The Christmas Missives


Christmas 2011

Dearest Family, Friends, and Assorted Others…

Yes, it’s here!  The 2011 Tim-And-Victor Christmas Letter.  Stop reading right now.  Get a cup of coffee—or better yet, a nice cocktail—and sit down to savor the news…

Are ya back?!?  All comfy?!?  Good!

Here goes:

First the important stuff.  We didn’t win the lottery, cure cancer, or otherwise change the world in any meaningful way.  Cybil, as smart as she is, didn’t win any spectacular Canine Awards.  We had no children making their Off-Broadway debut in a school play or Christmas Pageant that only a parent or delirious grandparent could love.

All-in-all, it was an unremarkable year.  Mostly.

2011 started off as most years do in Pennsylvania.  Cold.   What a joy.  For those of you who have never experienced the joys—or cost—of oil heat, let us just say that we did our part in keeping the oil speculators on Wall Street clothed in chinchilla and mink and cases of Louis Roederer Cristal.

In February the income tax check arrived and we decided it was time to upgrade the kitchen counters.   Back in 2001 when we first remodeled the kitchen, we were concerned about leaving a 1950 ranch home and walking into a 2001 kitchen, so we compromised and put in ceramic tile counters and backsplash. Fast-forward 10 years and the counters were looking pretty shabby.  We tend to cook a lot and actually use our kitchen for more than a place to microwave take-out.  So… time to upgrade to granite.  It really looks great and really warmed up the room.  Victor called it his 60th birthday present.  Tim thought that was a great idea.

We headed out to San Francisco in March for a much-too-quick family visit.  It was great seeing everyone.  One of these days we’re going to have to spend more than a long weekend.  There are lots of folks we would like to see.

Victor took off for a four-day  business trip, so, since we now had new counters and backsplash, Tim decided to take off work while he was gone and surprise him by painting the kitchen.  Victor loathes painting and can’t stand the mess involved, so Tim decided to do it on his own.  Unlike some people, he can easily sleep at night with half of the house in disarray. The room had not been painted since we first did it after the remodel 10 years ago.  Many of the things on the walls were in the same place they had been for ten years.  Tim was rather surprised at how they were both able to not see ten years of accumulated gunk.  He had to do some pretty serious cleaning before he could put any paint on the walls and much of the stuff was retired to the dustbin.  But it is all fresh and pretty, now.

Victor got new granite and a complete kitchen cleaning and paint job for his birthday.

Naturally, Tim couldn’t let a landmark birthday pass with merely granite and paint for presents, so he secretly got a fabulously-expensive hotel room in New York and 2nd-row center seat tickets to see La Cage aux Folles on Broadway!  It would have been a great time if La Cage hadn’t closed 4 days before the show they were going to see.  He tried like hell to get tickets to something else, to no avail.  So he got refunds for everything and bought Victor an iPad.  A 64gb bad-boy iPad.  What the hell.  He’s worth it.

Tim’s knee had been bothering him for quite a while, so—drum-roll, please—he actually went to the doctor.  Torn meniscus.  He also had to see a Urologist for another issue.  We will not bore you with the details of that examination or the camera that was inserted where no camera should ever be put.

Then there was arthroscopic knee surgery.  Even with really good insurance, arthroscopic knee surgery is really expensive.  And less than six months later, the knee hurt just as it did before the surgery.  So far, he hasn’t been back to the doctor.

On a fun note, we made an impulse-trip to New York for the Gay Pride Parade in June.  We hadn’t been to a New York parade in years and, as it was just after New York had legalized marriage for gay couples, we decided we needed to be a part of the festivities.  It really was a lot of fun.  The parades have gotten quite tame over the years.  Nothing like the debauchery of our youth.  Oh well.  We still had a good time.

And Spring turned to Summer and Summer turned to Fall.

Occupy Wall Street became the cause célèbre and we both went down to the Occupy Philly site to lend our support.  Alas, our sleeping-on-sidewalks  camping days are behind us (Tim’s idea of camping is a Holiday Inn without Room Service) but we are supporting OWS in every city and town in America.  We think it’s a travesty that the immoral and illegal actions of Wall Street and the banks have gone unpunished as millions of Americans have lost their jobs and their homes.  We think it is even more of a travesty that the paramilitary police departments have met peaceful protesters with such violence.  The First Amendment of our Constitution does not state that “Free Speech” is relegated to “zones” or that protesters must obtain permits from the government they are protesting against in order to protest.   The entire United States—the entire United States—is a Free Speech Zone.  No permit required.  Period.

We celebrated our First Wedding Anniversary in October and in January, the New Hampshire legislature may be voting to rescind our marriage.  Kim Kardashian can make a mockery of marriage but we are the ones destroying it.  Go figure.

In November we celebrated our 17th anniversary together. Time does fly when you’re having fun.  And we are having fun.  Even amidst corrupt politics and disparity we are having fun and enjoying life.  We have our health, family, friends, and each other.  We’re lucky.

We’re planning a 2-week trip to Italy in June 2012 for Tim’s 60th birthday.  We’re going with Tim’s sister and have already rented apartments in Rome and in Florence.

Victor bought Tim a copy of Rosetta Stone Italian and we’re planning to at least be able to ask where the bathroom is while we’re there.  We’ll also have language translation apps on the phones.  Modern technology is a good thing.  Sometimes.

So as 2011 comes to a close, so must this little epistle.  Aren’t you glad you got that drink and sat down and read it?  Heck.  Go get another and re-read it.  We won’t tell!

And in the meantime, may you have the most wonderful Hanukkah, Christmas, Yule, Kwanza, and Whatever Else Holiday Season with nothing but joy and prosperity in 2012.

Holiday Hugs and Kisses!

Victor, Tim, and Cybil Shepherd