You know you’re old when the first show you remember watching is having their 40th anniversary! Yes, it is true, we are older than 40 and grew up watching Sesame Street. Literally, grew up watching as we watched it when we were little, Julie watched it with younger sisters, she wrote a paper on it during college, and then we watched it with our own kids. Even occasionally today, when flipping through the channels, we all catch ourselves stopping and watching Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, and all the gang.

Hannah’s first two rooms were decorated in a Sesame Street theme with cute wallpaper, a lamp, and a legion of stuffed animals. When Aunt Holly’s daughter Mary was born 8 years later, we sent all the little do-dads to her to fill in her Sesame Street room, which then necessitated a trip to Virginia to meet baby Mary, and Hannah slept every night on the floor of that room so she could see if Mary liked all her stuff. Who doesn’t like Sesame Street and connect with one character or another on that show? Or, when you catch a hint of the ditty…’sing, sing a song, sing out loud…’ doesn’t have to restrain themselves from breaking out into song like they were Aretha Franklin. The show hasn’t changed much in 40 years and no matter what years you watched the show, I’m sure you’ll get the drift of this holiday letter.

Hannah brings you her news of 2009 courtesy of the Number 3 and the Letter C: She is addicted to Cosetta’s but that’s not new, she’s been going there since she wore bibs. She worked with corn at Monsanto this summer, and now works for Cannon Kids after school a couple days a week. She just got contacts, she drives a blue car, watches crime shows and drinks chai tea although in a pinch, she’ll drink hot or iced coffee. Her favorite dessert is cheesecake from Café Latte (like whose isn’t?) and she is the captain of the football cheerleaders (Go Bombers!) She colors a lot at her job, and comes home with lots of pretty pictures from her charges. She wore a Ninja costume for Halloween when she wasn’t dressed in the hot dog suit that really belonged to her companion, Sean.

The Letter L and the Color Blue are the sponsors of Liz’s 2009 news. She hates her new locker with it’s sticky lock, she will again be giving long speeches as part of the speech team with its long standing coaches. She played on the tennis team where all the scores start out as Love, and won her first doubles match playing with Kristina, one of the schools exchange students who happens to hail from Lithuania. She’s been studying for her permit so she can learn to drive. She lucked out and had a perfect dental checkup at our new dentist in the little blue building, but Shannon had two cavities. She’s writing for the Lantern, the high school paper, and stands on the left in the choir. She spent a couple weekends this summer laying on the beach in Virginia while babysitting for her cousin Mary. There was the broken little toe incident but all’s well that heals well.

Capital D dominates Shannon’s news this year. She is back in the dance season, she remains ditsy and blond, and can drag out a story until you just can’t focus on what she started talking about. She has done a lot of demolition and has decorated her room in orange and brown – it does sound dull, but actually it grows on you. She computes digits as part of the math team, and carries so many duffle bags that she’d be mistaken for a bag lady if it weren’t for the makeup and perfect hair. She finished driver’s ed, and now drives very cautiously with Chr’s. Backing up on our driveway takes at least an hour and good power steering. She rocked in her first year of debate and would like me to dictate for you each dashing dig and daring deliberation that she début, but you could just call her to discuss it.

Julie and Chr’s will share the glory of the Letter H. The H1N1 flu has dominated Julie’s life as a school nurse this year and she has worked hard to make sure the entire town has improved their handwashing skills. Chr’s has been working on a project to change the entire heating system in the house (note that he is doing this in November and December) and Julie, though every fiber of her being told her to stick to her principles and never, ever, work again on a home improvement project with Chr’s, got cold and agreed to help. She should have taken her own advice as she currently has a headache and six staples in the top of her head after a hit on a rafter. She moved from helping to hanging the holiday lights after that incident. She would like hired help to finish the project or her second choice is just to go into hibernation. Chr’s went on a school trip with Hannah and a herd of teenagers to the presidential inauguration in Washington DC in January. If you review the crowd pictures, he is in a Disney Cars hat and Hannah has a green coat. You should spot them right away. There were only a couple of million people hanging out with them. We all carpooled up to the Inver Grove Heights movie theater on July 17th for the high midnight showing of Harry Potter. Julie and her niece Sydney happily tried to see the Harry movie three times on opening day, but only managed twice. Chr’s is keeping the hardware stores solvent, even in this half hearted economy. He is still driving blue cars, but now has to make believe that this Hyundai is American made. We made a horrendous amount of noise with a jackhammer this summer on our back concrete, and Chr’s had to use a heating pad for days afterward. Don’t even get us started on the hills of dirt in the yard! Hills happen when you need both a new sewer system and a well in the same summer. We holed up in a hotel for a couple days. We had some luck growing herbs like cilantro in the garden, but the Halloween cucumbers that showed up were a bit of an unexpected morphing! Julie had been homeless at work, but they finally finished the high school construction project and she moved in. There was an incident with a heinous raccoon this fall but a deputy happened to be in the neighborhood and ‘dispatched’ it for us. He conveniently left it for us to dispose of as it was “a little messy.” Our Christmas tree this year is decorated with a hoard of rubber duckies and an Ernie head star.

If we had to pick a character to live on a desert island with, Julie would definitely choose Cookie Monster. Her favorite by far, and now that he has gone a little vegan, even better. Better living with a cookie is her favorite motto. Chr’s, knowing that cookies will fix everything, even bought out a monthly cookie plan at the school auction. We are the proud recipients of a monthly delivery of magic Mrs. Sabin cookies and vow to outbid whoever may try to take this away from us next year. Hannah would hang with Elmo, as they have similar laughs and she’s slept with him anyway from years 2-6, or 2-10 but we won’t embarrass her by printing that. Chr’s chooses Grover, as the only Muppet known to have a super hero alter ego. Shannon would take Big Bird as it would be useful to have someone tall, and Liz, equally as practical, would take Barkley the dog so she would have a good companion. We wouldn’t be taking Frank the dog as he doesn’t do very nice things with stuffed animals and we don’t know much about Muppet health insurance. We know our salaries probably wouldn’t cover the damage he could inflict on such American icons and they are probably not yet covered by any government plans.

And so ends our 2009 Christmas letter. You could match it up with three others and sing “One of these things is not like the others…” and we know our letter would probably be the odd one out! You could put it down and declare naptime as I often recall doing for the gang after watching Sesame Street. You could go find yourself a furry monster and give it a hug. Whatever you do, have yourselves a merry holiday and try to get along with everyone, share with your friends, sing when the mood strikes you, have a famous guest over to improve your ratings, and if you get lost, look for Mr. Hooper’s store.

Peace from the Phelps – Chr’s / Julie
Hannah / Elizabeth / Shannon

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