Dear Family and Friends,
Last night the "hoot-hooing" of the Snowy Owl as it glided on silent wings above our happy abode here at 123 Cozy Circle signaled the start of the holidays and the end of yet another exciting year for the Hearthstone family. And what a year it has been! Despite all the war and strife plaguing the world today, our family has remained steadfast as we spread our "contagious joy of life" – an expression that I know many of you often like to use to describe us.
This year the kids and I have been lucky enough to have a full time husband and father, since John surprised us with the news of his extended vacation followed by an indefinite sabbatical that he was awarded for his dedication to his law firm these past 12 years. Can you believe that John’s modesty caused him to hide this honor from us for an entire month? John also had another surprise in store for us when he told us that he gave away our vacation house and sailboat to charity. He has been such a good example for the children. A self-described "freelance philosopher," John now spends most of his time at home tasting fine wine, mixing exotic drinks, and meditating in bed with his eyes closed and the lights off for days at a time. The entire family is so glad that John is finally taking some much-deserved "John" time.
Matthew is now a junior in high school and is really coming into his own. He has found a genuine passion for nature, as he often takes long walks in the woods collecting mushrooms. I suppose my widely envied talents in cooking have started to rub off on him, for he has also developed a keen interest in herbs. He has even turned his room into a virtual greenhouse, growing his own plants. In the Hearthstone tradition of putting others first, Matthew has been trading his mushrooms and herbs with his friends, sharing his love for nature. He also got a job as a pizza delivery boy, and his boss says he’s so talented that he does only "special deliveries." This job is so special that Matthew needs his own beeper and phone line, and people call from all over town at all hours of the night asking for his special pizzas. He really has turned into quite the little entrepreneur, earning a tidy sum and even buying his own convertible. John has been particularly interested in Matthew’s little business, and even jokes that in a couple of years Matthew will have to pay for his own college tuition. Only our Matthew could make such a success out of pizza delivery!
If you have seen me around town, I’m sure you’ve noticed me wearing my "Harvard Mom" sweatshirt and hat, and sipping out of my "Harvard Mom" mug. Needless to say, we are quite proud of our twins, Ashley and Jessica, who are now enjoying their first years at Harvard University. Ashley is really adjusting very well. Unfortunately, Harvard’s grading system is such that she cannot maintain her lifetime 4.5 GPA, but she’s slowly getting over that. Boy, are we proud of Ashley’s 1600. No, I’m not talking about her SAT score (although we are pleased about that too!). She is really excelling in varsity track at the 1600 meter. I suppose all her high school track records weren’t enough for her, as she now holds a number of Harvard records as well. Pretty impressive, I’d say, especially for a girl running with stress fractures in both of her legs! Ashley is also giving back to the community, donating $1 to charity for every 40 meters she runs this track season!
Ashley’s other half, Jessica, is also having quite a year at Harvard. I am happy to report that Jessica’s health has improved significantly from last year when I wrote my annual epistle of Hearthstone family happenings. In fact, a few more weeks of Jenny Craig and Jessica should be medically cleared to play intramural dodgeball! Like her sister, Jessica is also involved with community service. Inspired by her rare condition, she has started a student organization to help raise awareness for people like herself who suffer from Uncontrollable Flatulence Syndrome. When she’s not rallying the fight against UFS, Jessica is making great strides in the classroom. While modesty prevents her from telling us her grades, we’ve had indications that she is excelling. Her academic advisor has sent us several letters asking for us to come to Cambridge and meet with him about Jessica’s academic performance! Jessica told us that she was even called to go before the "AD Board" to talk about her grades. While John and I are not completely sure what "AD" stands for, "Academic Distinction" is what comes naturally to mind.
Now that John is home around the clock, I have been able to spend some quality time with him when he’s not in that deep, dreamy state of mind brought on by his new lifestyle. Whether organizing Matthew’s collection of herbs into plastic bags, watching Ashley set records in track, or dining out at Subway with Jessica, I always find time to reflect on how truly blessed our family is.
Happy holidays, and have a terrific 2007!
Eric A. Kester ’08 is an anthropology concentrator in Winthrop House. His column appears on alternate Mondays.