick, I played helpless female (well, actually I wasn’t really playing) and called Mike at work to come and help. We finally got the mouse after setting several glue traps in the car for the day. Needless to say, a family pet is not in the near future for us and perhaps coincidently the van is up for sale. Please call if you are interested.

Thus another year calmly closes for us. Here’s to 2000 and all the new and exciting things that will entertain us all! Happy Holidays!

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