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Christmas snowflake
JW Goossen Xmas Letter 2006

Greetings to all and sundry, meaty, beaty, big and bouncy


Hey it’s pumpkin time again. Oops wrong holiday and certainly wrong Holy Day but we did learn in Church that Halloween was a Christian holiday and now we have judges in Ontario taking away a tree that wasn’t really our tradition to start with. What a political start to what should be a personal and non-partisan letter. Go Gerard. Oh, sorry that doesn’t show my leanings, just that I always root for the next best thing. Just like my 8-tracks and Sony Betamax (bet that went over the kids’ heads). That’s ok I’ll take the wins when I can, nothing gets past their eyes and noses. (You know it’s cool that they’re almost grown up and I can still get away with writing stuff like this). On to the letter…


But wait, I’m not done ranting yet. This is the beginning of the end, I don’t know what’s happening but life is not the same, this year of all years has had waaay to much change happening in it. I am over the hill and even running downward I can’t keep up with everything. Everything from Hannah turning 18 and then graduating (that’s 3 out of school folks, count ‘em and 4 driving since Tabitha got her N) to Natalie turning 14 and changing her obsession from Harry Potter to Johnny Depp. In between Tabitha got baptized, Bethany cleaned her room once and Rachel found a new place to hang her hat(s). And to top it off, Joan almost disappeared.


So as I drag you along in my reflections on the year, the biggest thing happening is that we have crossed the threshold where we have more children that are out of high school than are in. Even if they are still all attending post-secondary education it’s like we’re almost, oh what’s the word..free..no that sounds too positive…useless…no that’s not good either…seniors….no, no discounts yet…..mature…well I’ll take it, even if it doesn’t fit.


Just so this isn’t all about us...how are you doing? We hope that you have had a good year. Please visit our website www.humanpilots.com and drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you. You will find some pictures there but no blog. This letter is my one and only annual blog.


The nest is a little bit emptier since Rachel ran away from home. Well she didn’t actually run, she had a bunch of other people carry stuff for her. It wasn’t exactly a quick getaway but she made it complete by the end of September. Finally, after her intense longing, Rachel has her own place (which she shares with Karla, a Manitoba runaway).


Andrew, Rachel’s boyfriend, helped fix up her suite and after putting in that much time and effort they decided to protect each other’s investments and within two months they got engaged. Now I am being forced to watch a bunch of wedding movies, the best of which so far has been Young Frankinstein.


Natalie is at the age where she is still pursuing acting and acting out. Her focus this year was Shakespeare – playing both a witch in Macbeth and a faerie in A Mid Summer Nights Dream. She still practices both roles at home, as well as honing her sense of humour (and patience) while we eat.


Tabitha has taken her longest and farthest trip yet. She spent 12 days in China with some members from her gymnastics team – training, seeing the main sites, traveling off the beaten track, eating nothing but local food and bargaining in the local markets. Tab continues doing 16 hours a week of gym and coaching young gymasts on Saturdays.


Hannah did graduate, although given how hard university is she’s not sure she should have. That said, I think she is enjoying it nonetheless. Hannah has also had the opportunity to be gone for a couple of weekends…babysitting…dogs. She puts up with the dogs just to get away and then when she’s back she puts up with us and pines for the dogs. She also found a hockey team to play for called the Delta Jets (that’s a name based on some old WHA team). An added family bonus was her job at Sara’s Ice Cream.


Bethany has been working (schooling) hard at Kwantlen. So much so that she’s taking courses in the summer just to get through as soon as she can. What’s her goal – teaching at school….so what’s the rush? On the top of that she’s still babysitting, just some special cases that she really likes and gets to do it for weekends or longer. It’s her way of getting out of the house. In between everything else Bethany’s had three jobs and decided to stick with the one (but I can’t mention where). Every time I go see her I see things from our house, or is it the other way around.


Joan and I have done the usual this year. Make sure things are organized, feed the kids, drive them everywhere, volunteer at the MCC Thrift store and Ten Thousand Villages, etc. Actually that’s all Joan. I haven’t done much, even though I’ve only been semi-self-employed but highlights include spending a week in Louisiana on an MDS (Mennonite Disaster Service) assignment and Joan and I going to Tampa for the MEDA conference. The world is so unbalanced and I believe these groups are making a difference.


I have noticed that choosing Christmas presents are easier and harder. Now that the kids can read and count, the number and size of boxes does not seem to be an issue for (most of) them. Equality is measured by totaling the lowest advertised sale price regardless of where we actually shopped. And one of them is waiting for me to bring home the goat that I bought for them.


Wildlife was more plentiful at the cabin and we saw some animals (deer and bear) as well. We didn’t get up there quite as much this year as we were adding on to it but it has more room now and should be more active in the coming year.


Joan and I are still dating, though now we watch TV shows together even if we have to keep the lights on. This years shows are Numb3rs and Studio 60, and Joan still watches Gilmore Girls even if I am boycotting it. This becoming in-laws thing is a bit strange to contemplate; it’s like gaining and losing at the same time.


There’s always more that could be said and the kids’ think I say too much as it is. In any case, take your own moment of silence to think about yourself and the world situation and be thankful for what we have and try and help someone who doesn’t have it quite so good. The message is brought anew each year – the Prince of Peace has come to bring good news to the poor and asks us to love our neighbour as ourselves.


To all of you we wish Love and Peace, now and forever, this world and the next,


John, Joan, Rachel & Andrew1, Bethany, Hannah, Tabitha and Natalie


PS. The kids want you to know that they only let me think I can get away with this. Of course, I only let them think they are reading what I intend to send out.


PPS. After letting the kids read the letter I got the follow comments – my paragraph is too short but don’t add anything, it’s not as funny as it usually is, promise you won’t say that, don’t say that about me and that about sums it up. Needless to say nothing was changed.


1This footnote is for the one person who enjoyed that format last year and is here to remind me that this is the last year I include Rachel and Andrew in the signature of this letter because I am only writing a letter for this household and I am trying to quit this letter writing because I don’t like the production stress it brings and I have a hard enough time finding something to say each year but then again, I don’t want that to be encouragement to the other girls to move out and get engaged (yet) but maybe I’ll feel that way soon so I guess I will keep writing for a bit longer, it will keep the paper recyclers in business anyway.


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