Christmas Letter 2015

Our Christmas House
We wish all the best this Holiday Season. ~Merry Christmas~

I have been one of these "corny" people that for over 50 years has sent a "Christmas Letter" in my annual Christmas Cards. Through these letters, is essentially the story of my life, and reflects the average person’s life, of love, loss, family and everything in between! In my personal story, this included a 24 year marriage, resulting in divorce, a twelve year marriage ending with death of my husband, and currently, a loving 22year relationship with my  Jim!

During these years, the essential story remained the same. Family! Well, our family has grown, Jim and I have 14 amazing grandchildren, who have and are leading accomplished and interesting lives. For our extended families, and "really" old friends, that have known our "kids" since they were babies, we have each written a little about our grandchildren, that will be at the end of this blog entry. So those of you that aren't interested in all that family stuff,
can skip it!πŸ˜‡

"The Holidays", that phrase appears in these weird times, to be an awful term! I say phooey to it all! Personally, I do love Christ, I have a Christmas tree, in fact many of them, but many times thru the years have used the phrase Happy Holidays, meaning Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year! I certainly don't want to disrespect anyone, so I am sad to see all this rhetoric on Facebook, Social Media etc.! Whatever your religion is, Christian, Jewish, etc. I hope you have a happy celebration. Let’s enjoy all the celebrations. Is that so "un American"? So Happy Holidays Everyone!

Times are changing though,  unfortunately! Families are scattered, but the difference is........they stay scattered. I remember as a child, my grandparents were from Colorado, but they always made the trip on the train, “(The Rocky Mtn Rocket”) to Illinois for "The Holidays", as did my other Grandparents who drove from Ohio.  It was always such a happy, exciting time, when my Grandparents came. We had cleaned, wrapped, decorated, baked, the whole nine yards. We would go from lot to lot to find the biggest, best tree.......again it was a family affair.  When my children were small, I tried to incorporate these values to my own sons! But, interestingly enough, as I chat with my friends and neighbors, times appear to be "a-changing”!  Practically everyone does not know " the plans". Since we are older, have health problems, and the strength is gone, to prepare and cook for a crowd so we no longer "lead" in the plans, we just follow. Problem is, personally, I feel like a liability rather than an asset.  It may be just me, but truth is, I can't do stairs, snow ski, etc., etc. so I guess I am a liability, sad to say! Also when you find yourself in a relationship like Jim and I it is more awkward! It is, "go see Mom and Jim”, and vice versa. If we were "Mom and Dad”, period, it would be a stronger obligation. You get two for the price of one! πŸ˜‡ Ash, the price we pay for a prior life in "the fast lane of life", and multiple marriage, does make it harder for everyone. I will say though, in my younger days, there was always room for another at our Holiday table........always! I would just add more tables and did!  Thanksgiving and Christmas were the two times that families & extended families belong together!

Jim and I just manage to comfortably and happily "plug along ".  Our social life partially consists of medical visits, (we know everyone at the local Orthopedic Center, medical offices, clinics, etc.). It is fun and embarrassing at the same time! Everyone knows and laughs with us......we are known as the "dynamic duo”! πŸ˜‡ Our main social outlet, and main love is successfully listing and selling Summerset Homes, in our community!  It totally works! If you are challenged by that statement, read my piece titled "Selling Real Estate on A Crutch"

Jim is outside now getting the house decorated.....since I'm not much help....I can "direct", not appreciated, I might add,  he gets started earlier. We don't turn the lights on till after Thanksgiving.  Speaking of, we are going to my son Dan & his wife, Denise's house for Thanksgiving! I can't wait. Unfortunately, Bay Area traffic is so horrible, I only see my kids and Grandkids a couple times a year.  My daughter in-law Denise, is a fabulous cook, hostess, and their new home is decorated to a "tee", with old fashioned perfection and charm! Her bedrooms all look like "The Ritz Carlton Hotel", only better, they are all decorated for Christmas. I'm taking an appetizer & my smile, I can't wait! I loved being the hostess, but I have to admit....being a guest is pretty cool!!

Thanksgiving Update : As I knew it would be, it was a perfect day! We did have a small misunderstanding, "stuffing gate"! My youngest son Scott called me and said Mom you're bringing your stuffing. Well I made a huge mistake, and took his word instead of checking with my daughter in-law! It eventually got figured out and everyone was happy! Scott is known for being a "control freak", and he tried to control & plan the hostess's dinner.......a big "no-no"!  πŸ˜ƒ

We'll be hopefully seeing Scott's house just before Christmas! Now he is and always has been, truly, "Mr. Christmas". Couldn't visit overnight at his last home, stairs EVERYWHERE!  But he now has a new 1 story house,   I have seen photos, and it sparkles EVERYWHERE with Holiday lites, etc. can't wait to see it and , yea, no stairs!!

As most of my friends age, my advice to you younger folks is enjoy every minute of your life. Dance, party, travel, love every minute of the Holiday hustle and bustle, because I want to hustle & bustle"but darn it I just can't, and it makes me soooooo mad! Again, if anyone remembers  Erma Bombeck, a wonderful housewife, columnist, humorist said........light your candles!!The plan now is to write a bit about the Grandkids!

At the end of the "grandchildren bragging" will be a photo gallery of sorts!  Enjoy!

Now,  we each will " expound" on our perfect grandchildren........all grandchildren are perfect , right???? πŸ˜ƒ

My oldest son Dan is married to Denise, and they have 4 children & 2 grandchildren! The oldest is Sarah, she is 35 and works in the bar/restaurant industry. She is strikingly beautiful . Her brother Jeff, 34,  is a firefighter and married to beautiful Lindsay an emergency room nurse. The have two darling babies, Wyatt 3, and Layla just turned 1 They are the perfect couple, camp, very family oriented, great parents! Then, Dan & Denise have Lauren, she is 25 and after she graduated from college, she is continuing her education, so she can teach.  She works at Lifetime Fitness ( a country club for fitness) I guess.  Lauren is " a force to be reckoned with", tons of energy, athletic, beautiful with a head full of curls that she hates!They all live close to Dan up in Granite Bay, CA. close to Folsom Lake. Dan is a retired firefighter, still "the voice of reason". He just took a part time job at a beautiful brand new Bass Pro Store, they are fantastic and he is a chatterer ..........Mmmmm, who does he take after?? Denise continues to commute to San Jose to work and help care for her parents who have had some serious health problems! She is extraordinary! They are a great couple! Currently, our missing "link" is Kyle, my handsome, very smart, grandson! He graduated from Yale this year and now is enjoying a wonderful job and new life in London, UK. He works at Sequoia Venture Capitalist. He seems to like it. We "face timed" him on Thanksgiving, but this will be the first time he is gone for The Holidays! Sad!

Now to my Son Scott & Family! A lot of you known him since he was so little. He has the same dynamic, fun, wonderful personality!! His rise in the corporate world has been extraordinary! He is now a Sr. Vice President of Global Support for VMware, a humongous worldwide security software company. The big  problem I have with his job ,of course ,  is he travels internationally,  a lot........too much for Mom!! Of course, if you know Scott, he just smiles at me like I'm crazy, and says "Oh Mom, I'll be fine"! To be around Scott, is to be "smack dab" in the middle of a huge ray of sunshine! He has the extraordinary gift of positive thinking.......all the time! When he enters a room, any room, you know it!! His poor wife Trina, has to put up with that crazy energy, ALL THE TIMEπŸ˜ƒ She  still is beautiful and petite, and still struggling with illness,  but doing fine.

Scott & Trina have two, beautiful, talented, loving, daughters! They have been given a lot, but much to Nana's relief, remain sweet and humble! The oldest, McKenzie, ( she was the little gymnast, one of top in the state when she broke her back),  graduated from St. Francis Highschool in May, and is now attending TCU University in Texas! She love, love Loves it!  She is studying fashion design, has joined the Tau Alpha Sorority. She already has a summer paid internship job lined up.  Alexa is a Jr. At St. Francis and a "ball of fire"! She has tons of friends, plays soccer, and is now trying out for a Stanford rowing Club! Both girls are so much fun! All my grandchildren are, this is when I  realize, I missed out on so much, when Jim and I moved to Brentwood to start our life together!  We needed to do that and it has been wonderful for us, now working on 22 years together!

Now for The Little side of the family! Gosh, they are amazing too! Jim has three sons, Parrish, Travis and John. Parrish has 4 sons, Travis has 2 sons and John has one little girl Abby!

Jim's son Parrish & Carolyn have four sons that are amazing! I can say that because we visited them a few years ago and I fell in love, literally! Parrish and his wife Caroline just made the move to Ashville, NC.  It is in the Mtns, beautiful and a super cool place to live!  They bought a spectacular house in the mountains, on acreage with a creek! Parrish took a new job as Excutive VP, CRO at The Home Trust Bank. They are also a really strong family, and ALL steeped in Clemson University , joy, and tradition (Currently  #1 football team in the country), and just about all family members on both sides attended or are currently attending Clemson!! Carolyn is the "head" of this "tribe" and is so nice with the patience of Job!!!

The oldest son, Clayton, tall blond and handsome, attends Clemson as a Senior, and will graduate with a degree in chemistry. In May, he will marry Hannah, his high school sweetheart, then in the summer will start dental school. Clayton has officially been accepted into the dental schools at the Univ. of Florida, Georgia Regents Univ., and the Medical Univ. of South Carolin. 

Preston is a Jr. at and Clemson and pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He is also co-opting (every other semester) for Schaeffler  in Cheraw. With salary and an apartment (free).  If you need a part, they will design and manufacture the machine that makes it, from the automotive to the airline industry.  He and his high school sweetheart, Savannah, have been dating for three years now. He is tall dark and handsome like his Granddad Little. 

When Preston moved to Cheraw, he did not know anyone. Remember the movie Cast Away with Tom Hanks, well, Jim ordered Mr. Wilson, the soccor ball, from Amazon for Preston, so he would have someone to talk with. Wild

Preston joined Clayton, after special auditions, in the famous all male Clemson "a Capella" group, Tiger Roars!! Their CD comes out in the Spring! Clayton & Preston traded in  their high school  football helmets for the Tiger Roars orange blazers.

Wallace, is a special needs child. He seems to have adjusted to the move and his new school. He loves Netflix and football! He is high-school age. 

Last, but certainly not least is Davis. We shared a bathroom with him when we visited, and I adored him! He is in middle school, and I'm not kidding, smart as they come! He is a devout reader and I mean reader.... just about anything he can get his hands on!  He is now learning trombone......probably torturing the family about now! HeheWhistle

It is hard to keep up with their ages: They change every year.


Jim's son Travis is a " hunk", with all the southern charm to boot! He works for Liberty Mutual Insurance and is an investigator...., lots of insurance fraud out there. He is currently dating a beautiful gal, Kim, and we see lots of  photos of cool motorcycle trips. He has two fabulous sons.

Parker the oldest in attending USC @ Sumpter and an extraordinary baseball player.  Oh my gosh, he is handsome too!

The youngest, Connor, is in elementary school, loves all sports, and is a charmer and I spent an evening with him, reading to him, and wanted to put him in my suitcase and bring him home with me.

Jim's third son, John, a CPA and a man of many talents: He can play a piano, sing, rebuild an automoble engine, and can't paint, according to his wife. He is married to the sweetest gal Anita, and they have a daughter Abby!  They live in Portsmouth, VA. Abby is in elementary school and Jim delights in shopping for her, dolls, and "girly" stuff! It really is cute!

Can't get into extended family, my back hurts, have to finish! πŸ˜ƒ Will just say in closing, Jim and I are so blessed to have great families! As I look around there are lots of folks that have had kids with school or drug problems, etc. & we avoided that thankfully! Again, Happy Holidays......who knows may mean Valentine’s Day 2016 too!  If you want, you can scan thru the photos!

It takes a Village (Family) To Produce great kids!

God Bless!

Scott & Dan
Dan & Denise's Family: Lauren, Kyle, Jeff, & Sarah
Parrish, Carolyn, Family, Hanna, Savannah
Alexa, Trina, Scott, and McKenzie
John, Anita, and Abby
Travis & Kim
Parker
Connor
Hannah, Clayton, Preston, and Savannah
Davis
Abby
Exchanged the Helmet for the Orange Blazer.
Karen's Garden
Mr. Wilson - Preston's Friend.
Karen & Granddaughters
Thanksgiving - Alexa, Lauren, & McKenzie
Have a good day!
Karen
Fell Out Of The Family Tree!

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Claudia | Reply 05.12.2015 16.27

I am thoroughly enjoying your blog, Karen! I love your "stream of consciousness" style of writing, as well as your wit and humor. Chuckled & laughed all thru!

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05.10 | 02:51

I would love to help you clean grout!!

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03.10 | 06:37

Love this! Thank you for sharing!

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02.10 | 19:05

Sis, want to help me clean my grout?

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I too am an avid fan of Joan. I attended two of her workshops at GATE conferences in CA. She is one of my career inspirations by far. She is AWESOME!

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