Greetings to all my family and friends. As usual I count it as part of my good fortune to be able to share news of the past year with you. This time around though I feel somewhat like Charles Dickens as it was “the best of times and it was the worst of times.”

              Some of you may already have heard of my buying of the winning lottery ticket. As soon as I was notified by email I sent a short note out to everyone on my mailing list. What really amazed me about my luck in winning is that I have never even been to Moose Jaw Saskatchewan. But I tell you, those Canadians are just the nicest people. When they told me I had to send them a check for $2174 for processing and some sort of nuisance excise tax they were real polite and I had a check in the regular mail the next day.

            And it turns out that they had made a slight transposition of numbers and I actually needed to send $4712 instead, but they sent a copy of the calculation and yep, right there in black and white I could see how it was a mistake anyone could make. I did have to wait almost a month before I could send the difference.

            Then you know, I mean the Canadian citizens are sooooooo nice and sooooooo polite that they just about fell all over themselves apologizing when they wrote again to inform me that their national legislature ( and I thought only real countries had those bodies) had passed a law which applied retroactively to my winnings and my tax had increased by another $2500 plus my payment check for my winnings had to be transported from Moose Jaw to Ottawa for an audit  and you know how those roads in Canada are and it cost them, and thus me, another $500 for a special courier.

               But that extra $3000 was a little more than I had in my account at the time so I had to wait till my next month’s Social Security check came. It does look now that my windfall shall arrive shortly.

               By the way, I just learned last week that I have some long lost family in Nigeria of all places and I may be due an inheritance. I’ll keep you advised.

                Now my daughter Edna Sue has been off getting her education and I am proud to announce that  she has graduated and should be gaining full time employment very soon. The odd thing though is that she insists on being called  Blaze and she now has friends with names like Tiffany, Diamond and even Champagne. They’re all very cute but when she goes out with the girls it’s a wonder any of them can walk without breaking their ankles in those high heeled shoes.

            In fact you probably remember Edna Sue as being kind of a tomboy. I think she may have outgrown that phase. When I clean up her room I find these catalogues selling all kinds of frilly girly clothes, or at least underwear, though her late great-grandmother Effie would blush if she saw Edna…er Blaze…I guess I oughta get used to calling her that….wearing one of those outfits and posing like the models in those catalogues do. They almost look as if they can’t wait to take their clothes off!

            I am thankful that …Blaze…I remembered!… has that part time job at the Dairy Queen right now but darned if it doesn’t open till after I go to bed and they insist on paying her in crumpled dollar bills. But Blaze says at least it pays for her medicine. She has to get five or six shots a day most of the time and her arms almost look like pin cushions. But she does fall asleep pretty easily these days. Sometimes right in the middle of a conversation with me she’ll nod right off. Poor girl works soooo hard.

               Now my brother Travis had to leave town for six months but he says he should be home right before Christmas and that we should just ignore the bracelet on his ankle. He joined some sort of club and has to wear it for awhile until his initiation period is finished. It must be a funny club cause they have a ritual where Travis has to blow into a tube every time he starts his car. Just a lot different from the Woodchuck Lodge I belong to. All we did in there was learn to chuck wood. Our former President works for Geico Insurance now.

        The other kids, Ernie and Jill, moved to San Francisco late last year. They’ve always been twins of course, but after the cross-country move Ernie got hurt somehow and had to have surgery and I guess his medicine had some strange side-effects since he now looks more like Jill’s twin sister than twin brother.

           Now I know you recall that Ernie starred in all the school plays and he just loved acting. Well he got an acting job in San Francisco once he recovered from surgery. But there’s a lot of competition so his roles have been limited. Uncle Jerry, remember how we used to make fun of those fairy actors in Shakespeare plays who had women’s parts? Well Ernie’s actually making a go of it in some Shakespeare plays but has to do women’s parts, but no son of mine is no fairy of course, and they do updated versions with famous character names cause they don’t really appreciate fine culture like we do back here. So far he’s portrayed Bette Midler, Barbra Streisand and I guess they did Othello, too. Ernie told me playing Diana Ross was his favorite.

              Jill and Ernie have made lots of friends, too. They even live with one named Butch. You think of a big rough guy with that kind of name but their friend Butch is kind of skinny but does wear leather all the time, even a motorcycle cap. Heck Butch doesn’t even drive a car! He does have this internet business geared toward the Greek community. It’s called Sapphos. I tried their web site one time but you need to give a credit card number. Now I wish I hadn’t cut all my cards up when that Bernie Madoff went out of business. Nice guy. He did write me that he had to go away for awhile and would be in touch. So far not a peep. Some folks are like that.

               For instance my fiancee Maureen. When we got engaged in 1992 we knew we would have to wait for a time before we could tie the knot. An 18 year engagement isn’t so bad . No, not really. But you’d think in these modern times two people in love wouldn’t always wait until marriage know. Now that’s bad enough but I suppose she’ll appreciate the doses of Viagra I’ve been saving up to use, but she said she would be mine (you know, the old-fashioned lovers’ talk, like on the Valentine candy) and she’s never said she changed her mind and won’t marry me. But, then again, she hasn’t said anything these past 18 years. I know women have their moods and all so when I do find her I’ll tell her I understand.

          Cousin George called earlier this evening to say he would be in town for the holidays again. For some reason he prefers the live nativity scene downtown to any of the decorations where he lives. I mean it’s just a wonderful presentation although they don’t use a real kid to play the little baby Jesus. All the other particpants are live beings and the sheep are so used to seeing George they kind of nuzzle him when he goes to visit. He’s so nice and volunteers to stay with the sheep overnight for the duration. He’s a true animal lover. When he finally leaves he makes a donation to the local SPCA for their cruelty to animals fund and never forgets to draw a huge smiley face on the envelope he puts his check in. This one ewe has had a lamb about five months after each year’s nativity duties and George loves those lambs as if they were his own children. I’m so proud of him.

                Well while I was writing this letter I got another email from my Canadian friends…have I told you just how polite they are…and they told me, just falling all over themselves with apologies again, that my lottery winnings had been invested and have grown considerably, but now I need to send them about $1750 more so I can collect. More taxes you know. Damn Democrats, sorry for the cursing at Christmastime. They promised this should be the last hangup. I gave them my bank account information so they’d get my money immediately and got a response that my winnings check is now in the mail. 

                 Well look, I’m going to move out of this senior citizen dump of a building anyway so I need a place to stay as I can’t afford to pay rent after this last tax thingy. Anyone up for taking me in for a short time? I’ll pay you rent and give a nice bonus $$$$$ when the Canadians send me my winnings, or else maybe the distant Nigerian relative will find a way to get my inheritance out of the country. Hey it’s the season of goodwill to men and hope, you know?

            Well I have to go. They’re having another fire drill here. It happens all the time and those alarms in the hallway are really loud but I always wait for the elderly to leave first. I mean they take so long to get down the stairs and sometimes if I wait long enough the drill’s over even before I leave. But you can tell the weather’s taking its toll. Must be a cold going around because all the people going past my door to the fire escape are coughing and hacking like they just smoked a whole pack of cigarettes.

        Anyways I wish each and every one of you a

                           MERRY CHRISTMAS

Your favorite Dad, Uncle, Brother and Nephew and Cousin





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