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 My mom was very big on sending out a Christmas letter to family and friends.  They were always short and to the point, sometimes even just a little poem.  Apparently, short and to the point is not exactly my gift:
Dear Mom and Dad,

A year ago today, mom, you walked from this earth into eternity, and I’m sure daddy was there to meet you. I know that in heaven a thousand years is like a day ~ so I suppose this year has been just a blink for you.  For us, 365 days have turned into a year just like they always do, so I thought you might appreciate hearing how we’ve passed the time.

We waited till after the holidays for your memorial service, mom, so more people could make the trip.  Well, let me tell you – that celebration of your life also turned out to be quite a reunion!  Many dear friends from your Victory Chapel days were there and we had a party that would have made you very happy!   Stories about you two were shared by several people; it was beautiful to be reminded how much you were and always will be loved.  A few of the loved ones there that day have joined your party in heaven since then.   I’m sure you were both there to welcome them!
Mom, your little brother Howard turned 80 in March, and there was a surprise party planned!  You’ll be happy to know that we three kids and cousin Becky decided that after saying goodbye to both of you and aunt Norma within 11 weeks’ time, we’d had enough funerals for awhile and it was time for a party!  And so, we went on a road trip.  Daddy, you would have been so proud!  I drove almost the whole way, and we made it straight through to Portland in less than 17 hours, including snow through the Shasta area.  And yes, we did stop to eat!  Uncle Howard was really surprised and it was such a fun party and a great chance to reconnect with so many cousins we hadn’t seen in years.   We laughed an awful lot on that trip, and even took a driving tour of all the houses our family lived in in Portland, and even found a few that you had built, dad.  It was a very, very good thing to do.
Nikki graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University in May.  You would have been so proud of your granddaughter that day! We had a great group of family and friends there (even Kristin came out from Charlotte) and we made lots and lots of noise, just like you would have.  It was the first big event without you, and you were missed!  Ron gave Nikki your beautiful silver candelabra and we made sure to decorate the table with them at her party, so your practice of always using the nice things instead of storing them away kept your memory alive for us.
Daddy, I celebrated your birthday on May 18th in one of your favorite places – Yosemite!!  As I rode my bike around Yosemite Valley that day, my mind wandered to how very important it was to you to share that beautiful place with your family.  I was awestruck, still, at the majesty of Yosemite.  It made me wonder about how you discovered it long before I was born, and what made you return there again and again.  It’s a story I guess I will never know.
Meanwhile, Chris started working at Albertson’s as a courtesy clerk and really likes the job and his coworkers   They seem to like him very much, as well, which I know wouldn’t surprise you in the least.  He managed to save almost everything he earned over the summer to help reach his dream of going to Europe in the fall.
Speaking of Europe, the four of us spent a whirlwind 10 days in Italy in early June.  What an amazing experience!  I so wish I could sit with you and share our photos of Rome, Florence, Venice and everything in-between.  You gave me the “travel bug,” and guess what?  It’s contagious.  The kids have it now.
This fall brought a true empty nest for us, at least for a few months.  Nikki went back to San Diego, got a job in a physical therapy clinic and is taking classes to prepare for graduate school where she will study to be a physical therapist.  She is sharing an apartment with two friends, and is doing it all on her own.  Her future is bright, indeed!  Chris left on September 9th for London where he learned to truly be an independent adult while living in an apartment in Kensington and attending classes at the University of London Union.  He earned 12 units for college while there, and was happy to earn the best grades of his life!  He came home in time for Christmas and will return to APU in January.  He’s on his way to a great future, grandma & grandpa!
In November, Jim and I spent a week in Florida not watching the last launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery.  We were invited by an astronaut.  No kidding!  As of this writing, the Discovery is still not in space.  I know, I know – better safe than sorry.  But letting go of a dream is very tough sometimes, and I’m still holding out hope that when it finally launches in 2011 I will hop on a last minute flight to be there!
Not that you were worried, but I just want you to know that all in all, we have had a pretty good year.  Jim finished building a couple of beautiful custom homes and is waiting to begin remodeling a house in San Marino.  We are looking forward to having the family over for the Christmas Eve ravioli feast, and anticipate all good things in the New Year.
Most of all, I want to thank you.  Thank you for being such a wonderful mom & dad, and for the endless memories of our times together.  Thank you for the legacy you bestowed on our family.  Thank you for consistently living your lives according to the scripture,  “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humblywith your God.” (Micah 6:8)
Until our joyful reunion some day, those of us left here on earth will continue to occupy our space as best we can.  We’ll be just fine.
Your loving daughter,
Tami                                             12/21/2010