Year-end update: Joy eclipsed bigly in 2017

Linda Norlander is one of six reader columnists for The News Tribune
Linda Norlander is one of six reader columnists for The News Tribune dmontesino@thenewstribune.com

Years ago, I received one of those holiday letters that glowed about the state of the children/pets, vocations, vacations and possessions. It included phrases like, “A-plus honor roll,” “promoted to director,” “swam with the dolphins” and “bought a perfect cabin on the lake.”

I looked at our year and came up with phrases like “still employed,” “bought new tires for the car” and “son slipped out his bedroom window at midnight and didn’t come home until morning.”

I decided it was time to write our own annual letter using the children/pets, vocations, vacation and possessions format. I am sharing with you this year’s Norlander update.


The children are all grown and have entered middle age. We’re not sure how that happened so fast. The grandchildren are perfect. We love them dearly and appreciate that when they visit us, we have the option to give them back to their parents if they should become less than perfect. (Of course, that never happens.)

We have no pets unless you count the unseen critter who occasionally leaves small animal parts on our welcome mat. Or the deer who ate all our tulips last spring.


I’d like to say that in retirement we have taken up alternative vocations to work for the betterment of mankind. Instead, we subscribed to the online editions of The New York Times and The Washington Post. We spend our days in front of the computer screen looking up words like “bigly” and “cofeve” and wringing our hands. It’s sad.

To be fair, though, we have spent more time at marches, vigils and on the phone with elected officials than we ever did when we were employed.

We also took up running. Unfortunately, I did something to my knee in July which caused me to hobble pathetically to the finish line in a 5K race long after the real runners came in. For this, I was awarded first place (and possibly last place) in my age category. Knee replacement surgery might be on the horizon.


In August, we drove to Madras, Oregon to see the eclipse. It was a fine experience, and we observed several things.

(1) Dogs really do bark when an eclipse meets totality.

(2) Two minutes of totality is too short. We’ve put in a request for a longer version next time.

(3) The warnings about a traffic apocalypse were pretty accurate. Post-eclipse it took us an hour to travel one block. Our friends had a phone app called Waze. It told us we were stuck in traffic. It did not tell us whether we would get home in time for the holidays.

In October, we traveled with a group to New Orleans. We toured an above-ground cemetery and learned that in the old days they buried people with a bell on a rope in case they woke up not dead. Thus the phrase “saved by the bell.”

We toured a rum distillery and learned that after several free samples, it’s easy to buy the most expensive bottle of rum even if we aren’t rum drinkers. The distillers probably appreciated our visit, but our retirement fund did not.


This year we bought a new car. We bought it because of all the whiz-bang safety devices. It has a camera that can tell you when you are about to back over the mail carrier. It tells you when someone is in your blind spot, and it even reads text messages for you.

When you do something wrong or dangerous, it beeps. We’ve found the car beeps a lot and we’re a little afraid of it now. At least it doesn’t yell at us and say things like “Who gave you a driver’s license?” or “What? Are you, blind?”

As you can see, it’s been a typical year in our household. We wish you the best this holiday season and the coming year. May your 2018 tweets be filled with kindness and compassion. May your children/pets be healthy and happy. May your vocations be fulfilling (and provide health insurance), your vacations relaxing and your possessions all come with lifetime warranties.

Peace and goodwill to all.

Linda Norlander of Tacoma is one of six News Tribune reader columnists who write for this page. Reach her by email at lindanorlander@comcast.net.