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:

       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!
    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?
     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


Nyberg Peggy said...

So wonderful
Merry Christmas to you two
Love you

Birch Ditto said...

Great letter! Love the picture of Luke!

Seth and Caroline said...

Thanks for the update, im always wondering what you two are up to? Also, glad to see blogs are still a thing, but have been relegated to Christmas cards, we may need to follow suite next year!

Anonymous said...

Ann and Tom,
Thank you so much for including us on your Christmas card list. Thank you for sharing your year, family, and faith with us. What a wonderful trip to the UK. I appreciate your two cottage choices. We will visit you there any time! We love seeing your wonderful family. Your family has a special place in our hearts, especially your youngest son! Have a blessed Christmas. Blessings to you both, Steve and Kathie