I'm happy to report that I actually got Holiday Greeting Cards out and they even got out before Christmas! I say "I", but I should really say "We" because Barry had a huge part in getting them out... he successfully bugged me about them and helped me fight off my procrastination. Without him, I probably wouldn't have sent them again this year. This was the first time in three years that I got them out. I managed to keep the letter down to a single page and touched on the major highlights of the past four years... three of which included Barry. It was interesting to reflect on the past four years; when I summed it all up, it was really nice to remember all of the trips and other fun times that were had. Here's the text of the letter that was sent:
Quick stats: 4 years, 4 "houses", 4 births, 7 weddings, 1 funeral, 3 cars, countless parties, 25+ trips (14 states, 3 countries, 2 cruises)
Four years... I can hardly believe that it has been four years since my last holiday greeting... So much has happened in 2004, '05, '06, and '07 that I'm sure we'll only be able to scratch the surface... but Barry and I wanted to be sure to send our love and holiday wishes to everyone... and besides... if I procrastinated yet again, could you just imagine five years of catching up?!?
I think first and foremost, I need to introduce Barry. Three of the past four years have been "our" years... We met in December 2004 and our lives have been intertwined since. So throughout this letter, you'll notice the use of "our" and "we"... our lives are pretty-much "one life" now.
(PS: For those who may not have known up until now, yes, I'm gay. I think one of the reasons for putting-off writing a holiday letter was this very statement... but that's the way it is and perhaps this is my final step of truly coming-out... I won't be scared or feel bad about who I am anymore. Over the past eight-or-so-years I have gradually come out to several friends and family... I cherish the acceptance and love I have been met with. I don't want to dwell on this, but, yeah, I guess it's a pretty big part of the past years.)
Barry and I rented a house together while I had tenants living at my condo, then we moved back when the tenants left. We added a full bathroom and recently put it back to use by our newest housemate (Barry's brother). Over the past two years the condo has had a lot of change and became more of a home with new TV, furniture, paint, etc. (Now, if I can just learn to get rid of some stuff...)
Last letter (Dec '03) I had just purchased a seasonal campsite at The Woods, a new campground about an hour north of home. Two summers ago, we got our new "summer home" (a 29½-ft camper), and this summer we built (yes, built-from-scratch) a tool shed and guest-house on our site. This comfort for us and our guests has truly made our summer weekends at camp a lot of fun and a true home-away-from-home. The camp keeps us busy during the summers, particularly holiday weekends as I co-produce/co-host an extensive variety-show every Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend.
We got a new car--a Toyota FJ Cruiser--which we love, and apparently so did some car thieves who stole it for a night (but caused enough damage to leave us without her for two months). We call her "Violated Violet" now.
I stepped back from Scouts and also from my leadership roles in the Network of Young Professionals and the Pennsylvania Young Professionals. It's not that I "wasn't young anymore"... I'm proud of the work I had done, but the time and commitment didn't fit with our life anymore and I felt like it was time to pass the torch. I still spend a good amount of time helping out when I can and volunteering in the community. I increased my involvement with volunteering at Musikfest: I went through their leadership training course and volunteered every year (this coming August will be my 10th year with Musikfest).
So many parties and celebrations that it would take four or five letters to share all the experiences--notable "Winterfest" celebrations that we hosted were '04 Fire & Ice, '05 Absolut White, and '06 Winter Twilight. Guests of those parties were talking about them for years. Perhaps someday Winterfest will return, but for now pictures, memories, and stories will have to do.
Those of you who know me, know that I don't like to sit still for very long and how I love to travel. Vacations are always a big part of my life, and Barry has embraced this too: we were both on all the trips after 2005's Florida cruise. Here's a quick recap of the 25+ "big-trips". Wish we had more room for details... we'll just have to save the slide shows and stories for the next time we see you.
○2004○ Poconos Ski Weekend w/friends ○ Atlanta, GA (visit Angie) ○ Vermont Skiing w/friends ○ Ireland w/Amy (toured all of Ireland and stayed with David & Vince) ○ Puerto Rico w/Robyn ○ Sea Isle City, NJ week w/family ○ NYC w/Kim ○ Cleveland, OH (for family New Years) ○2005○ Mardi Gras Trip w/friends ○ Killington Vermont w/friends ○ Florida & Cruise w/Family ○ Connecticut (visit Kara) ○ Augusta, GA (visit mom & dad) ○ Miami Cruise w/friends ○ Arizona (Sedona, Grand Canyon, Phoenix) (toured around the state and met-up w/family for mom's Induction into FAAN) ○ 2006○ Las Vegas w/Kim ○ Florida (Disney by ourselves and then Universal w/family... although I had appendicitis and spent four days in the hospital--not a fun way to spend a vacation, but we made the best of it) ○ NJ Fishing Trip w/"pops" ○ NJ & NYC w/Frank & David ○2007○ Breckenridge, CO w/friends ○ San Juan Cruise w/friends ○ Morgantown, WV (help mom & dad unpack) ○ Sea Isle City, NJ week w/family ○ Washington, DC w/Kevin
So that's a quick catch-up on Paul and Barry for the past four years. Countless adventures, friends, and good times filled our lives. Until we meet again or talk once more, may you find happiness and peace and all that is good in this world! May you, your family, and all of your friends find new excitement and wonder in every day! Peace and well wishes...
Paul & Barry
Barry and I did our shopping Thursday before Xmas weekend. The stores were packed, but it was nice to get everything purchased before the weekend craziness set-in. We spent less money than we wanted, but more money than we should... Our finances have really be in ruins the past couple months... but I'm trying not to think about or dwell on it. Problem is, by not thinking about it, we aren't really doing anything to help correct it. I just keep holding-on to the hope that once Barry gets a job we'll be able to clear our debts and start saving money again.
Friday night was a holiday party for Takeover Lehigh Valley. Barry and I stopped at Brewworks for dinner first... it was crowded, but we enjoyed dinner at the bar and "primed ourselves" with some cocktails. Then we walked across the street to the party. It was a lot of fun -- saw some old friends and drank LOTS of martini's... too many martini's... OMG we were both so sick the next day... SO SO sick. ugh... Honestly, I think I'm still recovering...
Saturday night was a birthday dinner at Gregory's Steakhouse for Barry's "Pops". Sunday was brunch with my sister, brother-in-law, niece, and parents at Cracker Barrel.
Sadly, Barry's niece Ashley was (and still is) in the hospital since Friday. She had her wisdom teeth removed surgically, and an infection set in. Really bad... had surgery again on Monday to release and clean-out the infection. Apparently there's still some infection in her... I feel so bad for her. She's 18 and having to have to go through all this -- Christmas in the hospital. Ugh! :( We visited her several times to try and help cheer her up.
Monday we spent the day mainly in the hospital with Ashley. I helped Barry's mom cook a huge lobster-and-clams dinner for the family for Monday night. The meal was so good! Then we all opened presents and then took Ashley's presents to the hospital for her to open. Among several gifts that we got including gift cards, Barry and I got a coffee pot that grinds the beans from his mom and a full cookware set from his brother. Very nice indeed!
Christmas morning we woke up very early to take Barry's brother to the airport. (4:30am) Then we got ready and went over to my sister's for Christmas morning around the tree opening gifts. Got there around 7am or so. As always, my parents made sure that everyone had tons of gifts to open, and our process of taking-turns opening gifts lasted a couple hours. It was a very nice Christmas... Among the gifts: Barry and I got nice gift cards from my parents and a "charging station" from Pottery Barn from my sister. :) Marea and Chris made a nice ham dinner for us too. So much good food this holiday!
Yesterday and today have been "work" for me... things are relatively quiet in the office... but with year-end occurring frantically around me, the tension in the office is high. (I don't really get affected too much by year-end... my busy time is "start-of-year"...)
That's a recap of the Holiday Week. Looking forward to visiting Frank and David in NJ this weekend and then New Year's party here in the valley. Hopefully I'll get a chance to update again soon... but in-case not: Happy New Year everyone!