Christmas Letter 2003

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“It is December 19th, and yes, that is a bit late to be writing a Christmas letter. Those less affected by holiday cheer might have thrown their hands up by now and admitted defeat. But I, being filled with perennial mirth (and having years of experience with procrastination), am not the least bit intimidated by the fact that some of you may very well receive this letter post-Christmas. So all pretense of celerity be darned—a very Merry Christmas in any case I say, and such associated well wishing as may be appropriate to you and yours, given your respective affiliations, etc, etc.”

Adapted from a draft of the never-finished “Westhoff Family Christmas Letter 2002”

Click on image to enlarge!

Dear Friends & Family,

I assure you, friends that you are not on our naughty list. The list of those not receiving a Christmas letter from us last year is long and prestigious and includes all of our friends and family. Indeed, there was no 2002 Christmas letter, but as the preamble to this year’s letter attests, it was not for lack of effort. Okay, it was—but let us move on shall we?

Pine Bluff, Arkansas is an otherworldly memory for us now, though oddly enough we find ourselves missing the charming little mosquito infested swamp from time to time. We have relocated to Puyallup, Washington, about half an hour from Lacey, the town we left to go to Arkansas three years ago. Puyallup is strategically located so as to be as close to Mount Rainier as possible without making the commute to work unbearable. I am a resident in the combined Army/UW Emergency Medicine residency program here and as such spend about half my time in Seattle and the other half at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma. It is good to be back in training, though we do miss the free time I had with the family in Arkansas.

Rachel left behind the weighty responsibility of running our Church’s children’s program in Pine Bluff only to take on the same job just a few months after we got here (i.e., the “Primary President”—you Protestant types might call the position “Head of Children’s Ministry,” while those of you lacking a theological bent might refer to it as “insane.”) The job here was a bit trickier as it involved responsibility for the religious pedagogy of about 100 kids, as opposed to the 20 or so that attended in Pine Bluff. In any event, Luke was born August 28th and our Bishop, no doubt overcome with pity at the thought of a pregnant woman with four kids and mostly-absent husband being saddled with such a duty, released her—though she was promptly asked to head up the Webelos den.

For those of you that have lost track, the birth of Luke Laurin Westhoff this year was indeed number five. Luke is practically perfect in every way of course, though being a boy with brown hair he is an unprecedented repeat--heretofore each of our offspring brought either a new hair color or gender to our home: red, blonde, brown, girl...we were sure Luke would come out with a curly black coif. In any event, Chase is quite tickled to have another brunette around. Other than that, Luke is still in that "adorable blob" stage of life, look for details in next year's letter about his emerging personality.

Emma lives up to all of the stereotypes of a red-headed girl (i.e. whirlwind). A precocious talker before she turned two, she gets out of trouble just as easily as she gets into it: "I'm sorry Daddy, I'll never do it again." She's even been known to send herself to her room before we figure out what she is in trouble for. Far from being a tomboy, Emma loves to assert her girlness. Even surrounded by toy guns and swords, she is archetypal girly-girl, a lover of all things pink and frilly. I have already given into the fact that she will ever have her dad wrapped around her little finger. It is up to her mother to see that Emma is not spoiled completely rotten.

Chase will be five next month, starting kindergarten next fall. Chase is, in his own word "shy." He reminds me very much of the pathologic introversion that I remember having in my younger years. This year I intend to teach him how to ski, I'm considering forking over the cash to have him take lessons but I wonder how he'll take to a strange instructor as he completely decompensates when he has a substitute Sunday school teacher. Lately he has developed a knack for spelling little words like "box," and "fox" (and extra "sox"--all part of the Dr. Seuss canon of three letter words). He would be delighted if any of you were to call and ask him to spell something for you.

Zachary started first grade this year. At the beginning of the year he took a reading test which ranked him as roughly the equivalent of a third grader at the end of the school year. This led to an emotional break down on the part of Dunn who tearfully exclaimed "Zach's a better reader than me!!!" That of course is not true--yet anyway, as Dunn is himself an excellent reader. I think it was just disconcerting for Dunn to watch Zach go from illiterate to prodigy in under a year. Zach's appetite for the written word is exceeded only by his appetite for dessert. If there ever comes a time when he does not ask for second or third helpings I will take him directly to the hospital.

Dunnington is getting old. He will turn ten next March. It amazes me that he has already reached the halfway point of his time at home with us. Already I am starting to look forward with trepidation to his leaving. In the mean time anyway, we intend to have some adventures. This year we got Dunn a passport in preparation for a trip he and I are planning to Japan this spring. A friend of mine from med school is stationed there with the Air Force and will be graciously hosting us for a week or two.

Rachel and I celebrated our ten year anniversary this year with a trip to San Diego. Every year we've been married has been better than the one before it, and we are constantly commenting to each other how wonderfully we've been blessed this past decade. As for the future, we will spend another year and a half in Washington finishing residency and then hope to swing an assignment at Ft. Leonard Wood Missouri, where my Mom and Dad are currently stationed. While it is not my favorite part of the world, we cannot pass up the opportunity to live next to Grandma and Grandpa for a couple of years, even if it is in the middle of nowhere, as the urbanites love to say. We do intend to take full advantage of what the Ozarks have to offer--passing the time canoeing, waterskiing, camping, hiking, and perhaps even killing defenseless animals with firearms (sorry Aunt Betty).

Merry Christmas to all!

For those of you haunted by the Spirit of Christmas Past, feel free to amuse yourselves with our Christmas letters from 1996, 1998, 2000, and 2001.


Thoroughly enjoyed your Christmas letter! Can't wait to see you all next month! Have a great Christmas - love and kisses to you all! Grandma XOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Read it. Loved it. Merry Christmas.

I read your 2003 Christmas letter with great interest and chuckled a lot. It covered things well so I learned a lot about your life that I didn't know. I received it Christmas Eve so you timed it just right.
Love Always,
Auntie Erma

I loved your update - congratulations on your newest addition. Let us know the next time you're in Manti. Brynn just moved to Spring City, and we'd love to come visit both of you!


Congrats on little Luke! Your family is growing up so fast, it is hard to believe how long it has been since we saw you. Glad we have kept in touch and good to see you haven't broken yourself of dressing them all in navy or gray! Miss you bunches!

Melissa, Ben and Dominik Lipari

Rachel, John, and kids,
Good to hear how you are and where you are. Let us know if you're ever in Folsom...
Merry Christmas.

I served my young mission in the Central States with headquarters in Independence, MO.
I was basically in the 'banana belt' of that mission which included Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and the southern part of MO. We had no air conditioning and plenty of chiggars. The place is beautiful - the Ozarks and all that goes with them are great. If your home as A/C and your lawn is chiggar-free we shall look forward to your getting your wish. Loved the letter. Love you all.

What gifted writers you both are! Let us know if you manage to come back to Ft Leonard Wood...we can meet in St. Louis!

Your children are all beautiful, and obviously, they come by it naturally. :)

Leigh Lindsey

Your letter was so fun! From the picture, Luke looks huge, and Chase looks like he has stretched out and is more slender! Mom is coming up there in January? She is coming here also. Sure do miss you. Did you send me the 5K race registration yet and I just missed it-very likely. Love, bec

Hi John. Good to hear from you. You have a beautiful family and I'm so happy for you. I am still in Oklahoma with my husband of 10 years. Our son, William, is 8 and in the 3rd grade. Elizabeth is 4 and is a preschooler. I have taken a year and a half break from teaching but I am going back to work in January as a 1st grade teacher. Things are going well. My brother, Steve, got married this year. He lives close to us. My parents still live in Lawton and we see them often. Have a great new year. Good to hear from you. -Sara (Clayton) Harjo

Dear Johnny, Ray, Dunn, Luke, Emma, Chase and Zach: This New Year, the Ozarks will never be the same. As the Westhoff's invade, you will be shocked to learn that 2 other Westhoff families live here and they are wonderful, smart and well respected. Whew. Of course we are related, and it causes one to wonder about the Genius of Fredick Westhoff who is the common Great Great GrandFather. Kenneth kept telling me how great his new assistant was. Cute, smart and very nice. Shock. As it turns out, she is a cousin, and her name is Geri Westhoff. If you take 20 years off of me, make me weigh 113, and add long blonde hair, we look just alike. I can definately see the family resembliance. She is a Vegitarian too.
It will be great to have more Westhoff's in the Ozarks. It will bring up the I.Q ratio. Love, Aunt Betty

Hey, Dunn you are Really in for a good time in Japan. Tell me all about it when you get back. If you move to Missouri then you guys will only be 8 hours from our house and we could visit you more. Your dad said you're getting old, and if YOU'RE getting old what does that make ME, Uncle John?
Love you guys hope to see you soon!

Hello Rachel, John & Crew-
I love your x-mas picture. OhLuke is adorable & my Emma has gotten so big I cannot stand it !!!!! She is beautiful !
Sorry it has taken so long to write a comment. Bruce & I spent our holidays in CT Dec 23-Jan 3rd with our family. It was wonderful. I will E-mail you & catch up. We miss you guys !
Jennifer :)

Hello Rachel, John & Crew-
I love your x-mas picture. OhLuke is adorable & my Emma has gotten so big I cannot stand it !!!!! She is beautiful !
Sorry it has taken so long to write a comment. Bruce & I spent our holidays in CT Dec 23-Jan 3rd with our family. It was wonderful. I will E-mail you & catch up. We miss you guys !
Jennifer :)

Hello Rachel, John & Crew-
I love your x-mas picture. OhLuke is adorable & my Emma has gotten so big I cannot stand it !!!!! She is beautiful !
Sorry it has taken so long to write a comment. Bruce & I spent our holidays in CT Dec 23-Jan 3rd with our family. It was wonderful. I will E-mail you & catch up. We miss you guys !
Jennifer :)

Hey John, I learned about this website after talking to your sister recently. She substituted at the school where I am principal - Vineyard Elementary in Orem, Utah. She does a great job and is well-liked by the staff here. I'm anxious to talk to you and tell you about family. Reply when you can. Take care! - Tom Tillman

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This page contains a single entry by John published on December 23, 2003 2:05 PM.

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