Christmas Letter 2001

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Those of you that have not heard from us since our last Christmas letter (shame on us) will be pleased to hear that you have not missed much except that we have been bitten by mosquitoes many thousands of times in the past year.

Oh, Rachel reminds me that our first daughter was born, which was great news for the mosquitoes as Emma's young skin is soft and no match for their wretched proboscises. Yes gentle reader, we still live in Arkansas. A t this writing we are anxiously awaiting news as to weather or not we will be delivered next summer, or spend another year in the "Natural State" (for our city-folk friends, that is the motto of the great state of Arkansas). At times I'm struck by the appropriateness of that slogan, reminding me as it does of Rousseau's "state of nature," the brutish condition without law or morality that so well epitomizes both the scenery and the politics of Arkansas. Alright, it's not that bad; in the spirit of the season I should mention that the northern part of the state (i.e. the part we do not live in) is indeed beautiful. I suppose it is no accident that Pine Bluff Arsenal is generally not featured in the state's tourist propaganda. If you were deciding where to put a chemical weapons depot in your state "desolate mosquito-infested swamp" would probably strike you as a better spot than "verdant sportsman's paradise." But we're not bitter. Let's move on, shall we?

Emma, a quantum leap forward in Westhoff family dynamics, was born April 17th, breaking a three-boy streak. Her big brothers were overjoyed with the advent of their red-headed little sister, and have thus far been consummate good big brothers.

The pre-2001 members of our family have demonstrated steady and developmentally appropriate progress. Chase (2), our preschool Casanova, has discovered the full sentence and employs it masterfully in the seduction of teen-aged girls and middle-aged women alike; they seem powerless to resist his phonetic charms and boyish good looks. "Do you haf some tanny [candy]?" he asks coyly, prompting an immediate search of handbag or purse in a vain and misguided attempt to find something, anything to satisfy his insatiable appetite for things yummy. Oh, the humanity.

Our son Zachary (5) had a fantastic rookie season in the "under-6" local soccer league. At some point, I got the distinct impression that it would be good for my marriage if I "volunteered" to be his coach. It was a good thing I did, as Zach, while a loving and good-natured boy, possesses a native competitiveness which at times necessitates fatherly guidance (e.g. I had to eject him once for circumstances arising from an unfortunate disagreement with a "less-motivated" teammate). Last Christmas Santa (that loose cannon) bought…er, brought the boys a Nintendo video game machine. Mom and Dad, immediately recognizing Santa's poor judgment, imposed draconian restrictions on its use. Even so, "Nintendo days" are the highlight of Zach (and Dunn's) week. The rest of the week (a.k.a. "not Nintendo days") you can usually find Zachary running around the yard with a plastic sword on his back (absent a scabbard, he tucks it in his shirt) in imitation of his current digital hero "Link," of the video game "Zelda." He is, as they say, "all boy."

Dunnington (7), our second grader, has become an avid reader of chapter books, his favorite being the "Super Fudge" series: the life and times of a boy Dunn's age who happens to have an exasperating five year old little brother (see previous paragraph). Dunn is a real-life hero to Zachary, who refers to him as "Big Link." Zach is a kind of journeyman-apprentice to Dunn, a master of the Nintendo arts. Dunn is particularly happy to have Emma in the family as they have a closeness only the red-headed understand.

Rachel, already having done a top-notch job of giving birth to just about everyone in the family, continues to somehow keep track of whether or not Dunn has homework, when Emma is hungry, what Chase is up to, and where Zach is in mortal danger. As if that were not enough, she is additionally occupied with her new church calling as "Primary President," which for those of you not acquainted with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints means that she is charged with running our congregation's entire children's program. Please take a small moment to reflect on what that means and then call 870-536-1293 to show your admiration and support.

John has developed an obsessive dislike for mosquitoes and cannot seem to leave the subject alone. He was, in fact, bitten by one of the little parasites as late as December 5th! In any event, may 2002 find you well; Merry Christmas to you and yours!

John & Rachel Westhoff

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This page contains a single entry by John published on December 25, 2001 12:00 AM.

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