A Christmas Letter

We’ve all seen or had Christmas letters stuffed into Christmas cards with a summary of the senders year. Paul Balm imagines what one might be like from the Panthers family…

“Hi everyone,

I know a lot of people have been saying that 2016 has been a bit of a strange year what with things like Brexit, Donald Trump and all the celebrities that have died in the last twelve months so we wanted to make our annual Panther family update a bit more upbeat than usual. I know people think that we’re all surrounded by so much negativity at the moment but its Christmas! And that makes it time to reflect on all the good stuff that’s happened here at Panthers towers in the last twelve months.

Before all that though I want to get something straight.

I’m sure you’ve probably heard all the scurrilous rumours about Cam. Yes, it’s true that he got himself into a bit of an altercation at the start of the year but he knows what he did was wrong but he was only sticking up for Brad after some bigger boys had been picking on him on their recent day trip to Wales. I’m sure you know what happened (there’s been enough people wanting to tittle tattle about it) and I just want to say that we’re very proud of him and what he did for his friend Brad. We’re even prouder of the way he has turned his life around now and put the whole thing behind him. He’s over in America now working on the radio. You know how much he loves to talk so being on the wireless seems perfect for him. We’ll certainly miss that little tearaway’s energy around the house!

You know Evan was always one of our favourites and he did it again this year! Back in March he managed to get his hands on the Panthers Family Challenge Cup when he was, amazingly, the only one of the boys to score a goal in the whole game. To be honest, we were all just happy that we found the trophy again. We misplaced it last year and everyone was so desperately sad at the thought that it was gone for good but no! It was just in a box of old medals and pictures up in the attic so that was a big relief. Anyway Evan is away at the moment, he’s off on a tour of America. He’s been to Chicago, Indianapolis and Rockford (we’re not sure where that is but we’re too polite to ask) already and we’re hearing nothing but good things from him about the things he’s getting up to.

We had a lot of fun in April when we had a big house party with all our friends from across the country coming around to ours for a couple of days of fun and hockey. We haven’t been able to make the last couple of years for varying reasons but we certainly made up for it in style. That Sunday afternoon/evening with everyone out on the patio partying with the boys out on the veranda certainly put a grin on everyone’s face and it didn’t finish too late so nobody felt ill the morning after. Such good, well behaved boys!

You know we like a quiet summer and that’s what we got. We were a bit surprised by Evan and Cam’s news but we’re so happy that they’ve flown the nest and that they’re enjoying their new found freedom.

We got a bit worried over the summer months that Christopher was still suffering from all that time he spent in the North and the West Midlands. Fortunately, we didn’t need to be concerned because we just invited his friends Matt and Jeff to join him and the three of them couldn’t be happier and they’re all really thriving now. You know how he gets when he’s down, he wasn’t singing along to his favourite songs, he was moping about the house, getting under everyone’s feet and he was even starting to look sadder than Robert F but now the three are having a whale of a time together, it’s so good to see.

I don’t know why but we always seem to end up taking in waifs and strays and this year is no exception. Brian came to us not long after Cam left. He’s a bit on the quiet side but that doesn’t stop him trying to convince us that he’s a movie star! Can you believe it? The things these boys say!

We bought the kids a new bouncy castle this autumn and they love it! They’re especially pleased that we chose one that looked exactly like a panther, they love the colours so much! You should have seen their faces the first time we unpacked it. Their little features were lit up with joy as Gary pumped it up, he was a bit out of breath after but he said their beaming smiles meant it was definitely worth all his effort. I think he’s saving up for an electric pump for next time! Can I let you into a little secret? I know it’s a bit showy and ostentatious but we’ve had our coat of arms printed on it. I know, I know but the extra cost was worth it, it makes it feels a little bit more special and we only had it put on the side that no one can see it so it’s our little secret. I think some of the neighbours are a bit jealous of it with their snide comments and the way I’ve seen them laughing behind their hands but I don’t care, that Panther is ours and we all love it.

It’s not all been hard work for us though. We’ve had a couple of lovely weekends away in the last couple of months with trips to Spain and Denmark that I know the boys really enjoyed. They all work so hard week in week out that they deserve a treat every once in a while. In fact we enjoyed them so much that we’re going to do it all again in January when we’re all off to Italy. They’re not the easiest things to organise, there’s so many of us these days but the boys get so much out of it, you can see it on their faces.

Anyway, time to wrap this up by saying that everything is going really well at the moment and we’re all really looking forward to the busy time that is Christmas. It just feels like the Panther family are all moving forward as one and that anything is possible.

Merry Christmas everyone from the Panthers family.”

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