The season of Christmas and New Year is a necessary incentive and also a wonderful excuse to reach out to family and friends. I want to extend to my blogging friends and readers Helen and my prayers and best wishes that we will all enjoy God’s protection and guiding wisdom in 2012.
This Christmas / New Year was quiet for us, as our Adelaide daughter and her family spent Christmas with the other side of the family in NSW, before travelling further north-east for a Gold Coast holiday. Our Adelaide son and his wife are introducing baby Grace (4½ months) to her first summer youth camp; they have helped lead many of these camps in recent years. Our other two families are of course living interstate.
Helen and I have had a rich year of “time, toil and travel” together, starting last January with a week with all our children and grandchildren in Torquay (in then flood-bound Victoria – lots of detours to get there); our Torquay photo tells just a small part of the story of a wonderful week together, partly to celebrate my 65th and retirement.
Then we drove to Sydney for Easter with our family there, and further north for the Vanderbom siblings’ get-together on the Sunshine Coast late April. We had all our children and grandchildren together again at home in Oakden for a mid-winter gathering.
Then in September we were among the 6/9ths of the Betlehem sibs for another wonderful reunion in the Old Country. Before those 3 September weeks of family time and celebrations in the Dutch early autumn we spent 3 weeks touring Britain and Ireland (and catching up with a niece in London). After the Netherlands we toured Paris and NW France for a week and on the way home had 3 days in Hong Kong (and logged another family visit). It doesn’t get much better than that, does it?
2011 was the first full year of our joint retirement, and the amount of time (and strong Aussie dollars) we spent on travel and with family is some indication of what was at the top of our Bucket List. We’re just sorry that we didn’t have the time or energy to visit all our family and friends when we were interstate and in the Netherlands. We hope another time – but would also love to give our hospitality to our far-flung family and friends.
We have managed to keep doing enough part-time work to win Centrelink’s favour, Helen as a tutor at the grandchildren’s Christian School and Fred as the very part-time chaplain at Warrina Homes and leading worship meetings occasionally.
Some of home jobs-that-need-to-be-done were ticked off last year, and we have plenty more to keep us occupied through 2012. We each have several continuing commitments: Helen’s include CBI (the Crossroads prison ministry by correspondence), our thriving vegie patch and sewing and craft projects – mostly for our newest grandchildren. Mine include research and writing for my two blogsites, scanning our family’s documents and photos, the non-vegetable part of our lovely garden, and several areas of voluntary Christian pastoral service. Our decision to stay members at Campbelltown CR Church has so far worked well, although we’ve often been irregular attenders… ah, it’s nice to be free of work commitment there.
Our health has remained excellent although the oomph isn’t quite what is once was. Nevertheless, we often swim 1 km three or so times a week and walk 3-5 kms on non-pool days. It helps us feel fit and look great – considering…
During the year we welcomed two more grandchildren. Our youngest son and his dearest received their first bub, Amy Grace, on 14 August (a week or so late, hey, she’s a girl) … and the day after we left for our 7½ weeks in the UK-Netherlands-France-Honkers. We read the email and saw the first photos when we got to London!
Then we drove to Sydney again to help our daughter and her family for 2½ weeks before the birth of their #4 on 2nd December (right on time): Georgia Helena Rose. Our 9th grandchild!
Christmas is the #1 highlight of the year for many. Apart from the exchange of greetings and times when we can get together with good company, food and drink, for us it always marks God’s coming to us with a person, message and events that have been world changing. We really believe that the Incarnation is the reason our lives in Australia and several other countries are so different from those of the great majority of the planet! We’re sad that our Christian heritage is being increasingly rejected.
But every Christmas is an opportunity for us to highlight what we have through Jesus Christ, and I keep praying that this coming year will see a turning point, with more people and even our nation recognising and valuing the essential treasure of what we have received.