Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Wishes ~ 2016

     We're sending our sincerest wishes that Christmas 2016 finds you and your family at peace and close to one another.  Health and temporal welfare are fickle, particularly as the years move along.  But the light and constancy of friends and family make these years especially meaningful.  Add to that the richness of the love we feel from God, our Heavenly Father, His Beloved Son, Jesus, and the gospel they bless us with, helps us to savor the temporal, and cherish the eternal.  Among the latter, is the hope of continued friendship and love with each of you that grows more meaningful as the years pass. 
    In a recent publication entitled, “Five Pillars of Brain Health,” three of the pillars included were discovery, relaxation, and, connection with others.  We’re pretty sure those elements affect a lot more than just brain health, and it seems that they might be apt backdrop for this letter and its many photos:

Discovery
       Our chief discovery came in June & July when we travelled to England and Scotland.  Though we’ve had a long-standing interest in the UK, watching the PBS series, “Monarch of the Glen especially enamored us with Scotland.  And by the way, we just happened to trek on over to the grand manor itself and loch (lake) where the series was filmed ~ just plain beautiful!
Couldn't resist swimming in the Loch -- oh so cold! 
    Since Leah and Geoff’s were living in England at the time, we thought it was the perfect opportunity to visit them as well.  Geoff was teaching and doing research at Cambridge University and they graciously invited us to join them.  Just walking around their little town of Over, and other nearby communities was worth the trip so beautiful, quaint, and well kept (including Grantchester, for fans of that PBS series).
Leah & Geoff's cottage in Over, England

Enjoying Pavlova in the garden!
"Punting" on the river Thames near Oxford University

We loved our days with Lucy, Kate, Isaac, and Leah (Geoff was off working on campus)

Enjoying the peaceful campus of Cambridge University

If this were our summer cottage, would you come visit?
Oh, to die for! Scones, clotted cream, and jam at the garden in Grantchester
We travelled together from England to Scotland where we attended the national Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh.  It was extraordinary in every way, and we so enjoyed the convergence of people from all over Scotland who took such special pride in their animal husbandry and agriculture.





After the fair we were off to some picturesque touring in Edinburgh; and that yummy fish & chips found everywhere in the UK -- unbeatable! 


Edinburgh skyline and the Firth of Forth river heading to the North Sea

Edinburgh Castle
Way too soon, the Wrights needed to return to England so we were off to explore the circumference of Scotland in the cutest little Fiat.  We must say that our hearts were smitten by Scotland ~ a beautiful place and joyous people that we wouldn’t mind spending more time with!  And that wonderful Scottish accent and unique expressions that kept us continually wanting to talk with and overhear conversations everywhere we could find them everyday was worth it just to be out among the people.
 
 
Isle of Skye

Reindeer were once native to Scotland and have been reintroduced

Tough to decide just where you'd like to live - but we think this might do!
Relaxation
    Home again, home again ~ and we have to say that daily views out our windows in Corvallis are not too bad!
"Donna" the deer likes resting in the cool outside our living room window

Turkeys love foraging in the yard but they especially enjoy the Fall when we throw them apples!
Beautiful Cannon Beach, Oregon
We love living in Corvallis though few places are more serene and relaxing than New Hampshire and beautiful Squam Lake.  The family cabin there is filled with memories and this year we shared time with Annie’s family and our daughter, Emily.  Stunning and peaceful . . .
From Mt. Morgan, looking back at Squam Lake
At age 91, Annie's mother, Beverly, hiked on her own to the top of Rattlesnake Mountain!
Emily, Annie, Beverly, brother Patrick, & Tom
Each week, people from all over the lake boat over to Church Island
for Sunday services ~ especially cool and inspiring! 
How many feet have smoothed the surface of the dance floor during
its 119 years of weekly Friday night dances at Rockywold-Deephaven camps?
Connection      
     No matter the setting, best of all is the joy found in connecting with family and friends.  Gratefully, we had lots of visiting this year.  Here's just a few snippets:
 
Grandbaby #20 ~ Rue Haven Watts, born to Laura and Jared on March 1st
Grandbaby #21 ~ William James Sherry, born to Caroline & Seth on May 5th

Sofia Sherry at her special "re-birth" baptismal day 

Cousins, Sage Andersen and Chloe Ditto were also baptized this year.  We're grateful that our
children are raising their kids with a firm and joyous belief in Christ!
Annie & Hazel Andersen

A lovely hike in Corvallis with
Lucy Wright, Cali Sherry, William Sherry, Kate Wright, Tommy Sherry, & Isaac Wright

Oregon tree huggers

Sage and Mila Andersen with Isla Watts.  What's that saying? Train 'em up right
and when they are old they will become cowgirls!

We had had four wonderful days with Lizzie and Sofia while Matt & Jess were in New Hampshire

Kate, Isaac, and Lucy Wright ~ horse lovers too!
Sublime connection!  Chloe Ditto giving a royal massage to Annie when our
families met on the Oregon Coast for vacation in June.
    We were particularly moved this past summer when attending a Sunday evening “Sing-In” on Squam lake.  People from around the region have been gathering each week for years during the summer months in a classy old blacksmith’s shop to share hymn singing.  One of our favorites is: “Here I Am, Lord” and the first verse seems a fitting close to our Christmas wish:

I, the Lord of sea and sky,
I have heard My people cry.
All who dwell in deepest pain
My hand will save.
I who made the stars of night,
I will make their darkness bright.
Who will bear My light to them?
Whom shall I send?

. . . and then the choral refrain:

Here I am, Lord.
Is it I. Lord?
I have heard You calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, If you lead me.
I will hold Your people in my heart.

Here I Am Lord (click here for video)

Reflecting the message of that hymn, it has been said: “While it is a beautiful sight to see the lights of Christmas, it is more important to have human lives illuminated by an acceptance of Him who is the light of the world.” 

We so often see that light emanating from you, and wish each a Merry Christmas as we send our love and best wishes for the New Year.


💚 Annie & Tom 💚

Now for those of you who know some or all of our kids, here's the latest family photos!
Jessica, Lizzie, Sofia, and Matt Sherry (with Milo :)
The Ditto family: Alysee, Cooper, Tyler, and Nathan in front,
Sara, Birch, Chloe, and Alex (who is serving a mission in Romania now!)
Sage, Mila, Ryan, Truman, Emily, and Hazel Andersen
Isaac, Kate, Lucy, Geoff, and Leah Wright on their summer adventure while in Italy

Seth, with Willie aboard, Tommy, Caroline, and Cali Sherry

Sawyer and Isla welcome new sister, Rue, into the world
Laura and Jared Watts

Luke Sherry

Friday, December 18, 2015

We Wish You A Merry Christmas!


With Christmas tree cut and sparkling in our living room, candles in the windows, and snow in the mountains, we turn from the beautiful surroundings to the beautiful people that have given us so much pleasure over the years – we wish each of you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !
Mt. Hood on a picture perfect ski day - December 2015

It really is the simple blessedness of this holy time of year that draws our hearts out to you and is represented in this hand crafted nativity scene Annie so lovingly and meticulously created.  The simple babe, with Mary and Joseph, worshipped as a King by the 3 kings, but lived his life largely among the homeless, poor, and disenfranchised.
He was a light that shone in the darkness of life, and the giver of peace and joy amidst the worldly turmoil of then and there, here and now.  We celebrate His life and teachings and hope the Light of Christ will continue to permeate the world.
How about the joyful light in these kid's eyes . . .

. . . or, in the lyrics of this beautiful children’s acknowledgment of the Savior:


This year, Tom had the pleasure of joining Seth and his band at the annual Corvallis Community Nativity Festival in a Christmas concert – bluegrass style.  How cool is that to play with your son!  Seth is such a talented musician and he suggested Tom learn how to play the Dobro (resonator guitar).  It’s been so fun and the best part is playing together.  (See all the concert songs on YouTube – search “Christmas Strangs”; Tom’s personal favorite is “Little Drummer Boy”.)
Now to the year past: Why does 7 plus 19 plus 2 equal chaotic fun?  That describes our bi-annual family reunion, held this year in the mountains above Salt Lake City last August.  Seven terrific kids, 19 dear grandchildren (with two more on the way J), and so many family jokes and memories – how can you not have fun?
Matt, Leah, Laura, Sara, Luke, Emily, Seth
Leah & Geoff (Mapleton, Ut.) - Seth & Caroline (Corvallis, Or.) - Laura & Jared (Elko, Nv.)
Matt & Jessica (SLC, Ut.) - Grateful Parents - Emily & Ryan (Yakima, Wa.)
Luke (back from Japan and Australia, now in Provo, Ut.) - Sara & Birch (Yakima)
What - all of the grandkids smiling at the same time with no photoshopping?
MIRACLE!

This year, the kids got into a “reproduce the past” kick while at the reunion.  The result?  Oh wow, just look at these hilarious reenactments of a couple classic scenes (sorry Laura and Luke had not yet arrived for their turn on earth):
1983 - 2015
1985 - 2015

That brings us to a reminder that in January, we will have been married 44 years – what a blessing!  So how about a little tribute to that?
Engagement - October 1971
Married in the Salt Lake City Temple - January 25, 1972
Mt. Timpanogas, 2015 - We've climbed a beautiful mountain together ~ so happy!
With many of you who might be retired, we’re not sure whether to laugh, punch them in the nose, or just give a knowing patient smile when someone asks: “So now that you’re retired, what keeps you busy?”  We’ve never been busier or happier to start our days early with a good study of the gospel of Jesus Christ, do Pilates and take a walk together, get ready for the day and then launch into any one of the plethora of projects that keep us so busy we wonder how any more could be fit into any given day.  There are always people to serve, kids to visit, grandkids to play with, church service (Annie works with high school girls 16-18; Tom teaches Sunday School), community service, sewing and woodworking projects, home improvement, gardening – and gratefully, some days to camp, head to the fishin’ hole, or to play golf.

We have also spent time with our mothers, Virginia (89) and Beverly (90) who are aging so beautifully!  Sadly, Beverly lost her husband Dick this year, so both our mothers are learning to live alone.  Our visits together have been important and enjoyable, including a wonderful two weeks together with them over Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving 2015 ~ Tom's mother, Virginia, next to Emily; Annie's mother, Beverly, on her left
We are grateful for this wonderful time of life, and send our love to you – hoping the coming year will bring love and meaning to each of you.  Perhaps the world will not have peace just now, but we each can radiate peacefulness in our circles of influence.

Merry Christmas!
Payson Temple - August 2015