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Life goes on

January 1, 2004

Dear Friends:

What a year 2003 has been! The busy life of our family rushes on toward the millennium with barely a moment to stop and reflect. This letter gives us cause to pause and think of each of you -- loved ones we carry in our hearts, even if we never see each other.

This year was a time of great growth for Mom. Divorce meant jump-starting a career, losing contact with many lifelong friends and the unexpected challenge of incorporating a new member into the family -- Dad's new wife. Life is nothing if not a nonstop string of opportunities for growth, says Mom, and we agree.

Daughter Jenny spent part of '97, winter semester of her junior year in college, abroad. Many adventures there, the biggest being the case of malaria she picked up and brought back with her to the good ole U.S. of A. The wonders of modern medicine have prevailed, and J. is now preparing for graduation in May and a much-anticipated management job at McDonald's. Graduate school is not out of the question, but Jenny feels a stint serving others will be time well spent. We're looking forward to free french fries.

Son Jeremy expanded his horizons too this year with a series of trips to juvenile court where he was able to witness the wheels of justice in motion. Imagine his surprise to find so many of the neighborhood kids there! School is not really his thing, says Jeremy, but he's turning out to be a whiz at Nintendo 64, a skill we hope he continues to hone.

The twins, Joey and Jack, spent a good deal of 1997 at the orthodontist's office and now share the joys of headgear, tiny rubber bands and all-night headaches. In spite of this, both boys have put on a good 20 pounds each, and appear to be headed for either the gridiron or the newly popular Sumo wrestling arena. Years of training in hand-to-hand combat at home have proven to be invaluable to them.

Despite busy time schedules and a tight budget, the family was able to wrangle a 10-day cross-country vacation to Disney World over the summer. Thank the Lord for that sweet Jim Palmer and The Money Store! Home equity loans based on no equity -- now there's a concept. We feel every last dime was well spent on luxury accommodations in the simulated Hawaiian village and long days in the park. Joey and Jack set a new family record for most sequential rides on Space Mountain 23 in one day.

Always on the lookout for educational opportunities, we ventured up the road to Universal Studios where the kids were able to see close up the mechanics behind their favorite special effects, and Jeremy was chosen to take the ride up in King Kong's giant paw. Moments like this, we believe, will remain with us in memory forever, sustaining us in the midst of uncertainty and chaos. Our country is surely blessed to be home to a wonder like Orlando!

As '03 rolls out and '04 rolls in, we are thankful for the abundance in our lives --105 channels on cable television, Simpsons reruns twice a day, 24-hour live sports broadcasts -- and we stand in awe of the future. Computers have made it possible for us to talk to our friends and family without hearing their voices or seeing their faces, have provided endless hours of excessive physical violence with the mere flick of a joystick, and have made it possible for us to experience the fullness of life without having to ever leave the house. And with cable, we can watch the war in the Middle East live! Imagining what the next 20 years may bring boggles the mind!

As always, we loved hearing from you at Christmas, and enjoyed the chronicles of your perfect lives. We'll leave you with the immortal words of our favorite contemporary pop poet and prophet, John Cougar Mellencamp: Oh yeah, life goes on/ Long after the thrill of living is gone.

Happy New Year!

-- A slightly revised version of a previously published holiday family letter, but hey, aren't they all?

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