Pull out all the stops…

Henry stands guard over Ellen and Tim's Christmas tree. He's just a big - emphasis on big - loveable dog.

The front page photo the web folks foist on me is getting old fast.  It’s hardly symbolic of writing and it doesn’t denote the two inspirations for all the infernal letters.  So I’ll try to dredge up a relatively recent shot of Ellen and Reid – although Ellen’s beloved dog Henry seems to appear in most of what passes for visual art on these pages – to plant their mugs the front page.  Reid has some other ideas to spiff the appearance up, too, and he has carte blanche to pull out all the stops.

The kids have already opened their Christmas presents and put the items to use.  Since they both live in the frigid north, what packages they did get dealt with issues of warmth.

Here’s a letter from my first Christmas season in Charlotte.


December 25, 2006

You two: The one thing about your grandparents is that they are nothing if not adaptive and flexible.  We haven’t done a whole heck of a lot other than drive around (EB, we did go over to South Park Mall for a stroll) and we have seen all the sights and watched our share of TV.  And we have eaten.  Oh yes, man have we put the food away.  Ham, turkey, beef tenderloin, mashed potatoes and gravy (twice), cheese sandwiches, leftovers, ice cream, pancakes, scrambled eggs, more ice cream, chocolates, more leftovers.  I haven’t let grandma near the kitchen; heck for 45 years she’s done all the cooking and cleaning.  It’s her turn to sit tight for a while and let someone else do the heavy lifting.  That’s the least she deserves.  Be sure to ask them about the top quality paper napkins we’ve been using.  You’re better off wiping your mouth with toilet paper.  It’d be a whole lot sturdier.

Let’s be honest, I can’t wait for ’06 to go by the boards.  It’s been a long, rough year for everyone and my head is still spinning.  Is this all real?  Sometimes I wake up at night wondering where I am and how the hell did I get here.  I do like Charlotte a lot, but as I’ve told Betsy (Reid, you will absolutely love Betsy) I live here but it’s not my home.  Yet.  I am still in such a state of shock.  You two need to make sure you’re talking to your mom and your friends about all of this because it’s important to get it all out on the table rather than hold it in.  Don’t’ wear a red badge of courage.  Let it out.  This will be a tough time for a little while longer.

Hope you guys liked the presents your mom and I got you.  The quantity was sure down this year.  It seems to be you’re in a transition phase present-wise.  No longer do you get kids stuff; now you’re in the realm of adults because that’s what you are.  EB, I know it seems I’m fixated on cookware but hey, there was a bird in the hand and I grabbed it while the getting was good.  And Reid, if the shirts don’t fit or the ties seem funky, haul ‘em back to Joseph Bank.  There’s a store at 8487 Union Chapel Road in Indy and another in Carmel.  It won’t hurt my feelings.  I’ll pile on some stuff when you both get your sorry carcasses down here.  Why don’t you two conspire on some Thursday-through-Sunday dates that work for you.

After this last few days, there aren’t enough hours in the gym to get all this weight off.  I’ve worked out religiously while the folks were here but it isn’t enough.  I mean we have eaten like condemned men.  Went out for an hour walk yesterday and there’s something about going out for a jaunty stroll that clears your head.  It was raining a little bit and that made it all that much more mysterious.

I’ve been thinking about a dog.  Why is it that all single people have dogs?  Really, it would give me something to talk aloud to other than myself which I seem to be doing a lot of these days.  The one thing about having a mutt is that it would be a shut in virtually all day and I can’t let that happen to him/her.  That’s cruelty to animals.  But the girl next door hires a dog walker and maybe that’s the solution.  It’s either that or some fish.  Hey, why not goldfish?  I could always let ‘em go in the creek behind the house.

Also, I’m perilously close to talking dancing lessons.  Not that my dance partners would need steel toed shoes but it’s just something I want to take, like cooking classes.  Betsy is angling to get Bob and me to another round of cooking classes and that’s okay with me.  I feel particularly weak when it comes to sauces and the like; I can do meat and potatoes all day long but it’s the subtleties of finer cooking that escape me.  Trust me, when you guys come down we’ll let someone else do the cooking, such as at Il Porto; remember that place you and Tim and I ate at Cakes?  We’ll do that again.  That was fine dining at its finest.  And we won’t worry about fricking leftovers.

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