Happy Pokédays

December 10, 1999

We are in the throes of Pokémon fever here at the Gehlke home. Since our last newsletter our five-year-old son has fallen hard for the Japanese animated show featuring Ash, Pikachu, Team Rocket and 150 odd monster-like critters called Pokémon. His obsession has been fueled by Burger King's current promotion in which 57 different Pokémon toys are being given away -- one inside each Kid's Meal -- over 12 weeks.

The show's slogan is "Gotta catch 'em all," which seems to play right along with the quest of all Pokémon fans to catch each of the Burger King characters. Like millions of other families across the United States, we have been gobbling down burgers and fries to find out what hopefully new character hides inside the red and white Pokéballs included with the meal. Of course, not all of the finds are unique. We have acquired a number of duplicates, which we eagerly save until Tuesday nights when we and other obsessed collectors descend on the local fast food dive for trading night. Benji has become quite a wheeler and dealer in three weeks, swapping his way to a collection of nearly 30 toys. He has yet to land a talking Pikachu, a Meowth or Mew, but he is a determined little boy who will not give up until the promotion ends or Mom and Dad declare a moratorium on greasy food, whichever comes sooner.

Pokémania falls just in time for Christmas, which we are convinced is only a coincidence (yeah, right!). You can bet that Santa has been well advised as to appropriate Poké-related gift items. There are plenty of other gifts on Benji's wish list as well. Trains are, of course, still a big item. He is also into Disney's "Toy Story 2," which he saw on Thanksgiving Day with Roni.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, it was sort of a mixed bag for us this year. With Glenn working the night shift that day, we had a small feast before his departure for the office. Roni did a dynamite job mixing up candied yams, creamed spinach, stuffing, rolls, cranberry sauce and, of course, turkey. Glenn took part in a second feast four hours later at his office with all the other luckless souls who had to work that night.

Our effort to do Thanksgiving right the following Sunday met with mixed success. Although we were able to enjoy dinner with Glenn's folks, sister, brother and brother-in-law in Hayward, Glenn and Benji both were suffering from their first illnesses of the 1999-2000 cold season, which took much of the wind out of their social sails. Nonetheless, it was good to have the company of family on a special holiday.

Our preparations for Christmas began even before the turkey cooled. We broke tradition and purchased our first fake Christmas tree from Target. It cost about three times what we would have spent on a real dead tree from the local tree lot, but at least we will save some hassle in future years by avoiding tree shopping in the cold and rain, not finding the right tree, and watching the shower of needles as the yuletide icon dries up through December. It has already been a joy to use in conjunction with our annual model railroad/ceramic town display that forms the base of the tree. Roni and Glenn worked long and hard to craft a new display that features a double loop of HO-scale train track and more than a dozen lighted buildings and figures. The display isn't truly done because Roni keeps coming up with new ideas to add to it. Hopefully this year's incarnation will survive to see Christmas 2000, so the setup work won't be nearly as difficult.

Roni's quest for a seat on the board of directors for the Oakley Chamber of Commerce was a success. She received a two-year term, meaning the Oakley business community will have her working for their cause well into the 21st century.

Glenn's broken tooth saga continues. A week before his scheduled date in "the chair," the dental office called to reschedule his appointment to Dec. 14. With the appointment days away now we are hoping there will be no further change of plans.

As we wrap up this, our final newsletter for 1999, we hope that your holidays are filled with good friends and warm memories. We will be thinking of you, our family and friends, when we pop our champagne cork on New Year's Eve and celebrate the dawn of a new millennium (or whatever it really is). And we'll look forward to sharing more news with you in the months to come.

Glenn, Roni and Benji

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