Saturday, January 01, 2005

Christmas 2002

Dear Friends and Family,

Christmas is a time of reflection and purpose. It is the celebration of the Incarnation. It is the story of God’s love for mankind, expressed in the glorious revelation of His Son. And, while the miracle of Christ was first experienced two thousand years ago in the humble and lowly stable, the story does not end there. It continues to this day through the hearts and lives living in this mystery of faith. Every Christmas, our family takes time to reflect upon the fulfillment of this story.

Sarah is completing her senior year, studying chemistry, at George Fox University in Oregon. She spent the summer in Oregon doing inorganic chemistry research and has been delightfully challenged by the continuing opportunities to present her research at chemistry conferences. This semester she was excited by the opportunity that arose for her to teach a freshman General Chemistry lab course. College beyond academia has been very meaningful to Sarah; she and her two roommates, "three peas in a pod", have bonded almost too well as their adventurous spirits unite, trying to savor the last year of an undergraduate experience. Sarah has been blessed by the Quaker community that she has discovered and is thrilled by the opportunities given to her through her involvement in the Quaker Leaders Program.

Isaac is a young man of indigenous strength. He continues to spend lots of time working with his siblings at the farm. This fall, Isaac and Henry the farmer organized a field trip on the farm for the local first graders. In August, Isaac had a split second debut on ABC’s Good Morning America marching down Broadway with his oxen. Two months later, Isaac sold his Brown Swiss ox team, Sam and Tom. Isaac now works with Fox and Fire, a Dutch Belted duo, owned by his friend at college. Isaac’s border collie, Bentley, plays ball, and herds the cattle always alongside Isaac. Bentley owns a special place in Isaac’s heart.

I still enjoy reading, recently Dostoyevsky’s The Brother’s Karamazov and St. Augustine’s City of God. I, too, enjoy the challenges and joys of working on the farm. This summer we baled hay on two additional farms and managed to stay quite busy. I am now our family’s chief accountant, spending a few hours every month writing out checks and balances, and consulting my assistant, Dad.
Luke is our family’s newest teenager. His responsibilities have increased, now that he owns seventy Barred Rock chicks. Egg production will approximately be seven times more than that of his previous chickens. Luke’s highlight of the year was his trip with Dad to Nantucket. They cruised around the island on a moped, after which Dad said, “Luke kept telling me to go faster!”
Hannah is a wonderful sister. She attends Pioneer Girls, a local church club, and often applies what she learns to her daily life. She likes being with her older brothers and helping them with their projects. Hannah took a big step this year by acquiring two pigs, building a pen for them, and naming them, Sausage and Bacon!
Jacob is the family newsbearer. He often begins with, “Did you hear about____” and announces the latest. He is a willing participant in any job, and has a deep respect for his elders. Jacob enjoyed a field trip to the Bronx Zoo in May, where he rode on the monorail and cablecar. Jacob’s mischievous smile brightens up the day, although we often wonder if any of our ancestors were Chinese.

Rebecca is a servant to all. She loves to bless others, most notably by her loving actions. Rebecca relished a special excursion to a cabin in Canada this spring with her sisters and Mom. Rebecca has an inseparable relationship with her brother, Caleb, and plays with him in her spare time. Rebecca is an avid reader and often begins her next day’s schoolwork the day before.
Caleb is not only cute, he’s adorable. He continually brightens our day with special words of encouragement. His amazing speed should place him on the Future Olympic Runners of America list!

Mom is an award winning cook with an endless ministry to the stomach. However, she is much more than that. Every day, her sacrificial love and creative skills warm our hearts in inummerable ways. Much to all our delight, Mom’s sister, Joanne, and her family, made the long trek from Minnesota to visit this summer.
Dad is our man of the year. As Sr. Assistant Public Defender, Dad continues to represent the voiceless and the underdog. This fall, he won a trial and received a small stuffed animal from his colleages, “Top Dog”. He is not only a role model and leader, but a loving friend and father. He faithfully guides our family in following the ways of Christ.

Perhaps the most important attribute of our family, is the time we spend together. Whether it’s spending a day at Lake George, or hiking the Appalachian trail for a mile, or working together on the farm, the joys of life are indescribable. This time is the foundation of love and friendship. It is the manifestation of Christ’s birth in our lives. The miracle of Christmas is not indefinitely restricted to one day; rather it is experienced in the continuing power of Christ’s presence. The Light of Life and Prince of Peace still longs for all to accept the message of salvation. The ageless prodigy of Christmas will never end, yet the time we have to respond to the gift of God’s love is limited. Christmas is a reminder that Christ’s coming is near. Maybe this is the reason there is an image in my mind of our family waiting, in silence and reverence, for the completion of this story.

Merry Christmas, Nathaniel Angell