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Writing Christmas letters
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When I saw the return address, I rolled my eyes.

For years, an acquaintance of mine has always sent this Christmas letter, along with a photograph of his perfect family.

This is not even somebody I know that well. But at the most wonderful time of the year comes the annual story of the most wonderful family in the world.

I've read how the children speak French fluently and the daughter has been the prima ballerina of "The Nutcracker."

The son was the captain of the forensic team. I thought that meant he was working at the state crime lab. Turns out, he's head of the debate team, but oh, let me tell you they didn't win the state, they won the nationals.

The other son is being recruited by Harvard and Yale, because he's a brain.

They never vacation in places like Pigeon Forge or Myrtle Beach, it's always somewhere like The Alps or China. By the way, for the China trip the kids picked up the basics of Mandarin (that's a language, not an orange).

You'd think that folks this smart would be nerds. They're not. Inside the envelope is a color photo of a bunch of people who look like fashion models.

Now, quite frankly, I think the wife has had a little work done since the last picture. They didn't say so in the letter, but those eyes looked a bit more open and that forehead may have been the beneficiary of a shot or two of Botox.

I think they all went for teeth whitening, including the near perfect, show quality Irish setter, who is always in the picture.

I thought about writing the Blackwood Christmas letter.

I'd begin by telling you we're still working on the house. We've been messing around with that for nearly five years.

And how about that, in May, we will have been married for five years and what's amazing is we have four children ranging in age from 17 to 24. I still snore. If my wife doesn't go to sleep first and I'm really sawing the logs, she gets up and sleeps on the sofa, which will be ours in nine more payments.

I take a little medicine for my blood pressure, which only gets elevated on days I have to write a column.

I installed some of those compact fluorescent bulbs to shine on the driveway. When it's cold, you have to turn them on early. I've also been meaning to fix that toilet in the downstairs bathroom. You have to jiggle the handle a bit for it to work right.

We see the kids regularly. Two of them are still living at home, but are only a cell phone call away if we need them...if they'll answer.

Also living at home are the two stepdogs. They are both well over 70, in dog years, and it is like having two cantankerous, irritable, demanding old people residing in your home.

I drive a car that now has 210,000 miles and 84 dents. It has four tires, three of which were made on different continents.

As you can tell, we had a great year and wanted to share the news of our good fortune with all of you and wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

That's what I'd write. But nobody would read it.

Harris Blackwood, a native of Social Circle, is on the editorial board of The Gainesville Times. Send e-mail to