Dear Family and Friends of Henry Halff,
Here I am again, the faithful and ever so professional family historian., whom some of you may recall from the Halff Impersonal Christmas Form Letter of 1992. They only call me in when they are desperate. Here it is the week before Christmas, and hes got writers block. Isnt it always the case. They couldnt pay me enough for this job.
So, being very methodical, I say to Mr. Halff, "Surely you have some archive or record of the events of the past year." He replies by handing me a large red book, which I examine and remark, "How wonderful, an original Jackson Pollack, but I was thinking of something more along the lines of a notebook or diary." Well, as it turns out, this red book is just such a notebook and diary. The writing, Dr. Halff explains, has been cleverly disguised to protect Mei Technology Corporations company secrets. "M-E-I," I inquire, "what does that stand for?" Mr. Halff is not amused.
On the first page of this book, as it turns out are New Years resolutions, four of them.
The book, I note has not been lost, and it appears to be full of entries that constitute something of a diary, an indecipherable diary, but a diary nonetheless. I see no mention of a Century ride in any of these entries, and a quick look at Mr. Halffs physique is enough to tell me that he is 50% in the resolution department. Not bad, I suppose.
Pressing on, I rummage through the book searching for the Grand Themes that governed Mr. Halffs life during the past year. I note that his training game project was dropped by the sponsor. "They asked us what it taught," he remarked, "and we simply hadnt gotten around to thinking about that." I noted that the Air Force had asked him to spend a week thinking about decision training and that, due mainly to indecision, he had spent a month, maybe more, without coming to any conclusions. He diverted funds meant to explore computer support for technical writing to a futile effort at educating some noted academics in business and intellectual property rights. I also noted that two attractive women, either of which would have made wonderful lovers, were now "just friends."
So, I suggest to Mr. Halff, "in thinking about the Grand Themes that governed your life this year, suppose we start with Failure?"
"Wait," he protests (as they always do when confronted with the truth), "I had a pretty good year, all things considered.
"My love life is in excellent shape. Im in love with this woman, Jean Watson, who spends her days taking care of newborns and her evenings taking care of me." (Honi soit qui mal y pense, I always say.) "And weve been all over, like to the West Coast and Hunt, Texas, and the painted churches of Schulenberg." (Schulenberg, I am green with envy.)
"Whats more, we go to this Unity Church, which has more single women than you can count," (a lesson there, for single men.) "and at which everyone is so blissed out and new age, that they seem not to have noticed that the world is going to Hell in a handbasket. Rather refreshing really, in a church.
"And if thats not enough, we even went to this thing called a channeling, at which some never before seen Native American named White Eagle, chatted with the faithful using the voice of a middle aged woman, who also makes her voice available to Michael the Archangel, about such weighty matters as the DoD-Health System conspiracy to implant computer chips in peoples brains and the Texas Republican Partys plans to prepare a secession resolution under the guidance of aliens from outer space. I am not making this up!" (Was this, perchance, a meeting of the Mind Science Institute at the Comedy Club?)
"I may not have done a Century, but I haven’t busted my hip either." (I am not impressed.) "What’s more, I braved the treacherous waters of Boerne Lake as swimmer on a relay team in the Boerne Lake Triathlon." (Little more than a bathtub, I am compelled to note.) "To put together the team, we had to make a runner out of one of my colleagues (you remember the hermit-crabs lady from last year’s letter), so the running population of San Antonio is back where it was when before I was taken out with a busted hip. Hmm ?," he meanders on, "most runners are men. I wonder what would happen if Unity Church sponsored a race." (Why do we family historians have to deal with idiots.)
"Besides that," he continues, "my social life hasnt been that bad. I went to this wedding in New Orleans that put me about as close to royalty as you can get in this country. Even got a free tour of famous New Orleans houses and their families, er, families and their houses. Whats more, I did not totally screw up my dads 80th birthday party, and I probably did not insult, well, more than a dozen people there or embarrass the old man too much. Sometime last year, I had a bunch of people over for a house concert, and I fed them all my secret recipe for Cassoulet San Antone, and no one got sick.
"And work hasnt been a total bummer. I convinced several
dingbats noted scientists to come to San Antonio to
work on my main project. Thats pretty good progress toward my
goal of retiring to the Caribbean, leaving the rest of the staff to
deal with the project. Whats more, Ive been able to use
the project as an excuse to go to such marvy places as San Diego,
Minneapolis, Washington, and Logan, Utah without anyone catching on
the fact that I dont do a damn bit of work on it."
"I find this totally boring," I confess, "and Im tempted to resign my commission as your family historian. I suggest that you just send out your Christmas cards with no signature and no return address. That way, you wont be too embarrassed. Next year, consider sprucing up your history a bit. Try building a house, for example, or getting fired. Or maybe you could fall off your bike again. That was good for a laugh.
"But we still have half a page, so rather than undercharge you, suppose you tell me about, oh, maybe your son or dog in hopes of dispelling the boredom."
As it turns out, the son is still in Canada, hoping, I suppose for another Viet Nam so that he can resist the draft. He continues his studies of video ethnography (dont ask), and he continues to vacillate from month to month on his degree ambitions. This month Masters, next month Doctorate. He is, as it turns out, looking for work on the side (an effort fully supported by both of his parents), as a webster and general practitioner of cyberspace arts. Details are available through the magical incantation, http://www.outerbass.com/halff/resume.html.
Cady the dog provided me with a succinct review of her years experience, "Yip, yip, arf, arf, ralph, ralph, ralph," which I found somewhat more comprehensible than the scribblings in the red book. Roughly translated, her story runs as follows. "I have, with my bare teeth successfully remodeled several pairs of shoes and ventilated numerous other household articles. I have, with my ferocious bark, successfully kept at bay the wild beasties that attack our house at 2:00 AM every morning. Placed on guard duty at the hermit-crab ladys place, I was able to escape the confines of her yard, and in a series of daring sorties, was able to reconnoiter most of the neighborhood, and I only urped once or twice on her carpet. Now, dont you think I deserve my own web page for Christmas?"
This historian is staying in South Texas for the holidays, despite the tedious company here. He intends to follow the local customs of decorating the mesquite, lighting luminarias, eating tamales, knocking back a Shiner Bock or two, two-stepping round the Christmas tree, and keeping the spirit of the season going as long as he can. He recommends the same to yall.
When its Christmas time in Texas
Its a very special time for me.
In Texas well be swinging around the Christmas tree,
Dancing to a Christmas melody.
When its Christmas time in Texas,
It might look just like a summer day.
Oh, there may not be snow in San Antonio,
But its a Texas Christmas to me.Benny McArthur