If this is your last Christmas as a congressman, and you want to keep up with future sessions, consider asking Rep. William Natcher (D-Ky.) to put you on his grandchildren's mailing list. Once a week, every week, Natcher writes a letter to his grandsons and one grandaughter about Washington. And in each envelope he includes their weekly allowance, ranging from $2 a week for the 6-year-old to $10 a week for the 19-year-old.
"I've written about 1,000 letters," says 71-year-old Natcher, who in his 27 years as a congressman has never missed a vote. "I started out writing in longhand, and one of my grandsons in California wrote me a letter. 'Bill,' he wrote -- they all call me Bill -- 'I'd appreciate it if you would have your letters typed.' I wrote back and said he'd hurt my feelings, and he quickly wrote right back to say he didn't have any trouble reading my handwriting, but the other children in his school sometimes did.
"I always write them a Christmas letter, and I send them on bill larger than usual," says Natcher. "I say to the five boys in Hoio, "Sit down, have a little meeting, take this and buy your mom and dad a little present.' I've never missed a week, starting 14 years ago with the birth of my third grandchild."
One favorite letter, recalls Natcher was about John Quincy Adams. The grandchildren loved the part from Adams' diary that told of his skinny-dipping in the Potomac.