Composing and constructing Holiday letters to send to family and friends may be time consuming and yet the time we spend allows us to review the year that has just passed. Looking at all the pictures reflecting events – celebrations, holidays, family get togethers, birthdays and anniversaries are truly the stuff of life. And the absence in the pictures of loved ones who have passed or ones struggling in the here and now, are also the stuff of life. Living in this complex world can be confusing and messy but also full of joy and opportunity to be our best selves. And that is what this end of another year prompts us to do – to reflect on what we need to embrace and carry forward into the new year and what we can choose to let go of to make space for the newness of another twelve months before us. A calendar not yet marked up with the business of life but one blank with possibility.

Our year brought a sense of relief that covid has abated and will become just another part of life to deal with. How glorious that we can gather again, travel again, hug once more and be out in the world. Which is what we did. We traveled parts of Europe for almost a month beginning in late Sept. We first visited the southern coast of beautiful Wales – Mumbles and Swansea, where my new Drew Davies Railway mystery series is set. We spent wonderful days with historian friends John and Carol Powell, who graciously shared the history of these cities allowing me to gather historical information and to breathe the sea air, walk the streets, climb the castles, and reverently view what has been restored from the chaos of World War II.

We traveled on then to eastern Germany to beautiful Dresden (our favorite city from the trip) and on to Seiffen where the beautiful German nutcrackers are created. Terry, who has an extensive collection, brought home six new nutcrackers from the Ulbricht factory store. After leaving these cities from which fairytales are created, we traveled west again by train to Frankfurt and Cologne where we met up with our Rick Steves’ tour. We spent the next two weeks traveling through breathtaking vistas of Bavaria, Switzerland, and Austria. While the large cities of Cologne, Munich and Vienna are dramatic for their history and culture, we preferred the smaller towns such as Murren and Baden Baden. Salzburg was a gem of a city, and our visit was enriched by attending a Mozart concert given by students and professors from the Mozart Academy.  A highlight was our visit to an organic family dairy farm where we sampled their meats, cheeses, jams, and I especially enjoyed petting their sweet calves.

Our children and grandchildren are all aging and growing, busy with careers and their families and adventures. How thankful we are for them all and that they are not too far from us, some just down the road or just a day’s drive away. The oldest of our nine grandchildren are 27 (twins Kipper and Jacob) and the youngest is 14-year-old Colton. Terry and I will be 75 and 74 this spring but truly feel the ages of our oldest children, Laura and Taya who are 51. How can that all be?  How fast we move through time.

This February, Terry will celebrate 44 years in business at Wirefab, and retirement is not really on the table as such. But taking frequent time away for trips and adventures certainly is and there is a great balance there. I work part-time at Wirefab as well and we enjoy being together at the office. Then I go home in the afternoons and work on my research, writing, and marketing for my books. My latest book, The Book of Rules, won two first place awards this year in the mystery and mayhem categories. Friends and family keep us busy socially and we always seem to be on the go. Summer finds us around home enjoying our flower and vegetable gardens, our three cats, chickens and our wonderful German Shorthair dog, Mandy. We spend as much time as possible outside during the the warm days.

We hope this past year was one with wonderful memories and that the coming year will bring blessings as well. And may we all live our lives as ambassadors of peace and compassion.

With Love, Gail and Terry and Family

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