Merry Christmas !

This is my annual Christmas letter to friends and family. I wanted to include a couple of pictures, but since I can’t figure out how to transfer them from my photo gallery to this site, I finally gave up. I do waste a lot of time trying to figure out how to do things. The aging brain does not take easily to all the new technology.
I will also include a poem that I scribbled just this morning as I sat and admired the few decorations that I managed to drag out of my closet a couple of days ago.

December 2016

This year has sped by, as it does, but I think I’ve aged about 5 years at least. (smile)
The worse part of my year was, of course, the death of my dear sister Lona. It was a huge shock to everyone as it was so sudden. She insisted that there be no service of any kind and so her family honored that although it wasn’t what we would have preferred. We talked on the phone often and also by e mail, but I had not seen her since summer of 2015 when she came to Colorado. I am thankful that I had seen her so recently.
In March the Toths asked me to move out of their apartment as Barb wanted it back to use for a music studio. I was quite surprised, as I had always had the impression that this was a long-term arrangement. So, at first I couldn’t imagine how I would ever find a decent apartment elsewhere. Rents are not high here compared to other places, but to someone on a small fixed income it seemed I would have to live in a less than desirable part of town.
As usual, God led me to just the right place. It is rent-subsidized senior only building. It is not old, and is very nice both in and out. It took me awhile to get used to having someone living above me, and walking farther to my car. But I usually can feel at home wherever I land
Lara came down for a few days to help me move the small things, and a group of men from my church came and moved the furniture. What a blessing that was !
As everywhere else, I suspect, our weather is not as it used to be.
Our hottest month is usually June, and we get our
“monsoon” rains in July and August. This year was hotter in July and most of the rains came not until Sept. It is finally cooling off, but has been mostly sunny and nice up to now.
I’m feeling my age more and more as I‘ve had several annoying health problems this year; nothing life threatening, but things that have sapped my patience and my energy. In July I had heart tests, including a heart catheter. All year I have struggled with wax build-up in my ears, sometimes blocking my hearing completely. Several times I had to go back to the doctor to have them cleaned out, including one time when he had to send me to the hospital and knock me out in order to get the wax out without causing excessive pain.
I am experiencing also more back and leg pain and find it harder to walk any distance or be on my feet for long. Not sure what that bodes, but I try to take it one pain at a time. (smile)
The end of Sept. was the most exciting time of 2016 for me. Lou’s family decided that since we were denied a chance to gather and grieve after she died, that we would get together anyway. Since we all had planned to go to New Orleans on the 29th to celebrate her 80th birthday with her, we went anyway, even though she was only with us in spirit. Her oldest son, Mike, his wife and 2 children came, as did her youngest son, Doug, with his wife and two children. So, Lara and I made 10 and we had a lovely family reunion.
Lara and I decided to drive, but it was a fast trip as she had only a week left of vacation this year. We managed to cram a whole lot into our short time, however. We made a short stop in Little Rock, AR at the Clinton Presidential Library. Neither of us had been to a presidential library before. It was quite impressive.
Next, we stayed over in Vicksburg, MS and spent a morning touring the Veteran’s Memorial Park, which is a huge place stretching over several miles of the site where the famous Civil War Battle of Vicksburg took place. It was a long siege which resulted in victory for the northern army and their regaining control of the Mississippi, a key supply route.
The next day we arrived in the New Orleans area, but as the rest of the family had not come yet, we decided to tour a Civil War era plantation, which was fascinating.
We only had a couple of full days with the rest of the family, but we enjoyed each other and shared memories. At dinner on the 29th we toasted our mother, grandmother, sister and aunt with an appropriate Irish toast.

CHRISTMAS (2016)

they’ve all come to the party
as they do every year
to climb dutifully up on the tree

a crystal dove of peace settles
on a branch next to a Santa
who is kneeling at a manger

wondering why he is there along with
balls of native design, sporting bear claws
and kokopelli in nambe

stylized clay bears hang along side bells
ringing Feliz Navidad near tiny white
lights and red chiles

we all gaze fondly across the room
to the table by the window where
another group of regulars has gathered

they find their places, knowing
that of all those at the party
they are the most important guests

Mary and Joseph look down once again
on the tiny baby, beside well-dressed kings and
a rough shepherd who brought a cow

and a sheep along, staying a safe
distance from the kneeling camel.
the month of lights and good cheer

will soon be over. Then they will all go
back into their boxes while I
make them promise to come again next year.

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