December 19, 1999

Dear Relatives and Friends,

I am running behind as usual with Chanukah starting on December 3 as close to Thanksgiving I did not get up my usual glitzy decorations. Jenn and I decided minimal was best and Steph would feel her mom finally got some class!

Last year at this time I was rushing around putting the finishing touches on a large Chanukah Open House. It was really our way to end the doom and gloom since Jenn was 3/4 through her treatments and we needed to put joy back in our hearts. Today she is completely cancer free and doing magnificently.

In February my sister's family came from South Africa and my brother came from Denver to help us celebrate Dad's 90th birthday. It has been too many years since Gene, Marsha, and I have been together. Taking advantage of Marsha's stay, Merlin and I slipped off to Vegas for 3 days; she and Peter took care of Dad.

I got to take three other trips. We went to Washington, DC, for a Merlin family Bat Mitzvah. We took Jenn and did some sightseeing. The Lincoln Memorial at night is awesome. The best part of the trip was all the relatives we met for the first time. They were warm, bright, funny, and fun. The song from "The King and I," "Getting to Know You," pops into my head every time I think about our trip.

In July we went to the Los Angeles area for a Hoffman-side wedding. I will be eternally grateful to my cousin Paul for inviting all the second-generation cousins. Jenn and Steph both came to the wedding and were pleased to find what neat people their cousins are! Merlin and I drove my new Taurus on this trip, taking two days to drive South, stopping at Hearst Castle on the way.

My last trip, I went alone to Palm Springs for my Uncle Ben's 95th birthday party. He was singing, dancing, and giving out with the oratory and all had a marvelous time.

Stephanie left in September for Ross Veterinary School, located on the island of St. Kitts in the Caribbean. Having survived three hurricanes she arrives home today! It sounds great going to school in this tropical paradise but, truth be told, going to a resort island is like living in a Third World country. Buying necessities and doing business are really difficult. Plus 12-hour days, six days a week at school and study. <>

Merlin's job at Cisco continues to be a challenge and joy for him. With Y2K he is required to be able to come in to work within two hours so our New Years celebration will be a small one. The girls, however, will ring in the new year at Lake Tahoe.

Dad has just gotten out of the hospital. He had gallstones and pancreatitis. On the mend now, but he must have his gall bladder removed soon.

Great news from Gene's kids. Lindsay, who lives in Austin, Texas, has been winning all kinds of poetry slams and writing awards. Mike is finishing school in July, but will spend five weeks, starting in January, in India. He is the only student selected as part of the University of Illinois's team to help redesign the gardens at the Taj Mahal. It is a fabulous honor and the Indian Government is paying his travel and all expenses.

Marsha and her family are well. She now lives in the paradise of George, on the Garden Route near the coast in the Cape area of South Africa. Wendy is teaching and Frank is lawyering.

We are extremely grateful for all our blessings. The love we share with our friends and family. Be assured you are all in our prayers. May the new millennium bring us all G-d's blessings and more peace for the world.


Love always,

Sandy and Merlin

Jennafer and Stephanie