Every year I send out a Christmas letter to my family and some of our friends. I've edited this one slightly, but this is it.
We're heading into Christmas 2009 pretty sad as my mother-in-law, Rose Marie, passed away last week. She was 80, mom of six, grandma of nine. We'd gotten a call late morning saying she wasn't doing well and she was gone by the evening. She was with most of her kids and those who couldn't be there spoke to her over the phone. She wasn't in pain for which we are very grateful. She'd been saying for the last few years that she was just going to fly away and was ready to go. One of my friends said she pictured Mom going from our loving hands into the arms of her Savior which we find comforting.
So, tissues in hand, we are getting ready for the holiday. My husband's very busy at work with projects due by the end of the year. He's headed to Bangkok for a two weeks in late January, but as he has escaped business travel for most of this year, I'm trying not to grumble about it. He's found time to do a little genealogy research here and there, which is an interesting hobby.
We will have been married for 25 years next August and are planning to celebrate with by going to Europe for a couple of weeks. We'll be taking the kids, but they have told us that if we hand them cash, they'll go off to shop and leave us alone to play kissy-face. Sounds romantic to me...sort of...
Our oldest has decided that he wants to be a middle school math teacher. He did Intro to Teaching at the high school where he spent time at one of the local jr. highs, and loved it. He's been accepted to a college in middle school math education and is looking forward to going. He's checking into music there also, as he'd like to continue with the bass. We just have to figure out where he'd store it as the dorm rooms are small.
He spent part of last summer up at the Christian camp he goes to and took the counselor training program. He was given a cabin with some special needs kids and enjoyed the challenge. He spends a lot of time with his friends and not so much studying (although finals are this week, so he's actually studying). He's playing in the top jazz band and orchestra this year, and is heading to San Francisco for an orchestra field trip at Spring Break. He's reveling in being a Senior - life is good at the top.
His sister is likewise looking forward to his going away to school as she has designs on his room. She's a freshman this year and is enjoying high school. She got off to rough start as one of her good friends passed away in October from the H1N1 virus and an underlying heart defect. Her friends have pulled together to help each other through, and are very tightly knit.
She's playing the alto recorder in a Renaissance quartet with three friends. They wear costumes and they sound and look lovely. She's thinking that she'd like to play in an orchestra when she graduates college. She wants to ditch the honors science and math classes but I told her she'll at least need the math classes to manage what little money she might earn wisely. Sean told her she could live at home, which earned him a big eye roll. She spent a week at flute camp down at our old school, playing flute six hours a day and is signing up for more next summer.
I have more grey hairs, more wrinkles and am more (well) rounded. I did my usual trips to Galena and in the Spring we explored the wine region of Eastern Iowa. They produce some respectable wines, particularly using the Chambourcin grape from Missouri. In the Fall we went to a grape stomp in Elizabeth, Illinois, standing in tubs, stomping on grapes and staining our feet purple. We then sat outside, overlooking the rolling hills and vineyards, drinking wine and eating crackers with cheese and honey and jam while admiring our pretty purple tootsies. That was a very good day.
We spent a week with my family up at the lake in early June. We're usually there over the 4th of July, so it was much chillier than normal. I ended up in the Urgent Care Clinic with a case of systemic poison ivy which landed me with prescriptions of Prednisone, which is a drug that makes you wired and nervous, and, I'm told, irritating to be around. I was wired and nervous, anyway, everybody else was irritating...or irritated, it was one of the two. Fortunately, I'm over that.
At the end of June, I went to Texas as a delegate to the Inaugural Conference for the Anglican Church of North America. I got to see my cousins and had a great (albeit warm) time. Texas in June – 102 degrees 90% humidity. I ran VBS again at church for what was my 13th and last year. I'm tickled with the lady who's taking it over from me as she's very enthusiastic about it and is already working on curriculum. I'm also teaching the K-1 class on Wednesday nights. We have about 12 kids who show up on a regular basis and I love them all.
I have bible study twice a week – we've begun a study on Daniel at church and I'm doing a study on Isaiah with our couples group women. Instead of doing housework, I've been learning Braille and am considering going back to school to get a Masters in Special Ed. One of these years I'll decide what I want to be when I grow up – which would, sadly, require me to grow up. I have also started to blog a bit, which helps me to think things through. My blog is www.livedahobbit.blogspot.com entitled “In a Hole...There Lived a Hobbit.” after the opening lines of The Hobbit. I took one of those on-line quizzes about which character from the Lord of the Rings are you? And I am a hobbit in my love of food and company – which explains my rounded little self. I do not, however, have hairy feet.
My parents are mostly fine. My mom has had some health issues, but has more energy than she has had in a while, so it's good to see her moving around. We were with her side of the family in Minnesota, for a reunion and for the interment of my aunt's ashes. We saw the homes my mom grew up in, and had a wonderful time getting to know each other better. Dad is consulting still, which keeps him busy to the extent he wants to be busy. They are a part of a church dinner group and they have a lot of neighborhood activities where they live.
Our dog is snoring away right now after a couple of days at the kennel while we were busy with the wake and funeral on the south side. She's more of a couch potato and is barking a bit less as she matures. Which is good.
We are excited about our kids finishing finals and being able to sleep in, although they'll both have essays to do over the break. We are looking forward, also, to spending Christmas with my husband's family. It will be good to gather. We hope that this letter finds you healthy and well and enjoying Advent
Wishing you all the hope of Christmas.