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?

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


Leah said...

What a great round up of a fabulous year. Love you both! And fyi--I totally photoshopped the grandkid picture to get everyone smiling.

Matt said...

I love these blog entries....I say either start posting on instagram more or keep up the blog! Love you guys!

Eldon and Janeil Olsen said...

Loved it! Beautiful people, inside and out. Your pictures made me smile.

The Christmas Strangs were such a hit. I hope you can pull them together next year again.

Weston Morrill said...

Loved the blog and pictures. We think of you and the great people in the Corvallis Stake often.

Have a wonderful Christmas.

Wes and Jane Morrill

Janis said...

Such a delight! Great family and great memories! Loved the photos, thanks for sharing! Merry Christmas!

Frances Piquemal said...

Bula Annie and Tom
Greetings from very hot Sydney. It's been a treat reading your blog and seeing Tom play that instrument (what's the name again)? Anyway, what a privilege to have known you. I am busy preparing for another Patchwork & Quilting workshop in Lautoka next year. I am so busy now and now I fear retiring!!
All the very best to you and your families. Spent three in the US but I am so sorry I did not have your contacts on me.
Moce and God be praised for his Holy Son
Frances Piquemal

Julie C said...

Oh how I really miss you both! We really need to reconnect. I love the pictures you posted of your absolutely beautiful large family. I remember vividly your children much younger. They are all so beautiful and what a terrific bunch of grandchildren! Thank you so much for sharing! Every single Christmas I always think of you and your children, as I remember the holiday you invited me to stay as I had nowhere to go. What an absolutely awesome Christmas that was for me. Merry Christmas!

Dede Johnston said...

Thank you for these beautiful pictures and blog. They are so filled with love and joy...what could be a better Christmas gift. We miss seeing you all and hope our paths will cross next summer at Squam Lake.

With our love to all of the family,

Dede and Johnston

laura said...

Love this compilation of message and pictures!

Seth and Caroline said...

This was such a great post for 2 reasons: Your pictures and words were touching a sweet. 2. It reminded me blogs still exist.

Love you two!

Ginger said...

Hello! I hope you don't mind a stranger looking at your blog but I stumbled across it while looking for a map of Taveuni. My husband and I area traveling to Fiji next month and we enjoyed your pictures so much! My husband served as a missionary there in 1999-2000. He was supposed to be there for the temple dedication in 2000 but was evacuated because of the coup. When he heard the temple would be rededicated he wanted to go. This was his second chance. He really enjoyed the pictures of Ba and Taveuni - both places he served. He even saw some members that he recognized in your pictures. I'm thankful for your pictures because it made this trip seem more real to me. I've never been somewhere like Fiji before and I am excited and a little nervous. We will be staying in Suva, Nadi, and on Taveuni when we go. Anyway, we loved your pictures! Thank you!

Reedl said...

Thank you Annie and Tom for sharing your year with us. Such a big, beautiful family, loving life and making the most of it! I greatly appreciate your closing words: may we all radiate peacefulness in our circles of influence.
Cheers... Reed