Happy Holidays to Everyone and Best Wishes for the New Year

Dear friends,

Our Christmas letters were originally written by hand and sent by mail, accompanied by photos developed from film. Now we type the letters, and email them with digital photos as attachments. While the intimacy of the handwritten letter may be lacking, at least people no longer have to struggle to decipher my handwriting. It appears that letter writing in general is becoming a thing of the past, with phone calls and e-mails having taken its place. This communication shift has made it all the more fascinating for me to re-read the hand-written letters of my ancestors and their contemporaries.

As for current family news… Last month we took a short cruise from New York City to the Bahamas. One port of call was Cape Canaveral, Florida, so we were able to visit with Peter and Jill for a day in Melbourne. Peter is endeavoring to breed certain saltwater fish, and we got to see his budding operation there. Three weeks ago we went with Tanya to a theater in Greenwich Village to see a play that had been written by a school friend of hers. At the end of November, our company, Theta, ended its fiscal year. Brigitte’s accounts show a loss for 2010, but we are hoping that the numbers will look better after our accountant has reconciled the books.

A month ago we updated our phone system and purchased an Apple iPhone as well. It was an attempt to cope with the ever increasing influx of information coming our way, no longer just through “snailmail”. The U.S. Post Office is suffering huge losses, even though politicians appeared to be singlehandedly trying to keep it alive during the election season, through their own personal direct mail campaigning efforts. But for the democrats, all of their paper bombarding did not prevent them from losing their majority in the House of Representatives. Last month the conservatives had the largest increase in seats in over 70 years. At Theta, we long ago gave up on direct mail and display advertising, instead relying on our company website which is 16 years old this year.

As “webmaster” of our family website, www.GerhardClusener.com , Susan has been organizing family genealogy, uploading old photos, and helping me post on my blog. Susan has her own website as well, www.SusanClusener.com which showcases her original artwork. Both sites have become vehicles through which old friends and even distant relatives could find us. Many people have read and commented on my mother’s memoirs which can be found on the site. 50 years ago my father wrote his memoirs as well, and we are currently in the process of transcribing his story so that it may be uploaded and illustrated with pictures from his life.

Going over my fathers words makes me profoundly aware of how much times have changed. Susan and Peter live several hours away by plane. In my great-great grandparents time, the distances between family members were at most three hours on foot. Researching family history has been revolutionized as well. Through the internet I have learned of the connection between my family and Charlemagne. But that is as far back as I’ve gotten. Thank goodness! Otherwise it could really get out of hand. It’s exciting to make connections into the past millennium, but with Facebook and other forms of social media, I look forward to cultivating more old and new relationships in the upcoming new decade.

We hope this letter finds you in good health and spirits, and we wish you a happy holiday season and all the best in 2011!