Merry Christmas Friends, Christmas 2011
My New Year resolution was to remember one person every day who has made an impact on my life. I started with the obvious. I expanded to those who never met me but had an impact. I expanded to those who had an impact in a negative way. Then I expanded to authors and musicians who never could have known me. Since you are getting this you are in the obvious group. Positive impact, living, knew me a bit. I made it to almost 365 names. It wasn’t easy.
Last winter I enjoyed cross-country skiing on the golf course ½ mile behind our house, ice fishing on Muskrat Lake ten miles north, and playing hockey in a Sunday night league 70 miles west in Walker, MI with my brother, nephew, and a bunch of 19-29 year olds. Spring through fall I rode 40 miles Tuesday evenings with a group out of Mason, MI, getting 70-85 miles in on Tuesdays riding from home to my office, down for the group ride, back to my office and back home. I rode my bike to work almost every day. In the summer, I did some fishing on Muskrat Lake, rode bikes with Beth, went canoeing on the Looking Glass River with Beth, grew a vegetable garden. Fall I planted three trees in our yard. I continue to ride my bike as long as roads are not snow covered or icy. I got over 6000 miles in this year. Hockey has been going again for almost two months.
Beth got to know some women from church in small groups and work project groups. We have never been connected to a church that gives so much to the community. A church of 450 gives a week’s groceries for a family of four over 1500 times a year (in addition to 100 food baskets at Thanksgiving and another 100 at Christmas). Another group knits hats, gloves, and makes other items to supply needs. Beth is involved in a daytime women’s group that has a wide range of ages. She rode her bike a lot this year, probably the most miles ever. Now that it is cold, she’d rather walk that try to fight the wind chill of cycling. Beth likes living only 70 miles from her mom. She visits her mom a day almost every week. She and my sister who lives 70 miles north of us get together every other week.
We love our home, neighborhood, and church. I like my job a lot. I have meaningful and rewarding work. Some people complain that a few people have too much wealth. Yes, if all the people in the world were in a line, with those having most and best access to clean water, healthful food, safe living conditions, good health, education, leisure, and resources to purchase whatever they think contributes to any of the above, almost everyone in the US would be in the front 1% of the line (and almost none would not be in the front 5%). I know I am in the front 1%.
We love being nearer our family than we had been since 1980. We like Michigan a lot, and enjoy vacationing in our state, especially up by Onekama and Frankfort. In the summer we went to a handful of county fairs and festivals, free band shell community concerts. We explored some parks. We had a working vacation in Minnesota: our house there sold, we helped Kevin and Jayne move out and prepared the house for closing.
Jayne moved back in with us from Minnesota. She has a BA from Bethel University in Phys Ed (non-teaching). It is a hard economy for college grads trying to find meaningful work that pays a livable wage with benefits. She had been working for a year as a personal care assistant for a young man who, after a serious auto accident, came out alive with severe brain trauma. He was learning to walk and talk again. She could get free tuition where I work until she is 25 (i.e. January 2012). So she took advantage of that to enroll in a one-semester intense EMT program. She graduated December 16, passed her licensing, and is now looking for work.
Kevin is a salesman living in Minneapolis. He bought a house, a long process through HUD, closing December 12. There is some work to be done before he can move in, hoping to be in before Christmas. Other’s misfortune or bad decisions provided him with affordable housing. He is looking forward to putting in sweat equity to nearly double the value of the house in half a year, given prices of comparable homes around him. He has a great friend, Marissa, that he loves to spend time with. I am hoping that soon they decide to get married and live together (in that order). I think they’d be great for each other. Beth and I like Marissa an awful lot.