Sunday, January 25, 2009

Here's the holiday letter I just sent out to friends who live far away. Please excuse the formatting. Weird things happen when I try to import text.

It is finally time to write the belated holiday letter. I thought about writing it in late November, but figured it would be pretty boring with nothing much new to say. Alas, careful what you wish for.

On Dec 2nd, Doug came home early and told me that he had bad and good news. His office was closing, but he had been one of the current employees offered a position in the Boston office. Just two days later, we attended a very grim holiday party. The strength and size of the drinks were evidence that the bartenders knew what was going on. Many large cosmopolitans quieted my anxiety for at least one evening.

For the next two weeks we waited uneasily for the relocation package. As the news chronicled the poor holiday sales and rising unemployment numbers, we were happy just to have a job offer. And if we had to pick one other city in the U.S. where we’d want to live, it would be Boston. Doug and I met there 19 YEARS AGO.

Finally the package arrived just a few days after it had been promised. But it was sketchy and lackluster. There were benefits to partially abate moving and real estate costs, but no information about the job situation once we got there. What if we sold our home of 16 years and moved to Boston, then the company folded within a year? Would it be better to take the severance, be out of work for an unknown amount of time, and eventually get another position around here? Doug began the job search a week before Christmas.

He was simultaneously pursuing negotiations with the current company. They wanted him to go, and perhaps we could get some concessions in case the Boston job disappeared. No one was available to answer our questions throughout the holidays. It was an anxious time, but we didn’t want to share uncertain news and cause our families to worry. Around Doug’s office there was probably never less work done than in that month of December. Everyone was on a roller coaster of expectations and anger.

On January 5 vacations ended. As the kids returned to school, we started to meet with real estate agents to try to get some firm numbers. Doug had to make a decision on the relocation by Jan 20. By the 9th, we were pretty sure we would take the offer. I invited my mother to lunch. When she arrived at the restaurant, she was surprised to see Doug with me. But I didn’t think I could handle telling her on my own. I was unsure of my emotions and what her reaction would be. She spends time every week with my kids, is our only babysitter, and her other grandchildren moved to Florida 2 years ago. But she was fantastic. She was totally supportive, and we talked about how she could take the train to visit us. We were very relieved and nearly decided.

So how could we be surprised when on January 12th, Doug got a call from a head hunter about a position in NYC. He quickly set up an interview with just a week until decision time. On Dec 15th, a day when the temperature barely exceeded 10 degrees, he walked up the snowy street in his coat, suit and dress shoes around 7:30am. He figured the bus was the only was to get into the city safely. When he realized the roads weren’t too bad, he came back and decided to drive to the ferry. That would give him much more flexibility for the return trip. If the interview was short, he wouldn’t have been able to get a bus home until late in the afternoon. The interview went well. He was there from 9:30 to just after 3. He called while waiting for the ferry bus, and said that he likely had to meet with more people in the next day or two, but that the company was very hard core, and the employees worked from 8am to 8pm nearly every day. Doug currently leaves the house at 8 and is home around 6.

The ferry bus picked him up and headed for the midtown terminal, sirens whizzing by. Something was wrong. By the time the bus reached the terminal, it was closed. A plane had landed in the Hudson, and the ferries were rushing to save the passengers standing on the floating plane’s wings. The terminal had been turned into an emergency outpost and medical triage center. After a while, buses were organized to drive would-be ferry passengers back to their cars on the Jersey side. Doug returned home around 8:30. I’d say he was chilled to the bone, except that it seems crude, given the circumstances of the plane crash survivors.

Somehow, the fact that we have escaped all these crazy New York events

* being on our honeymoon when the World Trade Towers were bombed in 1993, so we weren’t downtown where Doug worked and we had lived just months before,

* Doug’s company having clients in the World Trade Towers when they fell,

* The crazy “Miracle on the Hudson” of today’s plane crash

reminds us of the importance of family, the need to be together, to make the best of challenging times, to take a leap into a better future, and perhaps get away from New York!

We are moving to Boston. Our house will go on the market soon. Doug will head up there in April (but will be back on weekends to mow the lawn). And the kids and I will follow when school is out and the house sells. (Let’s not even consider what happens if the house doesn’t sell.)

Today is GWB’s last day as President. Perhaps the horrible wars and economic woes will soon disappear. The inauguration of PRESIDENT OBAMA makes us hopeful and proud. It is a time for change, and our lives are changing too.

We wish you all peace, health and prosperity in the coming year. When we have a new address we will send it along.

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