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Your letter arrived just as I was about to set off on my around-the-world trip dispensing gifts to all those children that wrote in and have been good throughout the year. Needless to say it was a bit dicey in those areas afflicted by the disease that is war, but my trusty reindeer managed to stay clear of any flak that threatened to come our way. There was a close call as we were making our way across the Afghan border when one of those US drones spotted us, but the Elves had us fitted with a new-fangled device they came up with that render us invisible when the right button is pressed, so no worries on that score.
I have to tell you that your northern areas look in terrible shape – all devastation and distress and there wasn’t the chance of a snowball in hell of giving those poor children any relief at all, as both sides looked to be paranoid as ever and kept blasting away at the slightest signs of movement in the skies. Thank the Elves for their stealth-device, or we may not have made it to Colombo or to some of the other suburbs.
You were right about the requests from those bozos over there – and they aren’t even kids, although judging from their mentalities it looks like their mental ages could be around ten or eleven. Yes, those inane requests kept pouring into our mailbox – from most of those usual suspects, as well as from a few others.
The head-honcho wanted a crown of the purest gold – set with the most valuable jewels I could find, as he has planned his coronation for sometime during the coming year. The date, he said, would be decided by his retinue of astrologers and he said that if I came through with his demand, I would also be invited. Pah! Or should I say Bah!
Then there were Tweedledum and Tweedledee, his siblings, who wanted Presidential Pardons from that Bushwhacker from Texas, who has been liberally dishing out pardons before he exits. The pardons, they said, were to be given to them in advance as they knew there were going to be human-rights-related cases pending against them in case they ever returned to the US of A. Of course they said that it was a dastardly plot hatched by those Tigers and their supporters with not an iota of truth in the allegations that they were offenders of anyone’s human-rights.
That chap who now calls himself Vermin is still insisting on an invisible suit so that he can go around doing good deeds and spreading joy and benevolence to everyone. He was a bit upset with me that his request wasn’t granted last Christmas, and I did get the whiff of a veiled threat when he ended his letter with “…everybody knows what I can do and get away with, so I’ll be waiting for you and my present”.
You were also right about that guy you called Scabral – he sent me quite a well composed letter telling me all about how unlucky he was that the price of oil had dropped so badly – especially as he was about to spread the wealth amongst the poorest of the poor – he said he was taking a leaf out of the book of one of your earlier Presidents, as his earlier plots that involved Pyramids had also failed. Anyway, what he wanted was bags and bags of Euros, as he thinks that the other currencies are not as desirable these days. He even specified the dimensions of the sacks and the denomination of the notes to be gift-wrapped!
I do believe that Ranil bloke who pretends to be a leader is finally having self-doubts, as he seems extremely anxious about getting himself a makeover. His list included the usual request for a load of charisma, but also additions like a bucket-full of intelligence, a whole heap of guts to take the fight to the brothers, a large dose of self-belief, and last but by no means least, a stint as your leader. What can I say? Except that the Elves cracked up so bad, they were in stitches for a whole afternoon and no work got done.
That Wimala (wasn’t sure of the gender, and you never confirmed one way or the other) wanted a whole slew of cosmetics, the latest mobile phone around, a year’s supply of Viagra (which made me think he is a guy) and the means to get even with all his hordes of enemies. He hates being called a ‘Katussa’ (whatever that is) and said he wants a new nick-name as well.
Thon-the-Man seems to love the cold, as all he wants is snow – loads of it, he said (he also said his very favourite Christmas song is ‘Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow’), and expressed his disappointment at the lack of any coming his way last Christmas, when he had to make do with sub-quality flakes that were not even the real thing and all he got out of it was a severe cold and a numb and useless nose that didn’t even clear by last New Year’s Eve. He said that a little snow will go a long way during this time of austerity and deprivation and help spread his message of self-love among his people in the hills.
There were others who wrote in too, but the lack of time prevents me from adding those details here. I must say there is no shortage of weird and wonderful characters over in your part of the world, and if nothing else, the variety you are blessed with should compensate for the mediocrity that prevails at the top.
Well Java, that’s it for now. Time for a good rest after the hectic season, but the Elves will have to keep at trying to stop all the ice from melting. They have some ideas (some so radical that I have banned further discussion) that may just work, but we shall have to be patient and see. Let’s hope that we will still be around next year at this time and we don’t have sandy beaches where the glaciers are.
HAPPY NEW YEAR to you and to your near and dear, and may peace finally prevail in your beautiful land after so long.
Just in case you have not gorged yourselves to distraction by now, here are a few ‘holiday eating tips’ that were sent to me by the infamous Yakkho, freshly back from a sojourn in China, where his eating habits (according to him) were considerably refined. Hence the ‘tips’
Please print out and carry with you in case you forget what to do.
1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they’re serving rum balls.
2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It’s rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It’s not as if you’re going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It’s a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It’s later than you think. It’s Christmas!
3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That’s the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.
4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they’re made with skim milk or whole milk. If it’s skim, pass. Why bother? It’s like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.
5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people’s food for free. Lots of it. Hello?
6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year’s. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you’ll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.
7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don’t budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They’re like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you’re never going to see them again.
8. Same for pies – Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don’t like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?
9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it’s loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.
10. One final tip: If you don’t feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven’t been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:
“Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming “WOO HOO what a ride!”
Merry Christmas and have a great holiday season!
This one’s for Darwin, who bakes knock-out cookies as a matter of course and who is the Baker Extraordinaire – at least for a lot of us folk who frequent kottu. It’s more Christmas fare – this time courtesy Kranzloid by e-mail – just so those of you who are into cookies (with a bit of Tequila on the side) can do your thing and feel good. The Jose Cuervo is essential, as just any old Tequila won’t do.
So here it is – just make sure you do it right:
Jose Cuervo Christmas Cookies
1 cup of water
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp salt
1 cup or brown sugar
4 large eggs
1 cup nuts
2 cups of dried fruit
1 bottle Jose Cuervo Tequila
Sample the Cuervo to check quality.
Take a large bowl, and check the Cuervo again, to be sure it is of the highest quality,
Pour one level cup and drink.
Turn on the electric mixer.
Beat one cup of butter in a large fluffy bowl
Add one peastoon of sugar. Beat again.
At this point it’s best to make sure the Cuervo is still ok
Try another cup just in case
Turn off the mixerer thingy
Break 2 leggs and add to the bowl and chuck in the cup of dried fruit
Pick the frigging fruit off the floor.
Mix on the turner.
If the fried druit gets stuck in the beaters just pry it loose with a drewscriver .
Sample the Cuervo to check for tonsisticity.
Next, sift two cups of salt, or something – who geeves a sheet.
Check the Jose Cuervo. Now shift the lemon juice and strain your nuts.
Add one table.
Add a spoon of sugar, or somefink.
Whatever you can find.
Greash the oven
Turn the cake tin 360 degrees and try not to fall over
Don’t forget to beat off the turner.
Finally, throw the bowl through the window
Finish the Cose Juervo
And make sure to put the stove in the wishdasher.
Hic.. Darwin, is you t here?
Indi’s recent post on why the UNP sucks right now catalyzed a few thoughts on the characteristics of the majority of politicians in Sri Lanka – if not every single one of them. Barack Obama put it well when he stated that there are usually two specific reasons for folk getting into politics – one is to help the country in general and society in particular, through actions designed towards necessary social causes, and the other is for ‘business’ – or a way to accumulate power and/or wealth. Unfortunately for us we seem to have nothing but the latter species of Homo Politicus Sri Lankensis inhabiting our environs. And matters do seem to be going from bad to worse.
Take the case of Karu Jayasuriya as an example. Here’s a guy with a reputation of being ‘clean’, who ostensibly left the Opposition Party, the UNP, due to ‘matters of principle’ relating to the restructuring of the Party and joined the government along with his son-in-law and other reasonably senior and important members of the Party, claiming that they were still members of the UNP. This dealt a severe blow to the Opposition, assisted the government to remain in power and also garnered for the ‘turncoats’ some perks they did not have whilst in the Opposition. In the meantime they did an ‘about turn’ on the views they espoused whilst in the Opposition, kissing all manner of asses in the bargain and displayed their true characters – and also showed the world that their motives had more to do with their individual desires for power and perks than for the folk they claimed to represent. So, in effect, they joined the party they said had ‘stolen’ or ‘bought’ the election victory through their clandestine dealings with the LTTE – the terrorist organization they were supposed to be fighting. Talk about ‘principles’! If anyone can see the nobility of their cause, I would love to hear the rationale.
Looking back at other politicians who have crossed-over to the Opposition through the years it is not difficult to assess that, for the most part, their reasons for joining the opposing Party were all to do with selfish motives and nothing to do with whatever principles they claimed to have had in representing their electorate.
Of course this phenomenon is in no way limited to Sri Lanka, which is the point that Obama made when he elaborated on the two primary causes for individuals getting into politics. However, here in Sri Lanka, the phenomenon has reached epic proportions and it is extremely difficult to single out any active politicians who are in the game for altruistic purposes and not to feather their individual nests with either wealth, power or both.
The stream of thought made Java recall an earlier post related to this topic where it was suggested that politicians are a lot like diapers and that they should be changed frequently and for the same reason.
As Pope (that’s Alexander, and not the guy in the Vatican) once said “Hope springs eternal in the human breast…”, but it does look pretty bleak that the chances of a new sub-species of Homo Politicus Sri Lankensis will emerge in Sri Lanka anytime in the near future.
How do you see it?
It’s pretty early in the morning at Flowerbook – a rather glum morning, after a rainy night. No shafts of sunlight to light up the wet leaves and blades of grass, and the birds reflect the conditions. The dogs are reluctant to do the early morning walkabout – and I don’t really blame them as they don’t like the wet grass underfoot, where the leeches have emerged and are waiting for prey. So I decide to hang indoors and keep Java company with an early morning doob and WorldSpace’s Maestro going great guns with a Handel aria. Another cup of steaming hot coffe just hits the spot.
That was yesterday. But this morning is much the same.
Two days later – and not much has changed. Bummer!
And now today, the morning is glorious. Brillig!
Java’s thought on all this:
Jus go to show maan – da reakshun to da rate of change be directly proporshunate to da anticipashun of it!
Chitrasena, the doyen of Sri Lankan Dance and Vajira, the country’s original Prima Ballerina produced, among their other works of art, Upeka, who grew to replace her mother as the most exquisite dancer of her time in Sri Lanka. Conditioned to the sounds of the drums and rhythms of Sri Lanka virtually from her time in the womb, Upeka grew to take the stage from her appearance as a wee tyke in the children’s ballet Vanaja, right on throughout the rest of her life, performing all over the world, including command performances for a bevy of distinguished personalities and Heads of States that included in 1979, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Akihito of Japan, in 1980, His Royal Highness King Birendra of Nepal, in 1981 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Duke of Edinborough, in 1995, Her Excellency Khalida Zia, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, in 1997, Her Excellency Chandrika Kumaratunga, President of Sri Lanka and Foreign Delegates on the occasion of Independence Day.
Among the awards she has received are the following:
1995 – BUNKA Award for Special Achievement in Dancing from the Japan – Sri Lanka Friendship Cultural Fund
2000 – SAARC Women’s Association Award for Excellence for Woman Achievers – For Cultural Achievement
2002 – ZONTA Award for Woman of Achievement for Creative & Performing Arts
2008 – RANGABHIMANEE Award for the Contribution & Welfare of the National Oriental Ballet. Awarded by The Department of Cultural Affairs & The National Dance, Oriental Ballet and Puppetry Panel of The Arts Council of Sri Lanka
So, in order to celebrate her fifty years of performing, her students together with The Chitrasena – Vajira Dance Foundation will present Guru Pooja, showcasing some classic solos and items from Upeka’s repertoire, performed by the next generation and introducing three new creations by Vajira, Anjalika (Upeka’s sister) and Heshma (her niece) on Friday December 19th and Saturday December 20th at 7.30 pm. The venue is the Chitrasena Kalayathanaya at 590, Elvitigala Mawatha (next door to the Apollo Hospital), Colombo 5. Tickets are Rs. 1,500 and seating is limited to 100 persons each day.
I am told that all the tickets have been sold out, but that there will be another performance on Thursday to accommodate all those folk that want to attend but missed out on the tickets for the two scheduled nights. So if you want to be part of this event, call now and reserve your seats. The contact information is as follows: Telephone the Chitrasena Kalayathanya at 060-2150570 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. All proceeds are in aid of the Chitrasena Dance Foundation Building Fund.
Her dance performances abroad – both as a soloist, as well as with the troupe, have garnered for Upeka excellent reviews from a whole host of critics and dance aficionados around the world throughout the many years she has performed. There are just too many reviews by internationally renowned dance critics to reproduce here, so I’ll just limit the reviews to a few of them. The first is what her father, Chitrasena had to say, and you may rest assured that compliments didn’t come easy from the Maestro – no matter who it was that was being reviewed.
“My daughter Upeka has all the qualities and attributes of an exceptional dancer. Being a third generation artiste and having grown up with the dance she has naturally absorbed it in its widest sense. She is on a level of her own amongst the younger generation of artists and is a typical product of the new generation, skilfully blending the traditional style with a more modern interpretation which she has developed into a style uniquely her own. Moreover, she has an extraordinary sense of drama and has proved herself a very dramatic artiste as evidenced in her portrayals in KINKINI KOLAMA and DANCE OF SHIVA. She is also endowed with a keen intelligence and sensitivity which are invaluable assets for an artiste” Chitrasena – 1986
“Upeka, child of Sri Lanka’s First Family of Dance, is carrying the torch of her nation’s cultural heritage. She is a blazing performer, rich in technical prowess and innate spiritual and theatrical charisma. Upeka inhabits her dance as does an animal its fur. Every part of her body is in countermotion – her head, shoulders and torso spiral with a fluid and circular dynamic as her feet pound out staccato rhythms on the wooden floor. Expressions of concentration alternate with flashes of earthy humor” – Jonathan Hollander, Director/Choreographer, Battery Dance Company – New York, USA – June 1994
“How can I seize the laughing, flashing
movement of this face?
The distortions of a smile when cheek
Pushes eye and teeth flash brilliants?
The poise of a head on a neck, through
the arms, to the aerobatic fingers of a dancer?
How can a single line catch her vivacity
Or the restless grace of a disciplined sambhur?
Calm her face. Make dense the lines
And place sparkling white on nearby things
To catch Upeka”
Barbara Sansoni – March 1994
“Upeka is the kind of dancer whose artistry derives from uncommonly striking personality. She’s long-limbed, with huge hands, enormous eyes and arching eyebrows. Like the late opera singer Maria Callas, she has a commanding presence and dramatic forcefulness” – Pamela Squires, The Washington Post – June 1994
“ Certainly the Company’s leading dancer, Upeka, has such great technique that she sometimes appears to be standing still and just letting the beat vibrate her across the floor. Pure pneumatics” – Clifford Bishop – Sadlers Wells – The Independent – June 8, 1995
“ I have never seen an exponent of such a symphony of the total female form of movement in the Eastern sense as Upeka ….. she is a glory to behold” – Nigel Kerner – Sadlers Wells – Daily News – July 6, 1995
“Upeka brings us into a diamond-like aura of concentration with careful, elongated balances and articulate gestures of leg, hands and full body which tell us of mysterious mythical civilization of which we can only dream. Her regal quality, coupled with pantherine physicality bring luster, definition and contrast to the programme” – Jonathan Hollander, Director/Choreographer, Battery Dance Company – New York, USA – May 1996
“To the goddess Upeka – Thank you for transporting me to heaven on earth” – Ustad Zakir Hussain – Colombo, February 1998
“The star dancer was Upeka, a member of Sri Lanka’s first family of dance. She opened the evening with ‘Saraswathi Pooja’ a dance offered to the goddess Sarawathie, and immediately established a commanding presence. Her dance projected joy and spirituality through a series of highly disciplined movements. From the classical pose of splayed legs with out-turned feet and raised arms, she carried us through a series of perfectly executed moves. The command of her presence was elegantly counterpointed by a chorus of fluent female dancers….Upeka danced throughout the evening, delighting with the warmth of her presentation and impressing with the unerring discipline and accuracy of her every move.” – Dino Mahony – South China Morning Post – Hong Kong, October 1998
“Upeka has a compelling stage presence, a svelte figure and she exudes energy and strength. As you sit on the edge of your seat watching her perform to the exciting drum beats, she erupts like a vocano and as you see gradual progression of her dance you feel mesmerised…..Upeka with her innate talent has contributed immensely to the dance traditions of Sri Lanka imbuing the form with contemporary sensibilities. I would love to watch her dance again and again.” –Dr. Sunil Kothari, Dance Critic – The Times of India, New Delhi, India – January 2003
Sanjana has put out a call for articles on ‘UDHR at 60 in Sri Lanka – Fact or Fiction?,’ to commemorate the 60th anniversary of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights that occurred on December 10th. He has asked for short essays, photos, audio clips or short videos on the state of human rights in Sri Lanka today to Groundviews. If you remember ‘Remember’ – http://www.groundviews.org/remember – you may want to check out a special section on the site for these submissions, provided he gets a sufficient number of them from you folk out there who may have any interesting views on the subject. Submissions within the course of a week should do fine.
Java doesn’t have enough background information on the UDHR, its history and its current global status, so is unable to contribute a deeply meaningful or incisive view regarding its progress or regression in Sri Lanka, although he did mention the sporadic surges in Human Rights abuses in the fifties, (we were out of Sri Lanka for much of the sixties and seventies), eighties and on, right up to the ones perpetrated by folk under the prevailing regime. And then when he Googled UDHR and read the Declaration he had to agree that judging from all the evidence that was available, it did seem like the Human Rights of countless individuals were being violated with impunity – mostly in the guise of National Security.
We even recalled some of the outrageous and insulting statements put out by the spokesperson for the regime in response to reports by the UNHCR and Amnesty International with regard to the violations, denying that such actions take place. In other words, attesting that Human Rights was alive and well in Sri Lanka and the allegations were just so much fiction put out by international organizations with hidden agendas. The fact of the matter, according to the regime, is that the Human Rights of all citizens are being assiduously protected and the entire hullabaloo was being created by agents of the LTTE and other players who want to sully the exemplary record of the regime.
The incidents such as the eviction of Tamils from boarding houses in Colombo, the continued incarceration and abuse of journalists who were critical of the regime, the attacks on media and journalists who didn’t toe the regime’s line were all dismissed as actions carried out in the best interests of the citizens in general and the country in particular. Violent abuse and aggression by a particularly vociferous and profane Member of Parliament against employees of a state-owned institute died a natural death and never even caught a whiff of justice – so much for the Human Rights of the victims of the abuse! In fact, some of the individuals who dared to oppose the thugs who attacked them and their institution were meticulously followed and dealt with violently – and nothing happened! The Police appeared to be completely neutralized, or else have been totally inefficient, as no one was ever apprehended, although circumstances indicated to anyone with even a modicum of intelligence, who was responsible and just who it was that protected whom.
There’s more – much more, we’re sure, but Java hasn’t the energy to get into it any more than he already has.
So is UDHR at 60 in Sri Lanka fact or fiction?
You tell me!
The inimitable RD has gone and done it again – gone and done a ‘Christmas Tag’ number, wanting to know what his readers (and others too, perhaps) have done during the past year. Java was intrigued – especially by the snide remark RD made about getting his (Java’s) knickers in a tag-twist, and so he dashed off the stuff that pours into his head at moments like that. And you could tell too, by the substance of his effort! Trying to stop his compulsive urge to publish was of no avail, so here it is:
So this is Christmas
And what have I done?
Got another year older
One year less young
So this is Christmas
Its almost the same
As the last one we went through
In spite of the pain
The war’s brought upon us
Nothing was gained
The year was a good one
With good times and more
With near and with dear ones
In spite of the war
So this is Christmas
Let’s hope for the best
Spread joy and love whilst you can
Karma will take care of the rest
What can I say?
It’s been a while – nearly a year to be precise, since we last communicated. Things haven’t improved at all in these parts – in fact, Christmas over here looks pretty bleak, what with the global financial crisis adding to our woes. You must know that the ‘war’ is far from over in spite of the Defense folk ensuring us that victory is imminent for ever so long now. The coffers are like Mother Hubbard’s cupboard and our enlightened government has, in its profound wisdom, added to the chaos by gambling on the price of oil, which sorta looks like we’re going to be screwed even sooner than we thought.
I remember you mentioning the hassle you had with the checkpoints and ‘no fly zone’ last year. Well, nothing has changed, so take care – although the folk in charge of security haven’t had much success with inhibiting small planes from dropping bombs on installations in Colombo, so the risk factor should be minimal. Anyway, we don’t want anything untoward happening to Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid, Donner and Blitzen, which would really be a major bummer for you – not to mention all the kids who are waiting for their gifts. And speaking of gifts, I remember you had some outrageously weird requests from folk over here last year and couldn’t help wondering what they wanted this year. I’m sure you’ll get a bunch more from the same lot this year, plus a few more from other members of the cabal.
And speaking of cabals, there’s this guy who inveigled his way to being the head honcho of the financial establishment in spite of it being pretty well known that he was up to his eyeballs in scams – and it’s this very same scumbag who is responsible for the petroleum scam, so watch out for his letter. He’s sure to want you to fix things for him and his coterie of thieves – a ‘scab-ral’ is what they are members of, and a gift-voucher for a long period of incarceration is what you should put in his stocking!
The letters you got last year from Basilicus, Wimala, Merv, Ranil, Thon-the-Man and the others obviously brought them nothing they requested, as they are still very much ‘where they were’, in a manner of speaking. You better watch out that they don’t have it in for you this year, as some of them are pretty heavy dudes and have direct connections to the seat of power over here. There’s no telling how they will react to your ignoring their requests last year and since a couple of them could possibly arrange for those anti-aircraft missiles to be aimed your way, should they spot you coming. But then, as I said before, they haven’t had a very good record of shooting things out of the sky, and anyway they’ll probably all be asleep after the carousing on Christmas Eve.
You’ll be glad to hear that, in spite of the dire straits we’re in, many folk are still trying to get into the spirit of Christmas – as they did last year, and the shops are all decorated with the usual baubles and glitter. But this is pretty much limited to Colombo and some of the larger towns, whilst the majority of the others around the country are tightening their belts – and running out of holes to buckle up. The North is a morass – in all respects – and the East is in confusion as brother fights brother on behalf of the Goats that set them to it.
Sorry for such a depressing letter, Santa, but I thought I should let you know what’s happening since we last exchanged letters. Hope all is well up there and the ice isn’t disappearing too fast with all that ozone depletion above us. Take care and we do hope you will show up – at least for the sake of some of those children that have pinned their hopes on you. I guess it will be too much to ask for a bit of peace and harmony as we did last year – yeah, I do remember what you wrote in response to that request last year and about what the boss said when you asked him. Fair enough!
Anyway, look forward to seeing you, or at least hearing from you when you get back after your usually hectic Christmas.