Happy New Year!!  As I type this on my iPad I am in St. Maarten.  The  background sounds are the splashing of the waterfall into the pool; waves crashing onto the shore; the wind that rustles the palm fronds and the sounds of planes taking unlucky vacationers back home.  I still have multiple days to enjoy this paradise.

It has been relaxing.  Days at the beach, some with just the girls and my niece.  Other with the whole crew.  Today  my niece and I stayed back and enjoyed having the pool all to ourselves.  I remember my first year coming down here.  I came without my niece and stayed ten days, including Christmas.  My employers and their extended family could not have been more gracious or welcoming.  But it was my first ever Christmas away from my family.  Communication with the States was difficult.  I drove into Phillpsburg and rented time at an Internet cafe  to send emails.  I didn’t know The extended family like I do now, ten years later.  I was homesick, plain and simple.

They knew it was hard.  They didn’t ask for several years after I said I just couldn’t be gone from my family, especially my elderly parents, at Christmas.  When they did ask again, they invited my niece to join us.  They said come for a week and go home in time for Christmas.  The deal suddenly sounded sweet.  Now I sit by the pool with an iPad and a vacation house with wireless.  I can even read the Chicago Tribune on my electronic devices.  In fact the paper tells me that in Chicago today they are having 8-10 inches of snow!

Yes, indeed, this deal seems pretty sweet!

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