Category Archives: Holidays


Note:  There is one (1) photo in this post, taken by Linda using a Google Pixel 6.


MONDAY 01 – FRIDAY 05 January 2024 — A new year begins with new adventures

Madeline and Cabela around 9:30 in the morning.  Mads looks happy but a bit bleary-eyed, so maybe we did let her stay up until midnight wish 2023 adieu and welcome in 2024.

The youngest and middle grand-daughters spent last night with us.  I think we let the older one (Mads) stay up until midnight, but maybe not.  Or perhaps she was tired and didn’t see the point.  I doubt that, however, as staying up until midnight seems like a very adult thing to do; and at the newly turned age of 11 years, she wants to be very adult.  Anyway, that was certainly my family’s tradition as I was growing up, and we carried that into our adult/married lives.  There was a period of time when my parents even hosted a sizeable party of neighbors and other friends.  We always went outside at the stroke of midnight and made a lot of celebratory noise.  Being in the St. Louis, Missouri area at the time, the weather might be pleasant or cold and snowy.  Marilyn had to return to St. Louis before the turn of the year, but for many of her holiday visits over the years she was with still at our house on New Year’s Eve.  And we were usually working hard to finish a large jigsaw puzzle.  Part of the tradition was also food, especially smoked salmon (me), cold shrimp cocktail (all of us) wine and finely bubbly at midnight.  Carbonated non-alcoholic options were always available, of course.

I don’t recall if Brendan and Shawna drove up to get the girls, but I think we picked them up and brought them to our house and dad/mom drove up to retrieve them.  The rest of the week, through Friday the 5th, mostly involved getting things ready for us to fly to Florida on Saturday the 6th.  From the calendar it appears that:  we renewed our domain name, and possibly our hosting plan; one of us had a doctor’s appointment, and; we went out to a movie with John and Diane and then had dinner.



Note:  There are four (4) photos in this post, all taken by me (Bruce) with a Google Pixel 6 Pro.


TUESDAY 26 to SUNDAY 31 December 2023 — Wrapping up the year

Marilyn was here until she started for home on the 27th.  Our calendar suggests that Linda (and Marilyn) might have had lunch with Diane on the 26th, and that Linda and I definitely went to John and Diane’s house for dinner on the 27th.  Getting together with them between Christmas day and New Year’s Eve is something we done most years since our eldest children were born in 1978, if we are not traveling, of course.  It looks like we also Zoomed with Paul and Nancy on the 29th, but that is something we do fairly regularly anyway.


The dinner table decorated with Happy New Year! 2024 napkins.

One of the things we did during the last couple of weeks was create a Happy New Year card.  In the past we have done a “year in review holiday letter” that included, as much as possible, at least one photo from each month, but focused on major events and outings.  We don’t have any notes on the calendar regarding this, so I don’t know the exact dates that were involved.  Nor does it matter.  What matters is we got in done in time to mail it out and have them arrive by January 1st.






The “girls” at work in the kitchen preparing the New Year’s Eve dinner.


Sadie’s place setting at the dinner table.  As Madeline got older we started using placemats that had something interesting on them for them learn.  We started with alphabet placemats.  This one has to do with addition of numbers.

Of note is that we decided to use Shutterfly for the first time to create the holiday card.  Our son/daughter-in-law have used it for some time for all sorts of things, including an annual calendar that they gift to us at Christmas.  The quality of the products has always been very high and Linda suspected that this approach would be quicker than me putting together the annual letter.  She was right, and we were both pleased with the result.



The big, and not quite as big, sous chefs with their 2024 tiaras.




Knowing that Brendan and Shawna would appreciate some adult only time on New Year’s Eve, Linda offered to have the girls sleep over at our house.  Following are a few photos of our dinner meal, which I’m sure the girls helped the “Ama” prepare.






Note:  This post contains three (3) photos, all taken by Linda with a Google Pixel 6.


MONDAY 25 December 2023 — A Christmas Surprise

Although we do not celebrate Christmas (Easter, etc.) as religious holidays, we have always gathered as a family, if possible, on these days.  Since Madeline came into the world 11 years ago, it has been the family tradition to gather at her parent’s house (our son and daughter-in-law) on Christmas day.  The tradition has always been to have some form of breakfast meal before opening gifts.  That meal has occasionally involved some serious cooking, but more recently has been fruit and bagels with lots of choices of things to put on the bagels.


The family at the breakfast table, minus Linda (who is taking the photo).  L-2-R, Chris, Meghan, Madeline, Brendan, Shawna, Sadie and me (Bruce).  Marilyn’s right arm is visible in the lower left of the frame.  Note that Brendan’s family is sporting matching holiday pajamas.


Madeline poses in front of the Christmas tree, which is surrounded by wrapped gifts.

Christmas is still a big deal for the two youngest grand-daughters, as the previous photos show, but this Christmas held a special surprise; the revealing of the family cruise in late February 2024 on the Disney Crise Line ship DREAM.  The moment was met with the anticipated squeals of delight.

The girls were, understandably, very excited, especially the 11-year-old (Madeline) who exclaimed (in a high-pitched, excited voice) “I finally get to go on a cruise.”  This seemed to imply that she was “finally” getting to do something that she felt she deserved to do but had somehow been arbitrarily and unfairly denied the experience.  And she was very much aware that Linda and I (Ama and Apa to Sadie) had been on a couple of cruises recently and obviously had enjoyed the experience.  But she had been to Walt Disney World three times and had a very tangible understanding of what it meant to be doing something “Disney.”  We also knew she had been hoping to go a cruise someday (sooner rather than later) and we were pleased at her obvious excitement, and that we were able to make this happen sooner rather than later.

The itinerary was western Caribbean, including Cozumel, but that was not an important detail at this stage.  This was going to be all about the cruise, which would include a “Marvel Day at Sea” and a “Pirate Day.”  Arrrgh, matey.


Sadie takes her turn in front of the Christmas tree and gifts.

The 5-year-old (Sadie) was also very excited, of course, especially when she understood that whatever else this experience might be about, it was going to be a Disney-based family outing that included her parents, sister, and everyone else in the room, plus her cousin Katie, who was not able to make it home from North Carolina for the holidays.

Linda had booked the cruise, in consultation with all of the affected adults, and we were covering the cost of the four adjacent staterooms and the shore excursions, with everyone responsible for their own transportation and hotel costs.  So, it was really a big Christmas present for everyone, including us.  There will be blog posts on this family adventure sometime in the spring of 2024.



Note:  There are seven (7) photos in this post.  Photos were taken by me (Bruce) with a Google Pixel 6 Pro, unless otherwise indicated.  (Photos by Linda were taken with a Google Pixel 6.)


SUNDAY 24 December 2023 — A Christmas Eve family gathering

One of our family traditions is that our daughter (Meghan) and husband (Chris) host Christmas Eve dinner.  We are not always home at this time of year, but when we are, we look forward to this event.  It’s not just dinner; it’s a whole day family gathering, and many hands contribute to the preparation of the dinner meal.  And it’s not just a meal; it’s a themed meal based on traditional dishes from other countries/cultures.  This year’s theme was African, specifically Ethiopian.  Following are a few photos from that day:


When Marilyn visits us for the Christmas holidays, part of tradition is to assemble a jigsaw puzzle.  ABIR, the one this year was borrowed from our daughter, Meghan.  I also recall that it was difficult to do, so I suspect that Linda and I had started on it before Marilyn arrived.  (Photo by Linda)

Marilyn watches as Madeline mixes food coloring into the icing for the cookies.  (Photo by Linda)




Meghan, Marilyn, and Madeline working on the cookies.  (Photo by Linda)

L-2-R, Brendan (our son), Sadie (the 5-year-old), Meghan (our daughter), Madeline (the 11-year-old), and Shawna (our daughter-in-law).  (Photo by Linda)

L-2-R, Chris (our son-in-law), Linda, and Madeline working their way through the serving line.

Another view of the serving line for dinner.  L-2-R, Marilyn, Chris, and Madeline.

A closer view of the main/hot dinner dishes.  Both our daughter and son are excellent cooks, and coordinate with Linda in making sure there are plant-based dishes available at family gatherings.  (Photo by Linda)










Note:  This post has three (3) photos, all taken by me (Bruce) taken with a Google Pixel 6 Pro.


SUNDAY 17 to SATURDAY 23 December 2023 — Getting ready for the holidays

Things were busy for us, as they are for many people, during the seven days leading up to Christmas Eve and the end-of-year holidays.  Our middle grand-daughter, Madeline, turned 11 years old this week, and we attended a birthday gathering for her on the 17th at her family’s house in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  She is almost as tall as Linda, and is so grown up in many ways.  We also built a gingerbread house early in this week.  It was a kit that our friend, Kate, gave us late last week when we met her for dinner.  Here are three photos of it from the 18th:


Gingerbread house, left oblique view.


Gingerbread house, front view.


Gingerbread house, right oblique view


From our calendar for this time period, it appears that Linda made a second trip to the bakery and had an appointment with her audiologist, who takes care of her Cochlear Implant and associated devices.

On the 19th, we had the core group of our neighborhood “gang” over for some pre-holiday festivities.  We really do enjoy the company of these people.  Although we are all retired, we all seem to have active, busy lives.  As a result, we don’t get to spend as much time with them as we would like.

Linda’s older/only sister, Sr. Marilyn, arrived on the 21st, having taken two days to drive here from St. Louis.  She has been a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in St. Louis, Missouri all of her adult life, but has spent many Christmas holidays with us over those years.  Linda and I are both part of relatively small families.  I have a sister and Linda has three siblings, and none of our siblings live in Michigan, or even close by.  We appreciate and value that our children, and our two youngest grand-daughters, have had a chance to get to know Marilyn.