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Hello, you both,

I find it rather interesting that I, who profess to be a writer, am so tardy when it comes to keeping family I love up to date. Excuses I could come up with. After all, I do write fiction. This time I think I'll play it straight. I received your Xmas letter a couple of days ago and printed it out for H. She appears enthralled with the printed page. I can understand, as I am too.

I believe I'll address your letter piecemeal and we'll see where it goes.

The global economic crisis: We are handling it just fine. It is disturbing and the causes of it make me mad and we haven’t reached bottom, but it hasn’t touched us beyond paying more attention to the news and watching our intake and outgo more closely. H has a fairly secure job and makes enough that we can take vacations¾two this coming year¾one in January to Florida and the other in late February and into March to the Mexican Riviera, preplanned before the crash.

I do not say this to make either of you sad or jealous. H’s need to get away from what she does all the time, from the home she loves and the lovely neighborhood we live in is as real as any aspect of the global situation. I could be here and be content, but we are a couple and couples do for themselves that which maintains the dynamic.

I have my small pension and my small Social Security entitlement and whatever comes in at the beginning of the month is gone at the end. What I make maintains some of our household expenses and H absorbs the rest in about equal shares. We are careful enough and for flavor, impulsive enough, but we don’t gamble on the bases of our lives.

Christmas this year is leaner, but care has been factored into the giving, i.e. the minuscule grandkids will get stuff, but what do they know and what will they remember at 13 months and 11 months? I hand one a towel tube from a recently finished paper towel roll and he is as content as if I had given him something expensive, and I would, except that he would eat it. The other child is so mellow that you could stick him just about anywhere and he’d stay put, look around and be content. Of course, when he gets to be a teenager, all bets are off

Heard on the news this morning that your town still has a lot of people out of power from the ice storm. You are out of that mess, I expect. It’s too bad your step-daughter couldn’t attend her own birthday party, but looking for a job is an absolutely valid reason. Regarding J and B’s hurricane damage to their Florida home, they should be back home now, finally. They made the mistake of telling the contractor that he could go slow on the repairs and he did as they suggested. I expect you heard that.

Sorry you are both feeling the effects of age and infirmity. Nobody said it would be easy except that guy selling snake oil. I have my effects too, and so does H. Strange how that works; just like a watch, we all run down.

Family on my side? H and J are fine now. They came down with the Cruise ship flu (isn’t it the one they call the novovirus?) and H had her hands full. The bright side? She didn’t get it. J and S are having a somewhat difficult time of it. S lost his job and that makes it tough. We are helping from here and he does have his tree service, but it’s not paying the bills. They just got into their new place and the mortgage…well, you know. S and oldest daughter got the same flu but they’re about over it. The young one didn’t get it, which was good. H and I were exposed. H got it and I developed a bad cold instead, about a week ago. Everyone else is okay now but me. I’ll get there. Should have gotten the flu. Been over it now.

A week before Thanksgiving my son’s fiancée – although I find the term highly questionable – called and invited us over for dinner. I had to decline as the invitation came far too late. She made my son take the phone and once the ice was broken after seven years, three months and ten days (who’s counting) of hearing nothing, he spoke to me. The upshot? I decided to visit him and did so. We talked for half an hour and I left it with him that if he wanted to resume a relationship – actually it would be a new one after all this time – that he should call me. He has matured, still has the same laugh, had hair this time (last time I saw him he sported a shaved head) and was congenial enough. He claims his business is doing fine, even in this economy. It’s been over three weeks and I haven’t heard anything from him. I expect the silence to lengthen.

Your saga during the ice storm sounds interesting. Have you written your story about it? It is the most commonplace things like weather, taken out of context, that are most interesting to others.

That’s about it from here. I wanted this to be upbeat all the way, but reality seems to have crept in and that’s what we got.

Be well and if you can’t, get well.

Love, D and H

Note to all readers: Christmas letters abound. I seldom write them. I’m usually writing something else. Eight days before Christmas 2016, I found a rare Christmas letter and I was struck by the humanity I found in it. I’m leaving that in and culling names and places, and in the interests of privacy I won’t offer to my audience how much of the rest is embroidered, although it is largely true.

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