Saturday, December 22, 2012

Have a Merry Chrismas in spite of it all

 Volume XXXIX                                                                                                                     December 25, 2012

Christmas 2012

Few people have been so foolish as to write a Christmas letter for thirty-nine years--especially when it appears that writing of any kind appears to be fading out of existence.   The number of Christmas cards sent in the country has fallen by twenty per cent in the last five years and few cards today even contain a  handwritten  signature much less an attempt at a line or two of written text.    The Luddite in me perseveres in a semi- rational way.   I still drive a 1994 stick shift Honda with doors that actually have to be opened by a turned key.   Yet it doesn’t  start with a crank or even have crank windows.   Jan and I now do carry cell phones and sometimes I even remember to turn mine on.  And of course I do use a computer to compose these messages.  But the writing rubber meets the road in the reflection you must undertake when you attempt  to comment on how you have weathered the year.  What has exhilarated you?  What has raised your bile?  What has saddened you?  And finally how can you share  those very human sentiments  with some of your friends without becoming strident, overly partisan,  or self-congratulatory?

So let us start with the exhilarating news.  Our son David, to our delight,  married Lotta Vihriala a year ago last summer and moved to her native Finland.  This precipitated our major trip this summer to see them in Helsinki and meet our new extended family.  You can see lots of pictures of that trip beginning with my blog entry below.    I urge you to take a peek.

That might have been  the headline if it hadn’t been for an even more exciting event: the birth of their first child on October 1, 2012.   To make things even better  Lotta and David and Frida came to visit us for Thanksgiving and here is the proud grandmother getting one of her first chances to hold the new arrival.

It’s kind of scary to think that a two- month old baby already has 7000 frequent flyer miles.  David, who at the age of 48, is not all that experienced in child care, wanted  to know if  new parents had to have a baby shower.  We answered,  “not if you change her very quickly.”  

Thanksgiving was doubly meaningful because we had our whole family there to enjoy. 

In the back row daughter Amy Brown, grandson TJ(17), David, and grandson Mikel(10).  In front grandma Jan, daughter-in-law Lotta, granddaughter Frida, and grandpa Jim.  No ages provided for the oldsters.

In the Brown household, the biggest news is that our daughter Amy, a primary teacher, received her Master’s Degree this fall.   It took a great deal  of sacrifice and lots of evening and summer vacation  hours to complete the degree.   We congratulate her.    Grandson  Mikel  is in fifth grade and doing well though following in the footsteps of both grandma and mom in coming to grips with his braces.  Grandson TJ is now driving, holding down a part-time job at Kumon,  and a high school Junior.  He is carrying a B average and is

interested in Firefighting and EMT work.  Daddy Todd was not able to join us for Thanksgiving as he has a new job at a smelter.  It is hot and dirty work but pays better than selling building supplies.   

Meanwhile the senior members of the clan are keeping busy with their travels  and local volunteer commitments.   Jan remains on the local Library Board and she and her friend Lila Blum are doing one more year of the AAUW Art Presenter Program before winding that down.  Both Jim and Jan have been  spending more time working at the Warren County Historical Museum.   Jim is now on the board and heads up the collection management  area.   He also completed his tenth year of coordinating  OFTA (Old Farts Talk Arts), which is an arts lecture and discussion series that sponsors monthly programs for senior citizens.   Both of the old folks also spend some time at the golf course and exercise three days a week.  In all of our dealings we continue to try to respect our elders,  but have to admit that it’s  getting harder and harder to find them anymore.   Travels, other than Finland,   included Cancun for more exploration of Maya ruins, Wisconsin ’s Little Norway and American Players Theatre, and Arizona.  They are all represented fully on my previous blog entries so no need to illustrate them.

So here we are closing  a year that has offered our family so much exhilaration, but unfortunately also we are a family of teachers trying somehow  to contend with the sadness brought on by another horrifying act of domestic terrorism against innocent children and teachers .  We can only pray in the upcoming year our country  can find the courage to explore ways of controlling this senseless slaughter.  

Be good and remember that we could all take a lesson from the weather.  It pays no attention to criticism. 

Jim and Jan De Young  (

p.s. Did you ever wonder what was the best thing before sliced bread?

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