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Christmas snowflake
JW Goossen Xmas Letter 2004

Greetings All,

Another installment of 'As My World Turns' for all you late night radio fans who prefer to stay up and find out what the shadow knows for sure. This year's production begins with a search, a search for the perfect gift. A pearl of great treasure. Actually that comes later in the story. Let's start back in January. What a black time that was…a real dark night of the soul. But hey, that was then and this is now…zzzhzhxss…with appropriate sound effects I will rewind the above text and start the annual Christmas letter.

This was a year of travel, adventure and the occasional walnut danish (not ethnic - to me anyway, but food nonetheless). It began with Rachel flying to South Africa as part of phase 2 in the SOD (yes, SOD) program. She spent three months doing study/service/travel around the country. Highlights included staying with families in Soweto, Pretoria and Durban and also meeting with F.W.DeKlerk. Adventure included shark diving and another (not to be mentioned) harrowing feat. Suffice to say we are thankful she's back in one piece. [Unlike the vehicle she was driving].

Bethany graduated (2 down, 3 to go) and moved all the way to Clearbrook to be close to Oma and study Early Childhood Education. I don't think those are related (Bethany and Oma are but not the topics). One is at the old MEI the other at the old CBI. And me, I'm just old because I remember when both of those weren't. Bethany's way of earning money is to get babysitting jobs and practice all the new techniques she's learning.

Next up was a January trip to Penticton with Hannah's hockey team. Nice time for a drive in the snow. Also went to Port Alberni in February as Hannah played for the Vancouver team at the BC Winter Games. One step at a time. Meanwhile, Joan connected with some old (I tried to find a better word but the synonyms I got from word were elderly/aged/mature/getting on/not getting any younger and those all seemed more dangerous to use) Physio friends for a weekend getaway at Whistler. Lot's of catching up on each other's lives.

Joan and I went to Cancun. In July. Another company sponsored trip. This time we left Beth and Tab home alone to work out their differences. So long ago I can only remember we had a warm, relaxing time. Great sand, Mexican chocolate, coffee and beer, old pyramids, time to read and shop for junk. No beach vendors, just timeshare salesmen.

Natalie made it all the way to Camp Squeah, which is beyond Hope but before Hell's Gate, just a mile from Purgatory (sorry that's now called Yale). Rachel, Hannah, Tabitha and Bethany all spent time there as well (4 months/4 weeks/7 days and 4 hours respectively).

It's been a year of rotating Andrews. As Rachel went to SA, Andrew C. didn't come by as much. In April he reappeared with more consistency. Andrew D got his N in the spring and by the end of the summer drove himself home. Hannah has her L and is still here. She dropped the flute and has gone back to piano. Natalie, meanwhile, has picked up the bass. And once in a while, she even plays it. She started with the classics - Smoke on the Water and O Canada.

Natalie stuck to Baseball as her main sport this year, although she threw in some field hockey just for fun. I coached the team with Bethany's help and we were one game and a million miles away for going to the Provincials. Starting a Drama Club at school has kept her and her friend very busy. I not sure if the club leader is called the Queen or not.

In the fall, Joan and I went to Europe with Hannah and Tabitha. Saw London, Paris, Vienna and Prague. Had a great time. It was in matching order - expensive, rude, satisfying and Old World. Saw the castles and the art, shopped and walked and subwayed, used Hannah's French, my German and discovered everyone in Prague knew English. Highlights were - I met an old friend in Vienna, Joan made a new friend on the subway, Hannah found that all the ice tea in Europe is peach flavoured even if they put a lemon in it and Tabitha discovered even if a British Pub has a bacon cheeseburger as their special, it clearly isn't their specialty.

Joan had her 3 year all clear check up and we are very happy for that. It's been the usual busy time. Lot's of driving. Here, there and everywhere. Got to the cabin a few times. A change of pace and chance to unwind, as much as possible with 7 or 8 people in 600 sq. ft. Let's just say it's family bonding time. I checked the calendar for more boring stuff to add to the letter (it seems to be a requirement) - we all went to the dentist and got our haircut at least once this year.

We are excited that Bethany and Hannah were both baptized this year and the both were on Summer Ministries in the deep, dark East End of Vancouver. It was both eye opening and life challenging. Bethany liked it so much that she went back in the fall as part of her school program. Who knows, she might make a career of it.

In the fall Rachel got a job in a warehouse as she figures out what she wants to do. Apparently that isn't working in a warehouse, although that has helped pay for the 'little red sports car' that she bought. Once she gets the shifting down, I'm sure the tickets will follow.

Gym kept Tabitha busy - Calgary at spring break, Prince George for provincials and more travel in the fall as she went to Mexico with her Gym Club. Billeted out with some nice families she saw the nicer side of Mexico City. The highlights were trying to learn Spanglish, climbing the pyramid, seeing Svetlana Khorkina and Alexei Nemov - live, and attending a late night Jewish wedding wearing her host mother's Nicole Miller dress.

An ad (I believe Canadian Tire) says that the purpose of the season is to find the perfect gift and then buy it for someone you love. While I am down on (not down with) the commercialization of Christmas (but don't go as far as the buy nothing for Christmas crew), I would say that this ad has caught God's meaning for Christmas in an unintended way. God did find (and has found) the perfect gift and gave it to us, whom He loves.


John, Joan, Rachel, Bethany, Hannah, Tabitha, Natalie and…

PS. Not sure whether to include Rachel and Bethany or not (because they've graduated and are [semi] independent] but I'm still feeding them, so just view my signature as a record of my debts.

PPS. One of Hannah's friends asked last year if I would really mention him if he paid the $19.95. I said yes but he didn't pay, so he'll be referred to as the cheapskate fried end and shall remain nameless.

PPPS. Check out www.humanpilots.com for previous incarnations of this letter and to see some new photos

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