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Christmas snowflake
JW Goossen Xmas Letter 2008

Christmas Greetings to all our friends and relatives as we join together and seek the Peace on Earth (as well as the Peace for the Earth) that we so desperately need.

What year is it? What are we celebrating? Well you might think it's the year of the Rat or the Rooster. Or perhaps you want to join Chubby Checker and do the Kwanzaa or maybe you're happy about Hanukah. Put that all aside because around here it's the Year of the Ashman. Yes we are grandparents (Oma and Opa to be exact) as Rachel and Andrew had a (insert any superlative adjective you'd like) baby boy named Asher Hermann Cornelsen. Yes his name is Asher, not Ashman (sorry R and A, I shouldn't be giving out nicknames so early in his life but I doubt this will stick and I won't use it much -out loud). So all things aside, this has been a major event in the life of our whole family. He arrived after a bit of hard time put in by Rach, with Andrew and Joan monitoring the progress. Me, I just walked circles around my cell phone waiting to hear.

This past year started like any other one I suppose, because I can't actually remember that far back. Short-term memory loss and the beginning of old age. The past year started... Oops I think I already said that. Bethany has been working hard at school taking classes all three semesters and also putting in time at Linens-N-Things so she can pay for gas and Pumpkin Spice lattes, although that comes to an end shortly as LNT is going out of business. I don't believe this is our family's fault based on the number of items we bought during the year.

Hannah, hockey for exercise, ice cream for food and money and HKin (Human Kinetics or Kinesiology for the abbreviation challenged) to keep her mind active, although her German class seemed to get the best marks. What's that all about? Certainly not my genes.  Meanwhile Tabitha spent a good portion of the year in Kelowna at UBCO, also studying HKin. And both of them spent the summer working at UBC in the housing department which uses the dorms as rentable hotel rooms. They were paid well and worked all kinds of shifts. Other than Tabitha parking the car where a Swiss visitor decided to drive through it and Hannah being abducted by a member of the South American Lonely Hearts Club Band, the experience was enjoyable and uneventful.

If you recall from previous episodes (which can be seen on www.humanpilots.com), Natalie is a fan of the Depp's boy Johnny. Also Tim Burton but mainly by association. Things have taken a bit of a Wilde turn as she has become a Lady Windermere's Fan. Well not her fan actually. She will become Lady Windermere in this year's production at her high school. She now spends her time wandering around the house pronouncing simple words in the strangest way. She blames it on her dialect coach but I am afraid there might be an Englander in the house.

Joan spent an extra long weekend in Banff renewing and maintaining Physio acquaintances. A group of her friends that she graduated with 30 years ago got together for a reunion. Some she hadn't seen since she and her red Nova left Manitoba in a cloud of dust to find a job and save some lonely guy from a life of self-destructive depression. Instead we met and had 5 kids but that's more than I can fit in one envelope.

Looking back on this year's calendar and trying to find fodder for this years letter I realized that we have all been busy but we haven't spent a lot of time together as a family. Even many meals have been just Joan and I and maybe one or two extra plates rather than the usual seven plus that we had grown accustomed to. This means more leftovers for a longer time as Joan learns to adjust her cooking measurements. Even a week of the same dessert can be a bit much, although there are some that don't last more than a day or two. Or should that be a pound or two.

As for me, I've been building a few houses with my partner Henry. Some custom, some spec, some renos. We've been fortunate not to have something sitting at this time. The new year will be a new adventure, I'm sure for everyone. I tried to get a few of our trade to form a coalition to run things, so we could just sit back and tell them what wasn't working but no one bit.

These letters are getting harder to write and less funny as the no-longer-children continue to age and read things more closely and continually ask ''What did you mean by that?'. Of course I didn't mean anything and no that's not a joke unless someone laughs at it. But really I can't blame them, it's my own compulsion that pushes me to continue this drizzle, fo' shizzle my nizzle. Whattup Dog? Sorry, wrong iPod.

This is for all the lonely people...no that's a song by America and I didn't even like their music much after that nameless horse song. How about Tonight's the Night (which I listen to as I write), actually not tonight yet but perhaps you will read this on Christmas Eve and then it will be. We wish blessings for you all this Christmas Season. May your hearts be lifted, may you lift someone else's spirit, and may you feel the joy of family and friends or even strangers wherever you are, whomever you are with.

All the best from all of us - John, Joan, Bethany, Hannah, Tabitha, Natalie and

PS. I would have said 'and Natalie' but she's tired of being at the end of the line and being treated like a kid. After all she's got her learners now, which means I won't be able to hibernate this winter.

PPS. As the junior adults in our family find their own paths and opportunities and as new families appear, it's clear that organizing any sort of group togetherness for an extended period of time will just get more difficult, so this year our family is heading to Maui and spending our Christmas in the sun and sand. Why this matters I don't know but the kids wanted me to put it in there.

PPPS. Bethany likes the fact that her name is first, although all five, no actually six, well seven now (with Asher) are first in our hearts.


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