Friday, January 01, 2010

2009 . . . A Year to Remember

January 1, 2010

Someday I may get my Christmas letter written before Christmas, but as Jay used to say, "That (probably) ain't gonna hap'n, Cap'n!" That said, here's a New Year's letter with some of what went on in the Youngs' lives in The Land of Enchantment . . .

We managed to squeeze in a little bit of travel this year but not nearly so much as in other years. In February, we went to California to visit Irina for a couple of days and then to join our friends Susan and Boyd Christensen at their condo in San Diego. For the past two years, we've gone with them to Mexico; however, they decided that Mexico wasn't necessarily the best place to go this year. What a wonderful time we had in the Christensens' hometown! They knew exactly what we needed to do in that beautiful city.

Last year, when our niece Patti arrived for the Young Family Reunion and Frank's 75th birthday party, she declared almost immediately (on the way home from the airport in Albuquerque) that she already felt at home in New Mexico and that she intended to move here sometime in 2009. That determined young lady did just that. Her original plans of purchasing a bed and breakfast didn't work out yet, but she's definitely a New Mexican now, living only about ten minutes away from us in a lovely little casita and working at Beaver Toyota in Santa Fe. We love having her as a big part of our little family!

My annual trip to Pensacola was as good this year as it always is. Friends, family, and seafood are the things that I miss about my hometown, and I managed to squeeze in all three. I think I started in on the seafood as soon as I arrived and didn't stop eating it every chance I got until I arrived at the airport in New Orleans on the way home. Good visits with my brother-in-law Bob; with my special girlfriends Fran Crumpton and Annice Webb; with Carol and Jim Wilson in a late-lunch get-together in Montgomery; with Sherry Coleman and Paul Morin, two favorite former students, also in Montgomery; and with Andy Waltrip and his family (his and Beth's little boys are grandchildren to us!). To give details of those visits would take more room in this e-mail than my little computer can handle! I always stay most of the time with my sister/cousin JoAnn and her husband, Fred, when I go back to Pensacola. Such fun I have with them, especially those mornings when Jo and I just sit in our robes drinking coffee, reminiscing about our childhood, and just generally catching up. She and Fred are wonderful hosts!

Wendy, who continues to work with a New Mexico photographer, Gay Block, took some time off in June to go to North Carolina to photograph Jo and Fred's granddaughter's wedding. The mother of the bride, Angela (Jo and Fred's daughter), and Wendy have always been such close cousins and friends that it was only fitting for Wendy to "shoot" that important day. I probably should have put a picture of the bride and groom here, but I just couldn't resist a picture of the cousins. I went along, too, and managed to squeeze in visits with my cousin Nancy Posey and her family, my college suitemate Betty Thompson and her husband, and Carol and Jim Woods and their family (Wendy, too, on this visit) during the five days that we were there. So much fun and such a beautiful wedding!

Ever since we've been in New Mexico (six years), we've had lots of company, and I think anyone reading this letter knows that we welcome company. This year was no exception to visits. During the spring and early summer, we had visits from Anne and Bill Duncan (Pensacola), Judy and Bob Sanders (College Station, Texas), and Sandy and Joe Dorsett (Austin, Texas). Anne and I know each other from teaching days, but we've become even better friends after retirement. Judy was a college friend of ours and was our "wedding planner." Sandy and I graduated from Pensacola High School in 1958. We didn't know each other well in high school, but we became good friends during the planning of our 50th Class Reunion, when we discovered that both of us had lost our sons. Believe me, that loss draws folks together. We did the same things with each couple, but I won't tell you what they were because when you come to see us, we can surprise you with our "tour."

In our family, we love the Fourth of July and spend the whole day together, beginning with a visit to the Plaza in Santa Fe to listen to patriotic music. The medley at the end always gives me a Southern thrill because the band includes "Dixie" in it . . . a song I grew up with and love for sentimental reasons, not for un-politically correct (or is it politically un-correct?) ones. After the concert, we head somewhere for breakfast, then mosey on down to Madrid for the big Fourth of July Parade. You must get there a few minutes before noon to claim a good viewing spot. It's just about the only event in New Mexico that begins on time, and it's over in about seven minutes. Short and loads of fun! We all rest for a while in the afternoon; then we congregate at our house for a cook-out. This year was especially good because Irina and Meyer were here, and Grace and Bob Hollen and their granddaughter joined us. Good food and good fun!

My cousin Leah Pruitt and I decided in June 2008 that we needed to have a Kolb Cousins Reunion in 2009, and that's just what we did on Labor Day Weekend. After months of planning, five of the eight first cousins who are still living gathered at Hilltop Lakes, Texas, for a fun-filled weekend of non-stop talking, hugging, and eating. In addition to us first cousins, we had seven second cousins and a third cousin (Jackson). Hope I've counted correctly. We had a great time!

Frank's Big 76th Birthday Bash was a week after the reunion, so I hit the deck running when we returned home from Texas. Last year, we had about 125 here for the celebration, but this year's party was considerably smaller . . . only about 75. We had a new menu this year -- Mexican -- not the usual brisket and pulled pork. I made five or six freezers of ice cream. Family Coal, our local bluegrass band, entertained us. They're always a hit! Lots of eating and "fellowshipping" at our house!
We had other birthdays this year, of course, and we celebrated every one of them -- mine on May 6, Jackson's on May 21 (4 years old), Wendy's on May 24, Todd's on June 2, and Corey's on Halloween. I can't believe that our "firstborn" grandchild was 22 this year. Yesterday, she was just 4!

Thanksgiving this year was a bit strange because Wendy, Todd, and Jackson were with Todd's folks in Gallup, and Corey and her boyfriend, Zach, were in Pensacola. We managed to round up seven for dinner, including Patti and Susan Findley, our friend from Albuquerque whose parents are good friends of ours in Pensacola. Another good day even if a little different. We missed our kids!

December brought lots of cooking, lots of parties, and so much fun. On the 5th, Wendy, Todd, Jackson, Todd's folks, the Hollens and their granddaughter (Maya), and Frank and I went to Chama, NM, to ride the Cinder Bear Express, an old steam engine train. The kids were fascinated with Santa and Cinder Bear, and the adults loved seeing the little ones enjoy the day. We enjoyed it, too!

Next were four parties at our house within a week and a day. First, on December 12, was our Christmas Open House for our church, with about 40 as our guests. The next night was our annual participation in The Compassionate Friends Worldwide Candle Lighting, an evening when we celebrate Jay. This year we had other friends to join us in remembering their children who had died. It's always an uplifting event with lots of funny stories about our children. You can imagine that a few tears fall, but we try to make it an evening to remember for fun. On the 17th, we had our annual Christmas Open House for our neighbors. This year we had the largest turn-out ever . . . 105 at last count. Frank and I do all the food for all of these parties. We put in lots of hours, but the payoff is tremendous! This party just happened to be on our 48th anniversary. Many are already looking forward to 2011, when they assume there'll be a big celebration for #50. On the 20th, we had a house concert with Stephanie Bettman and Luke Halpern as our entertainers. They've performed in our home before and are soooo talented! After these get-togethers, all we had to get ready for was Christmas Day. Our whole family was here for dinner, except for Irina, who is in Ukraine with her family. We're hoping that she'll be with us next year! We were happy that Corey's boyfriend was with us for most of the day, but he had to go to work before dinner. Poor Zach!

I know this letter is way too long and is more than you want to read, but I can't close without giving a little update on what the individuals in our family are doing. Corey is working lots of hours as office manager of a catering company in Santa Fe, plus she just completed a very successful semester at Santa Fe Community College. We're all so proud of her! By the way, she's an excellent writer, and you know that makes her Grammy happy. Wendy is still working for a photographer and teaching part time at SFCC. I took her digital photography course this fall and can assure you that she's a great teacher. Todd is forever busy with his graphic design business and is a great work-at-home dad, having Jackson right there with him most of the time. Grammy and Pop are happy to "relieve" him whenever Todd gets swamped. That little boy is so much fun, and we love having him here at our house. Sometimes he stays with us just because we need a Jackson fix! Frank is as busy as ever taking care of our land and house. He finished the garage this year, and it's a beaut! It houses his big truck, my little car, and all of his tools. He had a terrible time with shingles (NOT the kind you put on the roof!) in the spring, but he didn't let it keep him down long. However, he still has vestiges of it from time to time with pain and itching way down on the bone. I retired from the publishing company and am doing some editing. I may take a writing course in the spring semester, and my business partner, Grace Hollen, and I may take some courses to give us more oomph in our editing. We're really good (and very humble), but we want to be the best!

We still love New Mexico and being so close to our children. We surely would like to introduce you to our good friends out here, so come to see us! We'll show you all the sights and feed you really well. No expense on your part except for getting here. We'll take care of all the rest!

We hope your Christmas was merry and blessed. Happy New Year! Hope it's a happy and prosperous one for all!

Sandy . . . and Frank, too

PS -- As if this letter weren't long enough, I just must add one more photo. It is the perfect picture of the love between a little boy and his Pop.