December 20, 2011




with Monte W. Holland


Each year my husband Monte and I send a letter the friends we’ve made throughout the years. For many, this is an annual contact. Below is our 2011 family letter.

MONTE—It’s been a busy year. I conducted 29 worship services, mostly at three facilities for older folks. Beyond that I did manual labor.  At my age busy means working not much more than five hours in a day and resting one day in between. I replaced part of the roof on our home and one-third of the roof on the apartment building (about a total of 16 square, if one is counting).

     In July we traveled to Northern New York for my family reunion and to help my brother Elwin set up a schedule of round-the-clock in-home caregivers. I’m really pleased that we have good help and he seems quite content at 91 years old. I take care of the payroll from here.

     In June we went to Lakeside, Ohio and shared a condo with our son Nolan’s family while he attended the East Ohio Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Our daughter-in-law Tammy taught a vacation Bible school that Vince and Marcus attended.

       I also attended some interesting sessions. We had a good time with the family at this Chautauqua-like camp (even though it occurred before the regular season).

     I attended two seminars on poverty issues this year. I’m frustrated with the state of the world and the plight of our poorer people. All I seem to be able to do is throw a few dollars at the problem.

     Yet I hope to live long enough that we recover a genuine concern for all persons and see the power of the super-rich and corporations subside. In the meantime I will keep asking What Would Jesus Have Me Do? I hope to able to respond to the answers positively.  

CAROLYN—The 11th year of the aging millennium was eventful from its inception. As it entered the line of time my blog brought me news. On January 19th the blog had comments that said we found my mother’s birth certificate and think you are related. Reading the words I told Monte that I was being spammed—there were three, yes three, comments submitted at the same time.

     But as I scanned them I saw data that was familiar: my parent’s names, my 1953 family address, etc., all accurate, but mostly information that could be gleaned from my blog. One comment had a phone number.

     “I think I’ll bite,” I told Monte. “I’m going to call this number.”

     A young woman answered the phone. “My mother was adopted,” Sara said. “I’ll email you a copy of the birth certificate (in New Hampshire adoptees can access their original birth records) and a photo.”

     I opened the photo first. It was startling. The woman pictured was a replica of my mother. The birth certificate appeared authentic with data being accurate. There was no doubt—this was my mother’s child. Rumors that had released a child for adoption were true.

     In the initial contact with Darlene, who lives north of Chicago, I told her that the first thing I wanted to do was to provide her with her medical background.

     Coincidentally, Monte was trying to convince me that we should travel to Evanston, Illinois, a suburb north of Chicago, with the dual purpose of his attending a Big Ten Championship wrestling match and visiting his alma mater, Northwestern University (where he graduated with his physics doctorate). The wrestling event was being held at the University.

     “No one in their right mind would travel to Chicago the first weekend in March,” I kept retorting.

     Needless to say Monte knew he’d won the battle when he heard where Darlene lived.

     We spent five enjoyable nights with Darlene and her husband Javed. It was intriguing to study Darlene. At various times Monte and I saw my mother, my sisters, myself, and none of these persons in her demeanor. What was truly noticeable was her white hair—our grandmother also had not turned gray, but sported that neat white color. I myself am silvery gray.

     Personality wise she has traits similar to both my mother and myself. Not necessarily in our favorites and dislikes, but in personality style.

     Darlene is ten years younger than am I, almost to the day. We both have December birthdays, eight days apart.

     I provided Darlene in with information on the family. This is important to most of the adoptees I know, who tell me they are missing vital pieces of their life (a statement that usually does not detract from their adoptive family). 

     Since then we have maintained contact while giving each other space to adjust to our new family reality.

MONTE–I repainted the patio deck, rebuilt two eating tables on the deck, mounted two screen doors (on the garage and on the laundry room). I replaced four windows on the apartment building and mounted one outside door. I also replaced one window at our little rental house in Greensburg. There were five to replace, but we have such good tenants there that the wife replaced four while we visited Nolan’s family. I also put an attic exhaust fan in that house.

     At our home I moved a lot of brush from trees that were cut (mostly by my son-in-law Michael) in the woods last summer and cut up some of the logs. And Carolyn had me move a large pile of tree-cutter chips to continue a path through the woods. In addition, I put together a second garden bridge that goes over the stream through our property.

     Numerous times I hauled crushed stone in the back of the car to repair potholes in our Laurel Mountain Borough limestone roads (my responsibility as a member of the borough council).

CAROLYN—My original goal for 2011—finishing my novel and two short stories—didn’t materialize, so will be my renewed goal for 2012. I continue to facilitate a writers group and sporadically attend others. I maintain my blog but found it too much to maintain the others so put them on hold in August.

     However the novel research continued. We decided not to go to New England this year but to take three short two-day excursions. I chose to visit Gallipolis and Marietta, Ohio. Gallipolis plays a prominent position in my novel. Monte chose to visit Winchester, Virginia. His sister and her husband, Grace and Bob, were stopping there en route from Watertown, New York, to Florida. Aside from our car developing pronounced problems in Winchester the visit went very well.

     I managed to piggy-back on his trip. We returned home by way of Cumberland, Maryland, stopping to visit Wills   Creek where it enters the Potomac River—again, a site that is part of the novel.

     I also didn’t complete another task. I’ve been working on downsizing. Last winter’s goal was to empty sixteen boxes of papers. Not done. I was surprised, however, to discover I did empty eight boxes. A 2012 goal—empty these boxes.

     One goal was reached. I managed to scan all the slides taken in our early years. Job well done!

     Family and friendships play a large part in my life. Their importance came to bear when, during a recent time that I needed a car but ours was misbehaving (or needed by Monte), three vehicles were available for my use. I must also mention that I reconnected with a friend with whom I lost contact with many years ago (we both moved a lot). Alice now lives in Australia. 


     Christmas is a time for rejoicing in family and friends as we celebrate the birth of Jesus. May you and yours have a blessed holiday.




Christmas Letter 2009

Christmas. Whose Season Is It?

Christmas Memories


Playing Santa’s Elf on My Birthday



  1. I let a homeless guy sleep in my car.

    I held a sign on the corner of Sixth and Grant which read “I joined a credit union.”

    Comment by Dmitri — December 20, 2011 @ 7:35 pm | Reply

    • So that’s what you’re up to. What’s happening to you for the holidays? We all worry about you…

      Comment by carolyncholland — December 22, 2011 @ 11:12 pm | Reply

  2. Im doin a lot of photography ( see ) .

    Im gettin to know how we live without a home. I met a couple and helped them move to there new home, a tent under a bridge. Very sad.

    Im getting to know young activists.

    Actually the last few months have been very interesting ,living in a tent, living in a car, walking the streets, exciting, depressing, cold, warm and cosy hanging out at the Omni William Penn lobby “passing” as not homeless, and different; but i gotta tell you I love being a photographer documenting the Occupy Movement and a photographer in general where I am. Mainly I hate the cold…but so far its been not bad. I have it really good compared to some of those I am among, I have VA health care, a pension, a car, shower at the YMCA, a free ride senior bus pass.

    I moved from the camp when BNY posted an eviction, others continue to stay.

    I see there are people who bring food and hot food to the Occupy Camp.

    I see a professor of constitutional law who works unpaid (pro bono I think its called) for the Occupy movement.

    I actually am glad to have this varied and exciting experience but I like a plan B as well. I am very glad that I have you all in Westmoreland County thinkin bout me. I have been offered a place to crash out your way but so far I want to be among the action and record it.

    Comment by Dmitri — December 23, 2011 @ 9:54 am | Reply

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