Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas to All

From our house to yours

There was another thundering jeremiad against Christmas letters in last Sunday’s Chicago Tribune. Don’t use the “I” word; don’t go over one page because your life isn’t worth more than 500 words; don’t brag incessantly about how bright your kids are or how many five star hotels have hosted you on your multiple round-the-world travels. In spite of those admonitions my name is “Perseverance.” So don’t read what follows if you don’t want to, but I will warn you, that somewhere in the midst of the story about my nephew’s rise to the papacy (which is quite an accomplishment since he is not even Catholic) I will mention the names and addresses of some people who do write crummy Christmas letters. If you want to know if your letter made the list, you will have to read this missive to the bitter end.

Now we plunge on into the ever so different world that we seem to be living in. How do I know it is a different world? I know because some anonymous wordsmiths on the internet told me that: YOU KNOW YOU ARE LIVING IN A DIFFERENT WORLD WHEN:

You accidentally enter your password on the microwave.
You haven't played solitaire with real cards in years.
You have a list of 15 phone numbers to reach your family of three.
You leave the house without your cell phone (which you didn't have the first sixty years of your life) and immediately have a panic attack. You are doubly a slave to that new world if you go back and get it. Or if you get up in the morning and go on-line before getting your coffee. Ouch! That one hurts.

In spite of the need to pay constant attention to the ever encroaching cyber-world, we did take a few trips last year. In February we visited Mexico’s Copper Canyon with a most congenial Elderhostel group. It included a magnificent train ride up into the mountains and a stay at a fairy tale hotel virtually clinging to the side of the canyon.

The Copper Canyon is the true Grand Canyon of North America as it is deeper and longer than that piker in Arizona.

A summer trip took us down the Mississippi to New Orleans for the convention of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education. On the way we managed stops in Cahokia Mounds, Natchez, and Vicksburg. The Big Easy was the runaway hit. In spite of the still all too visible hurricane heartache, it charms the socks off you with its music, architecture, and especially the food. Yum, yum! Gumbo come!

Our final big trip was a truly satisfying week in London over Thanksgiving. We took TJ (our eleven year old grandson) and his mom (daughter Amy) along.

(TJ looking down from a London Eye capsule)

TJ had never even flown before and Amy had not been back to London since she was thirteen in 1980. What a joy to share this experience and to collect their hugs and smiles and thanks. We’ve never quite understood folks who send their heirs on trips after they’re gone.

Beyond that we seem to do pretty much the same things. We played a lot of golf badly on our local course. We like to go out early and walk nine holes, then go down to the local library to read the paper and see what’s new with the changing contingent of friends who wander in and by. Since Jan is still on the library board (though no longer president), she can check in on how things are going. I usually pop over to the Buchanan Center for the Arts next door, and do my own checking. Buchanan has needed a lot of attention in the last few months as we lost our Executive director to a sudden and fatal heart attack at the end of September. He was just fifty four years old and it caused me to reflect on the eleven years of grace I have had since my own heart surgery in 1995.

Again no real changes on the family side of the equation. Amy and Todd are still in the Cedar Rapids, IA area and TJ is in the 6th grade and Mikel in kindergarten. David remains in Minneapolis working for Honeywell (He’ll be joining us for Christmas) and claims that his music site ( ) is pretty much running itself now days. He has taken more interest in drama and has been introducing some play reviews to the site.

Here are a few quick hits to finish this off. Our good friend Stacy Cordery of Monmouth College’s history department has published an extremely well reviewed biography of Alice Roosevelt Longworth titled Alice. We recommend it to you highly. We also had a nice visit with a Monmouth College graduate and well known children’s book author Jane Kurtz. She has been working on book projects for Ethiopian children and Jan was successful in getting a local church to contribute. Our son David has edited a book titled The Runes: A Human Journey for a friend of his named Kari Tauring. Seems as though this may be the Chinese “Year of the Book” as everything seems to be related to reading. One final recommendation would be Tom Brokaw’s Boom!. It parallels our lives and provides a fascinating journey through the events that made us and our country the place it is today.

It also prompts me to hope in the words of my two favorite angels, Hark and Harold, that there may still be “peace on earth and mercy mild” someplace in our future. With a bit of luck one of those places will be in your home and with your family. We wish you a joyous holiday season and
truthfully we like nothing better than to read your notes and Christmas letters as they arrive. Whether they recount trials, tribulations, or triumphs, they are the cords that tie us together. They narrow the distance between us, they make us smile, and they make us think of you.

(Oxford Street in London Nov. 2007 Taken from the top of a double-decker bus)

With love and peace,
Jim and Jan De Young

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