The Hudsons’ 2003 Christmas Letter

Andrew and Jennie’s 2003 Christmas Card

The Lord Of The Hudsons (2003)

Starring (left to right): Jennie as Arwen, Redford as Frodo,
Andrew as Aragorn, and Panang as Gollum.


Long ago, (or at least it seems so to new parents), there was forged a great and time-consuming child. Since the Fellowship’s last episode, the One Child -- a hobbit named Redford (Frodo) -- grows from 4 months to 16 months. He learns to walk, graduates from "infant" to "toddler" at day-care, and delights all with his happy good nature and spirited antics. The best scenes are of Redford on the slide; in the swimming pool; and taunting Panang with a biscuit while running and laughing. His mother, the elven princess Jennie (Arwen), completes a year of breast-feeding and continues to work at Macy’s. His father, the weather-beaten Ranger Andrew (Aragorn), turns 40 and spends more time making this card than working on his business. Meanwhile, the sly dog Panang (Gollum) learns to swim and entertains many at the weekly trip to Dog Beach. The Fellowship journeys to Las Vegas and England, and are visited in Middle-earth San Diego by friends and family. A rousing although tired adaptation of a classic story. Box office success helped greenlight a sequel -- coming in April 2004, a girl!

Five stars. A Photoshop Pictures release. Rated unsuitable for anyone over two. Released by your handwriting-challenged friends Jennie, Andrew, Redford and Panang Hudson at 9582 Vista Tercera, San Diego CA 92129. For photos from the set, please visit

photo photo

Card printed by Shutterfly.


Redford / Frodo
Young master Redford had so much fun that he has his own web page. For too many photos, click here.

In 2003, Redford grew from 4 months to 16 months. He’s an amazingly happy and relaxed child; fun, inquisitive, energetic; we love him. He took his first steps on September 6, aged one year and two weeks. This allowed him to "graduate" at day-care from the infants to the toddlers room, which he far prefers. Now he runs around, goes down the slide, digs in the sand, and pushes toys and chairs around.

Redford loves to meet people and has fun with his grandparents, Uncle Pat, and aunties Justine and Jill. He had a great time in England and fared better with the flight than his parents.

Panang / Gollum
The good dog Panang turned "2" in 2003. This chocolate brown Labrador retriever continues to be a wonderful pal and companion. She puts up with Redford admirably, allowing herself to be a climbing frame and teething ring. Her hobbies include food, food, food and stealing socks and soft baby toys so she can be be chased. Panang changed suddenly in the summer, when she accidentally waded too deep in the ocean. She found she could swim, and now there’s no going back. Before she liked to wrestle with the other dogs, now there’s nothing but retrieving. At our weekly dog beach visit, tennis-ball-like sticks have to be thrown deep into the ocean for the surfing Panang to fetch.

Jennie / Arwen
The elven princess Jennie had a challenging year, experiencing the first year of motherhood -- both a wonderful, amazing time and also fairly jarring. Having gone back to work full-time at the first of the year, 2003 started off as a juggling act, but all was well. She was able to work and continue breast-feeding (oh, the delights of the breast pump!) and, in between it all, watched her lovely Hobbit baby grow amazingly quickly into a little person. In late May, tragedy struck when Jennie’s work colleague in San Diego, Greg Sumich, was suddenly struck down by a fatal case of meningitis. This was a shocking loss that sent her reeling. A memorial was held for Greg in the Macy’s School of Cooking, a facility that Greg loved and helped to create.

The summer was spent searching out someone to fill the open office spot, while Jennie became a crazed lunatic trying to manage the office alone...and made things only harder by getting pregnant and very ill with morning sickness. In mid-September, Jonna Talbott was hired to work with Jennie -- a blessing! Things continued to be very busy and hectic at work, the Hudson Hobbits took a non-stop trip to England, and the elvin princess Jennie started to resemble the ring-possessed Bilbo Baggins (scary!). Her lovely son, dog, and husband stood with her through it all. She hopes for a promising 2004 welcoming her daughter into the world. And, maybe she’ll take an art class or start writing again...? An elf can always hope!

Andrew / Aragorn
The weather-beaten Ranger Andrew had great fun being a dad in 2003. New love was discovered -- holding, feeding and chasing after young master Redford. It was wonderful to spend time with the new family, walking back from day-care, playing at Poway Park, and running around at Del Mar dog beach. Having a chilld is the greatest thing and Andrew can’t wait for the next one.

Mother Chris and brother Pat visited in February and March, and it was good having the Hudson clan together. Second-cousin-once-removed Sarah Bellenger, and friend Holly, visited in July on their way back from Australia. And cousin Sue Bellenger, with husband John, visited in August, after touring Las Vegas and Arizona. Visitors are always welcome! The Fellowship visited England for two weeks in October, seeing many family members, and fun was had flying kites and windmills on Devon beaches, enjoying pleasantly hot days.

Citing the ever-popular "family commitments", Andrew left the Harbor Island Sailing Club in February, curtailing nine years of sailing in San Diego. Hopefully there’ll be a return later, with a son in tow. The band however continued into its fourth year, with the Koalas getting tighter and more professional sounding. There were only three gigs this year, but they were all gems, particularly the last one at the San Diego County Fair.


Andrew had the dubious honor of turning 40 this year. Besides a nice dinner with friends, he celebrated by pulling his back out so badly he couldn’t move, and had to be taken to the emergency room. Ah, the joys of maturity.

As for the business -- Photo Tour Books, Inc. -- 2003 could be charitably described as a fallow year. Much effort was expended on projects which ultimately didn’t go very far. (A good description of life I guess!) Work continued on the seemingly simple book A Photo Tour of Las Vegas. There were two photographing expeditions to Sin City, using a new panoramic camera and getting great dusk shots. Too much time was spent perfecting the text, and the project got delayed several times. Then, on August 15, Andrew’s computer crashed (overheating on a hot day) and everything was lost. Months were spent on data recovery (rescuing some scraps) and implementing a "that-won’t-happen-again" back-up system. The book is still listed as "in progress", although little of that has actually occurred recently.

In April, Andrew and partner Bob Krist released the second edition of A Photo Tour of New York. The first edition came out only a month before the terrible events of September 11, 2001, and was probably the last book to show the once-glorious World Trade Center towers. It was difficult and sad to update the book with photos of the WTC site and new skylines, and a tribute to the victims was included.

photo In June, Andrew exhibited for the first time at Book Expo America, the book industry’s national trade show. Business cards, brochures and booth displays were created for the first time, and the show was busy and enjoyable. Not much additional business was generated, but Redford looked good in his company shirt and Jennie had a great time collecting free signed books from her favorite authors!

Sadly on September 6, friend and supporter Miriam Bass (52) died of heart failure in L.A. The vice president of marketing for Andrew’s distributor NBN, Miriam was the fearless and wonderful person who officially got Andrew into the book business. Back in 1996, while other distributors mailed rejection letters, Miriam not only offered Andrew a distribution contract on the basis of just a few sample book pages, but traveled out to San Diego to give ideas and advice. Miriam was always an enthusiastic proponent of the book industry and Andrew’s business, and will be greatly missed.

On the good-news front, the business was improved with better financing and reprinted editions of PhotoSecrets San Francisco, PhotoSecrets San Diego, A Photo Tour of San Diego and A Photo Tour of San Francisco. Sales remained, like last year, stable although uninspiring, which was fortunate in the present environment. 2004 should hopefully see a Chicago book by new colleague Christian Heeb and a Jersey Shore book by long-time friend and inspiration Bob Krist.

The House / Meduseld
Although not appearing on the card, the house did the Hudsons proud in 2003. As a reward for two years of ownership, the house got refinanced, which helped ensure future ownership. The house received a new oven, since the old one wouldn’t allow its door to be closed when hot, leading to a Thanksgiving dinner of undercooked turkey in an overcooked house. The new cooker came courtesy of Andrew’s grandmother "Nan", who herself was a great cooker, providing the best roast lamb in Oxford.

The house hosted visits from Andrew’s mum and brother (Uncle Pat) in February; A’s first-cousin-once-removed Sarah and friend Holly in July; A’s cousin Sue and husband John Bellenger in August; and Jennie’s sister Justine in November.

The house’s greatest feat was being five miles away from the terrible "Cedar" wildfire that swept San Diego County on October 26. One of many wildfires that broke out that week, the Cedar fire burned an area larger than the city of Los Angeles and was the largest on record in state history. It burned 273,000 acres and 2,200 homes. Click here for a map.

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