Christmas Letter, 1980

Dear Friends and Loved Ones everywhere:

It’s Christmas again, with all the color, gaiety, lights, and the special closeness to the Savior which enfolds us at this time of the year.

Each year as I write my Christmas letter I wonder if I will have anything exciting to tell about for the past year. But, each year of my life seems to add more adventures, more travel, and much more of the good life. One thing that hasn’t happened this year is a new grandchild, but this will change about March, as my oldest granddaughter, Kathy, and her husband, Mike, are expecting. Mike is a football player and insists the baby will be a boy, but many of the rest of us say ‘a girl.’

This year in May was my big trip of the year, and one that I enjoyed more than any other I have taken. Up until this time the year was rather unspectacular. I’m still Homemaking Counselor in the Relief society and enjoying it very much. I’m working with groups, and family and have taken on some community service, which is new to me. I decided that it was about time I got involved in this area so took a position on the board of the Women’s Division of the Chamber of Commerce in January. This opened up a whole new world to me as I found out what my community is really like, some good, some bad, but mostly good. Recently the Men’s Chamber voted me in as chairman of the installation banquet for their new president in January. I haven’t the foggiest notion yet as to what I have to do but I’ll learn. One thing is for sure, it won’t be a lot of stodgy, dull speeches if I can help it. Maybe I’ll put a little Broadway into it. I’m told that this banquet has been very dull in the past.

Then came May and my sister, Donna, may daughters, Joan and Marilyn and I caught the bus from Pasadena to LAX, and marched onto a TWA overseas plane and flew to Frankfurt, Germany. A couple of years ago I got the idea of taking one of my daughters on a trip with me each, and I started with Marilyn, whom I felt needed a vacation worse than the others. Then Joan (the middle one) was going to be next, but when she heard about the plan she wailed, “But, I want to go when Marilyn goes.” This sounded like a capital idea so we included her. Then when Linda (my oldest) heard about it, she said she wanted to go when the other two did—and what a great idea! With inflation, it probably saved me a bundle to take the three of them this year. Linda didn’t leave when the o0ther four of us did because she had to stay for graduation of the college where she teaches choir, so she met us a week and a half later in Munich.

What a great time we had. From Frankfurt went to the beautiful little city of Heidelberg, and up to the castle. Joan and Marilyn’s first comment was, “Mother, you showed us pictures and you told us all about it for years, but we have to actually see it to find out what it is really like.” And this same comment happened all through the trip. We visited the Kukoenhof Gardens just outside Haarlem, in Holland. 40 acres of tulips and other beautiful flowers, trees, etc. We had a trauma out second night in Europe when we couldn’t find a hotel room in Amsterdam and ended up paying $46 each at 1:00 a.m. after Marilyn (who had gone with Joan to look for other hotels) threw a fit at the hotel desk and said she knew they saved back rooms and she wasn’t going to have her old mother and aunt spend the night on the street. They gave us rooms. After that we lucked out on hotels and sometimes stayed with darling families for a few dollars a night. We went to the ‘Grand Place’ in Brussels, then to Paris which all of us loved. We had Eurail passes so just jumped on trains, sometimes to spend the night. It is a wonderful way to get around and the best travel bargain ever.

Perhaps the highlight o the trip was the Passion Play at Oberammergau. This little village is one of my favorites in all Europe and I had been there several times but never dreamed I would get to see this wonderful presentation. The Passion Play takes all day. We were in our seats at 8:00 a.m. until about 11:30 for an intermission for lunch. Then we went back at 2:30 and the play continues until 5:00 p.m. The play is very well done, especially when you know that all the players are from this little village of about 2,000 souls. We were enchanted,

The next day we met Linda and went on to more of Bavaria, then to Italy which we all loved. Venice, Florence, where it poured rain, Rome, down to Naples to see Vesuvius only to find it was closed for a two day religious holiday. But, a taxi driver took us down and showed us as much as he could of Pompeii and drove us to the top of the Mount where we saw the rivers of lava and the view was beautiful. We must go back when it is open and see the whole thing. We were almost in the area where the terrible earthquake killed so many just a couple of weeks ago.

Before we met Linda, we also went to Bern, one of the girl’s favorite cities. We went on the 15 minute ride to Zollekofen and went through two sessions of the Temple. We feasted out eyes on the gorgeous scenery and picturesque villages of the Alps over and over. Well, space doesn’t give me time to tell more details except to say that we took the Hovercraft from France to England. What fun! And, spent three days in England. Rented a car and Linda drove us to many interesting places there, and then we boarded a plan at Heathrow airport for home. We keep saying now, “I wish we were just leaving on the trip.” It is so much fun for me to show these beautiful places to those I love. Can’t wait to go back.

Two more trips were made to California during the summer. Once for Chris and Marilyn’s Kathy’s wedding, and again to see the dance festival in the Rose Bowl, where 10,000 young people danced. A never to be forgotten sight. Marilyn, Chris and Donna were involved as executives for the Festival.

In October I went again to California to take care of Steve and Cheryl’s five gals while they went on the BYU Mediterranean Cruise to Greece, the Greek Islands, Turkey, Egypt and the Holy Land. They had a wonderful time, and so did I. Even though it got to a point where Marilyn or Joan would call and say, “What was the trauma for today, Mother?” But we all came through fine, and I always enjoy their darling girls who are all doing fine. Steve is still doing great in his catering business and Cheryl is busy decorating the new home I helped them move into last Christmas.

Then, since I hadn’t been to California enough for one year, I flew down for Thanksgiving and all the families there got together and had a wonderful time. I’m staying home this Christmas because Linda and Rich and family are coming here. If they change their minds, however, I’ll be on the road again and go to California for Christmas. Rich has just been offered and accepted another orchestra which I’m not at liberty to say more about, but it is a wonderful opportunity so they will probably be moving in the summer. Linda is still writing music for her publisher and others and also writes articles for the newspaper, and teaches choir at a Cedar Rapids college. Their Kent is getting married in the summer, just after he graduates from the University of Iowa. Linda’s son, Steve, is moving to New York to continue his work with computers. The other three are doing fine.

Marilyn, besides working for Steve has taken 40 students for vocal and dancing lessons in her Performer’s Academy. They are putting on Christmas shows all over the place. Chris has gone into two new ventures which promise to work out well. Their Julie is a sophomore at BYU and the two boys are doing well in school at home. I’ve already told about their Kathy.

Joan, Dick and boys are still working hard every spare moment on their home, and slowly making progress on the remodeling. Their Lewis is waiting for word on his law exam and meantime working for a law firm. They had a darling baby girl named Jennifer this year. The rest of the boys are working or going to school except for Matthew, who is the family’s delight.

So, as usual, I have much to be thankful for, and life is still a ’full, rich, growing experience.’

May your Holidays be filled with joy and love. Always, Klea