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Christmas News Letters Example 08

Children's books in Middle English, Backpacking in the Sierra Nevada.

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Three short examples

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From me:

01 A practical joke
02 My grandparents die
03 English Tour
04 Barn swallows
05 Buying hubcaps
06 Group photos
07 Mr. Science
08 Backpacking, Middle English
09 Leukemia
10 Comfort Clothes
11 Marmots and Texas
12 Eagle, Turkey and Emu
12 Accident and Hike

From Alert Readers:
01 In the Foothills
02 Excess
03 Things unsaid
04 11 Kids
05 Multiple Choice
06 . . . bit my ear
07 Facts and Stats
08 Neiheisel Review
09 Family and Horses
10 Sing a Song
11 The Professional
2007 Collection
2008 Collection
2009 Collection
2010 Collection
2011 Collection

Erma Bombeck & Martha Stewart
Around the World
Coping with DUI
Defining Pretentious
The 12 McQ's

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Web Design
Misc. Essays

I'm getting used to Hughson. The difference I notice the most is in the soil. In Riverbank I couldn't dig deeper than six inches or so without resorting to a pickaxe, and water would stand for weeks. (Early on, in Riverbank, Linda had a bulldozer change a flat pasture into a small hill and a small pond, so the horses would have a dry place to stand in the rain. In wet years the water in the pond would get to be three feet deep. It would not dry completely until May, even though the rain stops in February.) In Hughson I can dig as deep as I want to with just a shovel, and water rarely stands for more than a day before soaking into the rich, sandy loam.

No broken bones and no stitches this year. [Children's ages and grades hidden for privacy.] All are well.

We checked a child's collection of English and Scottish Ballads out of the library last summer, thinking Margaret and Heather should get a taste of their heritage. (Their maternal grandmother is a Scot.) They liked the ballads, and the note at the back of the book said there were more in the Oxford Book of Ballads, so I ordered it from my neighborhood bookstore. The day it came in I found The Oxford University Press does not believe in dumbing down its prose for adult readers; this is from "Robyn Hode and the Munke":

But Robyn toke out a to-honde sworde
That hangit down by his kne;
Ther as the schereff and his men stode thyckust,
Therduwarde wolde he.

What the heck, I thought, it's a change from "Go Dog Go", and if the kids get tired of it they'll go to sleep. I found I could get along pretty well by reading phonetically and scanning the footnotes. Then I came across a letter we don't use any more.

The next day I called a professor at UOP in Stockton. He explained the letter is called "Thorn" and pronounced "th". When the first printing presses came to England from Holland they didn't have the letter "thorn", so printers substituted "y"; "The" spelled with a thorn became "Ye", which is why you see signs like "Ye Dew Drop Inn" in front of places that pretend they are "olde English". Most modern fonts (they still use it in Iceland) render the lower-case one like this: þ.

After twelve or fourteen ballads Heather asked why all of them were about love, death, courage and honor. I answered that those were the most important things to write about, and that nothing else would last four or five hundred years. (The next time I read Lois McMaster Bujold, my favorite science fiction author, I realized why I like her books so much; they are set in the distant future, with interstellar warships and so forth, but they are about love and death, courage and honor.)

Last fall, a bit after the fact, the Girl Scout Council told me that to qualify to take girls backpacking I could either take a course or write about my backpacking experiences. The more I thought about it the more I wrote, and the "list" grew to nine pages. (My fellow Girl Scout, Mike, just listed dates, duration, weight carried and miles walked; I put in lessons learned, cultural contexts for the trips I made in Borneo, personal history, and philosophy.)

As I wrote I remembered a couple of things. When I was in college, working for the Forest Service in the summers, I'd go backpacking with a friend almost every other weekend. We'd usually see at least one group of girls, hiking along with a dad in the front and a dad in the back. The dad's packs were always bigger than normal.

I also remembered Heather being born. When Linda was pregnant the obstetrician had guessed she'd be a boy. She had what he'd called "a boy's heart rate" on the birthing monitor. She arrived, purple and female. Standing there in the delivery room, holding seven and a half pounds of promise, hope, love and responsibility, thinking all the awesome thoughts a new parent thinks, a random, minor one hit me - ten years from then I could be the "Dad in front", and she would be behind me, a cheerful smile on her face, eighteen pounds on her back. It was the first time in my life I'd ever envisioned anything that far into the future. This summer I helped her Girl Scout troop do a six-mile, three day trip to Emigrant Basin Wilderness Area. I walked in the front and helped carry the heavy stuff.

This is one page of over four dozen devoted to Christmas news letters. The main Christmas News Letters page has links to more examples, plus some general guidelines and specific suggestions for writing Christmas news letters. If you have an example, either good or bad, that you'd like to share with the rest of the world, send it to me and I'll add it to these pages.

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This page updated: June 21, 2014