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CHRISTMAS LETTER. Once again, I've posted our Christmas letter on the Internet. It may not be as personal as holding it in your hand--but it's a lot prettier on the net!
'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS...
24 December 2004
...and all through the house, not a creature is stirring.
Not a creature is stirring (well, except Sheila).
This is the situation I envision when we hang our stockings by the chimney with care and toddle off to allow visions of sugarplums to dance in our heads: not a creature will be stirring when I wake up in the morning.
When Christmas morning arrives, I realized with a bit of a start, it will be the first Christmas morning in 38 years that Walt and I will be alone in the house.
There will be no whispers in the dark under the Christmas tree and giggles as the packages are shaken and guesses are made.
There will be no impatient little kids standing by the bedside at 5 a.m. asking when we're going to get up so they can open presents.
There will be no me sitting downstairs watching the clock wondering when our teen age children are going to drag themselves out of bed and join us so we can open gifts, or wondering when the adult children are going to walk through the front door for breakfast.
There will be no Vince or other foreign students at the Cuisinart squeezing a bazillion oranges for fresh juice for breakfast.
There will be no special holiday bread to pass out to the group.
There will be no group.
We will be alone on Christmas morning.
Jeri has gone off to Santa Barbara so she can spend some quality time with her Grandma Sykes and see Maravilla, the new retirement community to which she has moved. She will then drive up on Christmas morning with Tom and Laurel and be here sometime in the late afternoon.
Ned and Marta stopped coming by for breakfast several years ago, and especially now that they live in Sacramento it's not practical.
My mother, who has come up to be with us on Christmas Eve for the last couple of years has decided to stay home this year so she can go to Midnight Mass and then drive up on Christmas morning instead.
So when we get up and I squeeze fresh orange juice and fry bacon and fix eggs, it will be just for two of us.
We can't even open gifts from each other, since Walt already gave me my DVD/VCR player.
So we'll just have breakfast and then I'll start stuffing the turkey and getting the table set and eventually the family will all join us. But it's going to seem very strange.
Christmas Eve is also going to be a little different. Ever since Paul died, we have joined Marta's family for Christmas eve, for their traditional burrito dinner. It's always great fun, especially as Marta's stepsister now has young children.
Two years ago Marta's stepmother brought out kazoos and we all sat around playing the kazoo doing horrible renditions of all the Christmas carols.
We're still going to join the family for dinner, but we will miss the fun of having Jeri and my mother along with us.
And I guess there won't be the crowd to head out to the cemetery after dinner to bring flowers to Paul and Dave and stand around drinking Jim Beam and shiver and wonder what in the hell we're doing in the pitch black cemetery in the middle of the night.
Change is inevitable. People grow and traditions change, but it's always a shock to the system, and difficult to give up something special and move on to the next chapter.
It's a little sad, actually.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Not "the most beautiful tree ever,"