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Columnist
Son's stream-of-consciousness letter brings back memories
By Stephanie Penick | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 12/23/2009 12:15 AM

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Remember Christmas 1999?

The holiday season resembled this year, only instead of wondering what Congress would rush to next, many folks were frantic about Y2K.

Also that year, Dorcas Pearcy, owner of Toenniges Jewelers, ended the millennium by closing her downtown Naperville gem after 51 years.

I'm still mindful of the magnificent Nativity scene featuring figurines of different nationalities that graced her store window every December. Her tradition was to place the figure of the Christ child in the manger on Christmas Eve.

A decade later, just as many moms whose families will be apart on Christmas Day, I'll miss our youngest of three children who returned to Seoul, South Korea, recently for his second one-year stint teaching English.

Sunday he e-mailed some of his characteristic stream of consciousness. Here's a bit:

"The city is bustling ... people are everywhere ... restaurants are full ... There's a giant Christmas tree in front of the shopping mall. I walk home ... the weather is freezing. My jacket is warm..."

He went on to muse that he and two buddies, one of whom he met during his first stay, had been invited Saturday to sing in a private upstairs karaoke-like singing room known as "noraebang." Jeff said they rocked the night away performing Michael Jackson and Neil Diamond hits "like idiots."

His recounting of the singing experience reminded me of a time about 20 years ago when we lived in Chatham, N.J. During the holidays, the Livingston Mall offered soundproof cubicles where you could record words over music for a price. Our three kids - Ashley, then 10; Tep, 8, and Jeff, 6, - recorded Christmas carols for their grandparents that year.

I wonder in this age of CDs if my folks still have that cassette tape.

Final wrap up

My most recent column about never knowing what you'll find in a winter coat pocket prompted a few replies.

For starters, Mary Ann Junkroski wrote, "I enjoyed your story about finding money in your pocket because last night my Mom told me that she found an envelope from Christmas 2008 with Christmas stamps and a $30 Jewel Gift Card."

Junkroski added, "Twenty 41-cent Christmas stamps can't be used this Christmas without adding a 3-cent stamp to each one."

Carla Bravin didn't have an in-her-winter-coat-pocket story, but she remembered a time in 1983 when she lost a gold diamond pinkie ring. She searched for the ring high and low without success.

Much to her surprise, the following year when she slipped on her fitted Isotoner glove, she felt something inside the little finger. "I found my precious ring," she said, and she still wears it 26 years later.

Parvesh Cheena, one of many exceptional talents to graduate from Waubonsie Valley High School in 1997, the same year as our daughter, e-mailed, "Thank you for that kind mention in the Herald. I'm glad you still remember my wonderful memories and time on the stage at Waubonsie Valley."

Cheena added that he's a "working actor," filling his days with "auditions, callbacks, etc., for film, voice-over, but primarily television and commercial."

I remember when he had a supporting role as the convenience store manager in the 2002 film "Barbershop."

He said commercial successes this past year include booking spots for Cadillac, Sears and several others.

He also shot a guest-star appearance on the Fox midseason sitcom, "Sons of Tucson."

"I also am constantly taking classes in improv and sketch, performing at the various comedy theatres in town, too, including Second City, IO/WEST and Upright Citizens Brigade," he said.

In his coat pockets of late, Cheena has found "a penny, gas station receipt, restaurant receipts (I can't cook, and find the good Thai lunch specials in L.A.), and a postcard of the Beatles all crumpled up. I hope Paul and Ringo can forgive me."

Now curious about Beatles' Christmas music, I discovered that in 1999, Ringo Starr sang solo a song the Beatles had recorded for fans in the 1960s, "Christmas Time Is Here Again."

And so it is. Here's to peace and prosperity in the New Year.