Christmas 2016
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,


Carpe diem. We don’t know when or where we first heard that expression. But it was fixed in our minds by the 1989 movie ‘Dead Poets Society’ when the teacher played by Robin Williams says, “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your life extraordinary.” The phrase stuck with us, and we once even had t-shirts with Carpe Diem on them, although to be totally honest it was in part because our then preteen daughter Britta was a bit of a complainer and carped all day – the kind of double meaning we relish.


We seized the days of 2016, from a Swedish dinner we hosted in January to a neighborhood open house for Christmas. Diane took an interest in her Swedish genealogy, living life in the past lane as she explores her father’s roots. We arranged our first house exchange and spent five great weeks in New Zealand, the land with more sheep than people, where we were joined by Daniel’s brother and his wife and had our own Middle Earth adventure (alas no Frodo or Gandalf sightings). However on the other side of the world we did see more than 7 million bulbs in bloom at Keukenhof in The Netherlands, near where our son Nils was on a year-long sabbatical. We did more bike riding than we had in years during our two-week visit with Nils, Allison, Sophia (8) and Isabel (6). Good thing too, since our charmed life changed quickly in August when Daniel fell off a bike in the garage of our Victoria condo and fractured his right hip, seizing days in the Royal Jubilee Hospital. He’s been pinned, rehabilitated and recently cast off walker and cane.


If you must break a hip, Victoria proved a good place to be. We settled into our condo, bought furniture, and put BC plates on Diane’s PT Cruiser. Before Daniel cratered he attended a Wenzel family reunion, but afterwards also managed to make it to our 50th high school reunion. As a youth, he saw some of the first class of Camrose Lutheran College celebrating their 50th reunion and recalls how old they looked, like he now sees in the mirror himself. One of the joys of living at the west coast for the summer is that it’s a popular place for friends and family to visit. Our youngest granddaughter Zell (5) told her kindergarten class that the best part of summer was seeing “reindeer”, the blacktail deer that roam Victoria. She and older sister Annette (7) took turns in the top bunk, sharing the guest room with their parents Britta and Kendall. One of Diane’s best memories of summer was getting together with friends from elementary school in Rycroft, dubbed our WWV (Wild Weekend in Victoria). Like the best bottles of wine, old friends only get better with time.


You undoubtedly have followed the results of our US election. As determined globalists we were blindsided by the nationalist fervor. We’ve always liked to say, “So far, so good” as our lives go on, but this doesn’t seem good. We however are durable, celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary and extending our every-five-years family portrait gallery. Seize the day, seize the year.


Carpe Diem. And may your Christmas and New Year be filled with faith, hope, and love.

Daniel and Diane

The back page of the letter we mailed had these photos.

Christmas 2015
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,


Sometimes it’s good to do something you never thought you’d do, and this year for us that was buying a condo in Victoria. Why Victoria? Well, growing up on the Canadian prairies the dream was always to live at the west coast. And now each summer we will. From our perch atop Moss Rock we can watch ships passing in Juan de Fuca Strait and enjoy deer wandering on the rock. Daniel feels like a king, despite Diane keeping him down to earth. While we’d always talked about living in our native land when we retired, we never thought it would look like this. In the words of our new family anthem, Northwest Passage, “To find there but the road back home again.”


So Canada was where we spent almost five months, full of beginnings and endings. An old friend showed us the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, others in Alberta helped us pick berries and make saskatoon jam, and on Vancouver Island we had box seats for a parade honoring the Queen’s long reign, in our summer rental that paved the way to buying our own condo. As if reinforcing our dual citizenship, we celebrated Thanksgiving twice this year – first in Vancouver and then in Houston. And another link in our lives ended as we remembered the life of Matt Dika, Diane’s mother’s husband of 44 years. As the graveside service was concluding, the rain stopped and a double rainbow appeared, a very fitting ending.


And Sweden was a big part of our year as well. We started 2015 with a month-long house exchange with friends from Sweden, living in their old farmhouse on a lake where darkness came early and we took daily walks in the snowy forest. Living like a local was a treat, and we now consider ourselves experts in making Janssons Frestelse (potatoes, anchovies, cream). A bonus was visiting Diane’s two remaining aunts, Esther (95) and Bojan (102), and later her cousin Anneli came to visit and experience a hot Texas summer. These Swedes are hardy and adventurous people.

Diane celebrated her 65th in Mexico near Cabo San Lucas where we developed a fondness for just sitting and looking at the ocean. Now as a pensioner/retiree/senior she enjoys the entitlements that come with age and scoffs at those who claim 65 is the new 45. But her 65 is definitely very different from her grandmother’s 65. Our house is different too with a remodeled bathroom and kitchen, although the experience was surprisingly stressful. Daniel marked the year by developing his Golden Logo calling card as Master of Science, and co-authored a cardiology paper with son Nils and others. He is busy planning our 50th high school reunion (Camrose Lutheran College, class of ’66). Alas, he’s also a bit tipsy now with a diagnosis of peripheral neuropathy.


Our children and their families are well. Nils and his family are spending the year in the Netherlands where he’s on sabbatical working with European cardiologists. Before they left we took in the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo with all four granddaughters.Yippee! Britta and her family spent some time with us in Victoria and we hope our children and grandchildren will enjoy the Canadian condo as much as we do. And of course to all of you, please come visit us, be it in Houston or Victoria.


We have had a year full of new reasons to celebrate and smile, and wish you a year full of happiness, joy, and peace.


Daniel and Diane

The back page of the letter we mailed had these photos.

Christmas 2014
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,


Carpe diem seize the day. We’ve been thinking of that as we ponder the events of the year. Once we had t-shirts with that phrase, reminding our then-teenage daughter that it did not mean ‘carp all day.’ But we started the year by serving on the Grand Jury where we heard many stories of both seizing and carping. In Texas, each Grand Jury is a dozen volunteers who get together twice a week and listen to criminal cases to determine if there’s sufficient evidence to issue an indictment. We now know more about drugs, homicide, and evidence-tampering than we probably need to, and especially enjoyed our experience as ride-alongs with city and country police officers. They respond to everything from barking dogs to shootings, and we confess to the thrill of speeding down the highway with sirens wailing. At one time Diane had an interest in law enforcement, only to be told by the Edmonton Police Department that she was too short. Sigh. The path not taken.


However, we took many other paths during the year. We spent a month in the south of France enjoying Montagnac, a small wine-producing village, where we immersed ourselves in daily life with trips to the boulangerie/patisserie for the freshest bread ever. We also acquired a fondness for Roquefort cheese after touring the caves. Our friend Carmen came along for part of the holiday, so we made pilgrimages to Lourdes and Barcelona, exploring the incredible and still unfinished Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona, and even watched young girls dance in Avignon (as we sang in French class, Sur le Pont d'Avignon, L'on y danse, l'on y danse …). Diane has developed an interest in labyrinths, so we had to visit the medieval cathedral in Chartres which houses both magnificent stained glass windows and one of the best known labyrinths in the world. We topped off the trip with a quick stop in Geneva to visit old friends from our Edmonton days.


We also became serious hikers this year after walking the Cotswold Way in southern England (100 miles in 9 days). Hours of tramping through forests and meandering across sheep pastures ended in the City of Bath, where we watched hundreds of women dressed like Jane Austen parade through the streets. After staying in B&Bs along the way, we now enjoy our own Cotswold breakfast (smoked salmon and scrambled eggs).


And of course it wouldn’t be a full year without Canada. Diane’s Mom enjoyed 6 weeks with us in Houston and special times with her 4 great-granddaughters. Unfortunately upon her return she had a severe heart attack and is now living in long-term care. Daniel’s family had a reunion in Vancouver, which we took in while staying at a beach house in Point Roberts, WA, with Britta and her family. That was followed by taking in the Dawson Creek, BC, rodeo and seeing the Canadian petroleum hub in Hardisty, AB, with our friend Gail, now the Mayor of Daysland.


So it’s been a year of carpe diem. Daniel celebrated building his first playhouse with a new blue BMW X3. Since Diane’s father, the original Morfar, built playhouses for our children, this Morfar needed to continue the practice. As well, each week he dons shirt and tie and heads off to volunteer as Nils’ research assistant. It turns out oil flow and heart flow have a lot in common – it’s all about pipes and pressure. Our dog Fritz turned 10. And Diane mutters more about her aches and pains. But a recent visit to New York to see our friend Qingfan made it much better. And it’s now the Season of Advent. We are reminded that we’re in this together and we are so thankful to have all of you in our lives.


May Peace be your gift at Christmas and your blessing all year through.


Daniel and Diane

The back page of the letter we mailed had these photos.

Christmas 2013
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

Home again. After two years in China we returned in January to the comforts of home and all the wonderful things Houston has to offer -- theater, music, church -- and of course family and friends. We were reminded we’re at the go-go state of retirement (with slow-go and no-go ahead), hurrying to Canada to visit our aging parents, celebrating Daniel's father's 91st birthday in Vancouver and enjoying a real winter with Diane's mother in northern Alberta.

Our six-week trip to Europe was an enjoyable mix of new and familiar experiences.  We connected with teaching friends from China who live in England where we sloshed about visiting Winchester Cathedral. Front row seats gave us a close up view of Helen Mirren as the Queen in The Audience, a play about the Queen's weekly meeting with the Prime Minister. They modified the script for Margret Thatcher's funeral, which we also saw close up on Fleet Street. Our son was in France for a conference, so we met up with him and waded in the Mediterranean at Cannes after visiting friends in Montagnac, a wonderful village in the south of France where the local winery fills your jug just like a gas station. We capped off the trip visiting Diane's relatives in Sweden, helping celebrate her Aunt Esther's 93rd birthday and relaxing at her cousin’s summer house on the Baltic.

We were back in Canada for the summer, staying with Diane's mother in Rycroft, and getting her and her husband moved out of their house and into a seniors lodge. Fresh strawberries and rhubarb almost made up for having to mow grass and pull weeds. The farmers' crops were green or flowering yellow canola when we came, and by the time we left were golden for harvest. Farming isn’t what it used to be -- we rode a couple rounds with one of Diane's classmates in his big air-conditioned combine, guided by GPS to cut ruler-straight rows. The northern lights were even on display for us, taking us back into the poetry of Robert W. Service and the lure of the north. We explored all the parks and picnic spots in the area, and spent time with Diane's aunts and Daniel's brother who lives 100 km away in Dawson Creek, the start of the Alaska Highway. This inspired us to drive north to Yukon and Alaska, spending a couple weeks on the road visiting Whitehorse, Dawson City, Fairbanks, and Anchorage. A highlight, in addition to all the wildlife and spectacular scenery, was a sightseeing flight around North America's highest mountain (McKinley, aka Denali) with its surrounding peaks, glaciers, and valleys.

Finally in October we settled into a longer time at home, barely escaping the first blast of winter on our drive south. Our four little granddaughters (5, 4, 3, and 2) aren't so little anymore. Nils and Britta and their spouses are no longer new parents, there are no more babies, and everyone is in school at least a couple days a week. Daniel is officially a senior since his 65th birthday in June, and is working on electronic and computer projects, soldering tiny wires he can barely see. Diane rejoined her women's Transitions group and helps organize monthly programs, and volunteers with a women's resource center to teach financial literacy. Her new enthusiasm is the accordion, an early Christmas gift that fills our home with not just practice exercises but also the music of the season. She thinks of this as her happy music, although Daniel prefers to retreat to his man cave. Such a contrast to last year, far from our roots but welcoming our students and Chinese teachers with their children to our apartment, an outpost of Western culture. Home sweet home!

Peace and good will to all, from us here in Houston.

Daniel and Diane

The back page of the letter we mailed had these photos.

Christmas 2012
Qinzhou, Guangxi, China 

Dear Family and Friends,


Sounds of the season means something else to us this year. From our apartment on the campus of Qinzhou University we wake up to the crowing of roosters, the rumbling of trucks and scooters down the country road behind our place, the ever-present basketball game being played in the front courtyard, and the occasional blast of celebratory firecrackers. At 6:05 a.m. the campus sound system wakes everyone with reveille and we get ready for the day, listening to Internet radio commenting on drive-home Houston traffic.


We’re completing our second and final year as English teachers, and live in southern China almost within walking distance of Vietnam. Qinzhou is a small coastal city of about a million people and our university includes programs related to shipping, navigation and marine research. With our “foreign expert” permits we taught listening and writing to English majors in the spring semester and co-taught with our Chinese colleagues; the autumn semester has focused on oral English and western culture. Our students learned how to decorate Easter eggs, bobbed for apples at the Halloween party, and will soon perform the Christmas story.


When we arrived here the end of January we were surprised how damp and cold it was, and given that the only heat was in our bedroom we eagerly toured Kunming in Yunnan, known as the City of Eternal Spring. But spring soon came and in May we enjoyed a trip down the Li River surrounded by the incredible karst limestone mountains around Guilin. We even saw Qinzhou’s mascot, white dolphins, on another boat trip. In June we celebrated Daniel’s 64th with a cake decorated with cranes and peaches, both symbols for longevity and prosperity. Our brief 15 minutes of fame came when we made a Bank of China credit card commercial, and we finished the semester with a week in Cambodia. The 12th century temple at Angkor Wat is the largest Hindu temple complex in the world, and with its monuments and surrounding jungle remains etched in our minds.


But we didn’t forget our roots and spent July and August in Texas, BC, and Alberta, admiring Nils’ new Houston home and growing girls, spending a week in Galveston with Britta’s family, and several weeks on the road with enjoyable visits along the way. We were reminded of how busy life is with little ones when we were left in charge of Britta and Kendall’s girls while they toured Asia. They met up with us here and became our first and only foreign guests to experience our daily life in China.


No sooner had the autumn semester started than Golden Week arrived, so we enjoyed 8 days exploring the sights of Sichuan (Szechuan), including the Giant Leshan Buddha (71 meters) carved out of a cliff face in the 700’s. A real treat was the Jiuzhaigou Valley on the edge of the Tibetan plateau – colorful lakes, multi-level waterfalls, snow-capped peaks – a lot like the Canadian Rockies, if you overlook the grazing yaks.


It’s hard to believe that our time in China is drawing to a close. Sometimes it seems like we just got going with Daniel’s Technical English Corner and Diane’s tai chi, yoga, and weekly Internet tutoring with a young girl in Afghanistan. This is a time of endings and new beginnings. China has truly been a wonderfully rewarding experience and we’re looking forward to the next chapter back home in 2013. We wish you the spirit of peace and joy this Christmas season and may this coming year be filled with hope and happiness. 


Daniel and Diane

The back page of the letter we mailed had these photos.

Christmas 2011
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,


Numbers – marking the Advent calendar, singing the Twelve Days of Christmas to our grand-daughters, and ignoring the number of shopping days left. We’re also drawn to the number 4 -- we left for China last year with two grand-daughters and returned to four. So we now have four generation pictures. Plus we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary with a cruise down the Yangtze River and later lined up all ten of us for the every-five-year family photo.


Our year was spent becoming full-fledged English teachers, so we have a better appreciation of how tough it is to learn another language. We hope our students learned more English than we did Chinese, and were really touched when one student said, “We will miss you because you respect us.” So while we never mastered more than survival Mandarin, we feel confident enough to return for a second year. Our location will change, from the northern grasslands of Inner Mongolia to the southern rice fields of Guangxi. China is energetic and confident, full of the can-do spirit that used to characterize America. And we learned that we can be quite happy without all the stuff we have in Houston, so we initiated a campaign of giving our children possessions we’d like them to have, also known as cleaning out the attic.


It’s been great being back to the familiar. We enjoyed time with our friends and family in Canada and have refreshed our apprenticeship as grandparents. Our son Nils does a good job of juggling his roles as father and physician, and Britta now has children from A (Annette) to Z (Zell). We’ve noted now that everyone lives in Houston, it’s time for us to go. And go we did. Our winter break included freezing in Beijing, being honored guests at a Chinese colleague’s village wedding, and finding that Hong Kong is definitely not mainland China. Once in a lifetime is enough for some experiences, like taking a sleeper bus in Vietnam. Others deserve repeats, like our summer travels in Japan, where we met up with an exchange student from our Tulsa days some 19 years ago.


So it’s been a wonderful year. Daniel, having missed technical work, is doing a bit of consulting with BP and Diane is getting a taste of retirement. Having missed out on the music and festivities of the holidays last year (ditto for next year), this year we’re filling our plates with all the best, and enjoying every bite. May long life, good fortune and happiness be yours. 万事如意


Merry Christmas and all the best for 2012.


Daniel and Diane

The back page of the letter we mailed had these photos.

Christmas 2010
Baotou, Inner Mongolia, China

Dear Family and Friends,


The sounds of familiar Advent music fill our small apartment in an unfamiliar country this year. We remember as children it was said if you drilled all the way through the earth you’d find yourself in China. And here we are.


For years we contemplated living and working in a developing country, but by the time we arrived no one talked about developing countries anymore. Rather we moved from the world’s largest economy to the world’s second largest economy. But what a difference it is, and each day (well, most days) we know this is where we are meant to be. We teach at Baotou Teachers’ College in the province of Inner Mongolia with the Amity Foundation, China’s oldest Christian service agency. As part of their 3-in-1 program, we teach writing and speaking to university students, conduct faculty development sessions for our Chinese colleagues, and next semester will start to train middle school teachers. We find our work absorbing, our students and colleagues warm and friendly, and our daily adjustments rewarding.


So the year 2010 has been an adventure on many fronts. Always being fans of the National Park Service, in February we enjoyed exploring the old military outpost of the Dry Tortugas as well as the Everglades, the largest subtropical wilderness in the U.S. Then in April Diane reached the milestone of 60 and retired from the University of Texas. After being with the Ombudsman Program for over a decade and enjoying almost every minute of it, she knew it was time to pursue other goals. Daniel finished up his BP contract, so we loaded up the car with our dog Fritz and took to the road for two months and 10,000 miles of enjoying both new and familiar spots. Our travels and China adventure are posted on our blog:


We spent July getting ready for our departure, including a few days in Chicago with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (our sponsoring agency) and in New York with Church World Service (our sending agency).  August found us in China for a month of training in Nanjing and Yangzhou, and then to Baotou. Definitely not on the tourist itinerary, this is a large northern industrial city (1.5 million) which produces half the world supply of rare earth minerals. Our furnished apartment is provided by the College, and we’ve discovered we can live rather well without all the comforts of our Houston home. We’ve enjoyed sleeping in a Mongolian yurt, horseback riding on the grasslands, and exploring the land of Genghis Khan. Some days our survival Chinese evaporates and the cultural differences surprise and frustrate us, but somehow it all works. And we are glad to be here.


But of course we miss our people. As we left Houston, Nils and his family arrived so he could begin his work as a cardiologist at the University of Texas Medical School. And while we said goodbye to our two granddaughters, Sophia and Annette, we will return to three granddaughters including Isabel, plus Britta’s new baby. Fortunately we’re able to keep in touch with Skype calls and email. Each week we gather with a group, the Baotou Foreign Fellowship, for support and familiar food, and we’ve also started to participate in an English Bible study at the local Christian Church. So we’re settling in and look forward to the end of the semester and a break for Chinese New Year which we’ll spent exploring some of this large country.


As we complete the Year of the Tiger and look forward to the Year of the Rabbit, we hold you close in our thoughts and wish you the blessings of the season. May the universality of the Christmas story continue to bring us hope and peace. 

Daniel and Diane

The back page of the letter we mailed had these photos.

Christmas 2009
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,


Have you ever had an epiphany, one of those instant recognitions that change your view of the world? We had two of those moments this year. The first occurred in the spring while on a train in Bangkok, when we looked around the packed train car and realized we were the old white people in the crowd. And the second was Diane’s diagnosis of breast cancer in July where we instantly shifted from decades of good health to an unknown journey. These instances have served as bookmarks in a year filled with celebration and exploration.


September 21st we celebrated the arrival of Annette Kendall Hollrah, our second granddaughter. She’s an absolute gem and lives just a mile down the road. We’re very fond of our new roles as Morfar and Mormor and try to restrain from offering Britta and Kendall all the benefits of our parental wisdom.


Two occasions brought our growing family together this year. We rented a beach house in Galveston over the Memorial Day weekend and enjoyed our granddaughter Sophia exploring the beach and building sand castles. She lives in Chicago and keeps her parents in line while Nils studies and does research amidst clinical duties and cardiology board exams. Our second family gathering was over the recent Thanksgiving weekend where we had a traditional American celebration with four generations, joined by Diane’s mother Eunice and husband Matt, and culminating with the baptism of baby Annette. In keeping with family custom, Annette was dressed in the same gown worn by her mother Britta and grandfather Daniel at their baptisms. We picture Daniel’s mother Renata lovingly stitching that gown over 60 years ago for his baptism.


Work, while occupying much of our time, seems to play a less significant role in our lives these days. Daniel after formally retiring last year continues to do geophysical contract work with BP while Diane completed ten years with the University of Texas Center on Aging. Her work this year included a presentation in Texarkana on sexuality and aging and publication of her final research project on younger residents in nursing homes. Her findings can be summed up as too little of the former and too much of the latter. As a member of the courageous sisterhood of breast cancer survivors, she made it through surgery and radiation and is on the road to a hopeful future.


We’ve enjoyed some wonderful explorations over the year. A too-short trip to Singapore and Bangkok in April convinced us that prospects for world growth belong to Asia. And to sharpen our global skills we completed a course in teaching English as a second/foreign language, should that come in handy.  A week at Chautauqua, western New York’s educational summer camp, provided Daniel new insights into science and religion and we returned home with an increased interest in meditation. The gaudy glitz of a Las Vegas conference was even more fun following several days discovering the beauty of Death Valley National Park, and a once in a lifetime performance in the Armargosa Opera House. We’ll be home for Christmas and will  take the train to Arizona to bring in the New Year with dear friends Ray and Sue Odland, snowbirds with whom we go all the way back to grade 12 trigonometry class (Camrose Lutheran College, class of ’66).


This has been a year of transitions for us, and we echo Garrison Keillor from Prairie Home Companion, "Be well, do good work, & keep in touch."  We look forward to new epiphanies in 2010 and wish you the blessings of Christmas.

The back page of the letter we mailed had these photos.

Christmas 2008
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

There’s a verse we heard a few years ago that seems to have special meaning this year. It’s called “Life As It Should Be,” and the author is anonymous (as an elementary school age Britta once observed, “Anna Y. Mus writes lots of things.”).

Life is backwards.  You should die first and get it out of the way.
Then you live for 20 years in an old-age home, and get kicked out when you're too young.
Then you get a gold watch and go to work.  You work for 40 years until you are young enough to retire into college.
You now get to party every night and read and learn.  You are now prepared to know what courses to take.
Then you get to go to high school and grade school.  You become a little kid, and you play, you have no responsibilities, and everyone smiles at you.
You become a little baby, go back into the womb and get to float around for your last 9 months. And you finish off as a gleam in someone's eye.

The little gleam this year was our first grandchild, Sophia Irene Johnson, born appropriately on Mother’s Day, May 11th. And in June Daniel received his gold watch as he retired after a quarter of a century with BP/Amoco. We’re now contemplating what comes before the old-age home, and have applied to volunteer with the Peace Corps.

After he retired Daniel spent 3 months on the road, covering a 15,000 mile path from his past. His journey took him to Chicago, then New Hampshire and on to Ontario where he started out as a newly-minted geophysicist in 1969, back to Chicago for Sophia’s baptism, then across Canada to meet up with Diane for an Alberta roots visit. He would have continued down the west coast had his wife, after Hurricane Ike, not called and hinted he should be Houston-bound. He’s currently doing some contract work for BP Norway, since cleaning out his old files was becoming tedious. And he recently accompanied Diane to Washington, D.C. for an aging conference (she lets him be a trophy husband as long as he’s whisker free), where we watched the platform being constructed at the Capitol for the upcoming inauguration of the new president.

This has been a good year for our family. We spent a wonderful 3 weeks in India, a fascinating country that spans centuries and cultures. Where else can you see a holy man with yellow and red paint on his face chatting into his cell phone? As they say, India is much more than just the Taj Mahal. Closer to home, Britta and Kendall bought their first house. It’s about a mile and a half from where we live, so we can actually walk there. Nils and Allison still live in Chicago, and we’re all looking forward to Sophia celebrating her first Christmas in Houston. She’ll definitely be the best gift under the tree.

We have much to be thankful for, and we wish you peace and contentment in the coming year.

The back page of the letter we mailed had these photos.

Christmas 2007
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

For everything thing there is a season.  This season finds us reflecting on a year of calm stability, not the type that comes before the storm we trust. We experienced this frequently during a summer of family holidays.  A week in Vancouver, sharing a waterfront condo rental with Britta and Kendall, was an opportunity to spend time with our parents and all the other family. Leisurely breakfasts over Canadian newspapers provided new perspectives, although driving across downtown Vancouver day after day was too reminiscent of  Houston traffic. We're pleased Britta and Kendall live close to us and visit often, and while there’s a little guilt getting the most of the dog sitting exchange when we travel this doesn’t seem to limit us too much.  Britta continues her job in legal recruiting, and Kendall is still busy with those billable hours required of a young lawyer.

Our other family holiday was a week with Nils and Allison on the east coast. A hike in Acadia National Park, plump blueberries, and the JFK Library in Boston was balanced by enjoyable bed and breakfast spots in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. The four of us were able to share Canadian history lessons at the Bay of Fundy during high and low tide, and at the Halifax Citadel where the noon day gun has boomed for 258 years.  Nils and Allison continue to call Chicago home, and we marvel that they can live in such a big city and still walk to work – Allison to Reusable Bags and Nils to the hospital.  We feel more confident getting our free medical advice from Nils now that he’s certified as a specialist in Internal Medicine, and he continues his training in cardiology and medical research.

Weekend trips this year included a visit to the Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, where thousands of bats swirl out each dusk to devour moths. Fort Worth lived up to its reputation as a town of cowboys and culture as we walked through the Stockyards one day and saw portraits from van Gogh to Picasso the next.  We can now identify green jays, thanks to a day on a “Birding 101” tour in the Rio Grande Valley, home of ruby red grapefruit.  Daniel was the tag-along spouse as Diane attended conferences in Chicago and Washington, DC, a reversal of our usual roles.  He is ending 8 years of organizing a monthly science and religion discussion group and plans his retirement next year from BP. It’s been interesting disengaging from activities as we anticipate the next chapter in our journey.

We'll be celebrating the season at home this year, where we've volunteered to host one of the traditional neighborhood open houses.  Since this means a big tree and extra tinsel we plan to do more entertaining than usual.  So if you happen to be in the area, do stop in for eggnog and fruitcake.

May this Christmas season find you well, and we wish you health and happiness in 2008.

The back page of the letter we mailed had these photos.

Christmas 2006
Houston, Texas 

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s been a year of celebration -- a wedding, our anniversary, and reunions. While every year is unique, 2006 seems particularly special. Last Christmas we enjoyed our children with their partners in a house with all the traditional trimmings; this year will find us in London the week before Christmas and in Vancouver for the holidays.

So we threw the biggest party of our lives -- Britta’s wedding. It was a countdown, and the BtB (Bride to Be) had us organized for an entire year. Engagement parties, showers, and bridal buff exercising proceeded the event, and it all came together as Daniel walked this beautiful bride down the aisle. Our son-in-law, Kendall Hollrah, is an absolute sweetheart, and if Britta hadn’t married him we would have adopted him. Making this time even more special were all the Swedish relatives who came -- from Diane’s 92 year old Aunt Inga to her 2 year old cousin Elliott. There were more Swedes than Canadians to help us celebrate, and to remind us of this new beginning were the wooden eggs at each place-setting made by Diane’s stepfather Matt. Diane has been an egg collector for years, adding to the line of women collectors -- her mother-in-law’s crystal bells, her mother’s ceramic butterflies, and her grandmother’s crocheted doilies.

We were able to celebrate our 30th anniversary with the knowledge that it’s now just the two of us again. Las Vegas was a good place to have fun, even though we decided to not renew our vows with an Elvis impersonator. A day hike in Utah’s Zion National Park with it’s impressive canyons was a welcome contrast to the glitz and gaudiness of the casinos.

And proving that you can go home again, Diane attended her 40th high school graduation reunion. The school motto, Proelium Praemium Post -- After the Battle, the Reward, was fitting. Alberta, the wild rose country, was good to us, and desires to be rich enough or thin enough have been replaced with the wish to be healthy and content. That reunion was followed by Daniel’s Wenzel family reunion, an intergenerational gathering with lots of visiting and reminiscing over tables groaning with food.

In September we spent time in several airports while visiting Stavanger, Aberdeen and London, while Daniel worked and Diane played. One day we managed to struggle up a mountain for a breath-taking view of Norway’s fjords. We later made a road trip, driving through the cornfields of Iowa and Missouri, and locating the graves of Eric and Anna Johnson, Daniel’s great grandparents, in Stockholm, Wisconsin. We ended up in Chicago to visit Nils and Allison. Nils has dusted off his old guitar and squeezes in a few riffs between his duties as a cardiology fellow, and Allison has a new job with a company that markets reusable bags.

Daniel blossomed into an artist this year, designing a wedding pillow for the newlyweds and unveiling his painting of the proof of Pythagorus. Diane has learned more about Texas’ largest industry, jails, in her volunteer work with a women’s prison ministry. So between what we do for money and what we do for fun, this has been a good year.

Best wishes for health and happiness in 2007.

The back page (135k) of the letter we mailed had these photos.

Christmas 2005
Houston, Texas 

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, from lighting the Advent candles to decorating the tree. And while we don’t have snow, an evening by the fireplace and some quiet time help us appreciate the season. We’re more contemplative this year than last, and are staying home for the holidays.

Nils and his wife Allison will be here for a few days at Christmas, arriving from Chicago on Dec. 23. Nils is in his second year of residency at Northwestern University’s medical center, specializing in internal medicine and cardiology in their Physician Scientist Training Program. They live downtown and Nils walks to work, but Allison takes the train to her job near O’Hare airport with the NBA – not the NBA you see on TV, but the National Brownfield Association which works for redevelopment of abandoned industrial land. After seeing some highlights of Chicago last spring, we’re convinced the “City in a Garden” is a gem, including the architectural boat tour and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park.

Britta continues to live at home, but there’s a big change coming. Kendall Hollrah proposed in May, before graduating from law school and after the nervous visit to the parents to ask permission. We feel like he’s part of the family already, with the wedding planned for next April. We’ve known Kendall and his family from church here in Houston for 20 years, and it was fun to search the church archives and find the two of them had processed down the aisle together as acolytes back in 1987. Kendall took the bar exam and started work in corporate law, and Britta is now office manager with the legal recruiting firm she started with last year. With Britta’s two dogs and our two, we like to remind her that we’re marrying her off so we can have our house back rather than living in a dachshund kennel.

Diane continues to work for the University of Texas, directing the Long Term Care Ombudsman program for nursing and assisted living facilities in the area, and doing research on transgender aging and mediation. Daniel has started the retirement countdown for a couple of years until he turns 60, and marvels that he’s been a geophysicist with BP over 23 years. We’re reminded of Will Rogers’ saying that half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save. But we also appreciate our other activities, Daniel organizing science and religion discussion and completing a 3-year term on Church Council this year, and Diane taking tai chi and serving on our community association board, and all of us (including Britta and sometimes Kendall) in the twice-weekly exercise program in the neighborhood.

We began the year on the road in Edmonton, and had another busy year of travel, visiting both our parents in Canada in June, a week at Star Island in New Hampshire in August with Britta and Kendall, and our big trip of the year was to Turkey in October. The tour lived up to its name, “Glories of Turkey,” including visits to Istanbul, Troy, Ephesus, Aphrodisias, Antalya, and Konya, to name a few. The highlight for Daniel was a hot air balloon flight over the amazing landscape of Cappadocia with its eroded valleys, rock formations, cave dwellings and ancient underground cities. Diane rather enjoyed the sights and smells of the bazaars, and the view of the Mediterranean from our hotel balcony. Among all this we carried on our tradition of a weekend “for us” each month, trying to take 3 days and traveling when we could, including Santa Fe trails, Texas hill country wildflowers, and Arkansas hot springs. We had separate trips as well to visit parents in hospital, Daniel to Vancouver in February and Diane to Edmonton in December. And our work trips, Diane to Philadelphia, San Antonio, Austin, and Orlando, and Daniel to England and twice to Norway. One thing we didn’t travel for was hurricane Rita, during which many of you may have seen the day-long traffic jam on the highways around Houston. It was a strange time though – streets with no traffic, houses boarded up, stores closed – while everyone waited. We feel fortunate to have faired so well.

We hope this finds you all well, and that 2006 brings peace and good will.

Diane and Daniel

The back page (92k) of the letter we mailed had these photos.

Christmas 2004
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

We're writing this in the great white north, visiting Diane's mother for Christmas. For the first time since we began doing Christmas letters thirty years ago, we're late in getting this mailed – with all our travel we just couldn't seem to get the letter finished.

We rang in 2004 in Times Square, which we resolved to do while Nils and Allison lived in New York. The midnight ball drop was an anticlimax after waiting in the crowded street for hours. Both Nils and Allison graduated from Columbia University, and we returned to New York in May to see Nils get his MD, the week after he came to Houston for Britta's graduation from U of H Law School with her JD – Daniel says they've conspired with their mother to leave him the only one in the family without a doctorate.

Two graduations and a wedding was the theme of our year. Nils and Allison Kozdron were married in Vancouver on May 29; Britta was a bridesmaid and we all had a good chance to visit family. The newlyweds took a 2-week honeymoon to Britain and Ireland, then moved to Chicago where Nils began a residency in Internal Medicine at Northwestern University. Allison found a job with the National Brownfield Association, and they live in a downtown apartment tower. Nils had a week off in October and was home for a few days.

Britta moved out of the apartment she had near the University and has been living with us since before her final exams, so our house is crowded with extra furniture. Graduation was just one step for her to be certified as a lawyer – she spent weeks preparing day and night for the bar exam the end of July, and was elated to pass and be sworn in as a member of the State Bar of Texas in November. She's working for a legal recruiting firm and looking for a real lawyer job. Britta got her very own dachshund puppy in January. Bella is a little cutie, and a nice addition since we lost our 11-year old Siggi to cancer last fall. We, well Diane anyway, subscribes to the motto that a house is not a home without a dog (or two).

Diane continues her work for the University of Texas, directing the Long Term Care Ombudsman program. She marvels that at over five years she's now worked there longer than any other place. Outside work, she represents our block on the Hammersmith community board and does other volunteer work. Daniel too continues as a geophysicist with BP, and is still on church council. We've had a busy year for travel, NYC in January and again in May as well as Vancouver as mentioned above. Also in May we were to Trinidad for a week, a business trip for Daniel that grew into a mini-vacation for both of us. Daniel also had two business trips to the UK and one to Denver, and Diane was at a conference in New York in June, related to research she's doing on aging and transgender. September saw us in Toronto, work for Daniel with a side trip to Niagara Falls. We took a 3-day road trip in October to Cajun country in Louisiana, including a stop at Avery Island, the home of Tabasco sauce, and now think it's one of the essential condiments for good living.

The end of November we flew to Italy for a 2-week vacation in Rome, Florence, and Sorrento. It was wonderful seeing the foundations of Western culture, climbing St. Peter's and the leaning tower of Pisa, and spending expensive Euros for great leather fashions and Italian cuisine. We only had two weeks in Houston before flying to Edmonton on Dec. 18 and driving 450 km northwest to Rycroft, the village where Diane grew up, where Diane's mother Eunice and husband Matt Dika returned a few years ago, and where Matt is now the mayor. We spent Christmas Eve in nearby Dawson Creek, where Daniel's brother Tim moved in October, called to be pastor of the Lutheran church there after 16 years at the coast. New Year's was celebrated with old friends in Edmonton, all in all a restful trip after a busy year.

We hope this finds you all well, and that 2005 brings peace and good will.

Diane and Daniel

The back page (317k) of the letter we mailed had these photos.

Christmas 2003
Houston, Texas 

Dear Family and Friends,

When we began this journey together a couple of decades ago, Daniel suggested every five years we take a family photo. The first is an astonishingly young couple with two little blondes – a 5 year-old boy with hand in pocket, leaning on his Dad’s shoulder, and a little girl, wearing white ankle high boots and displaying a shy sweet smile. In the most recent one, Nils still has his hand in his pocket, although Britta has a confident grin and the parents are definitely middle-aged. So rather than a thousand words, we’ll let the camera characterize our year.

Dogs: Lexi and Siggi remind Diane that the more people she meets, the more she likes her dogs.

We renewed our Canadian roots this year, visiting friends in Edmonton and Diane’s mother and stepfather, shown here in front of the old train station in Dawson Creek, B.C. At the Mile Zero Post, Daniel recalled his childhood living just blocks from the start of the Alaska Highway.

Nils donned his white coat for clinical rotations as a student doctor, including a cardiology clerkship in Houston. Deciding not to follow Daniel’s career as a geophysicist, he’s applying for a residency in internal medicine. Nils and Allison are planning a small family wedding in Vancouver the end of May, after they graduate from Columbia University and move from New York.

Britta flashed a UN badge identifying her as a summer law student intern when we visited New York in July. Years of watching “Law and Order” inspired her interest in criminal law, which she put to work at the Federal Public Defender’s office and Texas Innocence Network in Houston. She hopes there’s life after completing her law degree – she too graduates in the spring.

On the rocks off the coast of New Hampshire, we attended the Star Island IRAS conference again this year. The theme was Ecomorality, and Daniel gave a paper, “How Green Should an Oil Company Be?” He said, “very green.”

Daniel and Diane stood in the middle of the world in Ecuador and discovered blue-footed boobies and iguanas on the Galapagos Islands. Water travel ranged from dug-outs and dinghies to a 60 ft. yacht. We experienced nature first hand with a night walk in the Amazon rain forest. Our last morning, we canoed into a mangrove bay and roused hundreds of blue-footed boobies, stirring the air just above our heads.

Daniel’s work took him to Norway, after which we explored innovative art work along the Thames River in London and spent a week in Edinburgh in the grand old Scotsman hotel.

It’s getting rare for the four of us to be around the dinner table together. We’re looking forward to Nils and Allison being here for Christmas and our long promised New Year’s eve in New York City.

We wonder how things will look in our 2006 family photo, with the kids graduating into careers and us perhaps graduating from careers. And our family will have grown, reminding us of our role in the ongoing cycle of seasons and generations.

We wish you peace and joy this Christmas season and throughout the coming year.

Diane and Daniel

December 2002
Houston, Texas

Dear Friends and Family,

Looking forward, looking back, prompted by the palindrome of 2002 (next not until 2112), we remember 33 years ago Diane's father made a special trip to Sweden to attend the wedding of his niece Siv. This summer we attended Siv's daughter's wedding. Liz and Stefan were married in a historic church on the island of Gräsö, north of Stockholm. It was a wonderful celebration . . . song, dance, akvavit, and opportunity to visit Diane's aunts and cousins. We started the trip in London, where Daniel was on BP business. Since this was the year of the Queen's 50th Jubilee the Mall was decorated in flags, and the view from the London Eye, 125 metres over the Thames, was quite spectacular.

We've developed a fondness for Cajun country and spent a couple of weekends exploring the back roads of Louisiana around Opelousas and Eunice, taking in a zydeco music festival, and reading Longfellow's "Evangeline" on the long drives. But our Canadian roots were also nourished with a Wenzel family reunion in Penticton, BC, where we celebrated Dominion Day (okay, Canada Day). The summer wrap up was the science and religion conference on Star Island, off New Hampshire, where Daniel focused on the topic "Is nature enough, the thirst for transcendence", while Diane devoured books and smelled the roses on daily walks around the island.

And Diane had reason to smell the roses, since she managed to get both a new car (a PT Cruiser, reviving the 1940's) and a new dog. Lexi Anneliese is the newest dachshund to join the family, leaving Daniel muttering that even one dog is half a dog too many, and now we have two again. But what does he know? Diane participated in lay chaplaincy training this year, tried to learn a bit of Spanish, and keeps advocating for nursing home residents in her job with the University of Texas' Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program.

We keep trying to extract a promise from Nils and Britta that a nursing home won't be in our future, but so far have been unsuccessful. Nils is now "Student Doctor Johnson" in his 3rd year at Columbia, enjoying clinical rotations in the apprenticeship of medicine. Nils' girlfriend Allison Kozdron is also a graduate student at Columbia University, and they enjoy exploring New York together. Britta, on the other hand, tries to explore as much outside of Houston as she can. Now a 2nd year law student at the University of Houston, she worked over the summer as an intern with a firm in Buffalo, NY, which reinforced her desire to be a lawyer who does good rather than well. She has her own apartment, and was pleased to take over Diane's Volvo once the new car appeared.

This time of year gives us a chance to look backward and forward. May your holiday journey this year reflect love, joy, and peace.

Diane and Daniel

The back page (80k) of the letter we mailed had these photos.

December 2001
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

Twenty-five years ago we started this Christmas letter tradition, and this year celebrated our silver anniversary in Spain. We started and ended our trip in Madrid, where life is lived in crowded streets and noisy cafes and tapas-tasting lasts long into the night. The trains were a great way to get around the country, including an overnight trip from Barcelona to Granada. Southern Andalusian cities with their strong Muslim influence were unforgettable, especially the Alhambra, an Arabic fortress from the 9th century perched on the hill that overlooks Granada. It was a treat to spend two great weeks exploring a wonderful country, leaving memories from Picasso to paella.

Spain began as part of Daniel's business travel, which took him to The Hague as well as London several times. In more recent months however, BP travel has been curtailed, giving him more time to participate in philosophy and theology courses and facilitate a local science and religion discussion group. This summer he convinced Diane to come along to the IRAS (Institute on Religion in an Age of Science) conference on Star Island, New Hampshire. It's a bit like a summer church camp for adults, without the singing of Kumbaya around the campfire.

Diane is making a specialty of aging in place, and gave presentations with that catchy title at a June symposium in Calgary and an October assisted living conference in Washington, DC (Daniel came along to see Arlington and some sites that were still open to tourists). As part of her long-term care ombudsman work, she just completed a course in mediation and can now recognize the differing roles of plaintiff and defendant. Of course Britta is now learning such vocabulary in her first year of law school at the University of Houston. After graduating from the University of Guelph (BA-Honours) she enjoys Houston traffic, and it's a treat to have her so close by.

Both Nils and Britta were home in August (our first "meet the parents" visit), and then we were all in New York for Thanksgiving. With Nils now in his second year of medical school at Columbia, New York is becoming more familiar. Recently, Diane's Mom came down from Rycroft, and we did all those wonderful things like the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and seeing the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall. 1926 must have been a good year, since both Macy's and the Rockettes were celebrating their 75th anniversary.

We wonder how people will view September 11, 2001 in the years to come. Our world is so changed. The continuity provided by our relationships with friends and family is reassuring, and helps us appreciate those things that are permanent. Likewise, the timeless message of Christmas. Peace and good will from us to you.

Diane and Daniel

The back page (78k) of the letter we mailed had these photos.

Christmas 2000
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

Soon it will be 2001 and no one will question whether we're in a new millennium. We've been treating the whole year 2000 as a Jubilee celebration, with once-a-month champagne to highlight special events through the year, especially Diane's 50th birthday in April and a family vacation to Australia in May. Truly a special year, for us and for all who count years by the almost-universal Gregorian calendar.

Diane celebrated her half century in Mexico, with a dear friend from Tulsa. Her work has remained the same, with the University of Texas directing the Long Term Care Ombudsman program. It's primarily a volunteer program providing nursing homes with an advocate for residents and their families. For inspirational reading, she enjoys Dr. Seuss' "You're Only Old Once", and her mitzvah for the year was helping an elderly woman who shares her last name of Persson move out of her apartment and return to Sweden after forty years, where she has relatives and where there is better public care for the elderly. As a Lay Eucharistic Minister, Diane regularly takes communion to people in nursing homes or others who can't come to church.

Daniel too had job stability, although his company changed name again, to simply BP, and a new sunflower-style logo, with a media blitz featuring "beyond petroleum" and our goal to be a "green" oil company. Even though BP is the 3rd largest oil company in the world (after Exxon and Shell), there are no BP gas stations in Texas or Canada, so not a household name to some of you. Daniel has been traveling more this year, and really notices the difference in other parts of the world where BP stations are everywhere; he was to the UK three times, mostly London, and to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia once. At church, he continues organizing Adult Education, and also started a monthly Science and Religion Discussion Group which involves about a dozen people from different religious backgrounds.

We keep wondering how to include Nils and Britta in our Christmas letter, now that they're officially grown up (24 and 22) and don't live at home anymore. Nils marked a milestone this year, graduating from UBC as a Bachelor of Science in Physics and Computer Science. In August, he started medical school in New York City, at Columbia University's College of Physicians and Surgeons, where Diane and I spent a weekend helping him move into his dorm near 168th St. and Broadway, in Manhattan. We're looking forward to receiving free medical advice down the road, and hope it'll be worth at least what we pay for it. Britta worked this summer again in Costa Rica, not as a wildlife volunteer this time but a paid restaurant manager on a student work/study program, along with a friend from North Carolina. She's now back in Ontario at the University of Guelph for her last year of a B.A. in International Development, so the Spanish language experience fits right in. We'll have to stop calling them "kids" one of these days.

For all four of us, the highlight of the year was a vacation to Australia in May. Growing up in Canada, we studied Australia in school and had always wanted to go there. In sequence: Melbourne, Tasmania, Adelaide, Cairns, and Sydney. Memorable: chilly hikes and dark forests in Tasmania, driving on the left in rented cars, the scenic Great Ocean Road with cliffs and surf, the Great Barrier Reef and rainforest in the tropical north, all the marsupials, and the bustling cities and new Olympic site. So much familiar because of a common English heritage, but so different too, feeling like an outpost of the English-speaking world. Diane and Daniel enjoyed a different accent of English while in Scotland for a week in September, a company conference for Daniel in Aberdeen which we expanded with touring, historic castles and geologic formations. We had visitors in Houston too, Daniel's brother Tim and family in July, and Diane's Mom and Matt in October, and we're looking forward to Nils and Britta coming home for Christmas.

As this special millennial year draws to a close, we wish you peace, love, and joy, now and always.

Diane and Daniel

Christmas Eve we used Daniel's 30-year-old Nikon with its timer on a tripod to get a picture of all 4 (101k) of us.

Christmas 1999
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

We've been sitting here imagining 1899: our ancestors were farmers -- Diane's in southern Sweden and ethnic Ukrainians in Poland, and Daniel's ethnic Germans in Ukraine and recent Swedish immigrants to the United States. We wonder what their thoughts were as the century turned, and if the New World was in their plans. While for us the long term has rarely been more than five years, we recently drafted a forty year financial plan for retirement. That's a bit of a misty view, as we're reminded when we haul out our 20-year-plus file of Christmas letters, which chronicles our life one year at a time.

Daniel survived the BP Amoco merger, and feels fortunate to still be doing interesting geophysical work. Now working for a British company, his job has taken him to Aberdeen and London, where his supervisor and other half of the reservoir modelling team reside. His avocation is coming more to the fore, and this spring he organized and taught an adult class at church on science and religion, and spent a week in August off the coast of New Hampshire attending the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science. If you really want to be exposed to more, you can check out his web page at

Vocationally, Diane moved the other way, from long-term care ombudsman volunteer to part-time coordinator to full-time director of the program. Housed at the University of Texas Center on Aging, the program provides advocacy services for residents in long-term care. Given the small staff and over 70 nursing homes plus hundreds of assisted living facilities, much effort is spent training and supporting volunteers. She profited from attending the National Citizens' Coalition for Nursing Home Reform conference in Washington, D.C.; as one bumper sticker ominously read: "Nursing homes -- just a stroke away."

This was the year for visiting some new and some familiar places. We drove to North Carolina in the spring, enjoying the Outer Banks and Cape Hatteras lighthouse. We flew to visit Britta in Ontario, where we received the parent's tour of the University of Guelph and spent some lovely autumn days in places like Stratford and Elora. While Diane was conferencing in D.C., Daniel spent his days visiting the Smithsonian and touring the Supreme Court and Library of Congress. We took in a Washington by night tour and walked through historic Georgetown. Diane spent some time with her Mom in Rycroft, making rhubarb jam, eating freshly picked strawberries, and going to a farm auction, where she bought the plate she'd been eyeing for hours, with the astute bidding of her stepfather Matt. This fall we learned a bit more about the symphonies we attend by taking a course at Rice University in the history of classical music.

Our Houston nest wasn't entirely empty, as Britta was here until February when she left for Ghana. Her semester abroad was full of great experiences. For some, such as West African history and rural development, she actually received university credit. Others, like seeing hundreds of elephants on a game preserve, traveling in tro-tros, exploring crazy market-places, buying groceries off the street, and eating mangos off trees, were credits of another sort. Every small-scale enterprise had an intriguing religious name; her favorites were: Holy Power Electrical Works, My God is Able Beauty Salon, and Covered in the Blood of Jesus Chainsaw Dealers. Unfortunately she returned home a bit early, as a university faculty strike, bout of malaria, and intestinal parasite hit at once. But she's now in her third year at the University of Guelph with an experience that gives new insight to her studies of international development. Nils spent the summer in Houston for his last work semester, as a computer specialist at the University of Texas PET (Positron Emission Tomography) Imaging Center, working for a cardiologist who specializes in the diagnosis and prevention of heart disease. Now in his last year at the University of British Columbia, he's been busy with applications and interviews for graduate school.

We'll be spending Christmas in Vancouver, and are looking forward to celebrations with our children, parents, brother, sister, nieces and nephews. So three hours after the ball drops in Time Square, we'll bring in the year 2000. We feel fortunate to be standing at the eve of the Millennium; it's an exciting time, and we wonder how our descendants will view the end of the 20th century. We wish you peace, happiness, and love.

Diane and Daniel

PS. Here's a bonus for the e-verison of this letter, a link to a Christmas picture of all 4 of us (78 kb).

Christmas 1998
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

They say you can never go home again, but we came back to Texas, moving to Houston in May after a ten-year absence. Some things are the same: Daniel's still a geophysicist with Amoco; we've rejoined Christ the King Lutheran Church; and we don't have to shovel. But there are differences too -- no children and no Morfar.

We're not the only parents starting over. Diane's mother Eunice and husband Matt Dika moved into their newly built house in Diane's hometown of Rycroft. Daniel was best man at his father Carl's spring wedding to Gladys Davidson, and the newlyweds recently enjoyed some Texas hospitality with us.

The day after the moving van arrived Daniel caught a flight to Norway, leaving Diane, her mother, and Britta to unpack after the 2100 mile drive from Calgary. Just as the now 50-year old was settling into his job, Amoco announced its merger with British Petroleum, so his 16 years of career stability will change. Diane's career has changed too, and after a stint of decorating our townhouse, she's getting re-immersed in health care and aging, having recently returned from gerontology meetings in Philadelphia. She's capitalized on her free time by visiting friends in Victoria, New York, and Dallas, and chaperoning Daniel on a weeklong business trip to London. It wasn't all work though, as we visited the Greenwich Observatory, which will soon mark the start of the Millennium, and stepped back in time at Hampton Court Palace and the Canterbury Cathedral.

Britta was a big help driving south with the dogs, and worked two summer jobs waitressing, with time off to visit friends in Tulsa. Back at the University of Guelph in second year studying international development and environmental science, she took a Thanksgiving trip to Cancun, Mexico and plans to spend her second semester studying in Ghana. Nils is completing an 8-month work term in Vancouver, writing software for a scanning electron microscope company. He's taken up bridge and soccer, demonstrating more skill at the former than the latter. His last academic semesters at the University of British Columbia went quite well, and he returns to the student's life in January.

The familiar music of Advent marks a new season for us in a familiar yet new place. "Fling wide the door ... And let your Holy Spirit guide our journey in your grace so wide. We praise your holy name, from age to age the same."

Our best wishes for the holiday season.

Christmas 1997
Calgary, Alberta

Dear Family and Friends,

"Children of the heavenly Father/ Safely in his bosom gather;/ Nestling bird or star in heaven/ Such a refuge ne’er was given." This Swedish hymn is traditionally sung at baptisms, and we think back 94 years ago when Diane’s father was baptized in Loshults Parish in Sweden. Nils Emil Persson was born December 17, 1903, on his parent’s farm at Killeberg, and died September 23, 1997, at our home in Calgary. Always determined to be independent and active, he took the bus downtown to buy a lottery ticket just three days before he died. The epitaph we’ve chosen for his headstone reads "No man is indispensable but some are irreplaceable."

Nils and Britta have emerged from our three-generation household as young adults of whom their Morfar was proud. Nils is back at UBC in his third year of Physics and Computer Science, after an eight month coop work term. The first four months he worked at Nortel in Ottawa on a project involving fiber optic communication. We spent Easter visiting him, including a side trip to Montreal for dinner in the old city and a look around the Expo site where Diane and her father visited thirty years ago. In May Nils began another coop term with the German Air and Space Research Institute in Göttingen. While his computer simulation work was a new experience, his home was with the same family in Witzenhausen where he was an exchange student three years ago. His host mother Christel Bertermann and her friend visited Canada in September, admiring the view of Vancouver from Nils’ tower residence room and enjoying hikes in the Rockies. After a year of travels, Britta touched down at the University of Guelph, following a last-minute decision. She began the year shoveling snow at home in Calgary after her Costa Rica adventures, and then made an overnight transition to working at Kibbutz Gesher in Israel. From there she traveled to Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, and Greece, supporting herself as a waitress and coping with life on the road, including a stolen passport, missing money, and macho men. Still exploring, Britta is taking a smorgasbord of courses in her first year at university.

We’ve been on the road too, fulfilling a dream of Western Canadians to see the East Coast. With Diane’s mother Eunice and husband Matt, we drove a motor home through the four Atlantic provinces: ferrying to Newfoundland and whale watching; taking the new Confederation Bridge to PEI and Anne of Green Gables; experiencing the world’s highest tides at New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy National Park; and hearing a bagpiper while seeing the waves break on the rocks around the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia, absorbing fishing culture and distinctive Cape Breton music. It’s good we made this trip now, since Diane’s Mom and Matt are leaving Calgary and moving back to the Northern Alberta community where they grew up. Closer to home, we spent a fine autumn day on a steam train excursion, reminding Diane of the many train trips with her father when he was Roadmaster.

Diane has been working with Home Care on a wound project, which took her to a conference in New Orleans where hundreds of clinicians focused on the body’s largest organ, the skin. Continuing her interest in aging, she organized registration for the Canadian Association on Gerontology conference in Calgary, and relieved stress with yoga classes. Expanding her horizons, she took a forensic medicine course via the Internet, with Daniel helping out and tagging along for tours of the Remand Centre and the Medical Examiner Facility. Daniel continues as a geophysicist with Amoco’s heavy oil unit, and visited old haunts from our years in Houston while on a business trip.

After twenty-one years of marriage, we’re getting used to just the two of us in our now-mortgage-free home. We are thankful for the close relationships with parents who have enriched our lives, and will soon welcome Nils and Britta home for the festive season. We wish all of you a joyous holiday, and renewal in the coming year.

Christmas 1996
Calgary, Alberta

Dear Family and Friends,

"Thus on earth the Word appears, gracing his created spheres; hence to death and hell descends, then the heavenly throne ascends." Just as the words of this Advent hymn mark the pivotal events of Christ’s life, we are reminded of the passages of our own journey. After a year-long struggle with bone cancer, Daniel’s mother died in October, only days after their 52nd anniversary. At our own wedding twenty years ago, we recognized our place in the renewal of generations, making a home for children.

This year our children have flown -- the four of us marked our anniversary with a balloon flight over Calgary. Britta graduated from high school, capping her year by directing a powerful drama production adapted from "Angels in America," and by being inducted into the Honour Society. With her, we visited universities from B.C. to Ontario, where she plans to enroll at the University of Guelph next fall. Since July, she’s been in Costa Rica, volunteering at a wildlife center and enjoying beach life. She’ll be home for Christmas, and then off to a kibbutz in Israel before getting serious about studies. Nils, now in second year physics and computer science at UBC in Vancouver, welcomes an eight month break from classes and labs as he begins his coop work term next month with Nortel in Ottawa. His academic work has so far paid off in scholarships, but now he’ll be earning a real salary. Nils was initiated into the world of work last summer as a research assistant with the Geriatric Foot Clinic here in Calgary, and also returned to Germany for three weeks with his host brother Thomas.

Our house overflowed with visitors this summer, not only Nils with friends to and from Germany, but also friends of ours from Tulsa, and relatives from Sweden. Diane’s 92-year-old father was rejuvenated having his youngest sister Esther (75) and her family here. By contrast, it seems quiet now with just the three of us, where most days Morfar shares the house with only our new dog Schatzie, a 9 month old dachshund (our older dog Siggi, back in Tulsa on the show circuit, will return a champion in the spring.) Morfar gave up driving (but not his license), and said farewell to his last car after the Swedes left.

No big changes on the job front. Daniel is still with Amoco in heavy oil, although now certified by the Province as a Professional Geophysicist, and Diane is an evaluator with senior’s health. A few trips marked the year, with Daniel to Chicago for work and Diane to Boston for fun, plus a relaxing week in the Okanagan with friends from high school, visiting wineries, enjoying the lake, and playing guess-that-tune from 60’s CDs (it’s scary how much memory space has been taken up with such trivia). Then last month we passed through Tulsa (proving that you can go home again) on our way to Costa Rica. Britta was a wonderful tour guide whose command of Spanish made it easy to get around, and Daniel got his fill of Indiana Jones-style driving on roads that put our rented 4x4 to the test. We went from volcanoes to beaches, with some tropical rain forest hiking and a memorable afternoon when we were searching for a waterfall only to have a troop of squirrel monkeys pass overhead. From such a beautifully lush tropical country, returning to -30 C and deep snow was a bit of a shock.

But we are back in the familiar environment in this season that is timeless, and hope you are all well and that you have a joyous holiday and happy New Year.

[We sent a family photo along with our letter.]

Christmas 1995
Calgary, Alberta

Dear Family and Friends,

Our last year with children at home (well, one teenager anyway), and with the Advent of a new Christmas season we pause to reflect on the year and advance of a generation in our household. Diane and her father Emil were aware of the change of an era attending the Northern Alberta Railway reunion this fall where he was the oldest employee. He started May 1, 1928, when railroads too were young.

We went on one of the newest railroads in Europe this summer, the 300 km/h TGV train under the English Channel between Paris and London. Nils was our German tour guide after finishing his student exchange year, and exploited his navigator role to monopolize the front seat in our rented Mercedes (which was booked as a VW, but none of us complained about the switch). After Germany we visited friends in Geneva and The Hague, and then drove on to see relatives in Sweden. On one particularly ambitious day we drove through four countries with two ferry crossings, fulfilling Nils' host family's description of a "European death march", as they never plan such hectic holidays. But the four of us will always remember things like the CERN particle collider, Paris sidewalk cafes, the Tower of London, and the Witzenhausen cherry festival.

Nils wasn't home long before heading off to the University of British Columbia in Vancouver where he's studying physics and computer science. With new computers in the family, he keeps in touch by e-mail (,, Nils and Britta both made the pilgrimage back to Tulsa this summer, visiting school friends. Britta is eager for independence, and lived with her girlfriend's family during May and June. Back home for grade 12, she is still active in theatre and plays Yente the matchmaker this week in Fiddler on the Roof. She's looking forward to a year of travel and environmental volunteering before university.

Daniel continues in heavy oil geophysics with Amoco, traveling to exotic places like Bonnyville, Alberta, again and again. His geological field trip on horseback was a good break, and he goes to Houston next week. He's glad to live closer to his parents as his mother has been diagnosed with bone cancer.

Since March Diane's been employed as Research and Evaluation Coordinator for the Southern Alberta Regional Geriatric Program, and expanded her health care involvement by breaking her toe and having cataract surgery in both eyes. However, she's gotten the best trips this year -- New York in May, Ontario and the west coast in the fall, and is a volunteer instructor with the provincial non-profit board development program.

Our house now feels more like home after months of building new rooms in the basement, replacing the fifty year old furnace, and landscaping the back yard. We hope the warmth we feel in our lives is shared by you all, and wish you the best in this holiday season and the new year.

Christmas 1994
Calgary, Alberta

Dear Family and Friends,

Christmas in Alberta -- minus 24 Celsius, icy roads, weeks of snow -- experiences we've missed these last 12 years. It's good to sit by the fire and reflect on the many changes this year. Daniel transferred with Amoco to a new job in heavy oil. He started in Calgary in June, right after giving a geophysical paper in Europe; Diane came along and helped celebrate his birthday with breakfast in Vienna and dinner in Budapest. For fun, Daniel observed May's solar eclipse with a group of amateur astronomers and later backpacked with Nils in Montana's Glacier Park.

Diane presented papers related to her research on elderly drivers and on Alzheimer's disease among the Cherokee Indians. Tucson impressed her while attending a medical meeting, so when Britta was on spring break the rest of us drove to Arizona to hike in the saguaros, see Biosphere, and fly in sailplanes. Having completed her Master of Public Health degree before leaving Tulsa, she's now trying to put it to work in Calgary. Diane is pleased that her 91-year-old father can now be with us year round, and is her live-in expert on aging.

Britta celebrated her sixteenth birthday by returning to Banff, where we'd celebrated her third just before moving to Houston. She's already got her driver's license and has a temporary job in a clothing store. Having qualified for National Speech and Debate competition before leaving Tulsa, she feels right at home in Grade 11 drama class at Western Canada High School, but will find Canadian history more of a challenge. Britta capitalized on her Spanish by spending spring break in Spain (with a side trip to Morocco), and living with a family in Mexico for the month of July. Her independent travel culminated in flying from Tulsa to Calgary with dog and rabbit in tow -- only one dachshund now, since our first dog Pirli died in May.

Nils helped drive the cars to Calgary in August, but only stayed a week before flying to Germany, not long enough to help settle in to our house and enjoy the new hot tub. He's living with a family in Witzenhausen (about 150 km NE of Frankfurt), and attending high school. He says his monthly phone calls to us are about the only time he speaks English. Nils finished Booker T. Washington High School in fine style -- playing guitar in the Hi- Jinx talent show, leading the Science Bowl team to Nationals in Washington, D.C., and graduating as a National Merit Scholar. We look forward to seeing him next summer when he returns for university.

It's good to be closer to family now that we are in Alberta again. Diane's mother and stepfather live just 15 minutes away, and we spent Thanksgiving at the coast helping Daniel's parents celebrate their 50th anniversary. As we look forward to our first Canadian Christmas in many years, we wish you the blessings of the season.

Daniel, Diane, Nils, and Britta

Christmas 1993
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Dear Family and Friends,

We just finished putting up the Christmas tree to the sounds of Alvin and the Chipmunks singing "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" -- Britta's traditional choice of tree-trimming music. As we sat down to write, she looked at last year's letter and said it wasn't fair that Nils got more lines than she, so we'll start with her this year. Britta has expanded our family menagerie with the addition of Mr. B last Christmas (a white angora dwarf rabbit), and last spring a second dachshund, Siegfried Nibelung, a black and tan male. She's a speech and debate competitor at her high school, with a winning monologue at yesterday's tournament. She still sings in both church choirs and continues her theatrical endeavors.

Nils contributed Siegfried's name, combining his German and music interests. After six years playing violin, Nils has switched to guitar. Fortunately, jazz doesn't depend on high decibel amplification. Right now he's preoccupied with getting his applications off to university. He chose to complete his Eagle Scout rank with a prairie restoration project the hottest week of the year, so we were all cutting brush in blazing 100 degree heat. He hopes his Eagle and National Merit Scholar standing will get him into the school of his choice. Nils plans to spend a year as an exchange student in Germany before actually enrolling.

We now have dual citizenship, having become U.S. citizens in October. Our family holiday last year was to California, driving through Denver and Rocky Mountain National Park. On the coast we visited San Francisco and Los Angeles, combining sightseeing with touring universities on Nils' list and taking in musicals for Britta -- she still plays "Phantom of the Opera" daily.

Diane was the major traveller this year, spending two weeks in Peru last spring with a friend from Tulsa who was returning home to visit her family. In addition to continuing her work at the medical school, she now coordinates an Alzheimer's disease research project targeting Indians and is looking forward to finishing her Master of Public Health program next year. Daniel by contrast continues with the same job for Amoco as a geophysical research supervisor. His travels have been less exotic too, taking Nils to visit schools in Boston during spring break while Diane was in Peru, and visiting Calgary, Houston, and Chicago on business.

Next week Diane's father, Nils Emil Persson (also known as Morfar), celebrates his 90th birthday. He's here again with us this winter, and we're reminded how important this extended family has been to Nils and Britta's growing up. Diane's mother is also visiting, and with her husband Matt and Daniel's parents soon arriving, the house will be full of family for the festive season. We wish all of you the blessings of Christmas.

Christmas 1992
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Dear Family and Friends,

This has been the year of the Long Car Trip, with the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas in March (we actually survived a Canyon hike), and the Chicago, Niagara Falls, across Canada to the Rockies and Alberta in the summer (although the 11,000 km almost did us in).  We enjoyed visits with many of you along the way.

All this before Nils started to drive -- he just finished driver's ed, has his learner's permit and is eager to take his road test soon -- then there'll be some changes.  Nils continues to be an avid chess player, and went to a national high school tournament in Lexington, Kentucky last spring.  Violin keeps him busy too, especially since he started with the Tulsa Youth Symphony.  Nils can actually speak some German now, since he spent three weeks there after we hosted exchange student Wolfgang Grossman.  Britta attended Spanish language camp again in Arkansas last summer, and then started grade 9 at the same racially integrated magnet school where her brother goes.  Always dramatic, she is honing her theatrical talents in several productions, besides speech and debate activities at school.

Diane continues part time at the medical school, does some work with nursing homes, and has started taking courses in a Master of Public Health program.  Daniel is still a Research Supervisor with Amoco, despite continuing "downsizing".  He is now a lay reader/chalice bearer at church, and with the children as acolytes we seldom occupy the same pew.

Diane's father Emil is here again with us this winter.  He sold his house in Edmonton, se we really can't go "home" again.  However, we continue to have Canadian visitors, so our house is truly home even though we remain sojourners far from our roots.  We hope that the blessings of rebirth and renewal will be shared by all this Christmas season.


Christmas 1991
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Dear Family and Friends,

Tradition -- we echo the people of Anatevka in "Fiddler on the Roof", a major family activity these past months as Nils played the Fiddler and Britta the eldest daughter Tzeitel in our church's production.  Also at church, Diane and Britta are a mother/daughter team as Sunday School kindergarten teachers, which makes Britta reassess her career plans.  Nils, confirmed this year and an acolyte captain, enjoys some of the adult forums Daniel helps organize.

Daniel is an "Old Goat" in Nils' Scout troop and also by now in his geophysics work at Amoco Research.  He took a week-long field trip of the Rocky Mountains from Denver to Banff, work of course.  Diane had a two-job summer, serving as interim director of Tulsa Senior Services in addition to her work at the medical school.  She also completed her gerontology certification program from Baylor University with a research project on driving and aging.  Speaking of driving, the two of us spent a week in Sweden thanks to a drawing when we purchased our Volvo.  We enjoyed the familiar (family visits, a walk in Stockholm's old city, and a sidewalk cafe in Helsingborg) and the novel (a Volvo factory tour and mountain-top hotel in Skövde).

Home life is more novel too, as the children diversify.  Nils (now 15) takes us to old rock concerts (Lightfoot and Dylan) and chess tournaments.  While Britta was enjoying her traditional Canadian summer, Nils opted for summer school so he could take more science courses in the fall.  Britta also attended a Spanish language camp in Arkansas, was initiated as a teenager with a bout of mononucleosis, and is now active on school yearbook and basketball.

Since we moved to the U.S. almost ten years ago we've intended a family trip to the east coast, and this was finally the year with a two week drive to New York and Washington.  We were all impressed visiting the well known sites in person, traveling by subway, being part of a crowd of 3/4 million at the Paul Simon concert in Central Park, and touring the Capitol.

We've had all four grandparents visit this year, and Diane's father is spending the winter here again -- tradition.

We wish you a joyous Christmas and New Year.

[We sent a Christmas card with a family photo along with our letter.]

Christmas 1990
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Dear Family and Friends,

Christmas greetings.  Despite warm weather, we’re pushing the fireplace season to muster the Christmas spirit for this letter to you.

Diane, 40 this year, launched a new career in old age as an educator in the geriatric program at Oklahoma State University’s medical school in Tulsa.  Having attended conferences and courses in San Francisco and Houston as well as locally, she is becoming a gerontologist.  She’s warming up with her father Emil, 87 this year, who continues to spend winters with us.  An investment conference in San Diego and docent training at the art museum were her extra-curricular activities.

Diane came along with Daniel to an industrial research course in Charleston, NC, a new part of the country for us with its coastal plantations and Civil War architecture.  Daniels’ job took him on several trips visiting the seismic crew he supervises, and also to Europe (Norway, Sweden, and England), northern BC, and San Francisco.

Daniel is in Boy Scout uniform again, helping with Nils’ troop.  Nils backpacked with the Scouts for a week in the Colorado mountains, as well as a week a summer camp in Oklahoma.  He’s in high school (grade 9) this year, bussing to a magnet school where his favorite subjects are German and music theory.  Pursuing his stereotype of genius, he has taken up chess to complement his violin and math.

Nils and Britta took their 7th summer vacation to Canada, after Britta’s first time away at church camp.  Britta’s height, 5’6”, has led her to basketball, and she enjoyed science fair (How Strong is Hair?) and oratory competition.  Pierced ears were her big reward on turning 12, although she looks quite studious in her wire rim reading glasses.

We had a taste of Japan with Kyoko, an exchange student who was with us for three months.  Unfortunately she was unhappy here and left earlier than planned.  This has heightened our feeling about family and the familiar, like visits from Daniel’s brother Tim and family, and Diane’s mother and stepfather.

We wish you a joyous Christmas and New Year.

Christmas 1989
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Dear Family and Friends,

“Peace on the earth good will to all, From heaven’s all-gracious king.  The world in solemn stillness lay To hear the angels sing.”  This year family singing with Nils on violin and Britta on piano makes Christmas music special.

We anticipate a quiet Christmas at home our second year in Tulsa, then plan a family trip to New Mexico, minus Nils who will be visiting his friend in Florida.  Nils, now a teenager, is an avid hacker with computer pals around the world.  Taller than his mother, he’s a Scout patrol leader and keen algebra student.  Britta rehearses for the church youth group production of Godspell, putting her dance lessons to good use.  For grade six she’s moved to Monte Cassino, a private Catholic school, and is less enthusiastic about the uniform than about 81 year old Sister Louise’s pronouncements.  Both children are in the orthodontal stage and sport “gross” appliances.

Diane soon completes her term as Coordinator of the AIDS Support Program, which provided testing, counseling, and educational programs on a one-year grant.  She participates in Leadership Tulsa, the ASPECT foreign student exchange program, and has joined an investment group.  Daniel continues as geophysical Research Supervisor with Amoco.  He’s experienced a range of supervisory duties, including staff cuts last spring.  A convention in Berlin let him see the wall still standing, and enabled a side trip to Geneva to visit friends from Edmonton.

Our spring vacation was to Tennessee, from Elvis’ mansion to the Grand Ole Opry and the Smoky Mountains.  Weekend travels let us sample calf fries in Amarillo, Texas with Diane’s cousin Liz (on student exchange from Sweden), and meatballs at the Swedish festival in Lindsborg, Kansas.  While the children spent their annual summerlong holiday in Canada, their parents retraced steps to Houston and a weekend on the Galveston beach.

As we reflect on how richly we’ve been blessed this year, we pray this would be shared by all people.  “When peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling, And all the world give back the song Which now the angels sing.”  We wish you a joyous Christmas and a rewarding 1990.

Christmas 1988
Tulsa, Oklahoma

Dear Family and Friends,

We welcome this Christmas season from our new home in Tulsa.  As the license plates say, “Oklahoma is OK”, muted hype relative to Texas and closer to the True North.  Even different pursuits such as rafting down the Arkansas River and joining an Episcopal church make us feel at home here.

Daniel continues his work with Amoco, now at the corporate research center where he supervises a marine geophysics group.  This means less technical work and more people skills, so it’s a good thing he’s mellowing with age (40 this year).  Business took him to Copenhagen this fall, also dropping in on relatives in Sweden.

Nils, now in grade 7, took a keen interest in the elections this year on both sides of the border.  He declares himself proud to be a liberal.  He surpassed his father in Boy Scout rank with First Class and is now outgrowing his beginner’s violin.  Over the holidays he plans his first unaccompanied plane trip to visit his best friend in Texas.

Britta is proud to be in her last year of elementary school (grade 5) and wield authority on cross walk patrol.  She’s been really excited by the two snowfalls we’ve had, and is out before breakfast making angels and snowballs.  Piano practice is still a chore, but ice skating and the “big” bike provide some fun.

Diane thought her four years as Christian Community Service Center director would never end, but she’s been promoted to painter and carpenter while we redecorate our 50 year old house.  She was able to get in trips to New Orleans Mardi Gras and a conference in Kentucky before we left Houston.  In no rush to resume employment, she enjoys volunteering at a science program in Britta’s school and for hospice with an AIDS patient.

Family travel has been special this year:  spring break in Big Bend on the Rio Grande with hiking and trail riding, and summer in Canada.  Diane and the children spent six weeks in out native land, feeling that you really can go home again.  Daniel dropped in for a weekend in Banff and sailing in Vancouver Harbor.  Annual parents’ getaway was to New York a few weeks ago, where we had a great time in this truly marvelous city.

We count ourselves a generation older with the recent death of Diane’s grandmother, the children’s last great grandparent.  Morfar (Diane’s father) finds the winter here a nice compromise between Houston and Edmonton, and celebrates his 85th birthday this week.  We pray that the gift of God a Christmas will link us in peace and harmony for a new year.

Christmas 1987
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

The season of Advent once more brings its time of quiet and light, a welcome contrast to the busy readying for Christmas.  Both Diane’s parents are here this Christmas, giving us an extas family closeness.

Ancestral roots were developed this summer during our three week vacation in Sweden.  Morfar (Diane’s father) was proud to introduce his grandchildren and show them the place where he grew up, just as he had Diane at their age.  The children balanced boredom in the rented car with the excitement of exploring castles and amusement parks.  In spite of cool wet weather, Britta managed to have ice cream every day.  Daniel visited the birthplace of his great grandfather, where the original farmhouse is still occupied.  We came to appreciate the true meaning of smorgasbord at a family gathering in Stockholm (children:  “Two hours at the table!”).

Nils, in sixth grade (junior high here), is taking violin for school orchestra and we hear “Frosty the Snowman” from his room.  Now in Boy Scouts, he eagerly pursues merit badges.  Both Nils and Britta are acolytes at church, and enjoy their torch-bearing role.  Britta, in grade 4, is at the same school for a second year, a first for her.  Her theatrical debut was as Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”, and she often announces her career ambition to be an actress.  She continues with piano, is a Girl Scout and owner of Teddy, the hamster.

Diane is in the same church social service job, which has expanded with a home helper project and delivery of meals to people with AIDS.  She is taking her Swedish-ness seriously, traveling to Kansas for the Svensk Hyllningsfest.  Daniel continues in oil exploration with Amoco.  He was on an enviable training course this summer to the Turks and Caicos islands in the Caribbean, exploring coral reefs, claiming this is relevant to oil.  He has become more social in his interests this year, joining astronomy and science societies.  In a lighter vein, our joint activity is the Third Friday Fiction Fellowship, where we join other to discuss a monthly novel.

The children’s summer vacation in Canada is becoming an established tradition, six weeks with grandparents in Calgary and Vancouver.  We’ve made weekend trips to Corpus Christi and Del Rio, and spent several relaxing weekends in a Galveston condo, thanks to friends of Diane’s.  There’s a primeval attraction to the beach, such a difference from our structured urban lives.

We’ve mad Christmas cards of our family portrait, with Diane and Britta in Swedish folk dress amid Texas foliage.  We weave the contrasting threads of our lives through the familiar fabric of seasonal festivities and enduring relationships.  En Glad Jul samt Ett Gott Nytt År.

[We sent a card with this photo.]

Christmas 1986
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

Christmas greetings.  Looking through our file of Christmas letters, we see that our first edition was ten years ago.  We savor the continuity of this chronicle, especially since we find ourselves in a different house this year.  Our move was motivated by the relocation policy of Daniel’s employer, Amoco.  It was a strange feeling to make a final walkthrough of an empty house that had become so much a part of us.  The positive side of the move is that we’re both much closer to work.

With the shakeup in the oil industry, Daniel is glad to still remain in the ranks of the employed.  He has been working on geophysical mapping the Persian Gulf area, and visits Qatar this month.  Diane’s job took her to an ecumenical conference in Colorado, a needed respite from the administration of church social welfare programs.  A new program for her agency this year assisted needy elementary children with school supplies and clothing.  She’s also more involved with helping people who have AIDS and finds this especially significant.

Britta, now in 3rd grade, started piano lessons this fall and already has a repertoire of Christmas songs.  She is mastering cursive script (handwriting in our day) and recently announced to her mother, “I’m really good at reading.  What are you really good at?”.  A confident child.  Nils is in grade 5 and boasts a false front tooth since a bicycle fall.  He’s the first in the family to learn to swim (his parents claim prairie exemption) and is on intimate terms with the new Amiga computer.  Even father has to occasionally consult the authority.

The children spent 8 weeks this summer with their grandparents, contributing to romantic notions of their native land.  The parents took time away too with a trip to the Yucatan and Mayan pyramids.  This was a real contrast to the family vacation to Arkansas where we enjoyed mountain music, hot springs, and the Ozarks (they really do seem like mountains after Houston).  This was Texas’ 150th year since independence from Mexico, and we celebrated at the state fair in Callas, complete with Pork Chop Downs (pig races).

Being so far from all of you we especially enjoy the visits we have had this year.  The continuity provided by these relationships is reassuring, and helps us appreciate those things that are permanent.  Likewise, the timeless message of Christmas.  Peace and good will from us to you.

Christmas 1985
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

Christmas greetings from the Sunbelt.  We're writing this at our patio table, enjoying a gentle breeze and the sound of lawnmowers.  This has been a year of settling in for us … home, jobs, even cars and clothes, remain the same.  Diane's 82 year old father is with us for his third winter migration to Texas.

Britta attends grade 2 this year at the local elementary school.  She enjoys the bus ride, although not the chore of making her lunch.  Playing school is one of her pastimes, and she'll read aloud to anyone who listens, even to those who don't.  Both Britta and Nils are in YMCA programs, Indian Princesses and Trailblazers, with their father and are keen on the campouts.  Nils finds grade 4 heavy on homework, but enjoys math and monopolizes the home computer.  He's fascinated by science fiction, especially robots and television's Dr. Who.

The children spent most of their summer with grandparents in Canada, giving Daniel and Diane a preview of the empty nest.  Family vacation was a week of church camp in the Texas hill country.  Daniel joined the children in Vancouver for his sister's August wedding, while Diane delayed her pilgrimage to the homeland until October to enjoy the fall colors (long since fallen) and Rocky mountains (still standing) but primarily to visit her mother and grandmother.  Other family outing included trips to Austin and Brownsville (on the Mexico border).

Diane continues to work for the Christian Community Service Center, a source of ongoing ecumenical involvement.  Since she doesn't get her fill of volunteer work, she's on the local advisory board for Lutheran Social Service of Texas.  The two of us attended a course on two-career marriages, a lay ministry conference at Texas Lutheran College, and spent a March weekend visiting Chicago.  Daniel continues as a geophysicist with Amoco, and spent two weeks in Oman in February.  His involvement in a research project has taken him to Tulsa almost weekly, but is winding up this month as he shifts to practical exploration with the Africa and Middle East Region.

Our recent move to Christ the King Lutheran congregation downtown represents a new beginning in a year of relative stability.  We pray this Christmas season will be a time of renewal and growth in all our lives.

Christmas 1984
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

This year, for the first time, we send Christmas greetings from a home that is truly our own.  Last April we settled into our third house in as many years, but the first with our names on the title.  It's a large two-storey house in a forested area of north Houston.  Our appetite for home improvement projects is being more than satiated, but we like the feeling of belonging.

After two years of volunteering, Diane is now a mercenary.  In April she was hired as executive director of the Christian Community Service Center.  This ecumenical coalition of sixteen congregations provides food, clothing, and funds to over 1200 with urgent needs each month; delivers noon meals to 60 homebound; and at Christmas gives food and toys to about 4000.  All this is done by volunteers, so Diane feels right at home.  Her job took her to a conference in North Carolina, where the fall colors were as spectacular as Alberta's.

Daniel experienced the Canadian autumn this year, visiting Calgary and Vancouver, then later driving home from Edmonton with Diane's father.  The children made their first pilgrimage back to Canada, staying with grandparents while Diane and her father visited Sweden.  We also had a brief family vacation, taking in the New Orleans world's fair.

The children participated in a church camp program for most of their summer vacation.  Now a first grader, Britta can honestly make her two front teeth her Christmas wish.  Hew enthusiasm for ballet abated since she's been taking weekly lessons.  Nils continues to enjoy soccer and has joined Cub scouts.  He's honing his political skills as third grade representative on student council.

Our family has grown to include a dachshund puppy, Pirlipat.  Her name is from our Christmas reading of "The Nutcracker".  The children love their baby, and Daniel is learning to cope with his first dog.  Daniel's geophysical work at Amoco continues, with more supervisory duties and field work.

We are fortunate in having both of Diane's parents with us this Christmas.  We pray that our feelings of family closeness may, through the power of Christ's birth, extend to you and to all God's creation.

Christmas 1983
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

Christmas greetings from hurricane country.  We experienced the wrath of Alicia in August with few ill effects, although a big tree was blown down in our front yard.  We have a better understanding of the expression "the eye of the storm", as it passed through our neighborhood.  Is this worth avoiding the winter snows?

We are at a new address (update your address book).  Over Easter we moved from the townhouse to a house with a wooded yard.  The children especially appreciate the freedom and friends, spending many hours outdoors.

Friends' birthday parties have kept Britta busy, as she's in a kindergarten class whose members all turn 5 this fall.  After "pretending" to read for years, she's now managing her first simple books.  Nils, in second grade at public school, loves to read Greek mythology.  He's honing his skills in magic, soccer, and bike riding.  The children both took swimming lessons this summer, and for inspiration have started an aquarium.

Daniel continues in the same work with Amoco, but with a fancier title and a company car.  His field trips have ranged from a week's course in Chicago to a seismic boat in the Gulf of Mexico and a survey in the deserts on Oman on the Arabian Peninsula.  His ego was given a boost when the U.S. Labor Department certified him irreplaceable, and our application for permanent resident status now waits on bureaucrats and quotas.

This means that next year Diane will have to find a real job.  She now volunteers three days a week with Lutheran Social Service of Texas, working in the areas of adoption and adult day care.  Recently she completed a hospice training program about care for the terminally ill.  Her job as Sunday School superintendent soon ends, thankfully; the highlight was a festival celebrating Marin Luther's 500th birthday.

Diane's father turns 80 this Christmas season, and we are glad he is with us again this winter.  He was ill with pneumonia last April, returning with Diane to Edmonton for treatment.  Fortunately Diane's mother was able to take over our household.  Morfar recovered fully in time for family vacation in July.

We rented a motor home for a two week trip to Florida, covering Disneyworld, Cape Canaveral, Miami, the Keys and the Everglades.  Weekend outings have taken us to Corpus Christi, San Antonio, and Texarkana.  Besides touring, we've taken several "talking" excursions -- and church life.  This spring we enjoyed playing Texas tour guides for Dan's parents and his brother's family.

This Advent we are using William Kurelek's A Northern Nativity for family reading and are intrigued by his theme:  "If it happened there, why not here?  If it happened then, why not now?"  We join you, and people of all times and places, in celebrating the gift of Christmas.

Christmas 1982
Houston, Texas

Dear Family and Friends,

Greetings from the Lone Star state.  We are in very different surroundings this winter, expecting our first non-white Christmas.  Today we picnicked in the forest, beneath towering pine and magnolia trees.

We've been in Houston, Texas since March, when Daniel began working in oil exploration for Amoco Production Co. (International).  He is a Senior Geophysicist, but mostly writes computer programs.  Although not a traveling job, he has so far managed to visit several American cities.

We're leasing a large townhouse in suburban Houston.  Its greatest appeal is a brick fireplace, although only in the last few weeks has the weather been cold enough to warrant its use.  After a muggy, tropical summer, we welcome the cold we came to escape.  The thing we appreciate least is the lack of public transit, necessitating two cars and many miles (not kilometers here yet).

Diane is unable to work because of our visa status.  She has channeled her frustration into handicrafts (quilting) and music (flute).  Three mornings a week she volunteers at a social service agency, located in a black community which makes some Indian reserves look opulent.

We've joined Hosanna Lutheran Church, recently a mission congregation, with a debt-ridden new facility.  Diane is Sunday School superintendent, and we are active in sponsorship of a Polish refugee family, who will arrive before Christmas.

The age requirement for Texas schools is six months older than Edmonton, which would put our children behind.  To avoid this, they are both in private schools (more chauffeuring for Diane).  Nils is doing well in grade 1 at a Lutheran school, where he's learning to be a "good ol' boy".  Britta is in a 3 morning a week preschool, and is pestering us to enroll her in ballet.

We've been ambitiously exploring our new surroundings with weekend trips to Baton Rouge, New Orleans, San Antonio, and Dallas.  We rented a small trailer for a one week August vacation to west Texas and New Mexico.  We especially enjoyed the Carlsbad Caverns and camping at an alpine elevation reminiscent of the Canadian Rockies.  Big Bend National Park, on the Rio Grande River, gave us the feel of frontier Texas, with tumbleweed, cactus, and vultures soaring in the desert heat.

We've been fortunate in having both Diane's parents visit us in our new home.  Her father came in October and enjoys being a winter Texan.  Y'all drop in for some southern hospitality if you're in this part of the world, y'hear?

This year, in the midst of the unfamiliar, we share with all of you the universal blessings of Christmas.

Christmas 1981
Edmonton, Alberta

Dear Family and Friends,

The house is quiet and the children are settled as we sit down to compose our annual Christmas letter.  It's difficult to celebrate the Advent season with no snow on the ground.

This has been a year of real stability for us, so much so that we hardly know what to write about.  While Daniel's job with Suncor ends soon, the big transition is several weeks away.  He's planning to attend the University of Alberta in January for a four-month sabbatical.  We expect major changes in 1982 when we look for new jobs in new places (probably just Calgary).  We have been looking for an opportunity to work overseas, but none has emerged.

Diane continues in research with Alberta Manpower.  She's taken on the treasurer's job with the local kindergarten, since her father continues to do such a good job with the church books.  And, since she doesn't get her fill of cooking at home, she's joined a gourmet cooking group.  She tolerates Daniel's new-found passion, star gazing (he says astronomy).

Nils is now five and started kindergarten.  His father has gotten him interested in space travel, and they've built a model rocket.  Nils grasped the real meaning of Halloween this year, staying out tow hours and collecting three bags of candy.  Britta turned three in October, and is a big fan of the "pretty dress".  She feels she's a big girl now that she's in Sunday School, just like her brother.  The children have a new housekeeper, Noella Gallant, who is French Canadian.  Both children are currently in a gym and swim program at the Y.M.C.A.

The parents' retreat to Jasper may become an annual event; we were away again for a long weekend in November and really enjoyed it.  The whole family spent a weekend in Banff where Daniel and Diane participated in a Faith and Life Institute, which Diane had a part in organizing for the church synod.

The big even in 1981 was our summer vacation.  We spent a month in the Middle East, while the children stayed with Grandma and Grandpa Johnson.  August 1st we flew to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on the Persian Gulf.  We spent ten days there with Diane's mother and stepfather, who gave us a guided tour of the whole country.  The contrast between old and new, rich and poor is really striking in a country where oil has made the per capita income one of the highest in the world.  We found this injection of wealth and change so different from our next stop in Egypt.  There we took a boat trip down the Nile River, visiting tombs and temples of the pharaohs.  We concluded our trip with a visit to Israel, where the highlight was our stay within the old walled city o Jerusalem.  Biblical events seem much more concrete now that we've seen their historical setting.

We're thankful this year for the rich opportunities that have been available to us, especially as we've seen the contrast with the lives of so many others in the world.  We hope our experiences have led us to be instruments of service and change in a troubled world.  To this end, we greet you all with the good news of Christmas.

Christmas 1980
Edmonton, Alberta

Dear Family and Friends,

Christmas greetings.  This has been a year of growth and change for us.  We watched the Vietnamese family we sponsored all find jobs, learn English, and even buy a car.  The dramatic changes in their lives put ours in perspective and make us realize how distant release and renewal are for many of the world's people.

Diane made the transition from student to worker this year.  In February she began full time employment with the Alberta government, and is now a research officer for Manpower Services.  In her non-working hours she maneuvered her dissertation through the bureaucratic obstacle course of the university.  Her Ph.D. in Anthropology and Education was awarded at the November convocation, and she's still adjusting to the title of "Dr. Persson".  Daniel had a year of stability, still working for Suncor as a planning analyst.  However, this is destined to change in 1981 since Suncor will move its Edmonton office to Ft. McMurray (we're not going).

Nils turned four in September and eagerly attends playschool three mornings each week.  He has also started the Suzuki piano program and has us all humming "Twinkle Twinkle".  Britta entered the terrible two's in October, her favorite word being "not!".  She idolizes her brother, sometimes to her parents' dismay.  The children are fortunate to have an excellent English nanny, Jackie Booth, who runs the house.

We've had some enjoyable holidays this year.  A family retreat at Mulhurst camp in January was an unusual winter break and let us use our cross country skis.  We now understand why Scandinavians recommend a plunge in the snow after a sauna, it's invigorating to say the least.  Diane and her father went to Hawaii for a week in February, while Grandma Johnson came to help Daniel with the children.  Our two week family holiday took us by car to Prince Rupert, then by ferry down the Inside Passage to Vancouver Island, a 20 hour trip.  Good weather let us enjoy the sights.  We spent a week in the Vancouver area with Daniel's parents, then drove home.  Then on an unusually warm and snow-free November weekend, Diane's mother took the children while we went to Jasper for two days of marital rejuvenation -- relaxing, hiking, and enjoying each other.

We've also been busy with the house, building a new fence and gardening.  Morfar built a playhouse for the children; Diane says "It's better than the one you built for me, Dad".  Our family now acts as treasurer for our church.  For Diane's Dad it's almost a part time job, while she signs the cheques.

Diane's mother and stepfather are here for several weeks leave from Dubai, so we will be together for Christmas.  Daniel feels one generation older now with the passing of his last grandparent, Adolf Wenzel, in November.  We are reminded of the importance of family to human well-being this Christmas, and we hope that we all will live and grow as God's children in the coming year.

Best wishes from Daniel, Diane, Nils and Britta

Christmas 1979
Edmonton, Alberta

Dear Family and Friends,

Christmas greetings as the 1970's draw to a close.  We enjoyed visiting with many of you since this seemed to be a year for reunions -- the Johnson family and the Rycroft Homecoming.

This year there are no additions to our family for a change, and Diane feels a little strange not being pregnant.  We're glad we've decided that two is enough, since Nils and Britta are fully capable of occupying their parents' attention.  Morfar also agrees, since he says, "I only have two knees."  The biggest change has been in Britta, who is now a year old and looks more like Daddy's girl.  She's not walking yet, but she crawls like lightening and manages to get into everything that interests her.  Nils has trouble keeping her out of his toys.  He's now three, and has been devouring the Christmas catalogue for months.  We've been fortunate to find good child care in the person of Mrs. Fischer, who comes in three days a week.

Diane spent the last year writing her dissertation, and has completed a rough draft which her supervisor is now dissecting.  She plans to complete her degree by next summer and hopes to have a regular job by next Christmas letter.  For once her New Year's resolution was kept, and she completed a first aid course in the fall.  She's still waiting for an occasion to use it though.

Daniel still works for the same company, but you'd never know it.  The company changed its name to Suncor Inc. and changed Daniel's title to Senior Planning and Economic Analyst.  He comments that it's ironic he went to school for three years to learn computing science and lasted only two years in the field.  Next year will be even busier for him as he starts a term on church council.

As we've settled down with our family we are taking "citizenship" more seriously.  For the first time in our lives we campaigned in the spring federal election, knocking on doors for Doug Roche, P.C. for Edmonton South.  We took an early holiday this year since we waned to visit California before Diane's Mom moved.  We flew to Los Angeles the middle of May, saw the sights there, and all drove back together via Las Vegas, the Grand Canyon, and Salt Lake City.

Another significant event of the year has been our involvement in a group sponsoring a Vietnamese refugee family.  Daniel is chairman and after four months of planning and waiting four family of four arrived.  Our relationship with them makes us realize how fortunate we are among the peoples of the world.  While we are thankful for our good fortune, we know it is mostly due not to chance but to international injustice.  We pray this Christmas season that the message "Peace on earth …" will find fulfillment in our time.

Best wishes from Daniel, Diane, Nils and Britta

Christmas 1978
Edmonton, Alberta

Dear Family and Friends,

Christmas greetings.  Our "Christmas letter" file has all the makings of taking on the form of a family diary, and this third installment brings you a summation of the events of the year.

Nils turned 2 in September and actually managed to blow out both candles on his cake.  He's become a real little talker, always amazing, amusing, and confounding us with his new skills.  Diane's Dad and Nils are thick as thieves, especially since "Morfar" takes a softer line than Mommy and Daddy.

Daniel continues in his old job with Great Canadian Oil Sands, but with a new title -- Senior Systems Analyst.  He's had a varied year, from theoretical work on the proposed expansion to actually shoveling tar at the plant for 2 1/2 weeks during a strike in October.  All his overtime allowed us to extend our summer vacation to three weeks, one of which we spent enjoying sum and sand at a cottage on Lake Okanagan.  Daniel is also moving down in the world as his office relocates soon from the 29th floor to the 8th floor of a new building.

Diane has spent a busy year, most of it pregnant.  She completed collecting her data for her Ph.D. dissertation, spending two weeks in January in Ottawa collecting archival material, and most of June in the field around St. Paul.  She now moans about the many hours of tape transcription left, not to mention whipping it into scholarly form.  We were very fortunate to have had Diane's mother here taking over the house for much of this time.

The highlight of the year was the birth of our daughter Britta on … October.  She's healthy and becoming quite cute, despite a lack of hair.  Nils checks daily to see if she can walk or talk yet, and is impatient to see some of the benefits in having a sister.  Daniel's Mom was out for Britta's baptism in our new church home at St. Luke's, where the full set of siblings (in-laws) were sponsors.

We'll be spending Christmas and New Year's in New Westminster with Daniel's parents in their new house, and look forward to this family time.  We hope this finds you well and that the new year brings peace and happiness to your lives.

Christmas 1977
Edmonton, Alberta

Dear Family and Friends,

Christmas greetings.  This is the second installment of what we hope will be our annual Christmas letter.

It's been an exciting year watching Nils grow, especially when we think of how tiny and helpless he was last year when we flew to New Westminster to spend Christmas with Daniel's parents.  He's now toddling around the house on a perpetual search and destroy mission it seems, having taken his first step on his first birthday.  While he doesn't say much yet, we're daily amazed at how much he can understand (and how much he chooses to ignore).

This year marked a big change for Daniel, from being student and domestic to a computer analyst position with Great Canadian Oil Sands.  He started there in October, and likes to remark on the view from the 29th floor of the AGT Tower.  We attended his graduation 19 November when he received his Master's degree in Computing Science.

Diane, on the other hand, is still plugging away at the university, and is beginning to wonder if there's any light at the end of the tunnel.  She continues to teach part time and looks forward to working on her research full time after Christmas.  When both of us are away, Nils goes to a neighbor nearby where he enjoys playing with the other 2 children.  We feel fortunate to have found such a good arrangement.

The highlight of our year was a 4 week trip to Europe during July.  We chartered to Copenhagen, and in 3 weeks did a lightening tour of London, Paris, Interlaken, Venice, Vienna and Cologne.  We have lots of nice memories (not to mention slides):  Stonehenge, the view from the Eiffel Tower, the Alps, and cathedrals and castles, and of course the trains.  The last week we spent with Diane's Dad visiting relatives in Sweden.  We concluded that "Europe on $10 a Day" need an inflationary update.  Nils stayed in Canada with Diane's Mom while we were holidaying.

Aside from careers and parenting we've also been busy.  Diane has taken on the volunteer job of Parkview Community League newsletter editor, which brings a lot of calls for "Mrs. Persson".  Daniel is just getting started on his 3 year term as trustee at Calvary Lutheran Church -- having mastered the intricacies of the boiler room.  Those of you who recognize us by the big red car will be in for a change since we bought a gold Honda Civic.  We can now zip around town and actually park in the city.

We'll be at home in Edmonton for Christmas this year and look forward to a fascinating time for Nils.  We hope this finds you well, and that this Christmas season will be a time of renewal in all your lives.

Daniel, Diane and Nils

Christmas 1976
Edmonton, Alberta

Dear . . .

We've decided that instead of sending Christmas cards we'll use a Christmas letter so we can share the significant events of the last year with all of you.

Daniel finished his course work in April for his M.Sc. degree and started on a National Research Council scholarship to do his thesis; we hope he finishes by this summer.  Diane attended spring session and also completed her course work for her Ph.D. degree in intercultural education; she's carrying out research on an Indian school near St. Paul.

As most of you know, we were married June 19 at Calvary Lutheran Church amid wind and rain.  We were glad of the opportunity to visit with many of you on this happy occasion.

We attended Family Week at Hastings Lake Lutheran Bible Camp the last week in July.  Our adopted "family" was James Wakefield, and we spent a fine week -- except for the weather.

Diane taught a social studies course for teacher aides at the Alberta Vocational Centre in Grouard the first part of August.  Daniel came along to lend his moral support, and was put to work giving a guest lecture to the class.

Concluding a busy month, the last part of August we moved from our apartment to Diane's father's house.  We spent several weeks cleaning and painting.  The extra space and big yard sure are nice.  Diane's father, Emil, retired in September from his job in Rycroft, and we're all sharing the house.

We were blessed with a son, Nils Persson Johnson, arriving … September.  We certainly appreciate the new policies that enabled both of us to watch the delivery -- it's truly amazing.  Nils was baptized October 31 with Dan's brother Tim Johnson and wife Bev Weidman as sponsors.  Grandma Johnson came from New Westminster for the occasion and Nils wore the same gown as Daniel was baptized in.  Nils has been sleeping through the night since he learned to suck his thumb.  He's discovered his hands and we're really enjoying watching him develop.

We plan on spending Christmas in New Westminster with Daniel's parents.  We're looking forward to this holiday time together.

We hope your year has been as filled with joy and happiness as ours has, and that 1977 will bring continued fulfillment.

Christmas Greetings,

Daniel Johnson
Diane Persson
Nils Johnson