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Andrea's column: Andrea's seasonal communique

Dear Readers,

This is my first real holiday letter. I have, on occasion, jotted down a few words in some cards to out-of-state friends and family but they are nothing like the long, newsy missives we receive from so many people.

Every year, the lengthy mass-produced letters regale us with news of trips taken by the senders. The accomplishments of their successful children. The antics of their beautiful, busy, super-star grandchildren.

Don't get me wrong: I enjoy receiving these cyclical sagas. They make me feel guilty, though. Every year, I chastise myself for not returning the favor. After all, our kids and grandkids share the same traits as theirs. But then, I remember my mother's cousin and, once again, do nothing.

Cousin S. lived in California with her husband, son and daughter. Her annual letter, hand-written in lovely cursive, went on and on. It was the first of its kind that my family had ever received. The only one, too. When it arrived, Mom would set it aside so she could read it to all of us when Dad got home from work.

That night, my family would gather in the living room of our home on West Forty-Ninth Street in Minneapolis. Mom would start to read and I would dream of moving to sunny California where the trees in that family's back yard grew fruit superior to anyone else's.

Year after year, we were reassured the hubby was doing oh-so-well. That the son, a Greek god, was not only a scholar but an athlete the likes of which no one had ever seen. The daughter was, of course, so beautiful her father had to chase away hordes of suitors from the door.

When Mom was done reading, Dad always said the same thing. "Just once, I would like to hear the real story. The kids are brats and (the husband) is a ne'er-do-well." With an exasperated sigh, my mother always said the same thing, too. "Oh, Arthur."

Earlier this week, my friend and I talked about this subject. She has never done a holiday letter but said one year, her daughter, a college student at the time, got fed up with the dispatches her family received.

She cut photos of perfect-looking models from magazines. A picture of beautiful preppy-looking kids to represent her and her brothers. A fabulous, well-to-do looking couple to be her parents. Titled "The Perfect Family," she sent it off to family and friends she thought would appreciate the humor.

I am not joking when I say there is so much to tell you about the year gone by, Dear Readers. You probably don't realize my husband is given the royal treatment at Café Latte in Saint Paul where he picks up soup and salad for us on a regular basis.

He is so well-known at Pazzaluna, another Saint Paul eating establishment, that when I call in our pizza order on Saturday nights, the hostess asks, "Will John be picking this up?"

I am unable to claim such fame but, thanks to Facebook, I can boast a boatload of friends. And brag that more often than not, I win at online Mahjong Dark Dimensions and have gotten pretty good at Solitaire, too.

We took a lot of road trips in 2012. Minnetonka to the dentist. Edina and Burnsville for the doctor. We even made it to Walgreen's for a flu shot. At the rate we're going, we'll have way too many miles on our newly-leased SUV.

I hope your year has been as exciting as ours, Dear Readers. May this special time of year and the upcoming New Year give you lots to include in next year's holiday card.

All the best to you and yours

from Andrea