"I make the most of all that comes and the least of all that goes."
– Sara Teasdale
Happy New Year everyone!!!! I don't know about you, but 2011 was a jam-packed year for Steve and I. A good portion of the year we spent in awe of how God has blessed us, but not all of what happened during the past year are things we are happy about or proud of. So I am beginning the new year with a sweeping away of the old and encourage you to do the same. That is why I chose the quote above - - it sort of gives us permission to do that, don't you think? I believe that this year, 2012, will be one of great things for me and Steve. It may not happen, but I cannot start out the new year with lesser expectations or what would be the point of getting out of bed???????
Anyway, let me just get you up to date with the happenings of the Andersons. I last left you just before Christmas in Fort Worth, Texas. LOVE FORT WORTH. Really really do. I highly recommend it to any young person looking to start out their post-collegiate life in a new city. First of all, the Dallas/Fort Worth area is booming and employment opportunities are ripe for the picking. It's not uncommon to see a "help wanted" sign on many of the businesses. You don't see that back home. Plus, Fort Worth has the great combination of charm and sophistication. The downtown area retains a good amount of its early architecture, which I have mentioned before, but also boasts a ballet, museums, tons of history, and is close enough to Dallas (about 30 minutes) that you can get all the professional sports action that one can stand. There is even a Kardashian nearby, in case you have the need to get your fix of gossip-magazine fodder.
Now, on to the important stuff. For Christmas this year, we had convinced our families that we would be in Texas celebrating on our own because flights were too expensive and, after all, we had just purchased Big Red and the New Rex (which we affectionately refer to as "The B.A.T." - - Big A** Truck) and couldn't afford yet another expenditure. They were not happy but understood that we would not be present for the holidays. Well, did we have fun with that one. On Thursday afternoon (12/22) we unloaded our beloved Wendy and loaded Big Red, and promptly headed for Detroit. It was a 1200-mile drive that we took two days to make so it wasn't that bad. We left behind the 65 degree weather to return to the gray skies of Michigan, but the anticipation of seeing our kids and grandkids again made up for it. Our plan was to surprise first my family because we always get together on Christmas Eve. This year, my sister Julie hosted the family party so, as part of the ruse of our surprise, we had presents shipped to my brother-in-law Dave's office so that there would be presents to open for the family even if we weren't there. That all went great until UPS ran over one of the boxes, but regardless, most of the presents made it to them before Christmas Eve.
The plan for my side of the family is that we were going to skype with everyone and say grace, as Steve was requested to do. They would all be at Julie's house and, unbeknownst to them, Steve and I would be just down the street on the other end of the computer connection. Our plan was to somehow show them the truck using our laptop camera and have them recognize the surrounding area and know that they had been fooled and that we were, in fact, there to celebrate with them. Things went just as we planned and they were all surprised and there were even some tears. Christmas Eve was a total blast as the food was excellent (as always), the entertainment was a riot (we played Christmas Pictionary) but mostly the company was full of love and warmth - - just the thing for the Christmas season.
The next day (Christmas) we had planned to surprise Steve's mother. She was planning to go to my sister-in-law Beverly's house for Christmas brunch and knew that someone was picking her up at 9:30 to bring her there. Much to her surprise, it was Steve and I at her door that morning. The look on her face was priceless when she opened that door. Love that stuff!!!!! She opened her presents and we headed to church. Our church, Westgate Chapel, does a great job with the Christmas celebration. Rather than it being the traditional service, Pastor Carey had us all think about the celebration of Jesus' birth and why, if He is the birthday boy, we aren't giving him gifts to Him versus receiving them from family. So we all made Christmas ornaments and wrote on them what we were giving Jesus this year, and put them on the trees in the front of the sanctuary. That was a great exercise to do and hopefully it reminds you all, as it did me, how blessed we are to have been given the greatest gift of all - our salvation through Christ.
The following day was the Anderson family party and we were so happy to see everyone. Steve took a great panoramic shot of the gift opening at this party which will give you some idea of how many people are in this family. There were probably close to 50 people watching the kids open their presents and that wasn't even the entire crowd. There were two other rooms of people elsewhere in the house. Thank God that Bev and Larry have a house large enough to accomodate this ever-growing family because it is just the coolest when everyone is together. Sometimes I just sit quietly and look around the room and eavesdrop on others' conversation. Not to be nosy, but to just take in who everyone is and appreciate what they bring to the family and to me personally. Here are some pictures of our families enjoying Christmas.
Ok, so festivities are over. We saw all three of our children and their significant others (Terry and Jill came in from Virginia -- YEAH!!!). We got to see our daughter Jill and her husband Gary's new house (well done guys), and spent some quality time with both of our parents. We love and miss them so much and were given strict instructions to keep the postcards coming. My dad has saved every one of them and keeps them in chronological order so he has a sort of "mental map" of where we've been and what we've done. Both of our parents are living vicariously through our journey right now and we appreciate that very much, so we send interesting postcards to them as often as possible.
As of this writing, we are back in Dallas. We picked up Big Red and are doing our "shakedown" weekend with her. So far, everything has gone pretty smoothly with the exception of a few items which are being addressed on Tuesday. Our beloved Wendy has a new owner and we are happy about that. It is a man who has colon cancer and is going to use Wendy as an opportunity to spend some quality time with his teenage girls before they are grown and gone. We are not sure the extent of the cancer that he has, but this is a second occurrence of it for him so keep this man in your prayers. I do not know his name or I would tell you specifically who to pray for, but God knows who he is so put in a good word for him, if you would be so kind.
Alrighty then folks. When you next hear from us, we will be in warmer climes somewhere near Lafayette, Louisiana. We are working our way along the gulf coast toward Florida where we will hook up with our friends Dave and Deanne (you will remember that we had birthday dinner with them our first night in Dallas several weeks ago). We will also be visiting my Aunt Bonnie who lives in Lake Suzy. Then it's on to the Daytona 500 and the much-anticipated return of NASCAR!!!!
Take care everyone and remember, it's out with the old and in with the new. Make a pledge to do something meaningful for someone else this year (it doesn't have to be big). And always remember that you are blessed. The simple fact that you are reading this e-mail should tell you that! There are so many people in this world that for whom reaching the internet is an impossibility. If you are looking for a way to help others and do something meaningful, Steve and I are big fans of an organization called World Vision. Visit their website at www.worldvision.com to learn more.
Love you all!!!! TTFN.