Holiday Letter 2005

December 2005


Holiday Greetings from Elmira, New York where we are all beginning to appreciate Global Warming. With only a handful of shopping days remaining in the year we have so far been uninterrupted by those interesting events that sometimes seem to make time pass more slowly. That’s not say that the only variety we have is of the “what’s for dinner?” kind. It’s not even to say that the best variety we have is of the “what’s for dinner?” kind. It’s just that most of the variety we have that can’t be placed on a menu is in the form of the loud noises Connor and Kate make when expressing themselves. A year has past since we last wrote, but things are very much the same here. Connor and Kate are growing . . . but still small. Eric’s office is progressing . . . but still unfinished. Our sand and gravel piles are shrinking . . . but still there. Ellen’s sister went away . . . but came back.

Death and taxes may be unavoidable for the unimaginative, but our constants here are construction and noise. Construction is a constant, at least when the definition of the word is expanded to include a project that has had some work done, needs more work done, but is not currently having work done. We have (almost) completed a bathroom renovation this year and our downstairs has experienced some major . . . changes. The noise here is enough to have almost driven Eric from the house. After six years of isolation in the house, Eric was feeling a little too unisolated and felt it necessary to rent an office in a not-too-distant building. The noise has not yet been bad enough to force Eric to actually go and occupy it. Yes, Eric has been renting an office in downtown Elmira for 6 months. In it is a desk, a chair . . . but no Eric.

We did manage a week long family vacation. A trip to the Outer Banks with some of Ellen’s nudist friends. Thirteen hours in the car. Each way. With Kate. This was an experience that could have put the entire family into therapy for years, but with a few little tricks that can’t be committed to permanent record we managed to get through the drive with a “It could have been worse” perspective. The stay in the Outer Banks was rather enjoyable, but you may ask how such a thing happened after Eric swore-off traveling with his youngest child. Trickery. Ellen used the time-honored trick of asking Eric many months in advance. Or, Ellen told Eric that he agreed to go on the trip many months prior. One of the two. Eric won’t fall for that one again. Of course, Ellen is a special kind of sneaky and will probably trick Eric into another family trip before the children are shipped off to boarding school. We know Ellen is a special kind of sneaky because Kate must get it from somewhere.

The kids are doing well. Connor is, for the most part, a kind, gentle, considerate, polite, affectionate and caring person. At 3 am, when he often comes to visit us, he’s always ready with a “could you make room for one more?” or an “I’m very pleased to see you guys”. Clearly he gets all of this from his mother. Connor, however, is consistently exhibiting one piece of behavior that indicates he may not be as bright as we once thought . . . he continues to tease his sister. Everyone else seems to recognize this as a bad idea for reasons other than it violating the inviolate rule “Don’t tease your sister”. The tables are going to turn here. Soon. And while Connor is a kind, gentle, considerate, polite, affectionate and caring person; Kate is not. Recently, when a commercial interrupted “The Wizard of Oz”, Kate became upset because she wanted “the naughty witch to come back”. Our two year old’s idol? The Wicked Witch of the West.
Kate turned two this year. And, for a long time, that’s all this note had to offer about Kate. Kate poses a dilemma. On the one hand, we would like to mention our youngest child. On the other hand, we don’t want to speak ill of our youngest child. And when we say “speak” we mean “leave any discernable evidence that Kate may later find”. Lying was an option, but only one of Eric and Ellen had no reservations about lying to the recipients of this letter (those being our friends and Ellen’s family). So let us leave it at this: more than one person has suggested an exorcism. If Kate does not follow in the footsteps of Lex Luther, Professor Moriarty or Dr. Evil we will consider it a major accomplishment. Raising an evil genius can be a challenge for any parent.

Wishing you a happy holiday season and an interesting new year,

Eric, Ellen, Connor & Kate

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