December 16, 2000

I hope you find this winter, rather than the winter finding you, in happy waters and content spirits. I (Sarah) am back to write the annual address.  I herald from the Owocki house, where many things are much the same--we're still residing in Pennsylvania, we're all in good health, and, as always, this Christmas letter is chronically late.   We've celebrated several important milestones this year, and there are many ones to anticipate too.

To start, MomandDad just returned last month from a LUXURY CRUISE to which I wasn't invited.  You see, in watching his wife readying to celebrate a particularly ominous birthday that ends with a "0", Dad decided to do something really, really nice for her.  So he cooked dinner!  Then, for an encore, he bought tickets for two to the Bahamas.  You should have seen her face!  They had a fantastic time, meeting lots of other "middle-aged" couples who also had neglected their own progeny in favor of a magical weekend of live entertainment, beautiful sites, scrumptious food, and terrific service.   I know, I know.  I don't understand it, either.

A more "all-inclusive" outing was the family reunion in Colorado this summer.  A good number of Mom's relatives showed up for a "rugged"weekend at the YMCA of the Rockies, and there are photos for viewing at  Dad also worked for awhile in Boulder, where I discovered the Pearl Street Mall.  Have you ever been there?  Isn't it great?  I know that the coffee shops and vegetarian restaurants and hippie souvenir stores could possibly get tiring after, oh, a year or two, but who would want to spend a minute of her week in Boulder anywhere else?

On to descriptions of the family.. first Kevin. Kevin, a junior, is doing well.  He plays hockey, hangs out with his friends, and works at Acme to earn money to buy a car -- yes, that's right, he has his permit!  He drives fairly well, but MomandDad are dreading the day when he has his license and I hit the road with my permit hot in my pocket.

David is quite sound in the 6th grade.  In his spare time, he plays video games and enters Internet writing contests and torments my bird, thus tormenting me, and forgets to eat meals.  We say that he takes after Dad in the last respect--he becomes very absorbed in a particular task and just can't stop.  Of course, Dad expresses this tendency in ways less pronounced than inadvertent fasting.  All in all, David is a cute kid, but annoying sometimes.

Mom is still at Glasgow High School, working as a nurse practitioner in the Wellness Center.  She is always ripe with stories of pregnant teenagers, fights, bomb threats, and also the struggles of some really interesting, inspiring kids--so it makes for an interesting medley.  She loves to sew, cut, and quilt fabric; she's made some really beautiful stuff.   Her favorite TV shows and my favorite shows to ridicule are "The Practice," "ER," and "The West Wing."  She points this out sometimes--that I perpetually make fun of her programs, and then commence to watch them with her.  Yet I think she's grateful to actively take them in with a critical eye, which I provide in excess.

Dad continues on much as he always does--writing papers and staring at the computer and twisting his sideburns and bouncing ideas off other scientists.  He has also spent much time talking to our dog, Cheyenne.  I have a theory about this that I have not been shy in expressing, and it goes like this: Cheyenne, as a nonverbal entity, probably does not harbor many strong opinions, and if she does, she certainly does not try to express them.  Thus, when you speak to her as if you honestly expect a response (as Dad does), you're really only attempting to find another avenue by which to express your own insecurities, and since it's a rather desperate avenue, you look quite silly doing it.  Dad vehemently denies this, but he has yet to advance a better reason for his behavior.  Of course, I'm forever carrying on imaginary conversations with Myra, my Severe Macaw--but the crucial difference is that she responds with her squawk, her loud squawk, or her really loud squawk.

Dad's job is always a great plus as far as travel is concerned.  I played hooky from school for a week last year to accompany Dad to Holland and Belgium, and Mom brought David to London in February, where his favorite activity was feeding the pigeons in Trafalgar Square.  This summer, I accompanied Dad to some beautiful Canadian islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which started and ended with a 2-day bike trip across Prince Edward Island.  I was fascinated to observe and befriend the people with whom Dad shares his strange passions, and the scenery was simply fantastic.

Lastly, I'm feeling thoroughly auspicious.  I have some interesting courses at school, where I'm in the 10th grade, and I've discovered a few worthwhile activities, like the Mock Trial Team, where I get to pretend I'm a lawyer for three whole months!  I've also taken up lots of pet projects.  One is a Sign Language course at a community college, where I learn useful phrases that I then commence to use around the house and school, to the bewilderment of my family and classmates.  I read a lot, about everything, and I like meeting people with whom I can argue and discuss.  I am very happy here, but I'm also looking forward to the year after next, when I'll be going on student exchange, after I've fulfilled graduation requirements from my high school--which wasn't exactly supportive of the idea of a "sabbatical" 10th- or 11th-grade year.  Yet that's their loss; and this plan looks to work out well!

So this Christmas, we are all very grateful for our good health and happiness.  We sometimes contemplate what it will be like once Kevin and I leave.  David swears perpetual affinity to this idea; but I think that, deep down... oh, never mind.  We look forward to a New Year that's propitious and full of surprises, and we extend our best wishes to everybody who's reading this, and whoever's not too.


Sarah, Kevin, David, Suzi, Stan

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