Thursday, December 31, 1998

A Christmas Letter from America - 1998

Hello again from the Newnham household (the most westerly lot that is). We hope you are all well and miss all of you that are so far away. We seem to have done a little more this year although it seems easy to sum up 365 days on just one page! As ever, most of our time has been spent ferrying the kids on countless activities that we hope will keep them out of trouble. We have also had some visitors from “foreign” parts which was wonderful!

At the start of the year I was working on an international assignment in Canada, a place some Americans regard as one of the Northernmost States, a source of natural resources for when the USA runs out. It was fun at times but being away from home was
really hard on the family. At least I could shop in Marks & Sparks, which your can only appreciate if you have been away from home for years.

Donna (Arlene’s sister), and John visited in May and it was great to have family in town. They both helped decorate a number of rooms in unique style and in return were fed as much junk TV as they could consume. I think John and I drunk enough tea to resurrect Sri Lanka’s economy. We all drove to Florida and spent a number of days in a cottage on a small island, lazing on the beach, and searching for TV coverage of the World Cup. Elliot and I rode a tandem through the waves and Eleanor formed her first shell collection. Disneyworld was next where we visited Mickey, Minnie, the little Mermaid, and countless others. Chip (the chipmunk), fell in love with Donna and took her off to show his friends, much to John’s amazement. The July 4th celebrations at Disney were dampened by the fact that fireworks were banned due to the risk of further forest fires. This was somewhat disappointing for the kids but I don’t understand why our colonial cousins consider independence a good thing myself!

Arlene & I spent a few days in Puerto Rico while Donna & John looked after the offspring. It was a marvelous break, visiting art galleries, walking in a rainforest and swimming in a phosphorescent bay. (We hoped to avoid any family additions in nine months time). (Authors note...Eleanor arrived 9 months later)

We also enjoyed a visit from Alison and her new husband Michael from Australia. We spent our time visiting local sights and celebrated their recent wedding by sampling some of Atlanta’s finest cuisine. At one point Arlene, Alison & Donna were together for the first time for around three years, which Atlanta found hard to handle, God knows what would have happened if Sharon (sister number 1) had joined them!

The boys played a lot of soccer (football) and ribbed each other about who had the most wins. Elliot’s team was very effective, soundly thrashing most opponents, and Tarrant’s goalkeeping skills greatly improved, mostly due to the coaching skills of our other visitors from the UK, Uncle John & Auntie Gill. They brought Tarrant an England goalkeeping shirt that he proudly wears at every opportunity. We all went white-water rafting, on a beautiful river in Tennessee, got absolutely soaked by one or two large waves but managed to stay in the boat, (at least until the boys jumped overboard). Gill & John showed considerable prowess in guiding the boat down some interesting rapids, and consider themselves to be among Bromham’s rafting elite.

Tarrant is almost eleven now and spent a number of days away on a school camp. I wanted to tag along, to keep my eye on him but he insisted I stay at home. It’s hard to let go but he had a great time canoeing, hiking and generally raising hell! Eleanor refused to play soccer, much to my disgust, and started ballet (much to my disgust). She has a pink tutu and knows positions one through four. She also sings every morning making up her own words and tunes. The boys often scream at her to stop but as we have grown to learn, Eleanor has the last word on everything! Elliot is also growing up and builds masterful Lego creations, surprising us with his unique view on the world. (e.g. “Elliot, put on your thinking cap”, “……..but Mummy, I don’t have a thinking cap”).

Arlene also spent a long weekend in Boston with our Sister-in-law Anita. They had a great time walking the freedom trail, seeing where the tea was dumped, and strolling the art galleries. I of course made a feeble attempt at being a house husband and the pile of laundry is only now subsiding.

Well, that’s it for another year, we hope you all have a great Christmas and hope to see you soon, on either side on the pond.
Love, Dale, Arlene, Tarrant, Elliot and Eleanor XXXXXX