Dear Friends and Family:

First an apology: some of you did not receive a card last year. I spent most of December and January in hospital trips with my dad, Harry, and lost the list of who had and had not been sent cards, so please forgive me. It has not been a good year for my dad but we are grateful he is still here even if he can only see shadows now.

I have had the best of a year in many respects. In February Merlin retired from Lockheed and went to work for Cisco Systems. This allowed us to put a new roof on the house and with El Nino wet weather no longer have to pray for no big rains. In May we went to New York to watch Jenny graduate from Columbia Law School. We were joined by her grandparents Julie and Gladys, and her aunt Zena. We were able to visit with the New York family at a beautiful party Myra and Leon gave for Jenn. We saw two Broadway shows and moved Jenn out of a fifth-floor walk-up (no elevator) apartment. In August Jenn and Stephanie went on a five-week European tour to celebrate Jenn’s graduation and an IOU on Stephanie’s.

At the end of August Merlin and I set off to Detroit for his cousin’s wedding. I can honestly say it was the warmest, friendliest wedding I have been to in years. I took this opportunity to see all my cousins in the area. Uncle Albert and Aunt Merle were really very sweet to us and cousin Nicky was great fun to get to know as an adult. Donald, Pat, DJ, and Justin and Sherry had us over for a great BBQ. Pat’s whole house is done in a cat motif and is so cute. Of course the klutz of the year (me) stepped on the edge of Don’s pond and put the bricks in on the fish—I will always remember that pond. We went up to Windsor to see Stu and Sue; I would love to have all that nature in my yard. I really hope we will be able to see more of Canada some day. We went to Ann Arbor to visit with Zena and Howard. I got to see Michigan Law School where Gene and Zena both went. The Quad is really impressive, and we also got a great corned beef sandwich at Zingerman’s. (No such thing exists in San Jose.)

As I am writing this, Jenn is being sworn in as an attorney, having passed the California Bar Exam. She has a great apartment in downtown San Jose. She has been at work since September 15th for the Mental Health Advocacy Project at the Santa Clara County Bar Association’s Law Foundation. She represents clients who are in, or people are trying to put them into, mental health facilities. She loves the work so far.

We had a great Thanksgiving this year--18 people in all. Merlin’s cousins from Foster City were able to join the normal crew. My girl friend Becky was especially happy to have another Southern lady with us.

I got to see most of my Denver family in September. I went for Aunt Cleo’s 92nd birthday. Thanks again, Lou, for the corsage and dinner. Ron, Aggie, and Nick played hosts for my stay. Nick’s little girl Marina totally stole my heart. She nicknamed me "Cuzz." On a visit to Denver I realize how much of all the families’ lives I have missed out on living out here. Dear Aunt Helen is so surrounded by a loving family. Charlene is an angel and I will always treasure the porcelain doll she made for me.

I was really lucky to have cousins Paul and Kathy from Maine visit us. Paul and I were kids again riding the roller coaster at Santa Cruz. My sister-in-law Peggy spent a few days with us as did my cousin Marilyn.

Marsha’s daughter Wendy came to visit us and Dad for four weeks. She has been living and teaching in London for a couple of years. She stopped first in New York to see Lindsay, Mike, and Jenn (none of whom are in New York now!) and spent a week in Denver. She also went from London to Paris with Jenn and Steph while they were in Europe. It is fabulous to see these cousins getting to know each other.

So you can see why my year, despite two operations, was one of the best. I can’t wait for the physical therapy to do its job.

It really is people, not possessions, that make all our lives worth while. That is what this holiday season reminds us all of. So I will wish for you all more love and special memories to help you through the rough times.

Love always,

Sandy, Merlin, Jenn, and Stephanie