Oh, It Just Tugs At The Heart


December 17, 2007|By Rob Hiaasen | Rob Hiaasen,Sun Reporter

According to a recent survey, more than half (51 percent) of respondents like to receive lengthy "form letter" updates from family and friends at Christmas.

-- WhitePages.com 2007 poll on holiday communication trends

Dear Friend and Family,

Happy holidays! We can't believe it's been seven years since our last form letter. But friends accused us of bragging about our children and our own accomplishments. They said our letters were longer than an MVA line. So, since our friends are theoretically important, we stopped writing. And all of our lives have been the poorer for it.

Then Janet - my darling wife of 38 years - e-mailed me a survey showing more than half of Americans like holiday form letters. Not all Americans were surveyed, as Janet lovingly corrected me. But we have the type of marriage where I can remind her when she is dead wrong. Every single living American was surveyed and more than half said that we, Jim and Janet Johnson of Jarrettsville, should resume sharing the gift that is us.

Like suspicious pockets of America, we also have become concerned about the "environment." So, last week I bought a 2008 Land Rover. The black was nice, but I stuck to my environmental convictions and went with the green. "You should win the Nobel Prize!" Janet joked. We laughed all the way in our Land Rover to the movie theater, where we saw the new Coen brothers' movie. In the Johnson household, Elf had been required Christmas viewing, but no more. Nothing embodies the holiday spirit more than No Country for Old Men.

Speaking of our marriage, Janet and I have never been happier. She remains a constant source of hope, love and inspiration - even on the weekends when we are legally separated. And the kids! They grow up so fast, don't they?

Not in the cards

Remember little Johnny? Our buckaroo entered the NFL draft seven years ago when he was 12. Now 20, John started three games at quarterback for the Ravens this year. Due to inept play-calling, however, John did not perform at the "level expected of a professional athlete" (Coach Billick's toxic words - not ours). John is back home with us and is applying his formidable motor skills at the Jiffy Lube on York Road.

Our Jessica, having spent the past seven years with the touring company of Beauty and the Beast, is now 16, if you can believe it. It seems like yesterday we put our 8-year-old, budding actress in a cab bound for Wichita - or Waco, one of those places. Anyway, Jessica is also home with us. While appearing as Belle in 2,156 consecutive performances, she managed to earn her master's in business administration from the University of Phoenix. While she sifts through a cornucopia of career options, she helps out at the Jiffy Lube.

Big news!

We have a new addition to our family! Little Joe Johnson was born in February and has been the fastest growing and fastest learning baby ever. His first words were "Wii, Wii." At 7 months, he was taking spinning classes at the Maryland Athletic Club. And Joe's S.A.T. tutor started just last week, and at $80 a lesson, we don't need to tell you the cost of excellent postnatal education.

Not that the newest Johnson receives special treatment. The day little Joe came home from the hospital, we asked Jessica to get her AeroBed and move out of the guest bedroom. That's right - little Joe has the guest room just like his older sister before him. The Johnson children don't accept handouts - especially from their parents.

And the neighbors ...

In the seven years since our last form letter, we still haven't socialized with the neighbors. They appear to have children, but they are growing up embarrassingly slowly. From the vantage point of my bedroom window, I noticed their kids do not excel in sports. During a pick-up baseball game, I witnessed their 6-year-old boy missing the cut-off man. His dad said nothing, of course. The episode reminded Janet and me to count our blessings each and every day.

We could go on about our year - the great promotions, the great report cards, the great holiday party at the Jiffy Lube. But this form letter isn't about us. It's about wanting to reconnect with our beloved family members and friends.

Happy Holidays!

Jim, Janet, John, Jessica and Joe Johnson of Jarrettsville

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