Merry Christmas from the Gordon Dykstra Family! I say this every Christmas, but it bears repeating: I love this time of year. One of the things that make it special is hearing from you and learning how the year was for you. We’re not the greatest at keeping in close contact with all our friends, but I try to connect at least once a year just to communicate that we still think of you and love you. If you’re reading this letter, know you’re thought of and loved.
Gordon is in his 13th year with Edmonton Transit and has had a good year in the Business Development Section; he’ll complete his 3rd year there in the spring. Early this year he took an occasional Saturday evening pad-his-wallet job driving a 16-passenger limousine. It turned out to be not so occasional in the summer; but he always has fun stories for us on Sunday. He stays busy, be it as a landlord, our go-to fix-it guy, or loving on all his electronic gadgets. That gadgety love is an area in which I go cross-eyed listening to his exciting tales. As a fix-it guy, he’s the best. He saves us thousands of dollars I’m sure. On more than one occasion I’ve said, “Can’t you please just let it die so I can get something new?” I’m grateful for his ability to fix almost anything – and so are our friends who benefit from his Midas touch. He went camping with friends in the summer and it’s been a long, long time since he’s done something like that without his estrogen-loaded family. He had a great time.
Our summer holiday consisted of camping in Bow Valley Provincial Park with our family friends, the Lozchuks. That was a good time too, as usual. Our kids really enjoyed each other, in spite of all the complications of teen life, and it was delightful for the adults to see. As icing on the cake, Deborah caught a big fat delicious walleye, her first fish ever! It turned out to be quite tasty, and our girls overcame a bit of their general aversion to fish. It was quite a memory.
Deborah and I went to Arkansas in October. Rachael and Hannah went with me several years ago while Debs stayed home. Deborah finally got her trip this year. While there I saw extended family (cousins, aunts and uncles) that I’ve not seen in 20 years. That was one of my highlights. The main highlight was babysitting my grandkids, Roman and Avery, while Stephanie and John Mark went to Cancun. That was how the trip originated; Steph and John Mark booked a holiday and that seemed a prime opportunity for bonding, and it was. I enjoyed my grand babies so, so much. And, of course, I saw my precious mom, dad, siblings, and my delightful son Christopher. He lives in Tulsa now and starts avionics studies in January. And did I mention I’m going to be grandma again? Stephanie and John Mark will welcome another little lady to the family in March.
Rachael is 15 and in high school. She has two paper routes, loves music, enjoys her friends very much and has a boyfriend who spends way too much time at our house. (Just joking. We like Scott.) She has had three poems published and loves to write. Her musical tastes are drifting seriously toward “hard rock”, which Gordon and I find somewhat hard to handle, and she is going to begin electric guitar lessons in the new year.
Hannah is 14 and in her last year of Junior High. Hannah gave us lots to worry about this year, and as you can imagine, that’s just what we needed. I am happy, very, very happy, to report that she’s back to the Hannah I always enjoyed so incredibly much, but more “grown up.” It seems Gordon and I produced kids that morph into aliens for about a year around their 13th year. Two down, one to go. (If it’s going to happen again before they leave home, please don’t tell me. I can’t bear the idea right now. Ignorance is bliss, I maintain.)
Deborah is in grade 6 and I don’t know how she got that old. She got a lot more freedom this year and it’s been hard letting go. That’s a lie, I’m actually enjoying letting go. Gordon and I have dates whenever we want them and even got away to a marriage retreat this year which we loved. Deborah’s still the sweet and polite child (more often than not) that makes us look like decent parents. I’m glad we got one of those. She took up swimming this year and does lots of that - sometimes three or four times a week. She is growing up a bit earlier than her sisters did since she has them to emulate, oh gaity, bliss, oh joy. Sometimes it gets a bit scary, but we make steady progress in our own character and hopefully theirs too.
I started a new job in March and love it. At this time last year I had just started a new job. That turned out to be a very bad experience and I was “delivered” from it in March when I got this job as an office administrator. I’m incredibly happy to be back in this line of work. I’m working full-time for the first time in 18 years. I paddled again this summer. Although my dragon boat team didn’t do quite as well this past season, it was fun in its own pain-seeking way. I walk lots, read lots, write lots, and in January I start cross country skiing lessons. I published my first book of family memoirs this year and am pleased with my lovely book called Don’t Count the Cows. It was also big highlight of my year.
As I write this, it’s -20 degrees Celsius (-4 F) and a good day to be inside thinking of all the people who’ll read this letter. I love summarizing our year as a family for my own recollection and I love hearing from our friends and family, especially those we don’t hear from all that often. I hope we’ll hear from you.
It’s a great time of year. I love, love, love this season. I hope you experience the joy, love, and peace that this Christmas season represents, and remember the greatest reason we celebrate.
God’s blessings to you all.
Valerie, for the Gordon Dykstra Family