Christmas 2003 from the Holwicks

Dear friends,

The Holwick family got off to an early Christmas this year, thanks to Josiah. The tree (a $25 special at Home Depot) was up by December 1 and he had it completely decorated that night. The mini-village trailed up the stairway, too. Next year I should have him do this Christmas letter…

Our family is shrinking. Two weeks ago Rebecca, age 20, got her own apartment about five minutes away. It is much neater than her room ever was. She has been promoted to Director of "Kristie’s School of Fish" and has been telling 50-year-old carpenters what she wants done during their renovation. Sarah is a freshman at Gordon College and wants to be an elementary teacher. I picked her up for her Christmas break at her boyfriend’s house in Connecticut – his family wanted me to stay for dinner so I was a little nervous but he didn’t pop any questions so we are safe this year. Daniel remains involved in music. His school choir will be at Carnegie Hall in the spring and he is keeping up in piano and voice lessons and accompanying our early service worship team on the church Steinway. Dan also has a cute girlfriend named "Losa" whom he spends way too much time "instant messaging." This winter he joined the swim team so I get to wait in the school parking lot for two hours waiting for him to return from meets.

Josiah is our last homeschooler and takes Biology from his dad. We will cut up lots of dead stuff in the spring. He also is our snowboard fanatic. He and Becca went 65+ times last year; they have already been to Vermont this year. And the snow is not enough - our summer adventure was supposed to be a great hike in Wyoming but I got roped into driving all the way to Oregon so they could sandboard on the Pacific dunes. They had to wax their boards on each run and got faces full of sand but were satisfied. I enjoyed just walking in the forests there. I got my Wyoming hike accomplished, too. We drove up to the trailhead of the Wind River Range and hiked all day to the "Cirque of Towers," a famous and picturesque area that is ringed by mountains. We stopped just short of the main lake because the kids rebelled like Korah before Moses (Numbers 16) and wouldn’t go a step farther. We set up our tent on the edge of a cliff and had these pointy rocks sticking in our backs all night long. The best part was the lightning storm that threatened to rip our tent off the mountain. We literally clutched the corners in our hands as the wind flattened the tent against our faces. The resulting sunset was awesome. We rounded out the trip with a trek to Mount Saint Helen and a stop in Colorado to load up a rental truck with the last of our inherited furniture. Dad will be in Florida permanently now, dancing the nights away with Mary Ann, his fiancé.

The newest member of our family is Ollie. He replaces Kato, who died at the age of 13 (the kids told me he was around 5 when they got him from the shelter last year but after $450 of vet visits we determined he was a geezer from the get-go.) The solution to the grief was a new shelter dog who loves to chew couches from the inside out. Both of them. And all the wooden kitchen spoons. And my leather gloves. At least he doesn’t have mange because the four mange shots didn’t work so it has to be some other skin condition that I refuse to fork over money for.

Celeste stills works in the brain-injury unit at Welkind Hospital and has a new ministry in Haiti. Three or four times a year she visits to supervise a visiting nurse program – she went in January, April, July and will go again in two weeks. She is helping to develop a new community clinic and put together a nice "brush your teeth" campaign. This summer our church will add a house-building trip to that country.

The highlight in our church is a complete overhaul of our sanctuary. Everyone loves the new color and fixtures and I even contributed two new (small) stained glass windows in the main door. This motivated me to spend $1,000 on new glass; at least I followed through and completed two Tiffany-style lamps this year. We have many new families attending and in January we will have a focus on Rick Warren’s "Purpose Driven Life" book. The year has had its sadness, too, with the long illness and eventual passing of our good friend John Osborne a little over a year after his wife Trinka’s untimely death. Their kids have become very close to us and it was a joy to see young Trinka married in November.

We trust God has blessed each of you this year. In our middle age we can look back and trace the signs of His grace through our lives and we are thankful. May you have a wonderful celebration of Jesus’ birth!

David & Celeste and kids