Yowltide

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Once upon a time in 1981, we reached a point in the demolition and remodeling of our home where we felt it safe to buy some furniture.  We were so pleased with our antique rocker that we featured it in our first personally designed card.  Our featured felines were Amanda, Girf and Hot Shot. The message inside was brief, but we thought very clever. In 1982 we added a couch which the crew quickly adopted.  The stuffed alligator was a present from one of Helen's students, adorned with a Walgreen's Santa cap. Steve, the punster, strikes again. In 1983 we added the sun room,  deck and basement room.  The architect's plan were an inspiration for some fun.  This time Steve modified a Christmas carol for the message and a second tradition was born.  We got complaints - where were the cats? The cats returned, checking to see if good St. Nicholas had arrived.  Tigger (in the window) had joined the crew after Hot Shot went to that great cat nip field in the sky. The sliding glass doors became a favorite spot for everyone - day and night.  An early snow storm inspired this inside-out card in 1985. Tigger had grown out of her energizer kitty stage and actually would sit still for a few minutes. The remodeling progress reports continued to provide interesting settings.  In 1986 it was the new windows.  Now we just had two feline family members, Amanda and Tigger. Deck the Halls returned - we were finishing off a lot of drywall. Can you believe our computer in 1987? It really was huge.  We were a mixed marriage at the time - Steve was PC and I was MAC. But Amanda and Tigger didn't care - a mouse is a mouse. Clement Moore might not approve of this version of his Christmas classic. In 1988 we experimented with color printing and colored paper.   This time the mischevious cats were "helping" me wrap presents. Feline assistance is truly a long standing tradition at our house.  There's always one who want to eat the ribbon. In 1989 a new tradition was added to our family.  We hosted Ken Sugiura as our first Japanese college student.  The electric guitar is Ken's while the acoustic belongs to Steve. A wonderful new dimension was added to our life and we became "American Papa" and "American Moma." Ken surrounded us with music as he practiced every day.  So this became a logical design in 1990.  Amanda graced the left side of the card (unfortunately she passed away three days after it was completed). Tigger anchored the right side, adding a cheerful accent at the end. Soon in 1991, our "designer cat" arrived - as so many of you call her.  Kaboodle added an elegant touch to our cards.  Ken helped us hand color each one. Steve created one of my favorite adaptations with these charming verses. Dreaming cats with twitching paws generated this elaborate design in 1992.  Gold highlights were added by hand. Steve perfectly caught the "fantasies" of Kaboodle and Tigger. Now that I look back, it's surprising that the kitchen wasn't featured until 1993.  It had been completed in 1885 - after a two year renovation.  Well, we had been busy with a few other projects in our careers. Yes, Helen actually bakes stollen each Christmas.  But it looks really strange as a drawing, so I took a little artistic license here. Kaboodle was now Queen of Muriel Court and I wanted to feature one of our Oriental rugs.  It just seemed to be a natural.  Steve designed the "Who Me?/Merry Christmas" fun. We returned from Japan right before Christmas in 1995 and quickly thereafter a new stray cat joined the family.  We ignored Kaboodle's black tail for the sake of the design. I wanted to name our first male cat Yuki, Japanese for snow.  But Hiroko, our student that year was adamant.  Yuki was a GIRL'S name!  Our newest addition became Mochi, Japanese for rice cake. The World Wide Web was growing in 1996 and Kaboodle and Mochi wanted to prove they were cyber saavy.  Steve had also learned to do screen saves. It only took ten years, but now the cats do have their own web site in 2006. We had to celebrate our happy milestone in 1997.  Some friends said we were quite brave to show ourselves in our "hippie" days. This still holds true today. Welcome Sumi (Japanese for charcoal) 1998!  We spent the summer raising her seven kittens - all black and all male.  Steve's new software program helped us experiment with the design. The cats want you to know that all this talk about messing with Christmas wrapping is just propaganda.  They are really quite well behaved. We discovered the fun of biking togther in 1999 - Steve and I, not the cats. But seeing the buggies on group rides jumpstarted this year's design. "I Saw Three Ships" is a bit obscure for the Christmas carol, but if you know the song, it scans quite well. The Big Pig Gig delighted Cincinnati in summer of 2000.  If pigs can fly, why not cats, especially our delightful trio. This was our first, and hopefully our only, reference to politics.  Bah Humbug! Helen had joined Cincinnati Dayton Taiko and wanted to share the fun for Christmas 2001.  We all needed a boost that year. Steve delivered a gentle message. Just like any album cover, you must have liner notes. In 2002 Helen retired as a high school administrator and tried her hand at oil painting so she featured her easel. Steve's message was absolutely brilliant. We'd been feeding strays and finding them homes, but in 2003 we fell in love with Yuki and he joined the family.  Kanako was with us and approved the name this time. The glass ornaments that have been featured since the first card are family antiques.  In 2003 we highlighted one of my favorites. One evening in 2004, I was sitting on the couch in the den reading.  I looked up and saw the lights of a high-flying plane sparkling through the upstairs window.  The idea was sent from heaven. Steve just keeps writing winners. Here's an international twist for 2005 - a Japanese kimono and birds and bells from India.  I was startled one day when I heard one of the bells ring and turned around to see Mochi with a "Who me?" expression on his face. We just had to use this typical Yuki pose on the card.  This is the perfect illustration for the cyber term, ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing).