Atchmerhammer Christmas Letter 2005

Merry Christmas from the AtchMerHammers!

Sit down to read another episode of out Christmas letter, with the irresistible opportunity to start right off with Dana's paragraph as we have head it is everyone's favorite.

Dana: My year hasn't exactly been a whirlwind of new activities, but I suppose it's my responsibility to keep you entertained anyway. Here goes! Indubitably, I'll cater to my audience by filling you in with the only thing most adults appear to be interested, "The College Process!" My compliance in providing you with this information has noting to do with my affinity for doing so; in fact it's quite the contrary. I hope that my vain attempts to avoid the subject that hitherto have been thwarted by patient and garrulous questioning can at this point be deferred by simply saying, "It appears you didn't read the Christmas letter!" Yes, I'm applying to colleges this year. This is my fifth year of high school and things have been going quite nicely. I've been mainly looking at liberal arts colleges with excellent engineering schools, spanning from Boston to LA. The list includes a range of excellent academic institutions, only one strictly engineering school, and I didn't apply Early Decision anywhere. All my applications are submitted, and you'll find out where I end up in this letter's next installment. This fall at Kimball Union, I opted out of the endearingly terrible Thirds Soccer team in favor of theatre. I had a significant role as an elderly pedagogue in Sophocles' Electra, starring alongside many of my best friends and having a splendid time. Right now I'm training for both another year of rugby and the brand new crew program, but I'm having considerable difficulty choosing between them. For what's ahead, you'll have to tune in next year!

Ashley: Hello again! Since you last heard form my, I've had quite a year! Senior year flew by at Westford Academy. I went to prom in early May wearing my dream dress. Our phenomenal class trip to Disney was followed by one of the biggest highlights for me, our Senior Showcase. It was a show including any senior who participated in the Threatre Arts Department. I sang a solo and arranged all the ensemble pieces. It was an incredible learning experience of which I am very proud! Graduation came so fast; it felt unreal. This summer, Quita's family had a family reunion on Martha's Vineyard, so we all spent some fun in the sun. Afterwards, I worked at Camp Takodah for five weeks, finally as cabin leader! I worked with the youngest kids (ages 9-11). Two sessions, twice the fun! Next summer will be my tenth year at Takodah! I now attend the Hartt School of Music at the University of Hartford, my top choice, and I'm so happy there. I'm studying towards a BA in Music, the best major for music students at Hartt. I've found a great group of friends and, to my pleasant surprise, I am doing wonderfully! Looking forward to next semester and this summer, I can't wait to see what the New Year has in store for me!

Rachel: Hi all! It's my turn now to tell you a little about my past year, and much has happened for me! I finished my spring semester with a bang as a can-can girl for my ballet workshop show, which was a lot of fun! This summer I worked at Camp Takodah for 10 weeks, as a member of the kitchen crew during boys’ camp and as a cabin leader during girls’ camp. It was a great experience, but tough to go straight from camp to Paris. My semester in Paris was an incredible experience! Now being home, it feels like a dream. I took French Contemporary Society, Advanced Grammar and Composition, Paris Art and Architecture, Photography, Ballet, Salsa, and Oriental Dance (very similar to belly-dancing). All but one of my classes were in French. I picked up French very quickly, especially because my host mother did not speak a word of English! I took advantage of being in Europe to visit Marseille, Avignon, Dublin, and Barcelona. All the trips were incredible, and my adventures are available on my weblog, online at for your reading and viewing pleasure. Although I had an unforgettable time abroad, I'm glad to be home. I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! A la prochaine fois!

Molly: Happy Holidays everyone! So much happens in a year, every time I sit down to write this paragraph I am amazed. I spend spring break in Florence where one of my best friends was studying abroad. It was a fabulous trip (and my 21st birthday present). I cried most of the way home because I didn't want to leave. I finished my Junior year at Lake Forest College after which I moved in with my cousin, Lisa, and her family so I could continue my jobs of babysitting and waiting tables. I did make it home several times though: for the happy occasions of Mum's birthday bash, Ashley's graduation and a 4th of July family reunion on Martha's Vineyard. A very sad event also brought me home this summer: our very dear family friend Rowena died and I came home to say goodbye to her one last time. She was like a second mother to me and I love and miss her very much. In August I moved into a tiny little apartment in the Gold Coast neighborhood of Chicago where I participated in an off-campus program for students interested in the arts. I learned a lot about both life and art and I will miss the city and my new friends very much. After New Years, I return to LFC for the last semester of my Senior year! In next year's letter, look for mentions of graduation, Tanzania, and graduate school. In the meantime, I hope you are all happy and healthy and I wish you the best of luck in 2006!

Quita: After last year's challenges and this Spring witnessing one of my best friend’s valiant struggles to enjoy ever minute she had left, I decided to take a little more time to enjoy and appreciate life. I welcomed by 50th birthday with a gala party and danced the night away with my family and friends. Many years in retail sales (9th year at Calico Corners) have taken their toll on my poor feet. I had foot surgery in June and used the 8 weeks of recuperation to sell and empty my Mother's house in Lincoln and play our family reunion. I had not realized how difficult this would be on crutches. Over the 4th of July we celebrated on the Vineyard with 29 Atchleys and their significant others ranging in age from 2-68. I visit my mother a couple of times a week and she continues to do well in the nursing home. My children are growing up, they both graduate in May, Molly from college and Dana from high school. The house seemed too empty, so I got a puppy. Everyone teases me about how much I love Alba, my new Westie. She has given our cranky old Jack Russell, Satch, a new lease on life. Something we all need.

Bill: First, let me apologize to all for the tardiness of this card and letter. My darling wife had everything ready to go LONG before Christmas, but my frantic business schedule kept me from completing it for your reading pleasure. However, that schedule has been the surprise of my year: I transitioned after 8 years with FOCUS to my exciting new position as Director of Sales for Avidyne, the leading provider of integrated glass cockpits in the world. We supply the glass you see in airliners for general aviation such as Piper and Cirrus. It is awesome to combine my sales and sales management talents with my passion for flying. Since joining Avidyne at the end of September, Quita has hardly seen me. However, I'm working with a long time friend from Intel, the company has a talented team of passionate aviators who are a pleasure to work with, and I'm LOVING it. Aviation seems to dominate by life now, as serving America under Civil Air Patrol remains by primary avocation where my growing responsibilities include Incident Commander as well as Mission Pilot, increasing the odds that our sleep is disturbed by 2am alerts (no one ever seems to get lost when one is awake!). By the way, for those who have not seen me recently, there is a lot less to see having shed over 1/4 of my body weight. Motivated by the desire to start playing rugby again and encouragement from my wife, I embarked upon what seemed like an impossible journey to transform my eating habits to a healthier and reduced diet utilizing "South Beach." I've significantly exceeded everyone's expectations and played rugby this summer and fall for the first time in 6 years. The best part is that my wife can't keep her hands off me!!! Remaining highlights of the year were a great trip to Japan with Ashley for her 18th birthday, a fabulous 50th birthday party for Quita, and Quita's family reunion on the Vineyard.

May 2006 bring you the very best, we look forward to sharing it with as many of you as good fortune allows!


It is December 23. The fall semester recently ended, the year is about to, we are home with our families, the presents are wrapped and waiting to be opened. This is a time of year for thinking - not necessarily because it's a time of year that facilitates it, but because the circumstances demand it.
As students we are asked to evaluate our courses and our own accomplishments. This year, especially, there have been exhaustive evaluations and critiques of my work as an artist, my work as a student, myself as a person, my teachers, my advisors, my classes, my internship, my experience... it seemed endless until it was over.
The holidays bring families together and require us all to navigate the politics of our often scattered, blended, and/or complicated families. Many of us are also going to visit the places where we grew up after leaving 2... 7... 11 years or more (or less) ago which means reencountering familiar places and people which carry memories both good and bad.

For me, the evaluations are valuable, and coming home is largely a positive thing. But that doesn't mean I don't think a lot.
And then, in my family, there's the Christmas card letter, which is made up of a paragraph written by each family member about our past year. Fitting a year into a paragraph is not an easy task.
Finally, my family has a New Years book, where each of us is supposed record our reflections and resolutions for the new year.

I'm exhausted by it all already, and Christmas hasn't even started yet.

My Christmas paragraph is written and hopefully by tomorrow everyone will have finished theirs and we will stuff the envelopes. I'm planning on sharing my contribution here, or possibly the entire letter (if it's interesting enough). So you can look forward to that in the next few days.
I've also been thinking a lot about what to write in the New Years book, and once I have put it in words I'll probably share that with you as well (I would especially like feedback on it).

In the meantime, I want to wish everyone a happy holiday. Enjoy your festivities and good luck navigating your travels, your traditions, and your thoughts - the journey can be trying and tiring, but remember it is well worth it.

The Best I Can Do Is To Do My Best

I used 5 different lotions every day. Aveno Naturally Radiant Moisturizer on my face after I wash it, a combination of Lubriderm and the Estee Lauder Pleasures scented body lotion on my arms and body when I get out of the shower, Jergen’s Naturally Smooth body lotion on my legs when I get out of the shower, and I put on hand cream every night before I go to bed. Every now and then I used baby oil to keep from getting dried out. In the summer, the regimen changes and there are, if you can believe it, more lotions getting slathered onto my skin. Could I cut back on this number drastically? Of course, and I’d probably still have pretty soft skin. But there are reasons why I do it this way and it works.

Similarly, I have 3 to-do lists: one in the date book that I carry with me so I can jot things down when I think of them; one on my computer that is color coded, prioritized, and arranged by due date; and one that is a print-out of the computer list which only shows the items on their due dates. I do this because when I finish something I feel extra accomplished when I get to cross it off 3 times instead of just once. But also because it makes me feel more organized, even if I’m not. Having 3 to-do lists just means that I have to keep those lists synchronized and up to date. If I had just one it would be 2 less things to keep track of. I just can’t seem to do it though. I NEED all 3, they each serve a purpose.

My to-do lists are 43, 29, and 18 items long, respectively. These items are things like “shave legs” (which is only on the first list) “request grad school recommendations” (which is purple and a high priority on the second list) and about 10 big items relating to finishing my final project that appear on all 3 lists.

Like most people, I have too much on my plate and I don’t know how to simplify. Our world is complex and we develop complex ways of coping with it. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. The best I can do right now is to do my best to cross off what I can on those lists, and maybe if I can manage to get them shorter I’ll be able to do away with one or 2 of them. Maybe then I can do away with some of the other things that I do that unintentionally complicate my life, like my assortment of moisturizers.

In the meantime, I’ll keep up the high maintenance I require and I will strive for simplicity where I can.