Christmas 199?

The answer is...........BOTH.

The question is............No, NOT is the glass half empty or half full, but ......Is this letter late or early???

Norman did have an IDEA for a letter back in December, a really easy one--a "Best of...." letter that would simply reprint appropriate paragraphs from previous letters. For example, from the Christmas 1992 letter:

We decided to take a simple vacation in May this year, going off to Paris and renting a flat for two weeks, and basically just hanging out in that pleasant place, with some intriguing museum visits, a sunny day at the races, fresh produce from the thrice-weekly roving market in Place Maubert, and some very tasty restaurant meals. [Details wouldn't be quite the same, of course, since we went to the "flat" racing at Longchamp rather than the steeplechase course at Auteuil (not nearly as much fun), and the flat was in a late 19th century building in the 16th arrondissement rather than a 17th century building in the 5th....]

And then there would have been this one, from Christmas 1994:

Finished the summer by once again joining Melissa, Rob, and the grandchildren at a very special hilltop "cottage" overlooking Beebe Pond in Vermont. Eric and Sarah were able to join us part of the time. Enjoyed a visit to the Shelburne Museum, in addition to sunning and swimming and some serious walking (for Norman). [Again, a few details would need to be altered; the weather wasn't all that great, so there wasn't that much sunning, and the day trip was over to the east side of the state so Mary and Melissa could visit the Simon Pearce factory and store....]

And we probably would have concluded with this paragraph, from Christmas 1995:

Looking forward to having everyone except Eric--he has to work--here to celebrate Christmas; Melissa and Rob and Susannah and Ian will be able to be here the whole week, with Paul & Nor and Sarah only managing shorter visits. [Actually, at 11:45 p.m. Christmas Eve, while finishing up supper clean-up, I looked out the dining-room window at a car in the driveway that turned out to be a cab, from which Eric emerged, a total surprise to everyone except Nor, who had found him a cheap flight on the Internet, so for 18 hours the ten of us were here together for the first time in three years. Actually, very briefly we were eleven, as Sarah's friend Ron made the same sort of quick visit as Eric.]

So, you get the idea. We also did our usual Washington/NYC visit at mid-winter-semester-break in early March. Not that we didn't also do one or two unusual things: a week in Washington in June to take care of grandkids while Melissa and Rob vacationed, and Mary both arranged a weekend reunion for 10 fellow high school social club buddies and also visited high school friends in Los Angeles and San Diego (her first visit to the West Coast). And we're starting out '98 with a mid-term break not to the East but to the Far East--i.e., eight days in Beijing thanks to a NorthWest Airlines "cyber fare" deal.

Incidentally, you may be wondering about the beginning of this letter. One thing that WAS different about 1997 was a letter from the Provost in December--I will in fact be on sabbatical leave 9/98 to 6/99. We're not at all sure about where we'll be or for how long, except that we're planning on not being here, and this therefore may well be our Christmas letter for 1998!

Hoping that most goes well for you and yours......

norman.carlson@wmich.edu http://vms.cc.wmich.edu/~carlsonn [note double "nn"]

PS from Mary: Norman may be hoping that he's getting away with one letter for two, but I know that in order to receive your news we need to send ours. And besides, since I plan to retire from gainful employment, I'll have lots more time for correspondence....Right??? RIGHT!!! (We will of course have forwarding arrangements for mail and will be looking forward to hearing from you.)

Also available: 1996 Edition and 1995 Edition of this "annual" letter.

Your comments and suggestions are appreciated: Norm Carlson

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