Dear Everyone!

Merry Xmas! My, but the millennium certainly has come and gone again! Why, it seems like just yesterday that Howard and I were picnicking at the Bay of Naples, watching the eruption of Mount Vesuvius ( with Gaius Plinius Secundus in August of 79. Uncle Pliny always had the best picnics, and the bay was one of his favorite spots, so it was especially disappointing when he was overcome by fumes from the volcano and died. We certainly do miss him and his darling little essays on natural history.

Speaking of picnics, in March of 324, Howard was laid off just one year shy of his pension when Constantine Inc. took over Byzantium ( The new middle-management types said they needed to “clean house,” so they fired everyone in Howard‘s department and renamed everything “Constantinople.” After that, Howard and I needed some time alone, so in 1212 we sent Deborah backpacking through China with Howard’s half brother, Genghis Khan, while little Tim (he‘s already 8!) went traipsing around Europe with Stephen of Cloyes. Stephen was trying to retrieve the Lord’s real estate with his Children‘s Crusade (; unfortunately, Stephen ran short of funds and was forced to sell many of the little darlings, including our Tim, into slavery. After two decades of searching, just when Howard and I had all but given up hope, we found little Tim being tortured by production assistants to Pope Gregory IX (www.torture-museum.comspanish_inquisition.htm). My goodness! After such an ordeal, we were so tuckered out it’s amazing the three of us managed to find the time, in 1433, for a luxury cruise across the Indian Ocean with one of the last-ever Ming dynasty expeditions. Talk about luxury! We got free Tsingtao T-shirts (www.bartoninc.comtsingtaoindex.htm) and took some of the most lovely snapshots. Howard ( still keeps forgetting to take them to the Fotomat. Howard?

Summer was one of the hottest seasons of 1490. My younger sister, Aunt Libby, flew in from Mali to show us 11 hours of gorgeous video footage she‘d taken at the founding ceremonies of the University of Sankore in Tombouctou that spring. It turns out that one of the people featured in Aunt Libby’s videotape, the university‘s founder, Askia Muhammad, was one of the people we’d met as he was being tortured for Pope Gregory IX, right alongside our Tim, way back in 1234! Askia seemed like such a dear, dear man that we decided to make him one of our slaves in 1721 — but I‘m getting ahead of myself!

In November of 1547, we got an e-mail from Deborah saying that she’d married a Spanish explorer named Benjamin Dejo of Seville. Howard, Tim and I couldn‘t have been happier! We took the next Concorde to Spain to welcome Ben Dejo to the family. Ben had just returned from a cruise to Mexico with his best friend, Hernando Cortes! We stayed up two weeks straight drinking sangria while “Benny” and “Nando” showed us lovely Polaroids of their exciting adventures until the morning of December 2, when poor Nando died! All the ruckus settled down until 1936, when Howard took a job converting factories in Germany. While working on a factory in Stuttgart (www.yale.eduyupbooksgregorS98.html), Howard got invited to Munich to attend the Olympic Games and wound up sharing the most delicious Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte with Jesse Owens and his friend Adi Schickelgruber.

By 1943, Howard had returned, and Little Tim turned 8 again! The day after his birthday, Tim developed a severe infection of the lower intestine and ended up needing part of his colon removed; fortunately, Howard’s work in Germany had led to an acquaintance with a fine pediatrician, Josef Mengele, who flew all the way here in a private plane and had little Tim‘s colon out before you could say Rumpelstiltskin! You should have seen the expression on little Tim’s face! Dr. Mengele was such an angel! And now, here it is 2000 already — I should really get back to my baking! Hope you‘re all having the best holidays ever, and that we’ll spend more time together this millennium than last millennium! And that the following millennium, we‘ll spend even more time (http:physics.nist.govGenIntTimetime.html) together than that!

Merry Xmas and God ( bless,

Esther, Howard, Deborah and Tim

The Schechners

P.S. It’s so nice to have a computer to make everything so pretty!

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