December 12, 2004

Dear Friends and Family,

Hi, ho, get out the reading glasses, the annual holiday letter is here.

In January we had Southern visitors Ida Macher and her daughter Bobbi Wilson. Ida is an honorary Dorfman (and Merlin) and a real good friend.

In February Merlin's dad spent three weeks visiting. He also spent some time in Southern California with our Steph and Danny.

March was the great trip. Merlin and I did three weeks in New Zealand and Australia. Wish it had been three months and eternally grateful to have seen so much. My favorite day was a trip to the mountains and having rainbow parrots fly to my feet and all around. The most exciting was a helicopter ride made necessary by a landslide caused by rain from a "cyclone" (hurricane). It was thrilling and I would gladly go again.

April was quiet except for a lovely day at the theater seeing "Lion King." Fabulous show, best in years.

May flowers brought my "sunshiny" Stephanie home for a couple of days. In June, on our way to Washington, DC, Merlin and I traveled to North Carolina to see his sister Peggy and her husband Steven. Good luck prevailed and we crossed paths with our niece Lauren as well. Their home is truly beautiful and so surrounded by nature that you think you are not close to another living soul. From there we went on to Washington for the Bas Mitzvah of cousin Alix Kashdan. We went to Hillwood, the Marjorie Meriwether Post residence now converted to a museum full of great Czarist Russian and French treasures. Every time we had been in the area before, it was closed, so after three attempts I got to see this off-the-beaten-path treasure. Merlin found time to go to the spectacular new Smithsonian Air and Space annex near Dulles Airport.

In July we went to see Burt Bacharach at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga. Old songs can warm a cool night. Merlin and I had used so much of his music at our wedding.

In August Merlin got back to Carolina on business and was able to visit my cousin Darlene. We spent four days at Lake Tahoe with Alice and Stan Slaton, Steph's in-laws. We went to see a Chris Isaak concert and visited Virginia City, Nevada. We took a tram ride to the top of Heavenly Valley which let us look over the entire Tahoe basin. Great food, great times.

September was "boo hoo!" month as Mark and Jennafer left for Romania but it was dad and son bonding trip for Julie and Merlin went to Glacier National Park for a week. On the 25th, Merlin and I celebrated 33 years together. I have been truly blessed with a husband who loves and likes me (but not 24/7). As fathers go he has been AAA. Enough blather.

In October, Merlin's sister Zena visited. We got to squeeze her in right before leaving for my nephew Mike's wedding in Harrison, Ark. Cousin Marilyn hooked up with us at the Dallas airport flying in from LA and we went to Branson, Mo., for a pre-wedding party. In one day we saw Yakov Smirnoff, Andy Williams & Ann-Margret, and finished the evening with the Gatlin Brothers & Pam Tillis. Now in a complete party mood we went to the wedding. The rehearsal dinner was fabulous. Gene & Leslie did a great job. The wedding had a very special flavor for everything from the decorations to the judge to the singers, the band, and the food were friends & family done with the elegance of a fine hotel. I'm in love with Mandy's family and hope to see them all again.

November we did Thanksgiving in Santa Ana with Danny and Steph and all Danny's family. The cooking was a joint affair and despite being delayed for an emergency doggie "C" section, very good. Next time we will probably have dinner in their new house in Costa Mesa where they moved in the past couple of weeks. The day after Thanksgiving we went to Palm Springs to see cousin Marilyn's new house and to visit with her son Bart, his in-laws, Aunt Eva, and other Palm Springs friends and family. Driving home on the Sunday after Thanksgiving was an adventure in itself.

December is stay-at-home month. Looking forward to your cards and letters. As our families become smaller, each one of you becomes more precious and more needed.

Love always,

Sandy and Merlin