Friday, January 2, 2015

Christmas Letter 2013



Merry Christmas Friends!
One year gone is a lifetime away.  Our large family has an empty chair at the head of the table.  My mother died in March and all the marching orders that used to emanate from that energetic throne are echoes in the footfalls of memory.  She could do anything but sit still.   She knitted all six children a Christmas stocking--- emblematic of the family she intended to stitch together. It hangs on the front door. She would want me to take this opportunity to opine on the political implications of her medical experience now that we have an Act called Affordable Care but I cannot uncover the affordable part of the care as it relates to her experience.  We had the funeral in the church she helped found.
The rest of us are eager to follow her example and get busy living.  Hardy is working his first real job in Orlando as an assistant youth pastor and reflecting on when and where or whether to go to seminary.  He is not quite as homeless as Jesus since he has a car to store his things while serially house sitting but he is frugal and ascetic which can only serve him well unless he wants to preach a prosperity gospel.
Lindy studied assiduously through college in a daunting major, Neuroscience, so Lynne and I got OUR money’s worth, we are just hoping she had enough fun to recollect the good old days at her reunions.  She seems to view college as a staging ground for foreign travel-returning this year to Africa-Tanzania, Kenya, and Zanzibar and spending Christmas this year on a Panama Canal Transit Enrichment voyage.  Since travel is an education in itself she has made sure not to leave college with just a piece of paper.  Her Neuroscience degree was hard enough to have given her pause about her next career step and so is undecided about post grad work. 
We think Eli likes being an only child--the one chirping bird in the nest. When he peeps we both listen and with both of us feeding him it seems to be working!  He is 6’2” and 195 lbs.  Since he is 16 and not shaving, there could be some more centimeters in those growth plates.  He is tutoring cute girls in math for spending money which sounds like a twofer to me.  He had a great year in football;  his team and coaches voted him Best Defensive Back and he led the team in tackles.  He plays free safety but as the back up quarterback threw a TD against the best high school team in the state.  
We shared an exchange student, Gent from Kosovo, with another family here in the neighborhood.  He was 18 and Eli 15 so we were somewhat nervous about the “fit” but Gent is a techno geek with 8,000+ friends on Facebook and the social skills  to make friends with a recluse.  He had to give up beer drinking to come to an American high school but he handled it well and never ate anything without praising the cook or enthusing about the experience.  He made Eli and me look bad.  He stayed with us from January to June and is back home working for a technology foundation called IPKO.  The school system in its infinite wisdom has decided that exchange students take up crowded classroom space and aren’t related to taxpayers so they are not welcome anymore, so our teenagers will just have to travel to meet foreigners. 
Working with the International Services Council, WE don’t have to go anywhere.  In October we had two law professors from Kiev, Ukraine stay at our house for a week doing an Open World Forum program for our US State Department.  They were delightful—the last two visitors from Turkmenistan and Buryat Republic spoke NO English but these ladies were extremely well spoken.  We thought they were charming but they apparently went home and started a revolution.  We also had a student from Belize for a week.
Lynne is training a new boss at work and I am looking for a partner.  The ACA does not affect dentistry so I have the same insurance headaches as before.   They are just getting smoother about their denials.  Despite the Supreme Court ruling, insurance companies are NOT people though so their antics are nothing personal, just business.
We took a short cruise in July with friends who had kids on the baseball team with Eli and took dance lessons in case they were playing our song.  We never heard it.  Blurred line dances is what I saw a lot of.   It rained copiously but it always quit long enough to let us do something fun.  We did not gain any weight because we didn’t weigh ourselves until we had been back a month.  We got off the boat (or is it a ship if you jump off and it is so high it could kill you?) and went to MGM Orlando to visit Hardy.  A textbook case of a surfeit of Americana  entertainment excess. 
Mother loved the beach and our large extended family met for Thanksgiving in an 8 BR house at Gulf Shores.  There were 28 of us and we missed only my brother and his family.  We ran the 3rd or 4th bi-annual 5k turkey trot, competed in the team trivia creativity challenge, the random handicapped tennis tournament, the beach bocce ball, and the group solitaire frenzy so it was like she was there, silent, amidst the laughter. 
Lynne’s Mom leaves the snow in Philly to join us for an Alabama Christmas and then we all fly to California to celebrate again with family. All the best to YOUR family this Christmas.

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