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The Guest
Refrigerator Door

I now have three from my CompuServe friend MGGM

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Becoming a Man:
Half a Life Story

Paul Monette

My Amazon wish list


Nothing tonight

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Just say "No" to the Salvation Army.

If anybody is looking for an alternative place to donate money this season, I'm not going to make a big pitch this year because you were all so incredibly generous last year, and I don't want to feel that I'm taking advantage of anybody, but Priscilla is again saddled with her 5 grandchildren, is being operated on for her rectal cancer on December 10, and all the resources for Christmas assistance have dried up.  Our family is  "adopting" her family this year, but if anybody would like to make a donation for her Christmas, it can be sent to

Breaking Barriers
1722 J St., Ste. 321
Sacramento, CA 95814

and be sure to say that it's for Priscilla, since they are working on finding Christmas assistance for a lot of people.

(I'm including the BB address because I'm uncomfortable that people might think I'm using the money for myself or something.)

That's it for today!



8 December 2001

You know, you think you have it all together and then you get blindsided again. I've done most of my Christmas shopping, all of it on line. This is going to be a low-key Christmas, since we're trying to pay off 2 trips to England, and the kids all have big expenses they're dealing with. It will be little gifts and a time to all be together.

So anyway, since I did a huge grocery shopping a couple of weeks ago, I haven't had to go into any store since December started, but we had come to the point where we were out of a lot of things, and so I stopped by Albertson's on my way home from Sacramento today.

All it took was 10 seconds in the store to get that ol' whomp in the stomach again. It all comes flooding back. Christmas. No David. No Paul. People you love, that you want with you at this holiday season, no longer here. Being as "merry" as you can, but "merriness," forever tainted.

I did my grocery shopping, glad that I didn't have to go out into the malls to actually go Christmas shopping, and I came home to hermit myself away from everybody else's joy. It's not that I'm not unhappy. I'm just not brimming over with holiday cheer at this particular moment.

So I decided to look at some Christmases in the past. I hauled out "How I Did It," the book I put together for the kids several years ago, where all of my old journal entries from the '60s and '70s are collected and I thought I'd share some of the better times:

1971: Most important to add to the archives of Sykes family history is the new addition to our family--Gloria. We decorated the tree on Saturday. Walt went out and bought a new manger scene (plastic, unbreakable, Thomas-proof). The scene includes the traditional angel with a scroll. This scroll, instead of saying Gloria in excelsis just says Gloria. Jeri immediately decided that was the angel's name, and so Gloria has become a part of the family. Every night, the kids say goodnight to Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and Gloria.

1972: It was not a good Christmas. It was a fantastic Christmas! It's all over now and the whole thing was just terrific. .... On Christmas Eve, the kids got into their Christmas pajamas and we took pictures, hung up stockings, and sat around the piano singing Christmas carols while Grandpa played. Even David got into the act by clapping and yelling....Jeri, Ned and Paul all wrote notes for Santa. They put out cookies and beer and everyone had to look up the chimney with the flashlight before going to bed....Christmas morning Paul was the one who was cute to watch. He was really excited about all his presents--especially what was in his stockings (crayons, candy, scotch tape, scissors, etc.) I had the tape recorder going and his voice stands out most of all.

Tom wasn't as excited about the presents as he was about the idea that Santa had really been there. He kept exclaiming over and over that Santa had eaten the cookies and drunk the beer. [note: Santa hates milk in our house, so the kids always left beer for him. I'm sure it made the rest of his tour around the world much more pleasant.]

After Christmas dinner, Jeri put on the play of "Cinderella" for us with her new "Stage a Show" set. Then Ned did a magician show. He's at his best when ad-libbing and not when trying to do real magic tricks.

1973: Jeri has really made some nice presents for Christmas. She really has such neat ideas. She made a pillow (which she made on the sewing machine and stuffed with styrofoam) for her doll. She sewed a cape for Action Jackson and made a superman puzzle out of heavy cardboard for Ned. She also has a whole raft of paper gifts which she's made over the past two weeks (I don't know what any of them is, except she did make a simple book of words for Paul--she had to check with me on what words he could read.)

Ned made a really neat oven out of cardboard for a present for Jeri. I was thrilled to see him do something so well and so unselfishly. I hope Jeri is sufficiently enthusiastic when she sees it on Christmas morning.

Christmas night, Ned decided he wanted to say his prayers. He knelt down (with Paul) by their bed and said "God is good, God is great, let us thank Him for our Christmas food." Paul responded with "that's the only prayer you know, isn't it Ned?" Paul asked Walt if God made us and when Walt answered "yes," Paul said "Thank you, God, for making us." That's an improvement. Our dinnertime prayers have all been "God, it's almost Christmas and Santa Claus will be coming to bring us presents."

1974: Everyone is making gifts this year too. There are a lot of books from Jeri and Ned under the tree. Jeri really put a lot of thought into the books she's made for her brothers--monster books for Ned and Paul, and a "guess what" book for David, where she draws a picture and cuts a tiny hole to see through to the next page and part of a photo cut from a magazine. For the rest of the family, we've gone through LOTS of macaroni. David and Tom did candleholders, candles in playdough stuck in cottage cheese lids and decorated with macaroni. Paul and Tom decorated kleenex boxes with macaroni and we will spray those too. Jeri embroidered little things for both Grandmas. One says "I love you" and has a heart on it. The other says "sweet as a kiss" and has a pair of lips on it.

1975: Poor Paul! His play was just terrific. They had a huge audience, used curtains for entrances, etc.--just like a real play. Paul's first scene, where he had the most lines, went very well. He remembered nearly all the lines, spoke loudly, etc. BUT the kids on stage at the end of the play rushed their lines and skipped over Paul's last entrance, which meant he didn't get to say his last two lines, one of which was his favorite. He was just heartbroken afterwards.

(I included that last story because it has become family lore. It was Paul's best friend Kag who stepped on Paul's lines and to the end of his life, Paul was still telling that story in his shows. I felt that retelling it here is kind of my Christmas gift to Paul!)

One Year Ago:
'Tis the Season
(interestingly, today's entry is not too terribly
different from a year ago!)

(Club Photo has started deleting
photo albums after 90 days,
so the photos which were once there,
have been removed now)

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