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Christmas snowflake
JW Goossen Xmas Letter 2010

There has been only one Christmas - the rest are anniversaries. - W.J. Cameron

The Merriest of the Merry Christmas and Happiest of the Happy Hanukah to You and Yours from Me and the rest of the people who live in this house but can't really be claimed as mine because they are now all out of high school but not all out of my hair.

A long, long time ago, I can still remember when, seems like just a dream of brown eyes and things to come. And now here we are - the youngest a grade 12 graduate and the only nest getting emptier is the one on my head. And I stopped pulling on my hair years ago, they seem to know when to jump now.

Yes, here we are at the end of another year and yes, we do have another baby, another grandson - Ian Jacob Cornelsen - arrived in February without as much drama as Asher but with as much excitement. It's an even battle, two against two, but Rachel and Andrew seem to be holding their own. They even bought their own house. In Ladner. So Joan doesn't think we'll be going anywhere soon and I'm trying to convince them that you don't want to get outnumbered, look what happened to us. But somehow my advice isn't PC as usual. It's either Live and Learn or Watch and Wakeup. But isn't every life precious.

I'd dedicate this letter to Natalie because it ends here and she wasn't around when it started. But that would make the others mad because 'Hey, it's just not fair' but if life was fair we'd all be in hell (a quote I stole that puts grace in perspective for me). Grace is also Natalie's middle name or second name or last name depending on her mood. What a coincidence, if you believe in those sorts of things. Natalie, after years of drama classes, played major or leading roles in three plays in Grade 12. Now that's not just coincidence.

We made a pilgrimage to Joan's roots and celebrated her Dad's 80th birthday. It was a good time with family and friends. We got to stay in a barn on someone else's yard, but that doesn't mean Altona hasn't grown. They have a traffic light now. We ran it one night to see if the cop was awake. Apparently, yes.

In October we flew to Odessa and embarked on a cruise up the Dnieper to see the former Mennonite Colonies of Chortiza and Molotshna, where my parents were born. We were accompanied by my Mom and my Dad's sister Kay. It was amazing in many ways, more than I can express here. But if you want to see pictures I can bore you later. No extra charge.

Every time I think about age (which isn't that often, except when Joan reminds me) I just talk to one of the kids and laugh. They are stuck with Blackberrys and Joan and I have Androids (no that doesn't mean we use Preparation A). lol (according to the kids)

There is an unfair shift in the routine here. The kids are going on holidays without Joan and I. Bethany went to California to watch a couple of Canuck games and check out Disneyland. Even a shoot out win! It was cheaper than going to a game downtown. Although going downtown for a game can be fun as well.

Enjoyed having the Olympics in town. Saw a couple of events, if you call Curling an event. I guess it's probably the only one I can still try and qualify for since I gave up Luge after trying on the suit. Joan and Hannah took in the bronze medal women's hockey game and Hannah spent a lot of time downtown working with the City of Vancouver Olympic effort. So much time that she added on to her schooling, prolonging that wonderful experience (tongue firmly in cheek). Apparently, saying I liked the Olympics makes me a loser, even though I know they liked them as well.

Slow down my beating heart, Hannah and Tabitha will both get their degrees this year. At least according to them. Then what? Who knows. Que sera sera. At least they have good summer jobs, hanging around campus checking people out and in. I know its lame but at least I can still put a sentence together. Wait til next year when I start drooling. This worries Hannah because she's in training at Pinegrove (Adult Care Home) for when Joan and I start needing our laundry done every day.

Tabitha decided to celebrate her 21st birthday in Las Vegas. Her and Hannah and two (girl) friends drove to Seattle and flew to the city of Lost Wages because she wanted to feel 19 again. And I think I'm feeling old.

We are still making use of the cabin and both Bethany and Hannah went with their own group of friends. None of the neighbours commented on it so I assume all was fine. With Joan's sister Ruth (and Bruce) living in Kamloops we probably see them more now than when they were in Abbotsford

Hockey still fills Hannah's dance card, when she's not dancing. And Bethany decided to try making cupcakes for a living but determined her job working with autistic kids was more fulfilling. Tabitha has spent more time in her room this year studying than she used to spend at the gym. Occasionally she still stands on her bed and tries a back flip.

Natalie, after numerous auditions the past few years, landed a commercial. She got all made up in Goth. I was assuming (hoping) it was typical reverse type casting, which helps me sleep at night. The commercial will be shown in the US, so we are organizing a bus trip to Seattle in the new year. There's still have a few seats left, let me know.

Needless to say Joan is keeping quite busy, (the understatement of her life). Besides making scones and chairing the MCC Thrift Store committee, she has been looking after Asher and Ian at times and that will be more consistent in the new year as Rachel gets back to work part-time. Ian is starting to crawl and Asher is putting his thoughts together in sentences. He also (as a chip off the old block) recognized all of our cars - Opa car, Oma car, Bethy car, Tabby car, Hanny car - even if other people drive them.

As the kids (are they really still kids) get older, there is less and less to write about them (or is it they don't let me write it) that doesn't seem trite and cheesy (to them). Of course to me it's still what it is . . . my life (or a snapshot of it) in words if not pictures.

This is getting too long, so before I go shopping to get the elusive 'best gift ever', I contemplate more seriously the buy nothing Christmas because the consumerism is really getting to me on some mega level. Not that I am cheap, I did buy you each a goat (or really shares in one goat) but hey it's the feta cheese that counts. So whether you buy nothing or do something or have nothing to do I wish you all the best in this season of God's Word who was in the beginning and of who it is said "In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." Keep your eye on the light, it will lead you home.

So long and thanks for the fish…

John, Joan (still in the nest), Bethany (in the nest under duress), Hannah (visits the nest occasionally), Tabitha (stays in her corner of the nest), Natalie (wants to test her wings).

PS. Thanks for reading (and sometimes enjoying) these letters. They are an outlet for my holiday compression. Nothing like subtle passive aggressive humour to make you think that everything is fine. It is, really. (How's that for self reference worthy of Magritte - Who? I thought he was a painter. Well, put that in your pipe and smoke it) Word association at its finest. If only I could sing, I'd be a wrapper.

PPS. There are three plagerisms from previous letters. Bonus points if you can find them. Or maybe they all sound the same because you've heard it all before. Perhaps you should read Ecclesiastes. I do when I get that way. 'Bout one a month. (No, that's not what I mean).

PPPS. Just can't stop typing. All the best to everyone who reads this. My thoughts and prayers go out for you.

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