Holiday 1996

As many of you know, last year we were faced with a dire situation. Because of the increased costs of postage and our desire to no longer contribute to the thoughtless destruction of our vital wood pulp farms, we made the decision to downsize the list of recipients of our year–end newsletter. We originally thought that this would prove to be an enormous problem, but it was surprisingly easy to trim the list to only those people we really like. For those of you lucky enough to have received last year’s letter, I am sure that you will agree is was perhaps the funniest, most moving, yet overwhelmingly endearing letter ever written within six months of the holiday season.

We are pleased to announce that this year we have decided to throw caution to the wind and include everyone. While we can’t promise a duplicate of the last year’s masterpiece (although, after all, a bit of judicious editing and few of you would have been the wiser), we firmly believe that you will be so genuinely happy to hear from us that the usual drivel should suffice.

So, did you miss us last year? We would like to say that we were so involved with school, work, sports, charity work, solving the problem of nuclear waste disposal, and running a national political campaign that we were just too busy to put electrons to paper and keep in touch. But the fact is that even we have our pride. After delaying the letter past Groundhog’s day and well into April, we were shamed into simply giving up and hoping no one would notice. Sad to say, we were right.

During that past two years we’ve led a relatively sedate life, similar to those profiled as that new demographic power group, soccer Moms (no gender bias intended). To highlight 1995, we took our first non–relative–destination family trip in December, visiting San Francisco and the Monterey Peninsula. The impetus for the trip was to show Alena the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but sightseeing and visits with friends in the city, as well as a stop along the 17 Mile Drive for Glenn and Danny to pay homage at the 18th hole at Pebble Beach, made a delightful trip for everyone in the family. Other bright spots included spending Christmas Eve with the La Porte’s (Anndy’s sister Dara and her family and in–laws) in Lafayette and seeing Toy Story on Christmas day in the great old Alhambra theater.

Speaking of Dara and Todd, we spent the most recent holidays visiting them in their new home in Delft, Holland. We had a marvelous time visiting the occasional museum and sites of interest that would be tolerated by the children and their cousins (Nathan and Ari). As many of you know, the entire European continent underwent a quite significant cold snap during that time, and we ended up freezing our…uh…Netherlands off. As the country has no shortage of water, we were able to go on a number skating expeditions. There is something charming about skating long straight picturesque distances rather than circling interminably and careening into the boards all the time.

Danny’s big achievement this year, while certainly not unexpected, was shocking (at least to some of us), in the speed with which it was attained: He is now officially taller than his mother, even when the “poofy hair” factor is figured in. Perhaps less biologically inevitable, Danny also became Bar Mitzvah this September. It was an absolutely lovely, meaningful ceremony as all of his family members were able to participate and he himself did a superlative job of running the service. If his father hadn’t embarrassingly choked on the emotional overload during his own short contribution, it would have been perfect.

In the secular world, Danny is in his last year of middle school where he is doing very well scholastically and has continued to explore further his interests in music and drama. He landed the part of “Sir Evelyn” in his school’s production of Cole Porter’s Anything Goes and was apparently chosen for his excellent imitation English accent, which he attributes to his long association with the works of those exemplars of British culture and refinement, Monty Python.

He also ended his Little League career with a bang, leading the league in slugging percentage, and being named to the All–Star team. As his agent, Glenn is considering offers from a number of local Babe Ruth teams, but may well go with some of the more flattering offers from Japan.

Alena achieved a major milestone this past summer when she went away for 7 weeks to overnight camp. While it was the same place where we have gone for family camp for the past 6 years (Wohelo on Sebago Lake in Maine), this was still a new experience which required some adjustments: Alena adapted marvelously – her parents slightly less well. All in all, though, it was a great adventure and it looks as though she will be going to Anndy’s old camp (Tanager Lodge in the Adirondacks) next summer with Nathan and Ari.

As fourth graders in Newton have the option of taking instrumental lessons through school, Alena took the opportunity to start drum lessons this year. A pair of drum sticks can prove an effective deterrent to marauding big brothers! Like her brother, she is still forced to play piano, and is doing so quite well in spite of her protestations.

On the sports scene, Alena continues to improve in baseball and soccer and was her team’s high scorer this fall in the latter. She is also on the community swim team and seems to especially enjoy the crawl and the breast stroke. Alena’s general attitude and demeanor can perhaps best be summed up by the question her current 4th grade teacher posed to Anndy, “Does Alena ever get bored?”

Glenn has had a pretty stressful year as the end of the previous 5–year grant cycle drew to a close. To make a long story short, he and his colleagues were eventually successful in getting the grant renewed. In the midst of the angst of the process, however, Glenn was able to enjoy some interesting business trips, including two trips to Italy (Capri and Tuscany) for scientific meetings. He continues to play basketball weakly [sic] and still maintains his whine collection.

Ann(dy) has been keeping busy planning and executing (sometimes bloodily) many of the aforementioned activities and events. Though initially dragged kicking and screaming into the electronic age, she’s become an e–mail junky and a slave to downloaded NY Times crossword puzzles. She is forced to tear herself away from her addictions for occasional appearances at the Harvard Museum where she is alleged still to work in the Education Department, the Arnold Arboretum where she works once a week with visiting school kids, Girl Scout meetings, PTO activities, teacher workshops at assorted venues, and her monthly book club where the participants have actually read the books!

Her annual escapes from responsibility took her to Bryce and Zion National Parks and environs in June of 1995, and last summer to North Cascades National Park. Even though fogeyhood is creeping in slowly, she still packs all the essentials (i.e. extra chocolate, real food, M&M’s, field guides, more chocolate, socks, Cote d’Or with almonds bars, and a good book) in her backpack and just reduces the daily mileage by a few.

We wish you all peace and a happy, healthy 1997!