Merry Christmas 1999 from the Holwicks

Dear friends,

I am just "under the wire" once again; this letter is my one main task for Christmas and I should be more efficient at it but I am not efficient at anything. Fortunately my church loves me anyway and they may let me stay another year. We began this year with a little excitement - while doing our annual skiing at a dinky resort in north Jersey, Becca broke her wrist snowboarding. Our neighbor shattered her knee at the same place so I guess we are lucky. She still went out for tennis and swimming. Sarah has had her first year in high school and is doing very well. She has already made lots of friends and knows what churches they all go to, and they know which one she goes to (a Catholic friend was stunned there were churches other than theirs.) Becca is a junior now and has been going out with boys a lot. Chris and Mike came over one night and I took them out to see my telescope. They have never come back. Now if only I could get Ronnie to look through my telescope...

In the spring Celeste decided I needed Weight-Watchers so I suffered for a few months. At least I lost 35 pounds - it made such a difference women slowed down on the street and whistled [Roxanne Kowalski, October 2, 3:44 p.m.] I'm not exactly at my high school weight but I fit in clothes again. Going on a mission trip to Appalachia helped. About twenty of us spent just over a week in Cranks Creek, Kentucky, and put up the framing of a house, among other projects. Several in the group said it changed their lives. It's a neat place but in the pits economically.

Our summer vacation was out West again. The kids insisted we travel in style (and both other cars were 130,000+ in miles) so we went car shopping. I found a nice used van real cheap but Becca whined it was what we had, only less. So we got a mini-conversion van that even has a TV in it. Everyone gets to enjoy it except me. We stopped to see my dad and mom, who continues with her chemo like a trooper. Jeb was also there with his crew; they are now in Seoul, Korea, and he is on the promotion list for Lieutenant Colonel. It is frightening to realize the defense of our nation rests in the hands of my little baby brother. We then went north to Yellowstone and did extensive hiking in the Cascade Corner where we crossed four streams by wading right through with the water up to our rear-ends. Not much wildlife but few people, which was nice. Later in the week Celeste, the boys and I took a long hike up the Hayden Valley. LOTS of wildlife, with one of the herds of buffalo numbering over 100. To get around them we had to walk through dense brush up a steep hill, and these buffalo were behind every tree. The highlight was a hot stream we found several miles in. With no one else in sight Celeste waded in. She liked it so much she stripped down to nothing - to the utter shock of her men. Where are the buffalo when you need them? Our vacation was cut short but we managed to hit the Littie Big Horn battlefield and Devil' s Tower on the way back.

This autumn Daniel and I joined the Boy Scouts. Daniel loves the campouts but doesn't like their bad language. I have a uniform too and am re-learning all the oaths, laws, pledges, etc. Michael Elam moved out to a place of his own and the girls rushed downstairs, moving in before he was even finished moving out. Rebecca's taste in decorations is as expensive as her taste in clothes.

In October our church had its 125th anniversary and we celebrated with a very nice potluck and slide show. I dressed up as old-fashioned as I could. For the millennium we are burying a time capsule to be opened at our 200th anniversary in 2074. I am including a history of the church that names names. I am also including more history stuff at our webpage which now gets over 1,000 hits a week - you have to be a pastor to appreciate it. Maybe this month I will finally update the family page. http://users/ Html [in 2006 it is]

Thanksgiving was not in New England this year but with Kristy and Roger in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Great meal and I even got a tour of Gettysburg with Roger while everyone else cleaned up. In early December we treated ourselves to the Christmas program at Radio City Music Hall. I grumped that it didn't seem very spiritual but Celeste said, "Just wait." Sure enough, the last half was an incredible portrayal of the birth of Jesus. The Rockettes were pretty awesome as well, especially when they got shot by the cannonball (it takes the line fifteen minutes to fall over). This week we will head to the city and window-shop in places I wouldn't dare buy stuff in. Of course Christmas is not about "stuff' but about Jesus. He has blessed us far more than we deserve and we are grateful.

David & Celeste and kids