December 23, 2012

2012 Christmas Letter from Monte & Carolyn Holland




Santa reflects on the meaning of Christmas...

Santa reflects on the meaning of Christmas…

OUR 2012 ORNAMENT: Forty years. Yes, this is the fortieth year our Christmas card has been a handcrafted ornament.
To celebrate I tried to prepare a special ornament, but discovered it cost just under $2.00 to mail, so I will hand distribute as many of them as possible during 2013, leaving, hopefully, only a few to main. Instead, this year, we’re sending those of you who joined our list after the beginning years one of the earlier ornaments, among them a peach and an angel .

IMG_0813eI made the peach in 1984 when we lived in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Monte was in his second year of seminary study at Candler Theology School (Emory University). As you know, Georgia is all about peach (and dogwood). The peach symbolizes God’s bounty provided for us.
The angel is designed as a paper doll. Angels play a significant role in the Christian story—for example, an angel appeared to Joseph, telling him to stay with Mary.

MONTE: This year I helped my brother Elwin, 91, maintain around-the-clock IMG_8458Epersonal care workers. On February 25th he fell and broke his hip. Since I held his medical power of attorney Carolyn and I rushed to his hospital bedside in Syracuse. When Elwin died March 4th we went to Northern New York for two weeks, where we dealt with his affairs. As executor of his estate we returned in May for four weeks for Elwin’s committal service, an auction, the sale of his house and a family reunion. It was good to get together with many of the family.
IMG_8551EIn April I finished a thirty-square roofing job on our Slippery Rock apartment building. In June we spent a week with Nolan’s family at Lakeside, Ohio. In late September I took a trip with a friend to Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Churchill Downs, and a Secretariat festival in Paris, Kentucky. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit these well-known places. At DSCN1031E4Indy I met Donald Davidson, long-time radio broadcaster with the Indy 500. I got his autograph, which is special. In September I placed third in a pie contest with an apple-rhubarb pie topped with meringue.
October came. I finished putting the new roof on our Laurel Mountain Borough home. Sandy and I went to the Northwestern-Penn State game at State College, and at the NU PresidentE3pre-game tailgate feast Sandy took my picture with the President of Northwestern University, my alma mater.
A post-Thanksgiving Friday highlight was attending Ligonier’s light-up night. Jordan, a twirler, marched with the band, while Sandy, Michael, Nolan, Tammy, Vince, Marcus, and I watched (Carolyn, not feeling well, didn’t go with us). When Vince and Marcus joined two caroler statues in the park, thus forming a quartet, a newspaper photographer caught their image and it was published that week. It was a much better quality photograph than the one taken by us.

IMG_6726E2         DSCN1721E

As a member of the Borough Council I’ve worked hard on road maintenance. I’ve preached about once a month at an assisted-living facility and filled in occasionally at Bethlen Home in Ligonier.

A white Christmas scene at our house

A white Christmas scene at our house

CAROLYN: For me, the year began with a three-month to-do list: learn to use E-bay; WRITE my novel, empty boxes we had stored in Sandy’s attic when we moved here in 2003 (which filled my living room in mid-January).
It was a doable plateful for the snowed/cold-in months. I stayed on schedule until…life happened.

Last year’s news, you say? Yes…and this year’s news too, I answer.

At the end of January I noticed an excessive number of hits on several of my writing blog posts—posts about my mother that wouldn’t usually be visited. I told Monte something was going on. He replied that someone might be doing a research project. On my Mother’ memorial service? I responded. Unlikely.
On February 5th I was contacted, via a blog comment, by a second sister my mother released for adoption. Now I can safely say that all my mother’s nine children are accounted for. In one year I’ve gained two sisters, two brother’s-in-law, four nephews, and one niece.
While Darlene (who contacted me the same way in January 2011) was born on December 2, 1953, P.’s birthday is December 30, 1948. She lives a distance south of us, but when she visited her northern mother-in-law in August she and her husband stopped by for an evening visit. (I won’t elaborate—further information is on CAROLYN’S COMPOSITIONS in the ADOPTION category, )
In May we moved into Elwin Holland’s home in Heuvelton, New York, where we worked hard preparing the house for market and its contents for auction. The local

IMG_2943Elibrary was a great retreat, offering computer access. I made friends with the neighbor’s nine-year-old granddaughter and we wrote, walked, played with her new kitten, and became friends. I claimed Mother’s Day as mine so I could activate my trigger finger at several of the region’s forty osprey nests. I have some wonderful photographs as a result.
IMG_1454While with Nolan and Tammy in Lakeside, Ohio, on Lake Erie, I experienced my first sailboat ride.
We enjoyed hosting Phred Phred and Grace (Alabama) for several days and my step-brother Dave and his wife Kim (Fayetteville, Pa.) for an afternoon visit. Both visits included a field trip to the new Flight 93 Memorial site, the Flight 93 Chapel, the Quecreek Mine rescue site, and the Coal Miner’s Cafe.

Navy planes flying over Chestnut Ridge in Latrobe, PA

Navy planes flying over Chestnut Ridge in Latrobe, PA

One other event we attended was the Latrobe Air Show, where Navy planes flew overhead so fast in formation that you realized they had passed only when their sound reached your ears. It was amazing synchronized flying with planes in formation so close to each other I wondered why they never collided.
The grandkids are growing up too fast. Jordan’s a savvy young woman now. At age 15 likes money and gift cards, clothes, Justin Bieber (but not Taylor Swift), and recently painted her room in purple, blue and black. Vince, 8, does amazing moves in hockey, has an intense sports interest, and likes Uno. Marcus , 6, challenges me to Uno, must make air-pop popcorn, and shows a great sense of humor.
My three bonus grandchildren are also growing. Lauren, like Jordan, is becoming a young woman fast. At 13 she likes Justin Bieber and Taylor swift. Erik, 11, is hands-on and likes Legos and models. Alex, the bug kid, also likes model cars and received a skateboard for his December 10th birthday (which he shares with me).
Our wish for you in 2013 is for you to discover and experience the true meaning for the season: the birth of a child and the message of peace he delivered to the world.CARD TAG~~~~~~~~~~~~ADDITIONAL READING:
Christmas…A Time When Safety is Overlooked
Playing Santa’s Elf on My Birthday
How to Count the Gifts Given in the Twelve Days of Christmas

Falalala Latkes


1 Comment »

  1. We appreciate all the hard work that Monte does for the Boro. Carolyn adds joy to our heart with her festive decorations. Thanks to you both!
    Merry Christmas & Very Best Wishes for 2013!

    Comment by P & G — December 24, 2012 @ 10:05 am | Reply

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