December 8, 2018
Dear Yuletide Revelers:
Some of you may be surprised to learn that we are still alive and well (sort of). I feel confident that my post-holiday decorating back pain will subside in time for me to suffer a reoccurrence while taking the stuff down. We do grunt, groan, and complain although our aches and pains are not expected to be fatal.
Tradition dictates that Christmas letters are for bragging about the accomplishments of one’s progeny spiced with little known facts about their superior intellect, physical prowess, good looks, and monumental achievements. However, in the spirit of the season, I have decided to forego such descriptions in order to spare you the painful envy of comparisons with your own brood. Consequently, I will only list their current vocational activities as follows in order of their ages:
- Sue (Pete’s wife) continues in her heroic struggle to help severely disabled children.
- Peter remains the star sales representative for Siffron.
- Jim (Trudy’s husband) does contract engineering work for a chemical company.
- Trudy is now reaching for the top rung of the ladder with Allergan.
- Maggie, is the outstanding international marketing director for Hurco.
- The grandkids as you might expect are also “well above average”, Emma as dietician in a large hospital, Simon an executive at a burgeoning start-up company, Carter a basketball coach at his alma mater Stonehill, Caroline with an academic scholarship at Indiana University and Sofia a straight A student and outstanding gymnast.
Those of you who are readers of my blog (there must be someone who is) are already acquainted with the exploits of our newest family member, Floyd the wonder dog. You may recall that on a few occasions his zeal for exploration has led him to lower car windows in order to leap out. His desire to meet new people motivated him to successfully eluded us more than once (we are not so speedy anymore). During such forays he has managed to gain entrance to several off-limits facilities including an IHOP restaurant, a grocery store, our local hospital, and the narthex of our church where he was escorted out in a rather unchristian like manner. In all the other cases he was greeted warmly (he does have a sparkling personality).
Our Thanksgiving, which the family spent at Trudy’s house was marred by tragedy which involved Floyd and Lucy, Trudy’s 18 yearold cat. Lucy had seen better days, but was nevertheless affectionate and Trudy’s favorite. She was a feline version of Helen Keller i.e. both deaf and blind with a moth-eaten appearance which was at first glance a bit off putting. Nevertheless, she was loved dearly and Trudy had found it difficult to make a decision to have her euthanized. In order to avoid gruesome details, I can only say that Floyd resolved Trudy’s ambivalence. Trudy’s devastation was made even worse because she was fond of Floyd. Needless to say, Floyd, although forgiven is now persona non grata at Trudy’s house (she has another cat). I am convinced that Floyd’s motives were pure and that his was an act of merciful euthanasia. I refuse to accept the premise that Floyd’s loving demeanor is simply an act to cover his true identity as a sadistic murderer. Yet there is the unsolved mystery of the possum and squirrel carcasses which appeared on our doorstep months ago.
Ah, but I digress for this is “the season to be jolly”, and certainly not a time to focus on morbid subjects. To that end, I need to mention the annual Smith family vacation of 2018 which is now archived along with 20 some previous ones (there is some disagreement as to the exact number) and I am happy to report that all survived. This year we rented a very well-appointed log house in the mountains of West Virginia, which even came equipped with a barn cat and a dog of undetermined lineage named Marley. We were told that Marley was a strictly outdoor dog however; he seemed quite comfortable hanging out in the house with the gang. This did present some logistical problems since Marley liked to swim in the pond.
Marley was also frequently visited by a German Shepherd neighbor who acted like a puppy even though he was about the size of Shetland pony, and sounded like one as he galloped through the house. In any event he seemed to like us well enough and became a permanent fixture while we were there. I initially called him Henry, but he soon became known by the less formal name Hank. He liked to join his buddy Marley in an occasional swim in the pond after which he neglected to clean the mud from his paws (I hope the owners never read this). To the kids’ credit (I know what you are thinking but they will always be kids to me) there was a final push to undo the damage and the place was left looking “as if it never even happened”.
As usual the time was much too short, but at this point finding even one week in which all could get together has become difficult. Last minute obligations eliminated Carter, and Maggie’s arrival was delayed 2 days as was Pete’s due to work pressures in both cases. The highlight of the week was undoubtedly white-water rafting from which I had graciously excused myself. Barb was able to check off one item from her bucket list as we spent a day at the Greenbriar, but the best time for me was simply sitting on the porch listening to the quiet which was only corrupted by a chorus of singing birds. I was disappointed to find the place well populated with functioning television sets, but was able to limit my addiction although; I did relapse on a couple of occasions. It seems even the boondocks are no longer safe from the ravages of Trump fatigue.
You have probably noticed that this letter violates the long-held Smith rule for brevity for which I apologize, but in case you made it this far please know that Barb and I wish you all the merriest of Christmases, or happiest of Hanukkahs and the best year of your life.
Love to all