christmas letter 2011

December 2011

Merry Christmas from the Gordon Dykstra Family! It’s a beautiful season and I’m grateful that this Christmas letter tradition affords us the opportunity to touch base with you. If you’re reading this letter, you’re thought of and loved.

We had a glorious family holiday in March. We went to Orlando and thoroughly enjoyed the heat, the amusement parks and especially our day at Discovery Cove where Hannah and I swam with dolphins. Hannah, at the time, was undecided whether she wanted to be a marine biologist or a tattoo artist. You can appreciate, I am sure, that we felt it very important to nurture the marine interest. (She’s not mentioned tattoo artistry in a while and, I must confess, that’s a tremendous relief.)

Family with dolphinAfter Florida, we drove to North Carolina and had a blast with my sister Stacie and her family. From there we went to Tennessee and I had several hours filled with belly laughs with my oldest, dearest friend Shelly. From Tennessee we went to Arkansas and caught up with all the family there. Try to imagine my joy seeing all those delightful loved ones.

In July, Deborah and I drove to Arkansas. At the time, we thought we would be moving to Arkansas and that my going would hasten Gordon’s Green Card process. Very long story short, it was an adventure, it didn’t work out and Deborah and I came home to St. Albert. I was disappointed that the move didn’t work out, but I know God’s hand is in it and I’m grateful that we have a wonderful life here. We’re going to put more effort into getting me down there more often so I can bask in the bliss of being Roman, Avery and Ella’s Beppie. (Beppie is my grandma handle).

Gordon is in his 14th year with Edmonton Transit. He recently got a promotion; he’s still in Business Development but now with duties producing fare products and managing the product distribution system. He occasionally drives a limo on weekends and enjoys that. This summer while Deborah and I were in Arkansas, he, Rachael and Hannah went hiking in the Rockies with our friends the Lozchuks.

Rachael, Hannah and Deborah are 16, 15, and 12. Rachael and Hannah have re-entered normal-hood and for that I am eternally grateful. They are (mostly) delightful. Gordon and I produce kids that go nuts around 12 and stay certifiable for about 18 months. Deborah, bless her sweet heart, is mildly deranged right now. I’m confident she will enjoy normalcy again. I used to say Deborah was the child that made us look like good parents – now the truth is completely out! Teenage life is not one I would want to repeat, in any case!

That’s the condensed recap of our year. It’s been a bit of a tumultuous year, and 2012 looks  attractive;  we have experienced God’s grace, mercy and love repeatedly and needfully. We are very thankful for that.

It’s a great time of year to remember His goodness toward us. I hope you experience the joy, love, and peace that this Christmas season represents, and remember the amazing reason we celebrate.

With Love,

Valerie

For the Gordon Dykstra Family


2010 christmas letter

December 2010

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.

With Love,

Valerie, for the Gordon Dykstra Family


2006 christmas letter

3 beauties(Our lovely lasses, Christmas 2006)
December 2006

Merry Christmas All!

Here we are at the end of another year. For us it has been a good year and I hope it has been the same for you.

Thankfully, we are all in good health and all our needs are met. That puts us in the top 20% of the planet’s occupants. I’m thankful that we have warm beds, clothes, plenty of food, and medical care when needed. I’m thankful for the freedom we enjoy, the good job Gordon has, good friends and family. I’m thankful for this season with the hope, joy, and peace it represents; for the Savior who left His home to come and live among us and make provisions for us to someday live with Him. And I’m thankful for the wonderful people I share this house with.

Gordon is still an Inspector with Edmonton Transit. This year he received a promotion and is now a Relief Garage Supervisor as well. I was torn when he got this promotion, because as a Garage Supervisor he doesn’t get to wear that uniform he looks so good in. I try to be mature about that. The Garage Supervisor job allows him to be home every night for supper and we love that. I’m praying for the position to become permanent, but only God knows what is best. Gordon continues to be my hero. He’s hard working, intelligent, witty, and disciplined. I love his commitment to us.

I took another job this year, working two jobs for a couple months. In August I said goodbye to Pier 1 Imports after two good years in their employ. Now I work at Fabricland. Fabricland, at least the one I’m at, is incredibly unorganized and unprofessional, but I love the fringe benefits. I want to keep honing my sewing skills and now I get lots of fabric to practice with and spend nearly nothing doing so. I miss the tidy predictability of Pier 1, but Fabricland caters more to my areas of interest. As with Pier 1, Fabricland honors my request to only work during school hours. I’m home when the girls leave for school and home when they return. I couldn’t ask for a better fit; I only wish the working conditions were a bit more pristine.

Our sweet Rachael is 11 and a daughter any parent would be proud of. She has an amazing work ethic and is tremendously helpful and nearly always with a good attitude. How she blesses me! In grade 6, she got to join the youth group this year. She goes to girls’ Bible study on Wednesdays and youth group on Fridays. She took a paper route recently delivering fliers to 85 houses three times a week. Gordon or I go with her and we never tire of seeing her good attitude. This year she enjoyed a Fine Arts tour with her school to Vancouver; outdoor school; and winter camp at Gull Lake.

Hannah is 10 and in grade 5 this year. She is our clown. Her sense of humor keeps us tickled as she’s always seeing the hilarious in the mundane. She loves singing, art, and animals. A car struck her dear Frodo in June and her heart was broken. By August she had found a breeder willing to give her a payment plan. Hannah put $100 down and made $20/month payments. Now she has a Pomeranian Chihuahua cross named Bear. She still grieves the loss of Frodo as he was a “perfect” pet, but she is a good mama to Bear who has a perpetual bad attitude and arrogance issues.

Our Deborah is 7 and in grade 2. She is polite, sweet, and a real joy, -- if you’re not her teacher. She tries her dear teacher who may get some extra jewels in her crown for her patience with our little one. Deborah is forgetful and easily distracted, but she is also kind, engaged and quite articulate, which balances the education equation nicely… most of the time. She goes to Brownies and has enjoyed going door-to-door in the neighborhood selling Girl Guide Cookies. She’s the cookie selling diva of her troop.

Today, as I write this, Stephanie and John Mark are celebrating their first anniversary. Stephanie will finish nursing school in a few weeks and hopefully will land a good job shortly thereafter. The really sweet news though, is that they will be having a baby in July. She is about 2 ½ months pregnant and feeling well. Stephanie and John Mark still live in Northwest Arkansas.

Christopher is nearly 18 and in 12th grade. He’s a wonderful young man of character, integrity, and kindness. He is a football star and being “courted” for football scholarships by several universities. He will learn the dollars and cents of these potential scholarships in February. We look forward to seeing what’s offered and what he’ll choose. At this point, it appears he’ll have several choices.

This summer we camped near Aspen Beach Provincial Park with our friends, the Lozchuks, from Calgary. It was our first time to camp with friends and it was wonderful. Their boys and our girls are comfortable with each other and it made for a restful holiday with the children playing well and parents sitting back watching.

Rachael, Hannah, and I spent US Thanksgiving with my family in Arkansas. It was so wonderful to see everyone. There wasn’t enough money for our entire family, so Deborah volunteered to stay behind for “special time” with Daddy and Beppe’. Beppe’ is Gordon’s mom and we were blessed by her willingness to help make it a good time for Deborah.

Our hearts were torn this year as our church went through crisis and subsequently shrunk to the point that nothing was left for our girls. It was painful leaving, but we have found a new church that we attend regularly, and we’ll probably settle in for the long haul. It has what we want for our girls and Gordon and I are enjoying the teaching. We have many fond memories and feelings for those from Zion that we grew to love so much. These are the complexities of the fallen world in which we live. But in this too, God will be glorified.

We at the Dykstra Home are very blessed. It’s been a good year. We’ve enjoyed safety and health and innumerable good times as a family. This letter captures so little of the year; actually it is but an outline. Nonetheless, it’s a tradition that I love; both capturing the overview of our year as well as hearing the overview of the friends and family that also write Christmas or New Year’s letters. I look forward to reading those.

So for now, we wish you a hearty Merry Christmas filled with love, joy, and peace. Hopefully we will connect with many of you before next year’s letter.

Love,
Valerie
For the Gordon Dykstra Family

 

2005 christmas letter

December 14, 2005

Merry Christmas from the Dykstra Family! This is a time of year that I love. I love the traditions, the activities and the peace and joy that come with the season. People often express frazzled feelings during this season, but generally speaking, I’m not one of those.

Handsome ChristopherI write this letter two days after arriving home from Arkansas where we watched my sweet Stephanie wed John Mark. It was a beautiful wedding and reception. Stephanie and John Mark will make their home in Fayetteville where Stephanie is studying nursing and John Mark is studying business. Stephanie will complete her studies in May 2006. I am very proud of Stephanie and the choices she has made. She demonstrates wisdom and grace in so many areas. I wish I had been more like her when I was her age.

Christopher will soon be 17. I reveled in my time with him this summer, and again briefly at Stephanie’s wedding. He is quickly becoming a man; a kind, gentle, patient man. He brings me great joy. He works in the wood shop of his dad’s aircraft interior business and is learning lots.

Two years ago we stopped Home Schooling and enrolled the children in an Adventist school about two blocks from our house. Not only is it super convenient, it’s a wonderful school; we couldn’t ask for better. There are solid Christian teachers, regular worship and Bible memory, a warm and caring atmosphere and small classes. Tuition sets us back a bit financially, but it’s worth every dime.
3 lovely daughters Rachael is now ten and in grade five. She is energetic, responsible, and a voracious reader, and also quite tall. She is a delight to have helping around the house, which she does frequently. She is great with little children and looking forward to being old enough to babysit.

Hannah is nine and in grade four. She is the family clown, always ready with a funny voice or saying. She loves to mimic cartoons and the kids have their own “inside” jokes. This year she too has become an avid reader. For her birthday, she got a cute little Chihuahua that she quickly named Frodo. She is a good “mom” to Frodo.

Deborah is six and in grade one. She is a very good student. This time last year, her work habits left me thinking we were raising a pig. Every child is motivated by something, and allowance was the key for Deborah. Now she does her chores without complaining and her room is a fair bit tidier. We are all happy about that.

This past summer all the girls went to camp at Gull Lake. It was their first time away from home for more than an overnight with Grandma. They had a blast and are anxious to return next summer.

Back in 2004 we had a big year for holidays. In February, I took all three girls to visit my family in the U.S. for a month. In addition to visiting aunts and uncles in North Carolina, Florida and Arkansas, it was the girls’ first time to see the ocean, and they loved it. They were just old enough for the trip to be truly memorable, and the girls now have a big place in their heart for all our Southern relatives.

Later in 2004 we spent our summer vacation at Pembina River, just outside of Edmonton. It wasn’t far away, but “getting away from it all” was good. After the first two days of solid rain, and turning our little campsite into “tarp kingdom,” we had seven wonderful days.

This year, summer holidays found us camping at Greig Lake, Saskatchewan. Greig Lake is a beautiful, clean, clear lake and the weather cooperated. It was very hot, but since we were at a lake, it didn’t much matter. Although it was a shorter trip than last year, we had a great time.

Gordon is still a supervisor with Edmonton Transit. He works ten-hour days four days a week and the three-day weekend every week is a wonderful thing. Presently, he is on “holidays” and busy renovating our upstairs bathroom. Goodbye robin-egg blue and welcome white. This is a job we’ve wanted to do for eight years. Finally it’s happening.

I am still working part-time at Pier 1 Imports. I work 9-2 several days a week. I’m home when the kids leave for school and I’m home when they return. I could easily find a better paying job, but I couldn’t easily find a job with hours so ideal. I’m thankful.

I had a hysterectomy in August and happy to have that ordeal behind me. The initial complications cut into our vacation just a bit, but everything turned out well – Praise God!

Our menagerie of pets continues to grow. Deborah is getting a hamster for Christmas. She has wanted one for a couple years and we think she’s ready. She asked for one for her 5th birthday and promised that she wouldn’t "pull his legs off.” Little hamster will join two dogs, Frodo and Lucy, our cat Lacy, and three charming betta fish.

Our home is filled with love, joy and usually peace. I’ve always prayed that we’d be a family of love, joy, peace, and laughter. Laughter is a wonderful gift and we do lots of it. I’m blessed with a husband and kids that make me laugh. So many gifts we take for granted, but laughter is one that I’m acutely aware of and thankful for.

2005 has been a good year. We are ending the year on a good note; we are healthy, happy and hopefully growing wiser by the year. God has crowned our year with bounty and we give him thanks and glory for his goodness to us.
Merry Christmas!

With Love,

The Gordon Dykstra Family