Holiday Letter 2007

December 2007


Holiday Greetings from Elmira, New York where the firemen still wear their clothes to work every day. We have grown a year older since we last wrote and hopefully everyone this is being sent to has done the same. Otherwise we have wasted a stamp. It was a year of change here but even as some things change others stay the same. For example, our better-than-natural-green-spray-painted-genuine-pine wreath has entered its ninth year of service on our front door.

We experienced progress this year. Well, maybe not progress, but we did experience change. Change is like progress if you’re billing by the hour. It’s the kind of progress you get when by cleaning a room you start by dumping the contents of every drawer on the floor or when you start the renovation of your house by taking off a bathroom door. And since we don’t see much progress here, we will happily take credit for anything close. What progress that does occur here comes in two flavors, Eric Progress (otherwise called ‘one-step-forward-sit-down-and–rest’ progress) and Ellen Progress (often referred to as ‘one-step-forward-one-step-sideways-spin-in-a-random-direction-and-go-go-go’ progress). Our sub-optimal approaches did, however, net some quantifiable gains. We completed the shed-to-playhouse conversion that, for a bit, looked as though it would eventually land on Connor’s to-do list. It wasn’t easy and required the drastic measure of Eric putting the rest of the family on a plane to Alaska, getting some outside help and then waiting on Ellen to get back to help finish things up. On the downside, power tools for Connor no longer seem the ideal holiday gift. On the upside the whole family enjoyed the Alaska trip. Especially Connor, who caught a shark while fishing in the Pacific, but we digress. The downstairs bathroom/laundry room/pantry renovation started in 2005 is moving along as a pace that should see it completed in 2009. Or 2010. We did get the door back on the bathroom. And then we took it off again.

The leaf battle took a nasty turn this year. Apparently Mother Nature was smarting from the lopsided defeat we handed her last year and dug down deep into her bag of tricks. The leaves, normally off the trees by late October, hung on the trees until early December and coordinated their descent with that of the first significant snowfall of the season. They peek insolently through the snow at us even now. We had been fans of global warming here but now with its apparent affects on when leaves fall we will have to reconsider our opinion.

Our house goes as Kate goes and 2007 could have been worse. Kate has evolved from ‘demonic’ to ‘odd’ in a way you simply have to experience. Since you probably weren’t paying close attention over the past year try and imagine an outgoing, well-adjusted and charming four year old girl . . . that will be our jumping off point. Now take away her conscience and throw in an unsettling level of comfort with dead things. You are getting warm. How comfortable is Kate with dead things? One day walking in from the car Ellen, Connor and Kate passed the remains of a small, furry creature that apparently made the acquaintance of one of our cats. Upon entering, Kate quietly took off her shoes, put on her boots and went back outside. Kate came back inside, “Mommy, can you tell me what this black stuff is?” That Ellen already knew that the “black stuff” was what was formerly inside the ex-rodent probably tells you all you need to know. We have a hundred other Kate anecdotes but space limitations here mean you’ll have to visit to see them.

As Kate goes through phases (or, perhaps, roles) Connor simply becomes a bigger Connor He remains sweet and naïve while also getting much, much louder. There are little changes. he didn’t spend this flag football season skipping around the field with a Winnie-the-Pooh-like smile on his face the whole game, but if you knew Connor last year, or the year before, or the year before you’d recognize him now. He remains polite to a fault as you can literally sidetrack an outburst by throwing compliments at him as he will meet every interrupting platitude with a “Thank you”. Connor presents the sort of dogged determination that is not side-tracked by lateral thinking nor found in his paternal ancestry. Not only is he as purposeful as Ellen, he’s also every bit as sweet and gullible as his mother was when she met Eric. When a neighbor sold his house this year and Connor was informed that a girl he knows from school will soon be moving into the house where Dr. Zama lives now, Connor’s response was “Dr. Zama will certainly be surprised.” When Connor recently did something very out of character and Eric asked the rhetorical: “Who are you?”. Connor, a little surprised but completely serious, replied: “It’s me, Buck. That was an easy question. You should know that one Daddy.”

Wishing you a happy holiday season and an interesting year,

Eric, Ellen, Connor and Kate

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