Yesterday, Luciana, Ryan and I ventured into the depths of Lawrence to Yokiohama Steak House.  From the outside, it looked pretty scary.  When we entered, we were greeted with open arms by the owner and escorted to our table.

Our chef was an absolute riot…think John Belushi Samuarai. He put on an incredible show, fueled by whatever was in the bottle…and it was was stronger that Sake!

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Press play for a special Holiday Message….

I hope this letter finds you and your family well.  The past year has been a whirlwind. Seems like yesterday that I was sitting down to write last year’s holiday letter.

Well, this biggest change in our family has been that Luciana decided that she wanted to attend Cushing Academy.

She started in September and absolutely loves boarding school. Academically, the small class sizes have been a perfect fit. Socially, she has made a whole new group of great friends from all over the world. During the first weekend at school, athe students, faculty and staff climbed Mt. Monadnock. This is a picture of Luciana at the summit.

I think the hardest transition was for me!

She performed with the Cushing Dance troupe in the fall. She also made the varsity basketball team. So far they are undefeated, recently winning the Lawrence Academy Holiday Tournament. She’s the first person off of the bench and in one game, she played all 5 positions. The coach is incredibly knowledgeable (she’s a former Division 1 player) and very intense. Luciana is working hard and learning a lot. She wants to play basketball in college, and her experience at Cushing is going to prepare her, both athletically and academically.

Luciana and I had the opportunity to coach the local 7th Grade girls travel team. I know that someday, she will work with children.. she just has that gift. Here is a picture of all of us when we took our team to see the BC Woman’s game. I returned to coach them in the 8th Grade and both the girls and I really miss Luciana’s presence on the sideline.

In May, my friend Deb and I spent four days in the Dominican Republic. If you have never been to an all inclusive resort, I highly recommend it. It was such a relaxing vacation for both of us.

This was the first year that I did not do the Pan Mass Challenge. I needed a break and considering the current economic crises, I didn’t feel right asking for money from folks. Also, riding the Harley up hills was a lot easier……I will return to cycling again in 2010, and have already signed up to do the Great Mass Getaway for the MS Society in June.

Luciana and I took a wonderful summer trip to Italy. We spent three weeks touring Northern and Central Italy. We got to see my 95 year old grandmother and to take my Mom to the Amalfi Coast. As you know, most of the roads in the Amalfi Coast are cut into the sides of mountains. Our hotel parking lot overlooked a 100 foot drop. My Mom was in the back seat of our car and I was getting in. The car next to us was backing out and since my Mom couldn’t see the driver, she thought that our car was rolling forward down the ravine. She screamed and tried to get out….that proved to be difficult as the car that we rented, for three of us and our luggage, for 3,200 km throughout Italy was a ………………Mini Cooper. And yes, I have photo proof..that’s me sitting in the car.

Luciana and I had the opportunity to take a lot of great pictures that are included in the slide show. One of my favorites is the self portrait she took in the car mirror…

In October, I traveled to New Orleans with my friends from DC and New York. It was a great weekend that included bowling at the new Rock n Bowl. We listened to New Orleans favorite Anders Osborne and bowled (or tried to anyway!) I also got to see one of my all time favorite bands, Tower of Power.

Well, this was the year that I decided to reignite my passion for Rotary. To better accommodate my work schedule, I decided to change clubs and join the Burlington Breakfast Rotary Club. I have many old friends in this club and the first few weeks as a member have been very enjoyable. I have been asked to be service director, where I will identify local and international opportunities for our club members to serve. Serving others has always been a great passion of mine, and I am so thrilled that the members in my new club also share this passion.

My family is all well. My nieces and nephews continue to grow. Ryan is a junior in college, John is a 4th grader and Liana is 3 and mobile…. My Mom is busier than ever. Whenever I call her and she’s not in I always leave a message “As usual , your out and about , call me when you have a free moment and can squeeze me in.” (Of course, she always calls right back…being the Italian mother and all.)  We’re all thankful for our good health.

We had our 12th Annual Holiday Party for Toys for Tots. It was extra special this year as my good friend Billy Gordon came up from North Carolina. The snow didn’t deter anyone. My friends Steve and Marianne came up from the Cape, and a dear friend of mine from college, Liz, made the trip up from Hanover. We broke the party up at 4AM. We collected over 60 toys and Luciana and I made the trip in to Toys for Tots to drop them off.

For me, Christmas always begins when we drop those toys off…not when the first sales start. This year, more than ever, those less fortunate need our help.  I hope that, after all of the holiday madness has passed, you and your family can try to make a difference in someone’s life. Volunteer your time, be a big brother or sister, help out at your church.  Everywhere around you there are opportunities to serve others.  Margaret Meade, the great philanthropist, once said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world.  In fact it is the only thing that ever has.”

Here’s hoping you can change your small corner of the world in the next year.  Peace.

Luciana and I thought we would do something different this year….brings me back to my disco days at On the Rocks in Mashpee!

I know it’s been a couple of years since I caught up with you. 2007 was a year of many challenges, many of them difficult. 2008 has been a year of transitions and has brought our family many wonderful things…

Luciana is 15 now, and is truly starting to blossom into a beautiful young woman. I sense that the days of teen turmoil are starting to be behind us. She was on the high school dance squad, was one of the featured dancers in the high school performance of ” Thoroughly Modern Millie”.

Luciana’s passion for basketball has grown this past year. She made the high school varsity basketball team as a sophomore. She will be playing on an AAU National Elite team in the spring. I volunteer coach her high school team and a 7th Grade travel team. Luciana is my assistant coach on the travel team and we are having so much fun coaching together.

Last year, I met Deb while performing with Pentucket Players in “Beauty and the Beast” ( no, I wasn’t the Beast) and Guy’s and Dolls (yes I was a gangster…quite a stretch role for me. ) We have crossed many roads and shared so many fun experiences together. I am so happy that she has become and important part of mine and Luciana’s life.

I completed my ninth Pan Mass Challenge this summer. All told, we raised $35 million and 100% of the money raised went to the Jimmy Fund. I want to thank everyone who sponsored me and support our quest to wipe cancer from the face of the earth.

Well, I hit the big milestone this year. My Mom, Luciana and Deb pulled off a huge surprise party for me, with friends from every part of my life, great food and of course, live music. For my fiftieth, I decided to finally buy that Harley whose siren song beckoned to me all of these years. Deb and Luciana love riding with me and I put 6500 miles on it this year!

Our 11th Annual Toys for Tots Holiday Party was a great success! We celebrated the opening of the Boom Boom Room with a jam session. The crowd got into it; dancing and even singing backup on a couple of songs.. Most importantly we collected over 75 Toys to give to needy children I was so overwhelmed by the generosity of our guests in this time of true need.

I know that many of us face the New Year with great trepidation. We worry about our 401K’s, our jobs, the value of our houses and how we have to “sacrifice”. Every once in a while, something happens to put it all in perspective. I was sitting in one of my friends’ office and one of his staff came in with a request. An eight year old boy, Trey, had terminal cancer and for Christmas he wanted to get as many Christmas cards from as many people as possible. It really brought things into perspective. I’ll share with you what I shared with Trey. “If you believe it hard enough, your dreams will come true.”

Here is hoping that Trey’s, and your dreams will come true. Peace.