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Since it’s all been put together and (mostly) mailed out – and since only a fraction of the followers of my livejournal are also on my Christmas card list due to the whole online anonymity thing, I thought I’d crosspost a slightly edited version of this year’s Christmas letter here ) (I’ve also posted our 2004 and 2005 Christmas letters, appropriately backdated.)

For those of our friends from real life who’ve followed the link from the letter – thanks for coming along and checking it out! Lurkers on my livejournal are always welcome – but if you’re intending to hang around, I’d appreciate letting me know (either by leaving a comment or some other way). That way I can at least have some idea of who I’m talking to! :)
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Christmas letter 2004

Welcome to our (rather late) Christmas letter of 2005, direct to you from the house of green carpet! We continue to happily coexist in domestic bliss, although it’s certainly been a busy year.

The first major piece of household news since 2004 involves the arrival of two new family members – Soon and Neung, two Siamese kittens. In our continuing attempts to mimic Hubby's parents, we have adopted a two cat strategy. Soon (commonly known as “grey kitten” or “girl kitten”) is a lithe, vocal blue point, while Neung (“white kitten” or “boy kitten”) is a slightly more substantial, indolent lilac point. To the suspicious among you, yes, there is significance in their names, which mean zero and one in Thai. Lily is relieved to have escaped so lightly – Hubby has always wanted a cat called Dog or Cow… Our feline confederates have made this year much livelier (not to mention noisier) and we are confident that they will eventually settle down and stop waking us up at 5AM every morning.

Work has continued to consume much of our time this year, and continues to get us up in the morning – although Lily is yet to master the art of waking up cheerfully at any time. The joy of work only seems to start affecting her after her second Coke of the morning. Hubby for his part seems determined to work 24/7. In fact, the only thing able to reliably lure him away from his keyboard is the twice-daily ritual of watching Hogan’s Heroes, apart from the call of his beautiful wife, of course (cough, cough).

Adding to the excitement of work this year were a couple of trips overseas. Hubby was the first off Australian soil, away to South Africa with his father to attend the Rugby Union U19 World Cup at the request of the International Rugby Board. While the business side of the visit went very well, the highlight of the trip was a short stay in a game park. A wide variety of wildlife was spotted on the twice-daily game drives, including a giraffe named Steve, an amorous elephant, and more varieties of wildebeest than Hubby could remember. Lily is still rather distressed that, out of his numerous sightings of beautiful scenery and impressively Attenborough-style beasties, Hubby managed to come home from his trip with less than ten photographs. What’s more, the only three in focus were of his hotel room! (This is a slight exaggeration. There are several nice sunset pictures, and one of a giraffe hiding behind a tree.)

For her part, Lily decided it would be too mainstream to be home for her first wedding anniversary, so (in a shockingly heartless gesture) she skipped the country to tour around the west coast of the USA with one of her bridesmaids. It may be more traditional for the groom to run off with a bridesmaid, but E was most emphatic that Lily was as much as she could cope with (which turned out to be lucky, since E has since become very happily engaged). Lily and E had a very enjoyable couple of weeks visiting scenic locales from Death Valley (soon after torrential rains (!!) had knocked out almost every lookout in the area – fortunately the carpet of wildflowers made it well worth the trip) to Las Vegas (where they stayed in a pyramid), to the coast road in California.

Another new resident in our green-carpeted abode is a piano, a glorious instrument with a sensational tone, especially in the lower range. We seem to find ourselves staring lovingly into its mirror-like black lacquer, lost in… Hubby would like to apologise for the previous sentence; Lily tends to get… excitable about her piano. We both play (or at least did in earlier years), but Lily is the only one absurdly obsessive enough to actually enjoy doing finger exercises. Yes, yes she does. In fact, Lily has so much enjoyed renewing her musical talents that she has started indoctrinating a willing ensemble of musical followers in her Brisbane-based nieces. The family is much looking forward to their first performance on Christmas Day with a rag-time version of “Jingle Bells”.

Continuing her musical exploits, and having long been a fan of Gilbert and Sullivan in general and The Pirates of Penzance in particular, Lily jumped at the opportunity to perform highlights from Pinafore, The Mikado, and Pirates earlier this year. In the way of such things, a minor diversion turned into a major undertaking of sewing, memorisation, and choreography when she became involved in the costuming side of the performance and was also fortunate enough to land the solo role of Pitti-Sing. Matters were complicated further by her decision to sing with her school choir on the previous night at their reunion for their 60th anniversary. All was well in the end, however, as both performances of the very musical weekend went off without a hitch and were enjoyed by performers and audience alike.

Further to her efforts to take on more commitments than is humanly possible, Lily also became involved in the preparations for G and D’s wedding when she agreed to make the two bridesmaid dresses. Although the dresses were completed frighteningly close to the deadline and the escaped purple sequins and silver thread from the dresses are still livening up the otherwise tastefully green carpet, everyone seemed to agree that the bridesmaids looked gorgeous – although no one could have possibly outshone the radiant bride.

Sadly, due to the water restrictions and Lily’s complete lack of desire to stand around holding a hose and feeding the mozzies, our once lush vegetable garden is currently looking rather drought-stricken. While some traces of green remain, they are mostly weeds – except of for the eight apparently unkillable basil shrubs that continue to thrive. But since we see quite a lot of green every day on the inside of our house and have recently discovered the vegetable section of the supermarket, we have so far managing to survive this summer without a veggie patch.

While we could keep writing for pages about the wonder of green, that pretty much wraps up the letterable aspects of 2005 for us. Rest assured that we are both very happy, and continue to enjoy living in das Haus. We wish you the very best for Christmas, and a safe and happy 2006.

(posted 2006)
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Well, it’s certainly been a year of firsts for us! The first year of life after Uni, the first year in our beautiful home, and the first year (well, almost) of married life. This year we have succumbed to nepotism and joined the family business, failed in our attempt to burn the house down, and as yet have no definite plans for divorce, so we feel that all in all we’re doing rather well.

Despite the fact that we saw many of you at our wedding in April, we did not get the chance to catch up with everyone as much as we might have liked. So, since this is the first Christmas letter we have ever sent, perhaps you will excuse us for rewinding a little and including the exciting events of the end of last year in our annual wrap-up.

Our graduation late in 2003 was the much-celebrated culmination of several years’ work for both of us, and we were both exceedingly pleased to achieve first class honours in our (identical) chosen degrees. As such, we are now both officially Bachelors of Information Technology (Hons I). Beyond the academic satisfaction this result involved, our equal success was also welcome in that it avoided a potential crisis in our admittedly competitive relationship. Whether any amount of grovelling would have prompted forgiveness from one of us for the crime of outperforming the other remains thankfully unknown.

After a short holiday on the Sunshine Coast after finishing Uni, we both started full time work as computer programmers at the software development company owned and directed by Hubby’s father. The work is enjoyable and rewarding, and gives us the opportunity to work with leading sporting personalities in the development of the company’s suite of sports analysis systems.

Continuing the crush of events at the end of 2003, we also chose this time to enter the mortgage market with the purchase of our first home. “Das Haus” as it is familiarly known (despite the lack of any particularly German influence in our lives) has been great, serving as our home base while steadfastly resisting environmental disturbances from severe storms to a severe lack of vacuuming. Into 2004 it saw a lot of activity, particularly in the lead up to…

…our wedding. Definitely the highlight of our year, we were honoured by the presence of so many family members and friends at our ceremony in the Roma St. Parklands in April. We were certainly not alone in enjoying the day, as evidenced in Lily’s record bevy of seven happy flower girls. It was wonderful that so many familiar faces were present to help us celebrate on the day, and we very much appreciated the generous gifts from all of which we have since made so much use. We would particularly like to thank the kind giver of a water jug which was sadly separated from its card. Fortunately this was among the worst of our concerns, as all the hard work paid off to make our wedding the wonderful and special day we had hoped.

Of course it was then time for our honeymoon, which we took in Tasmania. After a brief delay when our luggage was mysteriously infiltrated with rice, we were off to the Deep South and the rugged wilderness that only a holiday driving between B&Bs can provide. We’re sure no-one is surprised that our first stop was an historic lodge that just happened to offer broadband Internet access. Just try to keep us from our photos! From there we spent a very enjoyable two weeks driving around the island, before all too soon being drawn back to work and our wedded domestic existence.

Much to Lily’s disappointment, being married seems to have had no appreciable affect on Hubby’s tendency to play the various versions of what is known as TFG (that – er – silly game) on his computer. For his part, Hubby has noticed no marked improvement in Lily’s disposition in the early hours of the morning (any time before 10AM or her first Coke of the day). Ah, the joys of married life.

Having lived with Hubby’s parents until we moved into our new home, this last year has been our first real experience of running a household by ourselves. Perhaps one of the most memorable experiences was the infamous Pappadum Incident in which a temporarily unattended saucepan of oil decided to catch fire in a pyromaniacal bid to burn down our house. In the ensuing panic (well, you try concentrating on “Fire Safety 101” when there’s a two foot tongue of flame licking the bottom of your kitchen cabinets) the best option seemed to be to carry the whole fire-breathing pot outside and deal with it there.

Unfortunately, when a pot containing such a large fire is moved, the flames tend to lick back in the direction of the person carrying it, and Lily’s hand sustained substantial burns. In her surprise at the sudden pain, she knocked the edge of the pot against the bench and spilled burning oil all over the shopping and the carpet of the dining room. Fortunately the laminex bench seems to be impervious to fire (and much else) while the blessedly synthetic green shag-pile carpet was merely singed. Lily’s hand is recovering well with minimal scarring, and we now own a fire blanket and realise that we could have simply put the lid on the pot and waited.

After this unfortunate affair we have reverted to a Uni-student-like diet of freezer food – mainly lasagne, bulk homemade pies, fish-fingers, garlic bread and casseroles. However, we have postponed the inevitable onset of scurvy by enjoying the fruits of Lily’s toil in the garden. Early this spring, the vegetable garden was expanded and walled in by flower-filled and green-painted besser blocks. This taxing (to our lily-white programmer muscles) weekend’s work has since become known as the Mulch Affair, as Lily’s estimate of mulch requirements was exaggerated by at least a factor of two. The extra one and a half cubic metres of the stuff had to be moved off the driveway by wheelbarrow before work on Monday morning, of course, and we have only recently managed to clear the residual pile from the concrete out the back.

Despite (and at least partly due to) these small trials, we are very happy living here, and are genuinely enjoying the first stages of our married life together. We wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas and a fun and fulfilling 2005.

(posted 2006)

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