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This website is now published on my mobileme account. Any opinions expressed, however, are totally my responsibility.

The original website was published through the courtesy of Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Jim Andris, Sept. 17, 2003.

Christmas 99

December 10, 1999

Dear friends:

I didn't write a christmas letter last year. So we have two years to cover. I also managed to get the flu at the last minute, making this quite late.

I will spare you the details to Stephen's life and death struggle with what we thought until recently was ulcerative colitis. He has spent a total of six weeks on three separate occasions in the Barnes-Jewish hospital complex. He now has an ileostomy, and is beginning to eat well and gain weight. Our lives have been centered around this illness for so long, and now we are looking forward to a new and different, but good life. Oh, and sincere thanks to all who prayed for Stephen and me in our need.

Somehow, in the midst of this two year battle we managed to do several other important things. We moved in June of 1998 to 2852 Accomac St. Here is how I described it last December in the never-sent draft of a Christmas letter.

We finally moved! And to a wonderful place—a 100 year old yellow brick, terra cotta ornamented row house just a stone's throw from elegant Compton Heights, a development that surrounds the Victorian water tower that stands like a sentinel for the near-south side. We have 2700 square feet, a deck, a full basement, a back yard all our own with eight Bradford pear trees, 4 fireplaces, original unpainted woodwork, two staircases, an elegant entry way with a pier mirror and hall seat. It is just what we both wanted. See the place at http://www.siue.edu/~jandris/house.

This summer we had the back yard completely landscaped into a shade garden with floating blue deck, fountain and beach. I also had two fireplaces renovated last December. We love the South Grand area which is where our shops, stores and restaurants are.

Over the last two years we have had several visitors, including Jim's old friends, Fred and Mary Bono Raje from New Mexico, Jim's mom, sister Vicki and husband, Jerry, Jim's brother tom and nephew Adam, Stephen's daughter Stephanie and her partner, Dawn, Stephen's sister Janice from Oregon and his brother Jim and wife, Jackie. Tragically, Jim died of a blood clot this year just three weeks after visiting us.

After 20 years since my last promotion, I final achieved full professor status. I am looking forward to retirement in 2001 or 2002, but am still very active at work. I was made program director for instructional technology this year.

When Stephen hasn't been too ill, he has been struggling with the Social Security office, which still sees fit to deny him disability after his incapacitating battle with what now looks like Crohn's disease and a disabling stroke. No Christmas spirit in that place that I can detect. A week before he went into the hospital for major surgery, he amazed all at Trinity by singing a loud and clear anthem. He's faced these difficulties with great courage. Along with our other friends, Trinitarians have helped us enormously during our years of strife, and we continue to attend and support the church as we can.

I have continued to play ragrtime piano once a month at Dressel's Cafe along with a host of other top notch peformers known both locally and nationally. I have just completed my eighth rag and plans are now firmly in motion for the Friends of Scott Joplin Society to publish a folio of these rags. Also, the Ragtime Rascals, my somewhat obstreperous and mercenary, but loyal fan club continues to whoop it up with me once a month.

And tha 18 year old cat, Leonard, is still a marvel. He looks like he is just a typical cat, but we can see that he is slowing down. He's stopped trying to catch Gilbret, our parakeet, which is one way we know this.

We've continued as we are able to play bridge and attend our play reading group on a monthly basis. More often, we end up in front of digital cable and our 2nd floor fireplace for a quiet evening at home. In the summer, we love our deck and fountain and enjoy the many birds that visit Stephen's bird feeder: cardinals, humming birds, jays doves, wrens, sparrows, blackbirds and once, even a parakeet. There's plenty of sleeping space here, so if any of you would like to visit, let us know.

When you receive this, the days will have reached their shortest and the Millennium will be just days away. May God continue to bless all of our lives if not always with health and prosperity, at least with love and joy that the Christ Child brings.

As always,

Jim and Stephen