Posted by: joelkeene | December 26, 2012

Keene Christmas Letter 2012

It has been relatively quiet as we come to the tail of this year. We’ve been tied up working, taking care of our families, and getting geared up for the holidays. There was much anxiety around this year’s holidays as one might imagine, but we thankfully got to share it together manning our duties at mom’s place on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Of course, traditions are the same but the flavors are a bit different now with new generations doing the receiving and the older ones doing the Ho, Ho, Ho-ing. To that, the responsibilities of the Keene Family Christmas Letter among other things fall to She Who Hos Alone (keep it in context). Enjoy and Merry Christmas!


Christmas 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

This Christmas season will be one of the most difficult to celebrate, as I will be celebrating for the first time without Larry.  I remember worshipping last Christmas Eve at Christ the Servant Lutheran along with most of Larry’s family, who came to spend the weeks surrounding Christmas with us at our home.

I am so grateful for that wish of his (he was forever the planner and dreamer) that brought his parents, siblings, nieces and nephews to Houston to celebrate this most holy of seasons together with us.

As this season is now in full swing, I have spent some time reflecting on the changes in my life.  Aside from the obvious, I retired from full-time teaching and now work when I want as a substitute teacher.

I am not completely sold on this decision to substitute, but it works for now.  I am open to new possibilities.  So, if something interesting should present itself, you just never know…

The kids are all very much busy with their own families and careers.  I am fortunate that they all live within a reasonable drive from my house, so I get to see them fairly often.  They find time to visit and fix things for me here at the house, usually at the cost of a meal with beers.  They are also very generous in including me in their family events, and for this I am thankful.  We did raise good kids.  With much joy,

I am pleased to have a new granddaughter, Gemma Lawrence, who joins her sisters, Ryan and Henley.  Another grandchild will join the family in the early spring.  He/she will join his/her sister, Penelope.

I want to recognize the gift of new, renewed and strengthened friendships that I experienced this year.

I am in a different place than I was a year ago, and I see things from a different perspective, and that has been good.  The presence of these relationships in my life has made things just a bit easier and a little less painful.  Thank you.

Sadly, in June, we experienced the death of my stepfather-in-law, Garvin, from cancer.  In October, my sister-in-law and dearest friend, Kerry, died due to organ failure while waiting for a transplant. Their absence is profoundly felt.

Along with two trips to California to be with family during those times of loss and mourning, I was also able to make a few other trips.  The kids and their families were able to visit me during a week at the lake home of a dear friend.  There was much resting, relaxing and some boating on Lake Palestine.  One of two trips to St. Louis was for attending my 45th high school class reunion.  The thought of going was a little frightening, but I survived, and even had fun.  Then a few weeks back, I was able to go to Orlando and visit with my brother, Steve, and his wife, Carol.   Attending the Christmas Candlelight Processional and listening to the choirs, while hearing actor, Andy Garcia read the Christmas narrative was a highlight of my visit to Epcot.  Turns out the parks aren’t quite as crowded the first week of December as at other times of the year.

My brother-in-law, Art, and his two boys will be joining us for Christmas this year.  It will be a different kind of Christmas for both of our families.  But, it will be different together.  And that will be good.

Traditionally, our family put out a Christmas letter using comic strips that shared a little something of each family member.  I came across this strip from Calvin and Hobbes (one of our favorites) that I would like to share.   I know Larry would laugh heartily and approve.


Perhaps, he is bouncing to the beat of Brubeck at this very moment.

At the start of every Christmas Eve service, Larry would invite those gathered to share the Christmas greeting in different languages.  Folks would volunteer–

Feliz Navidad (Spanish)

Joyeux Noel (French)

Mele Kalikimaka (Hawaiian)

Frohliche Weihnachten (German)

God Jul (Norwegian)

And lastly, Vesele Vianoce (Slovak)

Then he would follow up with, “No matter how you say it, the message is still the same, ‘Merry Christmas’. “

I will miss that this year.  But, it gives me a sense of joy that I am able to share this message with you.   A blessed Christmas to you and a happy and grace-filled new year!




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