Dear Friends, Family and Loved Ones,

Benjii our sheepThe year is 2015.  It is the Year of the Sheep.  Sheep are gentle and calm and we love their wool.  We bought a sheep this year and named him Benjie.  He lives in the living room and keeps us company.  He is very low maintenance.  It is hard to believe that the end of 2015 is only a few days away.   My blog this week will be our annual Holiday letter that Karen and I both write and send out through a variety of media including snail mail, emails, hand delivery and my blog.  Each year, we use this letter to sum up our lives and the events or people that have had an impact on us during the year.  Probably not very exciting but this was 2015 for us.

Karen and John

Karen and John

It is 5 days before Christmas as I write this.  We celebrate the holidays each year rather traditionally.  Karen loves to bake Swedish cookies that she learned from her grandmother and also make a ton of lefse, much of what she gives away to a coterie of fans who swoon over it.  Myself, I would rather have fruitcake which I now buy each year from Costco.  I have many fewer fans for my fruitcake.  Less presents under the tree each year and gift cards now seem to be the order of the day.  We spend evenings watching old Christmas specials on Netflix which help get me in the mood for the holidays.  Christmas was never a really big deal for me like it is for Karen.  One message that seems to keep emerging from most of these movies:  Christmas is really not about presents, travels, accomplishments or awards.  Its real meaning is the love of the people we care about.  In this respect, 2015 was a good year.

Xibo and Dan DanKaren and I made a trip in January to see some very good friends in San Francisco and Karen’s son, Kevin.  Karen juggled her time to be able to spend some good time with Kevin and even get a glimpse of his new job at LinkedIn.  When we came back to Wisconsin, Karen was able to get some time in with her daughters Julie and Susan.  Karen and Susan went out together to visit my sister Jeanine in Rhode Island for the 4th of July and had a grand time.  Alas, the grandkids seem to have mostly flown the nest (Is there an empty next for Grandparents?) and it is hard to tag or catch up with them.  Nevertheless, Logan, Garrick (now engaged to Kat), Sam and Zach all seem to be pursuing the typical life of most young people today.  They are either in school or working and trying to really figure out what they will be when they get old like us.  We see them occasionally like ships passing in the night. I suppose our snow birding between Arizona and Wisconsin also complicates the matter.

megan and karenKaren and Megan now have a good thing going and each year around this time they get together for several days of baking.  It becomes a mother and daughter day to schlep flour and sugar all other each other’s kitchen since they alternate houses to flour.  This year we will finally get to meet Megan’s new friend Dave.  After cookie baking this Saturday, we plan to go to one of his gigs and listen to his band.  Dave is a guitarist and singer with a popular cover band named Furious George in Phoenix.

Curves Group

Karen and her friends at Curves 

If relationship wise, we were doing a balance sheet for 2015, on the whole it would be very positive.  However, it was not without its losses.  Both Karen and I lost some good friends this year.  Death seems to be something that becomes almost omnipresent these days both on a personal level (with more and more loved ones aging) and on a social level with the media constantly showering us with episodes of violence and mayhem.  Perhaps, something I should not bring up at Christmas time, but as Jesus was about bringing love into world, maybe it is something to reflect on.  I have to admit, my blogs (see have been more and more about the evils and vices that I believe it is our personal responsibility to confront.  As I age, I wonder how I can do more in this respect or if I am even doing enough.  Am I making a difference or just annoying people?  I try to balance a certain amount of negativity in my blogs with a decent dose of let’s say “positivity” if there is such a word.  One of my most popular blogs was on the subject of gratitude.  I am certainly grateful for the good health that has blessed Karen and me this year.

Tucson Dulcimer Ensemble

Karen and the Tucson Dulcimer Ensemble

Karen and I are both working part-time.  I continue to teach both residentially and on-line.  Karen passed her certification test on the new ICD-10 coding procedures in September as well as doing some home health consulting.  I am envious that at 71 years of age, she has more job prospects than I had when I was 22.  She has so much work in her queue that I have to keep reminding her to have fun and enjoy her retirement.  In actuality both of us would go crazy without some regular work to keep us focused.  I guess neither of us has ever learned how to play well.

On the other hand, after years of practice, music camps and many music jams in Minnesota, Arkansas, Kentucky and now Arizona,  Karen has become an excellent dulcimer player and enjoys playing with dulcimer friends in WI and just south of here with the Tucson Dulcimer Ensemble.   In the last two weeks, she has played at a fund raiser for the local library, a Red Hat women’s group and an Episcopal Church bazaar.  We don’t have to worry about taxes though as these are all free gigs.  I keep encouraging her to keep it up though as someday there might be a talent scout out there and she could be the next Lady Gaga.  Carnegie Hall here we come.  I can pick out her outfits.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.  My God bless you and keep you with good health and much happiness.

John and Karen

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. meep380
    Dec 20, 2015 @ 21:17:44

    Great post and Happy Holidays!



  2. Jeanine
    Dec 21, 2015 @ 18:28:22

    I could feel the warm sentiments you put into words. Christmas is my favorite holiday, but it often brings up old memories of loved ones past. Bittersweet as it is, it is still my favorite holiday. Here’s wishing you and Karri have the best one ever and continued good health in 2016! xxxooo



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