Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas to All

Christmas, 2011

Dear Friends and Family,

Once again we come to Christmas-time, and once again I am, left wondering, “Where did the time go?”  I am always amazed that we live life one day at a time, yet at the end of the year it seems to have passed on fast-forward.  This year, I am amazed at the realization that it has actually been three years since we have sent Christmas greetings to our friends.  I feel so guilty!  Time really does fly.  And this year, the family Christmas letter achieves a new milestone – photos.  It seems the least I can do after such a long hiatus.  Please know that while we haven’t put pen to paper – uh, fingers to keyboard - we often think of each of you and the experiences we’ve shared.  Each of you is a true blessing in our lives, and we are grateful for you.  We send you our best wishes for a wonderful Christmas, and hope this letter finds you all well and happy, and basking in the Lord’s blessings. 

So, after three years, where do I start?  In May, 2009, HS graduated from BYU with an undergraduate degree in Political Science.  The same month, BD#2 graduated from Washington High School, but sadly, we have no decent pictures of the event.  In August, 2009, HS started his Master’s Program at the University of Central Florida.  It was great to have him close enough to drive home now and again for the first time in several years. 

December, 2009 was a huge month for our family.  BD#2 received her AA degree from Pensacola Junior College.  And then, on December 13th, BD#1 and HSIL blessed our family with a beautiful baby girl, Abigail Jean, who has truly been a joy and a blessing.  I went to visit and take care of mom and baby, and then, after a lovely 9-day visit with them, their family drove 10 hours to visit the other side of the family in Phoenix with their 8-day old baby.   Meanwhile, the rest of us gathered in Florida for Christmas at home.
In January, 2010, Abby's whole family (almost) met in Spanish Fork to bless our new little miracle, and immediately following the service,  BD#2 and I headed up to Rexburg to BYU-Idaho for her to start her university experience. 

We were fortunate to have the whole family home together for a visit in April, 2010 – for the first time in several years.  We were able to get to the beach for a family portrait at sunset, so here’s the whole family except for HSIL, who was the photographer and didn’t make it into the photo. 

In July, most of us traveled to Yellowstone Park and went camping for the holiday weekend.  It was c-o-l-d, especially for July.  Cold nights and 6-month old infants aren’t especially conducive to sleep, so while we had a great time, we were glad to get little Abby back to her own bed so the rest of us could get some shut-eye.

Then in September, we all met at my sister and brother-in-law’s home in Seattle and enjoyed several wonderful late summer days in the Northwest.  They were wonderful hosts, and we had a great time!

Then, in the blink of an eye, it seems, Abby celebrated her 1st birthday and it was Christmas again, and we gathered in Utah and celebrated the holiday together.  Who knew that grand-parenting could be so much fun!

This year, too, has been eventful.  In early May, BD#2 was able to join us in Orlando as HS graduated from UCF with his Master’s in Public Administration.  Then, after a few days at home, I flew to Salt Lake City again for a visit.  BD#1 and HSIL had recently started an online fabric shop, and since Spring Quilt Market was in Salt Lake City, I went up for a visit to watch Abby so her parents could attend.  I was thrilled to be able to spend some one-on-one time with Abby, but it was also nice to be able to attend Quilt Market in person on Friday.  Talk about eye candy!  I’m not sure I have ever seen so much beautiful fabric.  What fun! 

Since I was so close (within 250 miles!), I drove up to Rexburg and spent a couple of days with BD#2.  I got to attend a couple of classes with her, which was very fun.  Then, a couple of weeks later, on Memorial Day weekend, a very special young man came to Pensacola for a visit.  While he was here, he took her for a walk on the beach and she came home with an engagement ring.  The wedding was Labor Day weekend, so you can imagine how we spent our summer.  Our lovely girl and her sweetheart were married September 3rd in the Salt Lake Temple.  Welcome, NSIL, to our family!  We were so very grateful that some of our family and good friends could join us in SLC for the wedding.

Meanwhile, WH realized that retirement wasn’t as much fun as he thought it would be and decided to try law school.  He started school in mid-August at John Marshall School of Law in Atlanta.   Aside from the wedding, and a couple of weekends at home, he’s been away most of the fall.  He seems to be enjoying his studies and finding them challenging and fulfilling.

As for me, I’m still working at the bank and teaching Sunday School and Seminary (and sneaking into Primary to teach music whenever I can get away with it).  This has been a very difficult year - well, three years – in banking and I won’t be sorry to see 2011 come to a close.  Hopefully, 2012 will be an improvement over these last few years.  But I maintain my sanity with what I call “fabric therapy” - sewing and quilting - perhaps to the extreme.  You can observe my obsession by reading this little quilting blog.

So, there you have it – the last three years condensed into three pages – years filled with dramatic change in our lives but heavily spiced with love, family and friends.  Thank you all for your friendship and love.  Wherever would we be without you?

This week, Abby will be two and not long after, we’ll celebrate Christmas again, reflecting on the tiny babe in the manger, who came into this world to redeem us all so that we can return to live as families with our Heavenly Father.  We are grateful for His sacrifice and His love.
 We send you our heartfelt greetings this Christmas, along with prayers that all of our Father’s richest blessings be upon you.  May you have a joyous Christmas and a happy and prosperous 2012.

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