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The Eiseles' Christmas Letter 2003

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Merry Christmas to All

 Merry Christmas from the Eiseles

November 25, 2003

Dear Friends,

     As the year draws to a close, it is time once again to say, "Hello," and to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.  We hope your year was a good one!  Here are some of the highlights from ours.

     In January, our chimney caught fire.  Hubert tried spraying foam into the pipe from below.  I splattered the outside with cold water.  When that didn't work, Hubert climbed a ladder onto the roof.  I handed up the fire extinguisher.  He sprayed into the chimney from the top... with success.  The man who came to refill the extinguisher said we were lucky! 

     Last February, during the annual Swiss schools 'sports vacation,' Hubert, Mark, Mark's colleague Stephan, and I skied for a week in Veysonnaz, Wallis, in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.  It took some doing to convince Grossmami (Huberts mom), then 91, that she is biologically only 81 and therefore still young enough to accompany us.  She was so glad she did!  Micha and Theo skied with his family in Grindelwald. 

     Now twenty, Micha is in her second year at the University in Berne studying business and law.  Theo, too.  She and Theo celebrated two-and-a-half years together this week.  In September, they traveled for three weeks to Italy with backpacks and rail passes.  I was delighted to see her following in my footsteps.  (I traveled around Europe with a Eurrail pass in the seventies and backpacked in my teens and twenties.)  She plays volleyball on the womens team.

     Mark turned 18 last Sunday, becoming a legal adult.  By Swiss law, his parents no longer have the right to see his school grades although we still get to pay for his education J.  His next goal is to learn to drive.  In Switzerland, this privilege is reserved for those over eighteen.  He studies hard for each exam and excels in math and science.  His computer broke a few weeks ago and --joy to the world! -- he did not repair it.  He spends his free time painting 'War Hammer' figurines with great accuracy and finesse, building remote-control model airplanes, working out two times a week at a fitness center, and meeting friends for all-night parties, LAN parties, movies, or discos on the weekends.  He was required by his school to complete a language-exchange program, so he traveled to Cap dail, France, to the Centre Méditerranéen, a summer camp for thirteen- to seventeen-year olds on a peninsula minutes from Monaco and close to Nice.  He spoke English to his Italien cabin mate, German to the German, and French to the Turk.  He had such a good time, he agreed to stay a fourth week.  He was the only Swiss there!  If you would like to know more, you can visit http://www.centremed.monte-carlo.mc/.  

     I have even more time to myself than last year since I recruited a replacement secretary for the International Club and trained a new editor/production manager for their newsletter.  Ah, freedom; time to write!  Micha has taken over cleaning the bathrooms and Mark washes all our pots and pans.  I do the garden and (ha ha) vacuum.  I took a second semester of Creative Writing at the university last spring.  This semester, I am not attending class.  Without it, I have no new fiction stories for my homepage: http://swisshousewife.tripod.com/davidhager -- (oops, you're already here!)  I finished my first novel in time to carry a copy to Phoenix for my mother, poet Dorothy Lykes' 80th birthday.  She helped me to edit it.  I am incorporating her suggested changes and continue to edit in the spirit of what she has taught me.  My next project, I hope, will be to finish my autobiography through my twenties and thirties.  I go walking with my neighbor, Marianne, once a week, and sometimes we eat lunch at our favorite restaurant.  Hubert and I still jog the par course in the forest.  It feels good to be fifty-four and fit! 

     This was the first year in a long time I traveled to the states without my children.  In Phoenix last June, my sisters, Debbie and Lisa, and I tidied up Mom's house for a great 80th birthday celebration with many of Mom's friends from Arizona and relatives from CaliforniaArizona, Utah, and Switzerland.  I met Norman Dubie and Alberto Rios.  Dad and Elaine drove down from Utah; I enjoyed our evenings together at Debbie's house where we stayed up talking until after midnight. 

     Hubert is happy in his job, though I think he works too hard!  He is Head of Division responsible for the Swiss government's regional development aid projects in the Western Balkans and thematic projects (inlcuding youth, police reform, nuclear safety, research, and culture) in Eastern European countries.  He takes short business trips, recently to Serbia and Vienna.  Last week, he headed the Swiss delegation to Brussels for the donars conference on Serbia & Montenegro. 

     Hubert, Micha, and I traveled to Brussels, Luxumberg, and Holland during the record-breaking heat wave last August.  The saddest thing I have ever seen was a flock of sheep gazing at me with such longing so sure they were that I, being human, could help.  Unsheered, their wooly sides vibrated as though they were about to explode.  10,000 people and hundreds of thousands of farm animals perished.  I grow ever more concerned about our planet.  Please vote in the next election. 

     Micha, Theo, Hubert and I rented a suite at the wellness Hotel Zamangspitze in Austria for four days in October.  You can visit http://www.zamangspitze.at/preise.htm and click on Silvrettasuite to see our accomodations.  We hiked in the beautiful Austrian Alps two to three hours a day, then took turns visiting the sauna and steam baths to relax before dinner.  Each evening, we enjoyed an exquisite four-course meal in the hotel restaurant: a perfect, holiday I wish we could have shared with you! 

     At 92 ½, Huberts mother, Elsa, still rides the train to visit us.  She still lives on the fourth floor of her apartment building without an elevator.  She is cheerful and positive, and a good friend. 

     My cousin Cheryl visited recently.  She taught me how to make homemade chicken soup.  Her daughter, Amy, and Amy's boyfriend, Ethan, arrived from Geneva.  Ethan, a good cook (and a wage-earning writer!) made Brown Betty.  Yum!  Cheryl's husband, Ward, invited Hubert and me to join them in celebrating her 60th birthday in Le Chalet, a charming restaurant just outside the gates of the castle in Gruyére, Switzerland -- a grand finalé to a fine year.

Wishing You A Joyous Holiday Season!

Linda, Hubert, Michaela and Mark Eisele 

Pray for Peace
Not only that, if there is anything you can do to make peace happen,
DO IT!!