Merry Christmas 1996 / Valentines Day from the Holwicks

(a very late Christmas letter)

Dear friends,

Most people send out their Christmas cards to arrive by Christ's birthday. December 25 is when I began composing this one. They say it is the thought that counts. One advantage of this approach is I can tell you we had a wonderful Christmas. My parents visited the previous week and had to leave early so we opened family presents on Monday the 23rd. The next day I finished my Christmas Eve sermon at the last second (I have yet to figure out how to get those done months early) and we went over to the church for our traditional candlelighting service. As far as the community is concerned it is the highlight of our year and the place was packed. Josiah, 6, always looks forward to it because he gets to hold a candle and sing "that song" in the dark. He is referring to Silent Night, of course.

This year is significant for our family because it is the last one in which all of our kids will be homeschooled. Rebecca turns 14 soon and next September she will enter Roxbury High as a freshmen. Celeste is against it and says when Becca delivers her illegitimate child in prison while awaiting the appeal of her drug convictions it will be all my fault. Josiah is learning to read now and makes very violent noises while playing with his dinosaur figures. They like to eat the animals just as they get off Noah's ark. Sarah just had her 12th birthday and basked in the attention of the event. I took the girls skiing for the first time last week and it took Sarah one hour to make it down the bunny slope. The second time she whizzed straight down with no spills - or turns. The third time she produced an explosion of skis and snow and dragged her limp body over to the lodge for the rest of the day.

Daniel is our piano virtuoso. He loves playing and has a wonderful teacher. Celeste says he can play songs with five sharps in them, whatever that means. Rebecca is also musical and drums in full Scottish regalia with a local marching bagpipe band. It is very impressive. Celeste decided against playing bagpipe and is sweating over whether she will have to get a college degree to keep nursing. As it is they want her for each graveyard shift but she is worried about the future. For much of this year she homeschooled five children whose mother was dying of cancer. It was very grueling but she felt it definitely was God's will. Those children are now in a Christian school and our contact with them has lessened.

I have now been in Ledgewood for over seven years. As I enter the forties it seems like time goes faster all the time. And I go slower. The church is going better than ever but our denomination (American Baptist) seems determined to dive off the deep end so I am giving serious thought to having to separate from it. I have been very involved with an Evangelical renewal movement that is growing nationwide but I do not think they can turn things around. My church is behind me 100%; they even agreed to increase our utilities allowance!

This summer we hope to take a long trip out to the Southwest. Last year we spent two weeks camping on the Florida Keys - breathtaking! - and another two weeks in the autumn hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Our kids are great outdoormen and even Josiah carried his pack up Mount Lafayette and along the ridgeline. The total hike was around twelve miles and very steep. The first night we had to improvise a camp by crawling on our hands and knees through thick growth just below the treeline until we came to a small clearing that was just big enough for our tent. Next month Celeste and the kids will visit her folks in South Carolina and mine in Florida, assuming the new/used (and previously rebuilt) transmission makes it. And I get to enjoy myself in sparkling New Jersey. It grows on you!

David & Celeste and kids