Sunday, December 21, 2008

Ghost of Christmas Past Letter 2006

Those of you who see me often will be quick to recognize one of my favorite catch phrases in response to how I am doing is “I’m living the dream!” I know for a fact that I am, and hope you are too. This has been a better than average year for the Sideras family and we are reasonably well adjusted, pretty healthy and a little smarter. Not a bad result for a years worth of living.

The highlight of the year was a family vacation to Europe. A causal observer might surmise from the cruise itinerary that we were seeking to be in multiple places at one time due to the action packed schedule. Eight cities in twelve days often resulted in the question where are we and didn’t we see that ruin yesterday? This trip was conceived thirty years ago with my Cousin John Sideras as we discussed the possibility of returning to our homeland Greece in search of our Hellenic Heritage. We dreamt of long sunny days on Mediterranean beaches, scantly clad hippie girls and warm nights drinking in the taverns. It was fantasy that we had for years. Well, this year the dream came true, we landed in Santorini with our current scantly clad hippie wives, our children, and a favorite father in-law in tow. Not quite the original version of two young men running amok and redefining the term Ugly American but we had arrived. It was unsettling however because every time I mentioned that my soul was alive being on my ancestor’s soil. Paula kept reminding me that we were in Greece, not Ireland, which is a larger portion of my genome. With a reckless disregard for the facts, we embraced the experience with all the gusto we could muster. In retrospect’ this new incarnation of our original plan probably involved less contact with the local constabulary and less diplomatic intervention. , and as with all dreams, they are subject to reinterpretation, and this version was superior in every way.

The trip as a whole was great and extremely educational. We all agreed that we should go back and see those two or three churches that we missed and we all are positive that we might have missed a flavor or two of gelato. Other than the return to the homeland we loved the city of Barcelona, great food and architecture. Florence a city that is by all accounts “as old as dirt” remains most memorable, not just because of the art but the place where we had the perfect lunch. Few meals stand out in my life (those who have seen me recently will attest that I have eaten considerable) as the one we had in Il Latini. When you come to see me in the” Old Chef’s Home” I will be smiling, remembering fondly a perfect meal with the perfect family. I try summon the culinary muses yet have not been able to replicate that meal and recapture that moment. I guess we will just have to go back.

Now for the bullet points:

Paula continues to be strong and healthy. She is still working at the University of Dayton, rowing when she can and now lifting weights. I think that she might give that competitive rowing a shot this coming spring.

Luke is a junior in high school. This past summer he worked on the grounds crew at the Fifth Third Field Dayton Dragon’s. He learned how to pull a tarp on and off the field, drag the infields; squeegee water in rainstorms and that you can make a good living being a profession greens keeper. He has also become an accomplished guitar player and is making noise about a public performance in the coming year.

Zac is a freshman at the University of Dayton, majoring in International Studies. While he is only a mile and half from our house he might as well be on the other side of the world. We only see him at holidays and when he needs his car. He just got a job with the United Way as a consulate to help organize a countywide youth program.

And our narrator of this letter has changed jobs and left SYSCO to work for Nestlé Foodservice as Corporate Chef for the State of Ohio and Western Penn. It is a welcome change and a great company. “I am living the dream “.

That’s all the news that fit on two pages. Remember the Sideras family motto as you live each day: Listen, Learn and Love.

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