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Don's Christmas Book

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BC: Grampa's Words of Wisdom for His Fellow Drivers For the Red Light Runner: "Don't worry, asshole, that red light's not meant for you!" For the Senior Citizen (his age): "Maybe we could get somewhere if Grammy and Grampy would get off the road!" For the Tail Gater: "I'm gonna go real slow now because you should have left home earlier, Bobo!" For the Slow Driver: "What is this, the brain-dead lane?" For the Hispanic Driver: "Move it, Jose!" For the African-American Driver: "Could you turn that music up a little louder, Shaneequa?"

FC: Letters to Grampa 2012

1: We all have a "Grampa story" to tell. You're so funny and smart and you have always been there for us. We don't tell you often enough, but we all love you. | Nothing like a new pair of knee pads to brighten your day!!

2: Dear Don, Remember when I talked you into going to a Marriage Encounter Weekend? Our first clue that we were in the wrong place was when they told us that we couldn't watch TV for the next 48 hours. After a full day of being around couples who dressed alike, being told to gaze into each other's eyes without talking and being forced to write a love letter to each other, we decided to hit the road. We're Marriage Encounter drop-outs but at least we weren't expelled. Remember when we decided to get new furniture and you wanted to reupholster your big chunky arm chair?

3: You foolishly allowed me to pick the new color and when they delivered it, it was the color of Pepto-Bismol. Only someone who's really sure of their manhood could sit comfortably in a big, pink chair and not worry about it. Remember when I bumped my head getting into the car? You're still laughing about it and that was at least 15 years ago. I guess you had to be there! My favorite thing that I've learned from you over the years if your famous warning "Don't step in the oil!" Good advice for all of us. I think the only thing I've done to you that you refuse to forgive me for was the time I baked you a fake apple pie. That was over 30 years ago and you still bring it up from time to time. It's time to get over it. Seriously, you're one of the good guys. You've been there with me through thick and thin. And even though there are times that I consider smothering you in your sleep with a pillow, I'll always love you. Dana

4: Dear Don, Thank you so much for all you've done for us. I know it was probably hard to take in two prissy girls when you were much more used to your little athletes. You gave us nice homes, good schools and everything we needed to grow up healthy. Thank you for being such a good husband, friend and companion to my mom. I also thought all those vacations with the whole family were fun. I can still remember all of us loaded up in the red van, listening to Simon and Garfunkle. All of us kids would run around the motels, acting like we'd never seen a snack machine before. Snacks are so much better

5: when they come from a vending machine. Also, there was the time we floated the Illinois River. Ang and I would have gone around in circles forever if left to our own devices. There was the time that you so graciously told me "Don't bleed on the carpet!" when I came hobbling in with a bloody foot. I thought it was pretty mean at the time, but I have to say I find myself telling Cameron the same types of things. It's just so much easier when they bleed or vomit on tile rather than carpet. I've always thought you had a really funny sense of humor. You can be pretty witty at times. I remember one time when you were lecturing Ang about something. I was sitting on her lap making obnoxious comments about everything you said - totally ruining your lecture flow. You looked at me over your glasses and called me a "pimple on the ass of progress". That was a good one. And I really couldn't argue with it. One of my favorite things is how you make Christmas a big deal. You've always given us great Christmases. Even though we always give you a hard time about opening one gift at a

6: time, it really does make the fun last longer. It's always fun at Christmas to see how Chris has turned into you and Adam is turning into him. My favorite recent memory was last year when the Christmas tree fell over. I can still see you with your head buried under the tree and your butt sticking out while the whole family laughed. Then you flipped us all off as we took pictures. That was a classic moment. Thank you so much for all you do for us. It means a lot that you're willing to come over and help me with my car and with things around the house. The fireplace you tiled is still the prettiest thing in my house! Kelly Dear Grampa, I have been sitting here thinking about memories of you and, honestly, the first thing that came to my mind was noodles. I think about the time we ate tetrazini with you and you had your own personal bowl of peas.

7: A funny thing that involved you was last year when the Christmas tree fell over. Do you remember the "rockin' soccer player" ornament? That was hilarious. That got me to thinking, "was he a rockin' soccer player" back in the day or was he more of a "dancin" fool"? I also enjoy your disco moves. I would like to say thank you to you and Gramma for doing fun things with me like eating lunch with me and going to movies. I also want to thank you guys for loving me. The best thing about family is that they love you no matter what and that you can always count on them to be there for you. Cameron

8: Dear Dad, I will never forget the fun the four of us had traveling at night and seeing all our relatives back east. What is the most memorable was | the effect the leather seats had on the three guys in the car, much to the displeasure of Kellie's sense of smell. I also remember the middle of the night Memphis clover leaf adventure that I took you on. When I was in high school, I had Bill and another friend over and I was bouncing a soccer ball in my room. You came in and asked me to stop. I don't recall which smart ass comment I made, but your comeback was priceless. You looked me in the eye and said, "the food's good around here, isn't it?" We all laughed, but you made your point. Golf is something that we share and I've been very happy that Adam has been able to join us on the course as of late. I look forward to many more outings for the three of us. I'll never forget my only hole in one and sharing it with you. It was May 18th at Kickingbird on the 14th hole. We were hitting into a setting sun from 201 yards and neither of us saw the ball land. But when we looked in the hole, there it was. A group of Japanese businessmen cheering only added to the scene.

9: Along with the golf, I will always remember watching you play outdoor soccer and then having the pleasure of playing indoor soccer with you and Mike. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the first day I saw you with your hairpiece. I remember walking in the door from school and you were standing with Mom at your desk. The feeling I had was that I was looking at a completely different, much younger person. Speaking of hair, your thrifty nature led us to the "bowl", which was the best hair styles of them all (see below). Unfortunately, it produced an unnatural fear of the snipping sound a pair of scissors makes near one's ear. It gives me chills just thinking about it. We all look forward to many more wonderful memories in years to come. Chris

10: Dear Don, During the years that Chris and I dated, I was always diligent to address you as "Mr. Steele". On my wedding day, I remember asking you, "Can I call you 'Don' now?" and you said, "as opposed to what? Asshole?" Then you laughed, so I took that as permission to call you 'Don" from then on. | I remember going to Savannah with Chris and Emma to visit Betty. Emma was almost 3 years old at the time and we were so happy to get a chance for her to meet your Mom. We took Emma to the beach and she had a wonderful time. Then she threw the biggest fit EVER when it was time to leave. I remember watching you and Adam raking and bagging leaves in the back yard.

11: It was always funny when someone would get a new CD for Christmas and you had to try to figure out how to work the stereo so we could play it. I remember trying to get pictures of all the grandkids, whether it was at MotoPhoto or on the couch in the living room (see below), it was always a challenge. We always count on a Happy Birthday phone call from you and Dana. And we all get a kick out it when you get a new sweater vest for Christmas and say, "I love it. . . what color is it?" Rachel

12: Dear Grampa, My favorite memories are the time you and I framed those drawings I made for the cousins and when we all wore tie-dye shirts because you wanted us to wear white for pictures and when we got you a sweater vest for Christmas and we said, "Hey, another one!" Emma | Dear Grampa, My favorite memories are when we went to Sea World as a big family and when we went to Frontier City as a big family. It was fun when you and Gramma came to see us and you played with Domino. I really had fun when you and my Dad and I went to play golf. Adam

13: Dear Dad, I have a lot to be thankful for because of you. You have always been there for me. You have inspired several traditions | in my family that I hope my daughters will continue. One of my favorites is when you read "Twas the Night Before Christmas" on Christmas Eve before we went to bed. It was always something I looked forward to as a kid. Another tradition was family vacations. I enjoyed the preparation as much as I enjoyed the actual trip. We would get up super early at 4:00 in the morning, eat breakfast while you packed the car, then pile in with our pillows and blankets and travel games and be on our way.

14: I will never forget our trip to Georgia and Connecticut when we were older. We were in the car more than we were at Grammer's or Gahmy's which made for an interesting trip. We ate almost ever meal at McDonald's and took shifts driving. I remember Mike making you laugh with his Eddie Murphy impression of a Jewish white man. I also remember holding my breath when I heard the electric windows roll down because someone's McDonald's wasn't agreeing with them. You have always been there for me. I remember when I was nine or ten shortly after Mom passed away and I had a really bad earache and you didn't usually handle giving me the ear drops. You accidentally spilled the medicine all over my cheek and neck. Although I was only nine, I remember being so thankful to you and appreciating how hard you tried to make me feel better. I appreciate you more than I can tell you. I love you so much. Kellie

15: Dear Grampa, I wanted to tell you how important you are to me. I remember my fourth birthday party at your house. We had a Cinderella cake and everyone was there. I remember feeling a little ignored because everyone was paying attention to Sara because she was only two weeks old. I was feeling left out, but you made me feel better by giving me that great party. Another great memory is when we all went to SeaWorld together. I remember being too scared to ride the roller coasters and I regret that now. We all went to the Shamu show and he did flips and splashed water on the people sitting in the front rows. We have had a lot of good memories. Thank you for being in my life, I really appreciate and love you. Jeanie

16: Dear Grampa, You always make the holidays great. We would come over on Halloween and go trick or treating and see the fireworks on the 4th of July. I loved the Christmas where you asked all of us to wear white so you could take pictures. Aunt Angi gave us all tie-dyed shirts and you looked so surprised when you saw us. It was really funny. You have always supported me in my sports. Although it sometimes makes me nervous to know you're at my games, it gives me the drive to do my best. I love you. Sara

17: washed it." That was a precursor to most of our conversations since. I appreciate that your fear of bugs rivals my own. I remember being on vacation at a hotel and the kids had gone to raid the vending machines. When we got back to the room, you were jumping on the bed fleeing a huge bug. All Mom could say was, "Go away kids, you don't want to see this!" Or the time you were using your power saw in the garage and I was outside at a neighbor's house and we heard a blood-curdling scream. I was sure you had severed your hand. Luckily you had just come eyeball-to- eyeball with a tarantula. Sometimes I think you would have preferred to lose a limb rather than come that close to a tarantula. | Dear Don, I remember the first thing you ever said to me was "what happened to your hair?" I didn't realize you had only seen pictures of me before my permed hair and the only answer I could come up with was, "I

18: I remember you encouraging me to play basketball. I wore a black 70's style uniform with my skinny white arms and legs glaring in the light. I thought those girls were mean and threw the ball too hard. Luckily, you didn't encourage my athletic abilities after that. I think you had seen enough. I appreciate your sticking by Mom's side through all my teenage angst, my early adulthood stupidity and my middle age iffy choices. I am grateful that you opened your house to my girls and me several times over the years and always cared enough to ask, "What did you accomplish today?" I remember car shopping with you when I was pregnant with Mel and you telling the salesman, "I was a salesman for years, so cut the bullshit". I was in awe that you were so protective of me. Thank you for the lectures over the years. As my kids get older, I appreciate your opinion even more. Your telling me about the "hierarchy of needs" especially opened my eyes to so much. You have been a wonderful father to me, always there to lend a hand and encourage me to be a better person. Thank you for being my Dad, it can't be an easy job but you make it look like a breeze. Merry Christmas and I love you. Angi

19: Dear Grampa, One of my fondest memories is the time the whole family was supposed to wear white dress shirts for a group photo. We had the white shirts but we also had tie dye shirts for each family member to wear. I don't think you're very fond of tie dye. We all went to back rooms to change, and when we came out as a parade of color, the look on your face was priceless. We took a group photo with all our tie dyes on and then went and changed into our white shirts for the picture. It was really funny. You're a really good Grampa and I love you. Destiny

20: Dear Grampa, One of my favorite memories was when I was little and you used to pick me up and put me on the kitchen counter and trim my bangs when they got too long. You were the only one I would let cut my hair. I thought it was funny that you hung your tongue out like you were really concentrating on doing a good job. I remember the first time you rode with me after I got my driver's license. You were pretty scared but, as it turned out, I wasn't as bad a driver as you thought. You've been a great Grampa and I look forward to sharing many more great memories with you. I love you. Melanie

21: Dear Dad, Some of my favorite memories are from 12+ years of soccer with you as my coach. Common phrases like "give and go", "don't run around the ball", "mark up" and the | classic "who to?" following an indiscriminate booting of the ball to no one in particular. "Good miss" was always a familiar comment on the golf course after a less than stellar shot that finished in decent shape. Strangely, that isn't what you said when I wrapped a golf cart around that tree on #6 Hefner South when I was 14 or so. Another phrase I find myself using from time to time with my boys is "life isn't fair". That was a well-used retort whenever we were complaining about some perceived injustice in our lives. While it never made me feel better, it was a truism we needed to hear. In my adult years, I came to appreciate the truth in those words and that I could really only focus on controlling the few things in life I could control, namely my own behavior.

22: Each summer in our teen years, you loved to order veritable mountains of top soil and rocks for Chris and me to spread around the yard/house in Summitt Place. Any complaint from Chris or me was met with a quick "get an education!". Of course, it didn't make us feel any better at the time but the life lesson was clear. Along similar lines, you freely uttered "it builds character" to counter any grumbling on our part. Jack, Nick and Ethan love that one as well. I always loved helping you build whatever it was you were building at the time. Whether it was finishing the interior on the van with awesome wood paneling and sweet, swivel bucket seats (burgundy, anyone?) or one of the 17 sheds you constructed over the years, I learned a lot from your ability to plan a project and how to use various tools to get the job done. I am positive your teachings have helped my career in business. That focus on the process has served me well. Speaking of tools and such, how many folding rulers did we break over the years? Man, those were so much fun to play with and the broken ones were easy to conceal under the couch in the living room in the house on 44th.

23: Small acts like the aforementioned caused you some angst at times and for that I'm sorry. When you needed to discipline, you mostly did so with a few choice words and a stern glare. I do recall the infrequent and benign smacks on the back of our heads. They didn't hurt at all, but Chris, Kellie and I learned to perform incredible feats of gymnastics to avoid even the possibility of contact. There are so many positive memories from my childhood, The family trips with all seven of us in the van with Jim Croce, James Taylor, the Beatles and your favorite 50's music playing on the 8-track. Chris navigating like a wanna-be Magellan with the AAA TripTiks...the Steele signature hair dazzling the ladies...the Mazda RX-7...playing indoor soccer together...and dozens of rounds of golf with you and Chris. I wish we lived closer to home and were able to see you more often. My boys are the lesser for that. I love you Dad, and appreciate all you've done for me, Amy and the boys. You have been an indispensable resource for advice that I value greatly. Enjoy your Christmas and always remember when walking through any parking lot never, ever step in the oil. Mike

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