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A Christmas letter, 2013

holly garland

Friday, December 27, 2013

To all my friends and family:

The biggest news of the year was the wedding of Troy and Marysia.  After 10 years as a divorcé, Troy was introduced (by Heather!) to Marysia, a family physician here in Winnipeg, and the two are deeply devoted to one another.  They had the Wedding of The Century in June, at St. Michael & All Angels church, which they attend.  Although I didn’t preside at the exchange of vows, I had work of another kind to do: I emceed the reception and later played clarinet during part of the dance, with the Ron Paley jazz combo.

Given that a “Christmas Letter” often tends to summarize the preceding year, I might also mention that we began 2013 in South America, and in April there were three major events: my own health scare, where I got a “TGA” (a temporary amnesia attack); our son-in-law’s very serious breakdown and hospitalization; Heather’s 65th birthday surprise; and our daughter’s engagement in Paris.  These were all reported earlier in this blog, so there is no need to go into more detail about them now, but you might be interested in this follow-up: while I was recovering from the TGA, I asked the doctor if my driver's licence would be revoked, and he assured me that my driving would be unaffected.  A good thing, too, as I subsequently drove, this year alone, over 15,000 kilometres – first to eastern Canada, then in November to British Columbia!  As for Shai, my son-in-law: he’s back at work as a teacher, but in many subtle ways he continues to suffer small after-effects of his medical trauma.  He’s the one who is not permitted to drive, and he misses it terribly.  Pray for him, and for my daughter Ariel (his wife and primary caregiver).

At the end of June, Heather completely closed Dixon Law Office, and we disappeared off to Quebec for nearly three months – during which we endured a tornado, and enjoyed numerous visits from family.  This too, I described in some detail earlier in this blog.

Later, Heather and I went to Vernon B.C. to visit Chris and his family.  Chris is our oldest son.  He, like me, is an Anglican priest and he lives with his wife (Andrea, a teacher) and daughter (Alexa, 18).  Their son Matt, 20, is now living on his own, working in the “oil patch” in Fort Nelson, B.C.

We chose to make this trip in November.  Which wasn’t very smart because WINTER was seriously underway in the mountains.  However, we got home alive and happy, and I’ve managed to make a “blog” of the whole adventure.

Rachael and her fiancé, Michael Green, managed to arrive in Winnipeg in time for Christmas Eve, which is extraordinary since they came from Boston via Toronto, which was in the grip of the ice storm of the century, and air traffic was seriously disrupted.  We feel very fortunate that we were able to have them with us considering all the pandemonium.

We went to two Christmas church services: a midnight one, with the finest music and candle-lit liturgy, at the church which Heather and I attend, and where I am Honorary Assistant (see below); and then on Christmas morning we went to St. Michael & All Angels, the little Anglo-Catholic church that Tim, Diana, Troy and Marysia all attend.  Tim, my brother, conducts the choir there, and the music for the Eucharist that day was actually composed by him.

Our Christmas dinner was celebrated at Troy and Marysia’s home, along with our lifetime friend, Rene Jamieson; Haruka, a guest from Japan; our grandkid Markus, and Andrew, Markus’ true love (Markus and Andrew have been an “item” for over a year, and their affection for one another is a delight to see.  For a little background about my relationship with Markus, click here.)

At the dinner, too, were Troy’s two teenage stepsons: Jesse and Nicholas Kosowan.  Marysia is now almost 7 months pregnant, and due in March, so Jesse, Nick, and Marcus will all acquire a half-sibling a whole generation younger than themselves.

The picture of this Christmas Dinner mob may be viewed here:

Some might consider this picture slightly better:

Heather is officially retired, but in fact is only slightly so.  She closed her office at the end of June, but is “Of Counsel” at the firm of Pullan Kammerloch Frohlinger (where Troy is one of the lawyers), so she assists them in her specialty (“elder law”).  As well, she continues to handle a few of her own more complex files; she teaches articling students; give lectures to retirees and members of the Alzheimer Society; sits on several boards; and occasionally teaches employment law to human resource management students at our local community college.

I am an Honorary Assistant at St. Margaret’s Church – a very active and youthful parish in Winnipeg – and my rather minimal duties there include mentoring some young potential clergy and presiding at the occasional service.  I’ll be preaching there on Sunday, December 29, in fact.  I also do a bit of clergy supply around Winnipeg; I will preside and preach at St. Philip’s, Norwood, in early January, and a week later will be preaching at a local evangelical “non-denominational” church, the Church of The Way.  So, although I’m slowing down a tad, and have a few of the minor aches and pains typical of old age, I’m not dead yet.

Heather and I will be heading off on our fourth cruise in February – this one to Hawaii and back.  As the voyage starts and ends in San Francisco, we shall take the opportunity to go and meet Michael Green’s parents immediately following the cruise.  They live about an hour and a half drive north of San Francisco.  Rachael and Michael will be there to make the introductions.

Then there is their wedding in May.  In the Napa valley, California.

And I can’t see much further ahead than that.  We’ll probably go to the cottage in July or August, but it all depends on our finances... and on our state of mind.

I wish I could be closer to, and see more of, my eastern family – my two sisters, and my other nieces and nephews, and over a hundred people in southern Ontario who are directly descended from my maternal and paternal grandparents.  I love so many of them dearly, and feel very far away from them all.

But we do have Tim and Diana here in Winnipeg.  In fact we had a most delightful meal at their place last Friday, when Heather and Diana’s cousin Valerie was in town.  Oh yes, and Christmas Day, not only did we attend their church, we ALL (Tim, Diana, Alex, Tawny, Tawny’s son Michael, Rachael, Rachael’s fiancé Michael, Troy, Troy’s stepson Nick, Heather and I) went to the Convalescent Home where Lilliss Dixon lives (Heather & Diana’s mother), and sang carols to her and to the other residents while they had their lunch.  Lilliss is now 95 and gets a few things mixed up, but is still very much herself.  The Convalescent Home, as you may or may not know, is the excellent personal care home where my own mother spent her last days (I can still hear Mom say, even when she couldn’t remember our names, “This is a nice place!”).

So that’s my Christmas letter.  Best wishes to you and yours.
Tony's signature

Family and friends at Christmas dinner, 2013
Family and friends at Christmas Dinner, 2013

photographed by Markus Harwood-Jones

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