Cathy Hamilton: A full house for 2009 |

Cathy Hamilton: A full house for 2009

Cathy Hamilton

Dear family, friends and people I haven’t seen for so long I hardly remember what you look like:

Well, it’s time for – drumroll, please – the 28th annual ho-ho-Hamilton family Christmas letter. TA DA!

Where, oh where, does the time go? I’ll bet you’re saying to yourself, “It seems like only yesterday when we received the 27th annual Christmas letter from the ho-ho-Hamilton clan!” It wasn’t yesterday, sillies. It was Easter. (Or was it Arbor Day?) Admittedly, I was running behind last year. But, geez Louise, Aunt Louise, were all those drunken ridiculing phone calls really necessary?

My apologies for the unorthodox “stationery,” but times are tight, as I’m sure you’re aware. The nuns always told me, “Don’t throw paper away until you’ve used both sides.” That said, I’d like to encourage you to disregard and destroy (preferably with a shredder) any personal information, bank account or PIN numbers you find on the back of this festive missive. We’re doing our best to cut back, but our recycling bin may contain sensitive financial statements. I sure hope none of you have resorted to identity theft as a way of surviving this economic downturn. (Especially you, Uncle Fred. Don’t think I’ve forgotten the Amway debacle of 1997.)

Unfortunately, you won’t find our usual family photo enclosed this year. A recent trip to the dermatologist turned up seven – count ’em! – SEVEN precancer spots on my forehead and lips. (I guess I hadn’t been in for a checkup in a while.) The doc took a blowtorch to my face and froze them all off. I can’t tell you how tired I am of the kids calling me Scabby Scabbington.

That’s right. I said “the kids.” They’ve come back to the nest to roost, both of them. (Can you say, “Joy to the world”?) It’s a temporary arrangement. At least, that’s what they say. They’re saving their cash for the economic upturn that couldn’t come soon enough, if you want my opinion.

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But it’s been really great having them underfoot again, along with all of their shoes and dirty socks. We rearranged the living room so we almost have enough room for the four of us to watch TV when they’re both sprawled out on the sofas, yakking on their cell phones. (Twenty-somethings sure are talkative … and hungry!) I actually enjoy sitting on the floor. Good for the spine, you know.

Naturally, we had to convert the two upstairs bedrooms back to their original purpose. I miss my workout-slash-office-slash-meditation room, but the kids had to sleep somewhere and, besides, I can meditate just fine on the living room floor, as long as “America’s Next Top Model” isn’t turned up too loud.

The upside – and there are many, really – is that our refrigerator once again is brimming with pizza boxes, cartons of Chinese food and leftover sub sandwiches. Fresh fruits and vegetables are SO “empty nest.” The kids’ food is much tastier, and when I’m paying for it, you can be darned sure it won’t go to waste!

This really is nothing new. Some of you oldsters may recall that many families had to move in together during the Great Depression. It was quite common for two, three, sometimes four generations (eek! can you imagine?) to cohabitate peacefully under one roof. Often, when space was tight, Mom and Dad would sleep in a bed just across the way from Grandma and Grandpa, in the same room. It’s true! (No wonder they called it the Great Depression, right Grandpa Dickie?)

Which brings me to the downside of our current arrangement here at the ho-ho-Hamilton house. After a year of living alone, yours truly and the old man were used to a certain amount of, well, personal freedom. “Anywhere, anytime!” That was our motto. Well, those days are gone and, as a result, we’ve found it necessary to discover new hobbies. I’ve found relief in knitting, Pilates and a little pill called Zoloft. He spends a lot of time in the garage, ripping things apart.

But we’ve got our health, a roof over our heads and gainful employment, and for that – especially in these trying times – we are truly thankful. And we consider ourselves lucky to be together, especially at Christmastime, because some families aren’t as fortunate. And I mean that almost wholeheartedly.

Here’s wishing you and yours a joyous holiday and a very, happy New Year. And, Aunt Louise, go easy on the eggnog this year. I’m screening your calls.