the first 12 Christmasses of our marriage, Susan begged and pleaded
with me to compose a Christmas letter so our friends and relatives
could stay abreast of our family news. Then, in 1992, the begging and
pleading abruptly stopped. That was the year I wrote my first and
last Christmas letters. Susan rejected my first effort for no
apparent reason, so with great patience and forbearance, I wrote and
rewrote, edited, struck out words and reworded. Personally, I thought
the first edition was perfectly suitable for sending out. I had,
after all, simply followed the format and tone of most of the
Christmas letters I had ever read...
Family, Friends and Followers,
what a busy, rich, rewarding, wonderful year we've had! Life goes by
so fast but we've managed to fill it to the fullest.
continues to enjoy being one of the top people at his company. This
year he received six promotions and a Congressional Medal of Honor.
He was named Inventor of the Year for his system that uses satellite
tracking to recover missing grocery carts. He continues to enjoy the
challenges of quantum physics and occasional chats with Steven
Hawkins. Bill Clinton has been calling on him for advise on foreign
policy. Loren told him all policy is foreign to him. Bill sounds
has been busy writing her third (!) doctoral dissertation and
launching her national chain of lingerie and lawn supply stores.
Somehow she still finds the time to plan dinner for fifty and bake
cookies for David's kindergarten class.
has just completed the 300 by 600 foot gymnasium addition on to his
clubhouse, complete with Olympic size swimming pool. Earlier this
year, he signed a deal with Citicorp to lease out the 30th through
37th floors for office space.
is now a big third-grader. He drives behind the other two graders on
the road crew. (Ha, ha!) We all enjoy humor now and then at our
house. Actually, Tim has little time for playing with Tonka toys. His
special honors work (through Harvard University) keeps him very busy.
He was placed in the program after being ranked third in the world
academically among third graders. (We later found out the other two
started kindergarten this fall. It seems like just last summer he was
a preschooler! His class got to go to Washington D. C. for a field
trip. Next spring they are going to Brussels to get a first hand look
at the European
is a rambunctious two-year-old. She is finally starting to talk - in
French, her third language. She learned English at five months and
Swahili at one year. One day Loren came home to discover that she had
completely disassembled our $14,000 computer! Needless to say, she
didn't get any allowance that week till she had put it all back together.
pets are all doing fine. Fluffy
are looking forward to the holiday season. Sarah's thoroughbred, Play
Dough, won The Preakness and The
Kentucky Derby but not the Belmont Stakes. We were so disappointed!
house is so much more enjoyable with this year's addition of 8,000
square feet. (We were so cramped with only the original 12,000.)
have the same cars as last year. The "Jag"
has been in the shop for occasionally running on only eleven
cylinders so it's probably time to think about trading. We rolled the Rolls
so it's in England right now, being repaired. We'll most likely fly
over there to inspect the job they did before authorizing return shipment.
of flying, we calculated the other evening that between the six of
us we've traveled a combined total of 43,061 miles this year!
Unfortunately, our Far East trip was cut short by a business
emergency in Twangpoon, Outer Bangbasherash. Loren has an office
there. We were able to stay at the company villa. (The hotels are
terrible in Outer Bangbasherash.)
enough about us! How are you all doing? Do
let us know about your
latest exploits, achievements and acquisitions, and lets
stay in touch!
was neither impressed nor amused by my attempts to present our
admitedly modest year's achievements in the best possible light. Very well,
I decided, if she wants us to look
like underachievers, I
us look like underachievers...
Anybody Out There Who Still Cares,
been another mediocre year at the Harder house. In fact, I (Loren)
think this year was probably a little more mediocre than most. Loren
(Susan writing) never seems to make enough money, the house is drafty
and somebody is always sick. We kept track of all our illnesses.
Would you believe we had over 300 sick-person-days this year?
old car (Loren writing) had been smoking so badly we decided to keep
a canary in the back - just for safety. After the canary died we
still couldn't afford another car (we were turned down by Creditman
Auto Sales) so we drive around with all the windows down. That's okay
because we were looking at shelling out almost $15.00 to get the
other two windows fixed so they'd roll up.
one bright spot this year has been the whiplash payments. I (Susan)
thought the car was totaled but the ever-clever Loren worked wonders
with that crowbar so we can still drive it! The car has been a
blessing (Loren writing). The real accident paid off so well we
staged three more fake ones and have collected almost $100.
house is still the same as you might remember it. The fire didn't
really cause all that much damage. The boys like to pretend the tarp
over their room is a tent. One day it's camping, the next day it's
the circus. I (Loren) got a good deal on a mobile home that was hit
by a tornado. We've been able to make lots of repairs on our house
using tin, etc. from it. Unlike last year, we've had no plumbing
problems this year because the well is completely dry. Good thing
too! Most of our pipes froze and burst after the furnace blew up last winter.
children have all been in school fairly regular. We are quite proud
of them but we'll let each write about themselves:
(John) narrowly escaped tragedy when my clubhouse collapsed. Dad
told me not to put a cast iron bath tub on the third floor but would
I listen? Nooo! Trouble is, I've learned to be real leery of Dad's
advice. So this time he happened to be right. Mom and Dad cut off my
15 cents a week allowance after I forgot to take my pet weasel out of
Mom's dresser drawer and he chewed a hole in it. (I also forgot that
he gets claustrophobic.) Anyway, my only income this entire year has
been from selling my clubhouse for kindling.
(Tim) doent wunt two rite no stewpid leader butt dad ses i hav two.
I hayt scul!!! I ulmost hed a dee averj butt i flunct two meny
klaszez. my favert subjekt is speleng. i doent wunt to breg butt i am
numbor 30 in mie klasss!
writing) Please keep us in your prayers! Dad's compulsive gambling
is working a real hardship on all of us. Mom's amnesia has been
getting worse. Sometimes she wonders off now. Once it took us a whole
week to find her. We think it may
be stress related. For Christmas this year I would like some Play-doh.
That way Sarah
and I will have something to eat when Dad loses all our money or Mom can't remember
how to cook.
(written by Susan) This year I outgrew putting everything in my
mouth so Dad is relieved that he won't have to scrape off all the old
lead-based paint. Next year, Mom wants me to get potty trained but I
don't know. David tells me that's no picnic. In the winter it's cold
out there and in the summer there's hornets under the seat.
that's all of us except, of course, the pets. You remember our
kitten, "Furball". He's grown up now and we've changed his
name to "Hairball". He does disgusting things and doesn't
respond at all to Robitussin®. "Puddles", our poodle is
grown up now too but we haven't changed his name because he still
isn't housebroken. The parakeet has become a left-wing liberal from
reading the papers on the bottom of his cage. We make him listen to
Rush Limbaugh in the hopes that his other wing will be conservative.
this letter finds you all in as good a shape as we're in. We'd say
to phone or write, but the phone company has been real nasty about
getting us reconnected (we always sent them something every
month) and Loren (Susan writing) still hasn't replaced the mailbox.
It was vandalized for the fourth time this year in May. So you'll
just have to stop in! You're always welcome. Please just give us a
little advance notice.
I am not sure what Susan ended
up sending out that year. All I know is, I have been blissfully free
from holiday letter-writing chores ever since.