Happy Holidays! Joyful Solstice! Merry Christmas! Happy Hannukah! Best Wishes! Joyeux Noël! Feliz Navidad! Kung His Hsin Nien bing Chu Shen Tan! Glædelig Jul! Gajan Kristnaskon! Hyvaa Joulua! Buorrit Juovllat! Gledileg Jol! Nodlaig Mhaith Chugnat! Buone Feste Natalizie! Natale Hilare et Annum Faustum! Pozdrevlyayu s Prazdnikom Rozhdestva is Novim Godom! God Jul and (Och) Ett Gott Nytt! Season's Greetings! Peace!I thought about reprising a holiday card I sent during the Reagan era which was titled "THIS IS NOT A HOLIDAY CARD!" My long-ago card pointed out that we had sent Holiday Cards only to our wealthiest friends, secure in the knowledge that our fond wishes for a great holiday and new year would trickle down to all of our friends. It was funny in the 1980's. Somehow it seems equally appropriate but less funny now. So I think I'll just start with a photo of our family.
If you are paying attention, and you probably still are since we are only two paragraphs into this note, you may notice that our family photos now include five people. About this time last year Peter became engaged to Erin Swietlik - a fellow Denverite who, like Peter, migrated to Denver from the Midwest. We are looking forward to Erin's official entry to the family next June, when she and Peter will be married in Vail, Colorado.
Kate and I have spent a bit of time this year helping Peter and Erin with wedding planning. It's been fun to do a bit of nuptial planning along with them. We haven't been much help, but then again they don't need much help. We're excited about their wedding, but much more excited about what a wonderful couple they are.
Kate and I have also enjoyed several fun trips to Madison to see Madeline this year. We've even gotten to help a bit with home improvement projects she is undertaking at her new house. This year Madeline has learned the joys of a pressure washer. I think she enjoys it as much as I do. We also had a great time laying carpet tiles in her basement. Madeline recruited a quality squad of carpet installers, with our friend Dan leading the installation team. I think we did an excellent job and made a great team, although the three oldsters on the squad had a bit of trouble walking the next day.
For the first time in her many years of teaching in Madison, Madeline is teaching the same grade in the same classroom for the second year in a row. I am constantly amazed by how hard teachers work. The time, energy and even money that teachers like Madeline invest in the kids in her class gives me great hope for a better future.
I read recently that Facebook and other forms of social media (including holiday cards!), populated as they are by happy talk and photos of friends and others in rapturous enjoyment of their lives, are causing a phenomenon whereby we all feel a little less good or just plain bad about the fact that our own lives contain some problems and slow spots. Although Kate (like Mary Poppins) measures up as "practically perfect" and I am incredibly witty and urbane (hey, I live in a big city!), our lives are not always a romp in the park.
Our retirements have meant that we spend much more time together than we did during our working careers. One thing that helps us is that, like a couple of two year olds, we are really good at parallel play - most often with Kate in the kitchen and me in the family room. We can still communicate with one another if necessary. Often with responses of,"What, I couldn't hear you!" But we still have our moments of conflict. For example, once in a while Kate can get quite aggravated at her one-man "IT staff." And I can guarantee that her IT staff sometimes thinks that his "client' could try a bit harder to solve iPhone issues before staffing them out. For some odd reason in the last year we are both more given to yelling at the TV news than we were between January 20, 2009 and January 20, 2017. At least we don't yell at one another. We try to limit our daily television news intake to the excellent PBS NewsHour. However, the end of the NewsHour often leads to another form of parallel play, as Kate heads to the wine cellar and I to the liquor cabinet.
One aspect of our lives which is almost always a 'romp in the park' for us is our road trips together.
Once again this year Kate and I made our way to Florida with our pals Dan and Francine. A wonderful trip it was, including a visit with our friends Don and Phil at their condo in Fort Myers Beach.
And some great time in Cedar Key. The birds, sunsets, relative warmth, and slow pace of life are just great.
We are planning to return to Cedar Key for the month of February this year. It's a great place to "do nothing and rest afterwards."
We spent lots of great time this summer in the north woods, whether at our cabin, on bike rides, or (in my case) on canoe trips. We like the fact that we can plan our trips north to maximize our mid-week time there when it is even more quiet and peaceful.
Another highlight of our year was a fall trip to Colorado. We watched Peter participate in his first triathlon.
Erin got a kiss after the swimming segment. No time for a kiss for Kate as Peter headed for his bicycle. In addition to lots of time in Denver, we explored Vail, Fort Collins, Crested Butte and the Durango area, where we had a great time getting reacquainted with my cousin Bill and cousin-in-law Diana.
All in all it's been yet another excellent year for us. All the best to you and yours. Enjoy the holiday season and every season. We'll do the same.
Here's to a joyful 2018!
Stan (on behalf of Kate, Madeline and Peter - none of whom should be blamed in any way for the contents of this greeting)
(Note: Photos may be enlarged by clicking on them. Photo credits to SSB and OSL.)