The kind folks at Facebook suggested I repost something I wrote last year titled The Christmas Letter, and I re-read it, and it did remind me of the value of looking back over the past year and recording it in a somewhat more permanent way than my Facebook posts. In that post I commented about not enclosing a summary of our family activities with our Christmas card anymore, and I guess I probably assume that most of the people who care about us stay in touch through Facebook, but that’s not really true. And, that lovely Christmas album is still sitting in the armoire awaiting my getting “a round tuit” and filling it with the history of our family Christmases…so here’s this year’s update.
The Christmas Letter 2016
For some reason 2016 seems to have flown by faster than ever. No major surgeries for anyone, although both Walker and I have had some really annoying lingering coughs which reminded us that we don’t throw things off quite so easily at our age. Otherwise, we’re all pretty happy and healthy.
Our most significant adventure was our trip to Israel. Ten days of “forced marching” in the Holy Land is an amazing experience. Highlights were staying in a guest house above first century “cave homes” where Jesus probably played and visited, and possibly lived, visiting the Al Aqsa Mosque—only the second group of Christians allowed inside (after being draped in appropriate garb), and a day at Masada on our own.
Most of the grandkids are tweens or teens, except for Beau and Emmett who remind us of the pleasures of having little ones around when they visit. Emmett adores being with his cousins, and manages to keep up with the big guys amazingly well. Beau is a ray of sunshine punctuated by intermittent thunder storms. She’s a real chatterbox, sings all the time, and is the best eater of the bunch. We have to stock up on avocados and eggs and beans and rice when she visits. The kids enjoy each other, and we take great joy in seeing them make music together. They performed and recorded a special song for our 50th wedding anniversary that brought tears to our eyes under Molly and Katie’s direction. Sarah and her kids flew in and surprised us for that momentous occasion, making it just perfect!
Walker’s hobby farm yielded about 125 pounds of pecans this year, meaning lots of roasted pecans for gifts and lots for cooking. The freezer is stuffed. The most fun was the day in Arkansas at the “Indian Museum” and pecan picking with the whole family over Thanksgiving. The older kids drove the four wheeler for the first time, and I even picked up my share. He's had a decent number of quail covey's since the weather got cooler too and loves it when he and the dogs can find them with guests.
The most significant achievement of the year was the founding of Special Friends Fellowship Club, a project of the Diocese of West Tennessee. It was Janie’s idea, prompted by seeing the work done by other denominations, and a nudge by a voice in the middle of the night asking, “Why aren’t you doing something with your own church?” A letter to some clergy resulted in the trial run over the summer, and it went so well that the program was extended into the school year. We have twenty special needs adults on roll, and the whole family has helped out through their churches. Walker III is thrilled…it’s almost as good as Young Life, and he loves helping with the planning and setting up. Big Walker is the muscle of the program, turning Janie’s nutty ideas into reality whether it be hanging a mirrored ball from the ceiling or hauling a hay ride around the church property…he’s always agreeable. We have all been blessed by new friends from the diocese and these wonderful young adults and their sweet faith.
It was a hard year in some ways, some dear friends left us and others are fighting illnesses. We are not happy with the result of the election, and are anxious for our country, but we have seen a lot of changes through the years, and we’ve weathered them all. We carry on, knowing we will make it through whatever comes our way in the coming year too. Seeing our grandchildren and their friends turning into such fine young people gives us such hope for the future, and maintaining friendships through it all is what it’s all about.
Happy New Year and Blessings to all,