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Christmas snowflake
JW Goossen Xmas Letter 2003

Christmas Letter 2003

Yo! and Greetings to those whom we maintain contact with in the vast and glorious universe,

This year's letter is late as I waited for inspiration and my kids to kick me in the butt and get it going. Bethany committed to write it but jammed after seating it out for a day…so I'll give it a go. I am reluctant to keep this up, as last week I heard two talk show hosts blather on about how annoying Christmas letters are and how everyone pretends their lives are perfect and just brags about everything. And I couldn't even remember them being on our list. So…for those of you who figure this is one level lower than spam (because the only thing worse than spam is getting junk mail or fruitcakes from someone you know) you might as was well stop reading now. Hope you like the card (because my kids are brilliant, life is wonderful and it never rains in Vancouver).

Now for the rest of the story…this year has had its usual twists and turns, ups and downs, hills and valleys, insert ying and yang of your choice. It began with the ever-present anticipation of Rachel's graduation from High School. What to wear, what to study, what to do next year and what about my coffee! Of course she made it through in fine form. Graduated, left home to spend the summer at Camp Squeah. Working in the kitchen of all things … this was a new experience for her (experiencing work and kitchen at the same time).

Bethany decided to become an interior decorator this year. Her first 'Trading Spaces' project turned out to be Hannah's room. While Hannah was at camp, Bethany emptied her room and changed the colour from dark blue/light blue to blood red/sand beige. Hannah was not the least bit perturbed. She just asked for matching sheets and blanket and went to bed. No one switched rooms. The next project is the playroom but this time Bethany just wants to pick the colours and hire the painters. Go for it Picasso. Bethany's passion for scrapbooking has been noted previously and this year she's taking Journalism which gives her a chance to take a leadership roll in designing and producing the school annual. Finally a course she can relate to. To quote: 'How does math relate to anything I'll do in the future?' I guess you could count the pages in the annual.

Hannah had a good first hockey year. After an intense playoff run, that included a last minute winning goal, an overtime, a shoot out and a disputed final game that had to be replayed, they won their division. Exciting stuff. She's at it again. Still enjoying it. More than ever. Hannah rekindled her musical gene (the one from her Mom's side of the family) and rejoined the school band to play the flute.

For Tabitha the year has been boring. It's a teenage state of mind. And Tabitha minds everything, except her Ps and Qs. (that'll make her wonder). Tabitha's gym has been going well, she placed 1st all around in a couple of competitions but her elbow is giving her trouble and we'll see if she continues after this year. She is becoming a full-fledged mall rat. Her and bosom buddy Krystal spend more time at the mall trying on clothes than they do in front of the mirror. We've had calls from Old Navy and Below the Belt that they want to start charging us rent. Tabitha also re-arranged her room, which meant taking the clothes off the floor and moving an air filled couch from one wall to the next.

This summer we got to go to Hawaii. Joan and I through the generosity of my work. The kids through the generosity of my paycheck. Everyone had a great time - tanned, took a bus tour, went shopping, learnt German, tried snorkeling - but all agreed it was too short and that perhaps we should move there or at least go back once more.

After a winter of soccer and finally scoring a goal, Natalie gave baseball a shot this year and after trying a number of positions finally settled on catcher as the one that she enjoys. She also got one home run but Bethany would like me to point out she had 10 one year and I didn't write about that. So sue me. Natalie is still working on her comedy routine (and it always seems work related). This year when I told her I was going on a business trip, she said 'But won't you miss work, Dad'. I told her I'd try.

In late January, our nephew Andrew came to live with us. He joined the girls at their school, which gave us one kid in each grade. I like to mention that because I thought it was cool but all I got was strange looks. And none of this seems strange to the kids. Andrew spent the spring earning money as an Ump and the summer purifying water and then even though he had no money left, he bought himself a car. Now he sits in it and pretends he's driving a Falcon.

I never realized how good it is to not be in high school until I started helping the kids with their homework. I have passed these courses once (30 years ago to be exact - had my reunion this year) and I don't want to do them again. They haven't gotten any easier. So you tell me which variable indicates the direction of the opening of the parabola or how the Egyptians mummified their chickens? See…it's not that easy. And pass on the chicken project; it's probably easier to build a pyramid out of sugar cubes.

Rachel has been enrolled in the CMU Outtatown Program (www.outtatown.com) which involves three month of intensive personal development before Christmas and then after Christmas her group goes to South Africa for 3 months. In the between period she's back home to reclaim her room. She's also taken up knitting, although as far as I know she's not expecting any grandchildren. Her boyfriend Andrew came over and moped around just so that we would know he missed her as well.

Having the kids learn to drive seems to take on a larger proportion of time than even school homework. Rachel got out of the N stage. Bethany is fully into it and Andrew got his L and a car to boot and Hannah's expecting to get her L in January. The effect of driving with the kids seems to negate any of the positive effects of taking Prozac. Oh well, there's still herbal tea and some old Neil Young if I need to calm down. When the kids were younger it seemed like herding cats, now it seems more like running a train station. Who's going where? When do they have to be there? Pick up at this time, drop off then. And if the train's on time I can get to work by nine.

Joan's health situation is looking good. The scans are all clear and she's been actively going to the gym. That leaves me as the weakest one in the family, although I've successfully held that position for sometime. To fill in the rest of her time, she has volunteered at the MCC Store, Ten Thousand Villages, Natalie's school's library and just driving where the kids want to go. So time is at a premium, but time isn't worth anything if you don't spend what you have. I'm starting to borrow time but I'm not sure I can make the payments.

We wish you a safe and peaceful Christmas and hope that the Spirit of the Season that comes to us as a helpless child will fill your hearts with the love and hope that was foretold and is still lived out today. Let us all go and do something good for someone else. It could make all the difference.


John, Joan, Rachel, Bethany, Hannah, Tabitha, Natalie and Andrew.

P.S. To check out the new family picture, go to www.humanpilots.com.

P.P.S. Thanks for reading this far. You are a true friend, or perhaps you are someone who just reads the PS because that's where the good stuff is. Sorry, no special offers here but for $19.95 and a photo of your family I'll mention you in next year's letter.

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