Lehman Family Christmas Letter 2007

At about 3 o’clock this morning I awoke to the sound of my alarm. But wait, it wasn’t my alarm, it was a car alarm. I bolted upright, alarmed. The sound was very loud and obnoxious—you might even say it was alarming. It would have been hard not to be alar—okay, okay, I’ll stop.

So that was not the most pleasant experience, but even more alarming was my realization that it’s December already. Of course, it’s hard not to tell it’s winter, even in L.A.—go to bed cold, wake up cold, thaw out in the day’s heat, then repeat. My roommates insist it’s all because of global warming, and when I ask them “Is that the fairy tale that Al Gore told you?” I’m usually accosted by glares and dissatisfied harrumphs.

Speaking of fairy tales (Holy loosely-threaded narrative structure, Batman!), it’s time once again for the Lehman family Christmas tale, this year set to the tune of The Essential Neil Diamond. It’s just like the Wizard of Oz/Dark Side of the Moon thing; start your record players… now!

The year began with Dave getting doses of radiation, both to get rid of some possibly cancerous stuff in his neck and also in the hopes that he could grow wings, or at least an extra set of arms. No dice on the extra appendages, but the cancer left, and Dave was once again a solitary man. Except for Michelle, of course—they both fled to Pacific Grove near Monterey in February to celebrate being done, where they biked around, sipped some wine, and listened to the beautiful noise of the Monarch Butterflies and seals.

After being radiated, he helped with the Easter Seals home makeover drawing in March before using my flight benefits (more on that later) to trip out to Vegas with Mom for the Century 21 convention. May brought another trip to Napa area and wine country, where Dave and Michelle relaxed and sipped some red, red wine. Sufficiently drunk off of…travel, Mom and Dad took a vacation from vacationing and did some actual real estate work before hosting some priests, one of whom was from Africa and coming to America for the ordination of Derek La Branch, one of Dave’s seminarian friends from St. Mel’s. They all clapped hands and sang “I’m a Believer” for awhile and then Derek was headed for the future as an official Catholic priest. Oh, and of course, Mom and Dad’s 30th wedding anniversary was in August. Talk about commitment… I couldn’t stand living with them any longer than the legally mandated 18 years.

Next up was Montana and Glacier National Park in September with friends and traveling buddies the Reibolds, where Dave and Michelle hiked up and down a few mountains, made friends with some bears, and enjoyed a crisp September morn or two. You might say it was love on the rocks. You might—of course, then you might get smacked for being cheesy. October had the duo in Palm Springs for another convention, which to this day I don’t know what it was for, and I’m assuming neither do they. In between all of that, Michelle still had time to be on the legislation committee and government relations committee for Sacramento Association of Realtors, and as well as participate in the deacon advisory committee and Pax Ministerio, a fundraising group for deaconish activities.

Daniel, when asked what he did notable this year, responded as such: “I transcended space and time. Wait, not time, just space.” Sounds heavy, you think? Nope, he ain’t heavy, he’s my brother. He started the year working with autistic kids, jumping on trampolines and playing baseball and using the cute ones to pick up women. In March, he realized the small amount of money he was making there would not allow him to go to grad school without some heavy duty loans, so he went back to work for Washington Mutual to help pay for his Master’s in Clinical Psychology (Marriage and Family Therapy) at Pepperdine University, which he started in May.

Aside from work, he found time for some short trips to Mexico in October to surf, Vegas in November to drink, San Diego a couple times to visit his friend Becky Phillips, and Napa to run a relay race from there to Santa Cruz as part of the team Drug Runners. Thank the pharmaceutical company who sponsored them for that name. As for women, he didn’t find any sweet Carolines, cracklin’ Rosies, or Kentucky women, but he did manage to scrounge up a couple girlfriends here and there. For one reason or another, none of them lasted, so whenever he’s feeling down, I tell him “Cheer up girl, you’ll be a woman soon.” That always makes him feel better. Of course, so does punching me for making comments like that.

For those of you who don’t remember, I started working with SkyWest Airlines at LAX in November of last year, so this year I’ve basically been Brother Love’s Travelin’ Salvation Show, getting all over the country and all over the world for cheap and sometimes free. As soon as I was out of training in February, I jetted off to Bonn, Germany to visit my girlfriend, Ellen, who was studying abroad there. We had some fun at Karnival for a couple days then I caught a flight back home in business class. I took some time to kick some butt at my job and got promoted to supervisor in May.

June saw me rolling into a new apartment with some new roomies, and I must say, it’s been interesting living with two girls, if you know what I mean. Though it’s been fun, I try to stay out of my apartment as much as possible, heading to St. Louis in August to visit buddies from my study abroad program and to get boozed up at the Budweiser factory, then heading to Scotland in September for a weeklong hiking trip in the Highlands. You know a country is awesome when they have castles marked on their roadmaps. Since I continued to be amazing, I was promoted again in August, and now I’m training people to do the job I started doing just a year ago.

No year would be complete without a family vacation, and we’re barely sneaking it in this year. We’re off to Cancun from Dec 15 until the 22nd, where I’ll get to be Captain Sunshine, Mom will get to barter, Dad will be confused by the language, and Daniel will look for women, perhaps finding one named Desirée. Hopefully we make it back for Christmas, because mom, dad and I are flying standby on my benefits.

Apart from Mexico, we’ve had a few mini vacations this year to enjoy. Mom and Dad came down to L.A. in June for niece/cousin Janell’s graduation and in July for the wedding of Brian Custer, one of Daniel’s roommates. In October, my manager asked me, “Are you interested in going to Chicago for an all-expenses paid training seminar?” “I am,” I said. Then Mom and Dad flew out and some friends of mine from college tripped over to hang out and stuff ourselves with deep dish pizza for a couple days. And then there was Iowa, where Mom, Dad and I experienced some good old fashioned Midwestern hospitality for the wedding of Heather Phillips. The ceremony was lovely and the reception was a blast, where we danced and sang yesterday’s songs and had a grand old time.

Unfortunately, the year wasn’t without a few songs sung blue. In July, our beloved, though deaf and senile dog Harley died. As much as she was the brunt of many jokes, particularly in these Christmas letters, she has been and will be missed. And even sadder still, Grandma Lehman finally succumbed to Alzheimer’s in October. Since she had been withering away for quite some time, and hardly recognized many of her children and grandchildren, this was more of a relief than anything else, but it was still tough on the family. Luckily, it brought all of us together and I think it has helped us to remember how great and loving a family we do have.

So that was our year. Sure, it had its ups and downs, its mountains and valleys, its strikes and gutters, but all in all, it wasn’t too bad a year. It may have seemed at times like we weren’t in Kansas anymore, but then we just had to realize we had been this way before, click our heels a couple times, say “There’s no place like home,” and everything usually turned out alright.

And that’s a good thing to remember around this holiday season of hustle and bustle. If you find yourself getting alarmed that it’s December already, take a deep breath, and just remember to turn on your heartlight, let it shine wherever you go, and let it make a happy glow for all the world to see. And if you still need to relax, here’s a fun game: count how many references I made to Neil Diamond songs in this letter. (Hint: there’s more than 20.)

Here’s wishing you the best this season, from all of ours to all of yours.

Dave, Michelle, Daniel and Mark Lehman
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