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Christmas News Letters Example 10

Our Son's Continued Recovery, Comfort Food vs. Comfort Clothes, Self-satisfied Cats, Football vs. Ballet.

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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

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

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Another year, another letter. The ideal correspondence would be an exchange of legible, handwritten news and observations that the grandkids could find in a trunk in the attic some day, a package that would give them some insight into what life was like three quarters of a century ago. The reality, for me at least, is this annual broadside; just enough to keep you all current on the ages of our children and our address, so that if you are ever traveling from San Francisco to Yosemite and need a cheap place to spend the night you'll stop by, and we can really catch up.

The big news this year is no news - Kenneth's leukemia is still in remission. He takes a pill every day, and goes to a clinic once a week, where a nurse shoots a syringe of oily yellow liquid into his thigh. Three weeks in a row he goes to the local clinic; on the fourth he goes back to Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford. We usually pop in on the staff at Two North, where he spent three weeks, to say hello. I'm always struck by the contrast between their work and a fantasy of mine.

I took CPR as a part of a Life guarding course three times in high school and college, hoping for a summer job. I've taken CPR and first aid every two years since I've been a parent, hoping never to use it. In the dull spots of the course I daydream about saving a life. It's a pretty standard daydream: I come upon a child whose parents own a fancy liquor store. The child is choking (on a breath mint) I do a quick Heimlich maneuver, perform some mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and bingo! I've saved a life. Except for posing for the newspaper photographer and loading the thank- you gifts into a U-Haul truck, it's over in ten minutes. The people who work at Two North don't daydream. They come in, hang up their coats, get their coffee, chat about their weekend and then go to work, saving children's lives. It takes them a couple of weeks per child. They do it every day.

That does it for Kenneth. Linda gives me a brown wool sweater for my birthday every six years or so. I now have three, counting the two that have holes in the elbows but are still good. Several years ago "comfort food" was all the rage in the trendier restaurants. Comfort food takes its name from the fact it evokes fond, comfortable memories of childhood. The trend led to people paying $16 for pot roast when they went out to dinner. The fad passed, and, at least here in California, we're back to ordering broiled halibut with mango lime salsa on a bed of angel hair pasta when we want to celebrate something special. The term didn't cross over to the fashion world, so you don't hear of "Comfort garments". It's a pity; nothing describes a brown wool sweater better. My best one smells faintly of wood smoke, from evenings spent around campfires. Match that, Calvin Klein.

Last Spring an overly enthusiastic dog punctured Buck, our aging orange cat, in six places. The vet told Linda to keep him indoors and quiet, as he might heal, and, if he didn't, his last days would be pleasant. For two weeks he recuperated in a nest made out of blankets on the couch in the living room. Linda heated canned cat food for him in the microwave and served him breakfast, lunch and dinner in bed. For the first week she even lifted him down to the litter box and back up again, so he wouldn't jar his insides by jumping. Throughout the ordeal Buck would look out on the world with a smug expression that said "These attentions are nice, to be sure, but they are, after all, only fitting for a cat such as myself."

Heather, who turns [n] this February, has exactly the same attitude at times, although she is usually pretty decent. This summer she helped choreograph a piece at a two-week dance and drama performance workshop. At the recital which concluded the workshop I realized she'd crossed over the line between being cute and being good. She has taken ballet for eight years now, and we've been to our share of recitals. As a rule of thumb, the younger and less experienced a class is, the cuter the costumes they wear. The "pre-ballet" group, some of whom are still in diapers, are considered a success if no one falls and hits her head; they always gets ooh's and ahh's for their costumes. The older kids are actually fun to watch; their performances are to a balletomane what high school games are to a sports fan. Sometime in the middle classes they cross over, from "Oh, how cute" to "Gosh, that was really good."

The dance studio Heather and Margaret go to put on a condensed version of the "Nutcracker" this winter. We also went to the one put on by the San Francisco Ballet. I was reminded of an interview I read a long time ago with a high school football coach from a small, rural school in Texas. The interviewer asked him about Woody Hayes. He said wondered how well Woody would do with an 18-man team, a 170-pound fullback and a front line that had to miss practice during the fall calving season.

Charlotte, the dance studio director, did a heck of a job considering everyone who took lessons had to have a part in the performance and she had a lot more six-year olds than sixteen-year olds. The pre-ballet class did the "Mother Hubbard" part, with Charlotte herself wearing the skirt they hide under. Their costumes were really cute, and no one fell down.

Margaret was [n] in October. She is gaining a sense of herself. A year ago I told her if she wore a dress to school and played on the bars, the boys would look at her underwear. She looked at me as if she wondered how anyone could be so dumb, then told me she wore short pants under the dress, OF COURSE. This is a practical but unfashionable solution that wasn't done when I went to grade school. Now she wants to wear pointed patent leather shoes that hurt her toes with her party dresses, instead of sneakers. She reads a lot, and many of the modern young heroines are unconventional, so there is hope.

We went to the Sequoia-King's Canyon National Parks this summer. We ran into a bear on one of the nature trails. When I was younger my first inclination would have been to sneak close enough to fill the frame with the zoom lens set to 70 mm. This time it was to get between the bear and the kids and have everyone back off, walking in a calm but brisk manner. The bear didn't notice how I'd changed over the years; it went on eating willow bark. The most vivid image I brought back (in memory only, not on film, I regret) was a tiger swallowtail butterfly flitting through a grove of huge sequoias in the strong, golden light of late afternoon; it made a perfect contrast between light and dark, old and young, ancient and ephemeral.

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