30 Dec 2015 04:44 am

Posted by under Dave's Thoughts,Family,Photos

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas!!

Christmas day has come and gone; the new year is just around the corner. It seems that this year has just flown by! The week leading up to Christmas Day was full of family activity; we hosted Brenda’s two brothers and their families on the 23rd and had twenty-one cousins, aunts and uncles over for dinner to celebrate Barry’s birthday and it wasn’t even a major milestone (unless you are counting in hexadecimal, then it’s 40). Barry and Breana and their 6 kids headed home on Christmas eve (after an all-cousins laser tag outing), then on Christmas Day we gathered with my side of the family at my Mom and Dad’s on Christmas Day.

This year has been marked by quite a few family-centered events – travel, work and leisure activities where we all were experiencing something together. Brenda started the year with a contract at the Military Museums (just 8 blocks from home) where she helped with community liaison as an exhibit specialist for the museums exhibit on the 70th anniversary of the campaign to liberate the Netherlands at the end of WWII. This turned out to have a very personal connection as several items from Brenda’s family were in the exhibit. Brenda even wrote a couple of articles about the events of the liberation as experienced by her family.

As winter turned to spring, we had a couple of events that approached rapidly and consumed a fair bit of our attention, one was Steven’s graduation from high school with all of the thoughts of what will be next that come with that territory. Europe-routeThe other was that we were finally going to take a trip that we had thought and dreamed about for many years – Europe. For over 10 year’s we had wanted to do this trip and, especially, to spend some time in Holland where Brenda still has relatives. The dates were picked and the itinerary set and, almost before we knew it, we arrived in Paris just a few days after school was out for the summer. It was quite the trip – 17 days, 5 countries, 3 teenagers and no nervous breakdowns! We spent time in Arras and at Vimy Ridge in France before a quick stop in Ghent (Belgium) and on to Port Zelande in the Netherlands. There we stayed for 3 days at a resort with Brenda’s cousin and family who graciously spent their holiday with us and showed us around the countryside near Brielle where Brenda’s dad grew up. Of course, we spent time in Rotterdam and Amsterdam (even tried the haring!), before working our way north then east to Groningen where we stayed a couple of days with friends Henk and Samantha.

Turning southwards we backtracked along the route that the Canadian Army took during the liberation of Holland in 1945 through Assen (where Brenda’s mother’s family was liberated as told in the tale of the brass pitcher from the museum exhibit) then Holten and Arnhem. In Arnhem, we were warmly welcomed by Cees and Romina (Brenda’s Mom’s cousin) for three nights. From there we did a short jaunt through Germany (Cologne) and back through Belgium and into Luxembourg for a day. We had a night in an old french farmhouse near Verdun before making our way back to Paris for the finale of the trip – three days in Paris where we saw the Louvre and Tulliere, walked the Champs Elysee to the Arc de Triomphe and, of course, the top of the Eiffel tower. It was a great trip and we all will have memories of it for many years.

The rest of the summer was filled with the usual rush of activities – camps for the kids, a couple of airshows and the cousin’s birthday bash. This year, the birthday bash was combined with a family celebration of Brenda’s parent’s 50th wedding anniversary where all 21 kids and grandkids went on the Alberta Prairie steam train ride at Stettler. I made a concerted effort this year to get a bunch of repairs done on the MG Midget which allowed Brenda and I to make frequent road trips for breakfast in Bragg Creek, coffee dates and picnics – something that we didn’t do much of while the kids were younger.

Autumn brought new routines for us as Mark started in at a new school for Grade 10 – Rundle Academy, just a thirty second walk across the street. Mark has settled into high school very quickly and has really enjoyed his options – cooking and theatre. Rundle is a great school that is supporting him really well in his education. Steven was accepted into SAIT’s Information Technology diploma program and he seems to have really found the computer systems course interesting and challenging. He has stepped into the increased responsibility of getting himself to and from school on public transit and keeping up with good grades. Alyssa has settled into her second year at Master’s Academy in Grade 8, despite how the burden of routine offends her free spirit! She is still highly creative and has been spending time with my Dad doing lapidary work, cutting and polishing semi-precious stones for jewelry.

Brenda and I didn’t escape without some changes for us as well. Brenda’s museum contract wrapped up at the end of August and my contract with TransCanada Pipelines was complete at the end of September. For the first time in a long while, we have both been off at the same time. Needless to say between the sorry state of the economy in Alberta, the beautiful fall weather, a sports car and kids at school all day we spent far more time enjoying ourselves than looking for work! We each have managed to find a few days of work here and there, enough to keep the bills paid. I guess that after Christmas we will have to get a bit more serious about finding work – too much risk of frostbite in the MG!

All the best to you and yours this Christmas and have a happy 2016!

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