Written for the annual Christmas form-letter mailing of the Surya-Johnson family.
Dear cherished mailing-list member,
As the annual frenzy of decorations, gifts, and photos with Santa reaches its climax, it has dawned upon our beleaguered family that now might be the appropriate time to write to you about how our year has gone (out the window).
Paul, aging as fast as ever, still has his job as a chemist. On behalf of his employer, Perrigo, he would like to thank all of you who have caught a cold this year, as his company profits handsomely from your healthy intake of cough medicine and off-brand Tylenol.
Mary, meanwhile, has been hard at work at our local parish, St. Francis de Sales. As the finance council’s membership and weekly collection falter, she has spent increasing chunks of time at the church office, hunched in dim light over spreadsheets relaying a budget that may or may not add up. Her endeavors at home are slightly more cheerful, however. A new compost bin, custom-constructed by the family, now adorns the patch by our trampoline and promises rich soil, if not wide appreciation. Our garden continues to bear fruit, especially yellow pear tomatoes, in unprecedented volume, and this year we collected our first crop of collard greens! Mary feels so confident that she will soon make her literary debut with the book The Delicate Art of Growing Zucchini: Methods from a Master Mother (Sprout Publishers, Inc., $314.15).
Raymond (now in the eighth grade) too contributes increasingly to the well-being of our family. Last summer he helped tend the garden and he cooks regularly now, his latest achievement being home-made mozzarella cheese. Outside the house, Raymond protected our town’s citizens as a distinguished member in the Junior Police Academy, and he continues his musical development on his cello at church, school, and Carnegie Hall (our recently rechristened basement). Though his soccer field his team suffered a 2-win, 6-loss, 1-tie season, he excels on the warped surface of our new plywood ping-pong table, which we purchased through Craigslist.
For his part, Dominic (in his senior year of high school) has avoided work on the family farm by attacking the works of Mozart, Tchaikovsky, and too many others, on his violin. While not quite as good as Niccolò Paganini, he does his best to keep up with the Holland Area Youth Orchestra , and also plays at Sunday mass and in his school orchestra. In addition, Dominic continues his quest to master counting (he reached 100 just last month), tutoring Algebra II students and for the third year in a row making the finals in the Michigan Mathematics Prize Competition. And lest his writing skills languish further, he has taken up the dreaded task of writing our annual Christmas form letter.
All in all, we look forward to the New Year if for no other reason than to shovel this one out the door and onto the compost heap. May your Christmas and the coming months bring old comforts and new experiences to enrich your lives. Our thoughts and prayers go out to you in this season of peace, love, and, now that Dominic has taken up driving, costly car crashes.
Paul, Mary, Dominic, and Raymond
[my name] at yahoo dot com