Greetings one and all this December! We got a lot of complaints on last year’s public service type Christmas letter; and we quote, “It’s just not what we expected of the Phelps letter… I thought it would be funnier…” Well, here’s telling you that this is the Phelps letter, not the Jones letter, or the Wilson letter, and the Phelps get to decide how funny, informative, or sad they want it to be. We just think it up and write it down. No one gets paid to fulfill this contract.
So there. Take it or leave it. Written comments should be directed to the publisher.

If you haven’t noticed, our letters and our entire Christmas theme tie into each other, and the cards usually match the letter. You didn’t notice? – How long have you been getting the Phelps letter? Come on, we work at this! Anyway, our little town is building a new library, hence, the bookish holiday card. It’s a big political thing here as you can imagine – something changing in small towns always is. We, however, are in complete support of it. One, because we don’t think anyone can ever have enough books. Two, the entire family, Julie in particular, have always been nearly single-handedly supporting libraries off of our late book fines. And three, what would we read about in the local paper if there weren’t political upheaval?

We thought we would give you some reviews of reading material we have absorbed in the last year or so – sort of a top ten list, or 100 books to read before you die list, or just, this is what those Phelps liked, see if you like it too. This is not a mandated reading list like in college! Dabble a bit, dip your brain into the unexpected book. You may find a new genre for yourself.

Numero Uno has to be Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, #7 in the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling. Yes, we had Pottermania. Badly. In fact, we had a day-long silent reading party devoted to this very book. Some of us cried, and some of us have read it 3 times already. No, you can’t borrow it. We are all very protective of our copies. Yes, we do have multiple copies. Some things are just too sacred to be shared so buy your own or go to the library!

Eragon and Eldest by Christopher Paolini took us by surprise. Liz read it first, then Julie got sucked into it. The movie was Ok, but we really liked the books. Yes, it is about dragons and has names you can’t pronounce, but lots of thought went into the development of that story. We are looking forward to the third book.

Kathy Reichs has a series of books that one of our favorite crime shows, Bones is based on. The show took some liberties, and actually, we favor the show over the books, but it is still interesting to read and pick up the background behind the story development.

If you are looking for a little history, may we recommend St. Paul’s Historic Summit Avenue by Ernest R Sandeen. It is both pictorial and factual on the rise of Mansion Street in St. Paul. Chr’s and Julie check the Sunday papers every week in case one of the houses on Summit should have an open house. Maybe someday a 14 bedroom, 8 bathroom, all original woodwork, move in quality, fully landscaped, WiFi wired house with a Summit Avenue address will come on the market for one tenth of it’s market value and we’ll be the only people to bid on it, and wa-la, we’ll be moving to St. Paul. Yeah, maybe, but if we weren’t reading the paper, we’d miss it if it did.

We had a summer of classics – Barnes and Noble had a sale – and so everyone had the chance to muddle through as many parts of some great, and some rather dull classics as they could tolerate. Moby Dick, Little House on the Prairie, Pride and Prejudice, to name a few. We spend a lot of time at Barnes and Noble. This may be geeky, but we have family outings at Barnes and Noble. Yes, we fear we are their best customer. It is just that words can be entertaining, or informative, or can distract you, or be a gift, or help you plan a scheme, or party, or vacation – you can find anything in a book. It may come as a surprise to the online Barnes and Noble web site that the average person can not purchase 150 books at a time. (Yes, I am sending this letter to the corporate office.) It’s not that you can’t find 150 books. You can find that many that you want, need, or must have. It just won’t let you buy that many. The site actually stops you at that point.

We did some remodeling on the house this summer. This involved moving books and –gasp- putting them in boxes for extended periods of time. I have just gotten the last 2 truckloads of books out of storage and they seem to have survived well. There are some books that just shouldn’t be boxed up. They’re like family you know. My 6 copies of Gone With the Wind… Sorry. They stayed here and got dusted on a regular basis. Those are NOT going in a box. Not that I read them every day, but what if I wanted to, I needed them available. We tend not to get rid of books. Oh, we try. Once in awhile there really is a book that someone hates and it gets given away or put in a garage sale, but mostly we find something enduring in nearly all of them.

We have a book about oatmeal that Hannah used to make us read over and over. Still have that. I’m a huge murder mystery fan, and especially of series books, so they never get recycled. I may not have them in perfect order on the shelves, but I’ve got them. Liz has books on every animal species every created along with several copies of Black Beauty, and Shannon is a big fan of author Lurlene McDaniel. Chr’s – he’s eclectic – a little left wing, a little right wing, some woodworking instruction manuals thrown in, and a little sci-fi to round it out. Shannon and I are straight through readers. One book at a time. The rest of the family are of the breed that has multiple books going at the same time. Like nails on a chalkboard to some of us, but, hey, that’s who they are and we love them anyway. We all like different sections of the newspapers.

We just came back from vacation. Our luggage was overweight before we even put any clothes in because we packed the reading material first! Final tally – Chr’s and Julie: 10 reading books and 5 magazines, 4 suduko puzzle books, and 15 printed pages of info we didn’t want to forget. Yes, we know what you’re thinking, it was a vacation, but what if it rained, what if we were bored, or couldn’t sleep, or had a flight delayed. Best to surround yourself with something you want to read then that which is forced upon you. The plan was to strategically leave books as we finished them, but that didn’t work well. Hannah even picked up a Spanish magazine on the last leg of the journey and crammed it in to bring home. What we found we didn’t have was Julie’s big brown day planner with everything known to man recorded in it. She’s not a well known author to anyone but those who use the day planner, but we find the info valuable every day.

There are some places you count on to read, like the dentist’s office. I never buy a People magazine because I know I’ll read it monthly there as I wait for the ortho appointments. Waiting for an oil change, always bring your own reading material unless you are fond of Car & Driver magazine. Grocery store: don’t bring anything but there is always the chance you’ll walk out with something to read besides the nutrition labels, especially if you have to wait in a check-out lane. (side note – try Simon Delivers for groceries, you never wait in line!) Weddings and school conferences, don’t try to bring a book, it’s frowned on, however always leave something in the car. Books in bed; heavenly. Our kids even went to bed in their cribs with books.

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this, and pick yourself out a good book for the holiday season. Books can be soothing to the soul, food for the brain, and can stabilize a wobbly table in a pinch.

Happy Holidays from Phelps and Co. – Julie, Chr’s, Hannah, Elizabeth, and Shannon
30737 Hwy 19 Blvd, Cannon Falls, MN 55009; julie_phelps@yahoo.com, twistsol@yahoo.com

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