Our annual Christmas letter, 2022 edition

Heath, Fiona, Colin, Susan, and Dustin at Schloss Neuschwanstein near Füssen, Bavaria, Germany, 26 August 2022. The sun was extremely bright, but how could we not make this our family Christmas photo this year?

NEW YORK • DECEMBER 2022

Dear family and friends,

WHAT A YEAR! We rang it in with our first round of COVID-19, which put a bit of a damper on Colin’s birthday celebration. Midway through the year, we went through our second round, which put a bit of a damper on our trip to Washington, D.C., as well as Fiona’s Girl Scout camping experience. And, as we write this, we’re (hopefully) on our way out of our third round, which almost put a damper on Heath’s first field trip. We’re grateful to have had this experience in 2022 instead of 2020, when it would likely have been a much bigger problem.

But enough about COVID; let’s get to the good stuff! In February, Dustin and Fiona went to Argentina, with a side trip to Uruguay. Dustin’s smattering of Spanish served them well. While there, they enjoyed the cafe culture, the friendly dogs, the amazing public transportation, the gorgeous architecture, and the dulce de leche. Fiona was ready to go back the moment she returned to New York. While they were gone, Susan, Colin, and Heath went on some short adventures of their own, and Susan spent hours scrubbing the grout in the kitchen floor. While this may not seem like a fair trade, it was just what Susan wanted, since she had been looking forward to regrouting that floor for years.

The undisputed highlight of our year was our family trip to Germany in August and September. There was pretty much nothing negative about the entire trip, except that time the train between Augsburg and Donauwörth wasn’t running and we had to take a bus instead, which makes Colin sick, and then the bus just didn’t leave when it was supposed to and the driver only spoke Polish and no one could figure out what was going on. But, anyway, it all worked out. There was also the time an escalator in Cologne ate part of Heath’s shoe (don’t blame the escalator) and Colin’s bad luck with chocolate croissants, which kept disappearing under mysterious circumstances. We could list all the great things we saw, but that would turn into one of those episodes where the guy invites the neighbors over to see all the slides from their vacation. Basically, it was a great trip, and if you would ever like to go on a great trip to Germany, we would be happy to be your guides.

In our “normal” lives, things are coming along pretty well:

Heath (7) is in second grade and very much enjoyed his field trip to a pizza restaurant, where he got to walk into a giant freezer. He likes cooking and building cozy spots, dens, clubhouses, and the like, where he always installs a lighting system to up the hygge factor. He is a great example of helpfulness, often coming to ask his parents what he can do to help. And recently he gave a great talk about the scriptures in church during our ward’s Primary program.

Colin (almost 9) is in third grade and has become a great example of positivity in our family. He has learned to acknowledge discomfort by looking forward to its relief, as in “I’m so excited to get home and put on dry socks and read my book!” He is very interested in coding, building machines, and making stop-motion animation. He also gave a great talk in the Primary program about his favorite prophet, Elijah.

Fiona (12) is in seventh grade and is a great example of learning responsibility. She is getting better at taking care of things without being reminded, which we think is a very important step in growing up. Her drawing skills have improved a lot because of many hours of practice, and she’s developing a love of puns that makes her parents very proud. She is learning how to hold a calling in church as the second counselor in her Young Women class presidency.

Dustin is slowly becoming a better runner, but his plans to learn to play the piano are languishing (goal for 2023?). This year he was appointed as a delegate to the Queens General Assembly and helped organize a large donation from our church to food pantries across Queens in collaboration with the Queens borough president’s office. In the coming year he is looking forward to co-teaching a course at the University of Utah which will bring students to New York in the spring to study the city.

Susan is continuing to teach classes and plan the schedules at her school, and has also added an outdoor club to her plate. She and her fellow leaders have taken students up mountains and on service projects in the city. She’s also serving in the Young Women presidency and as a ward missionary, and is a Girl Scout leader in Fiona’s troop. Finally, she’s disappointed to note that some of the new grout is coming out of the kitchen floor, so she’ll have to go back to that project soon.

That, in brief, was our 2022. Our lives, and certainly the world, were not perfect. But we have so much to be grateful for, and we do our best to focus on the good and beauty in the world, of which there is so much! Among the good and beautiful things in the world for which we are grateful: you, our family and friends. Thank you for your presence in our lives. We hope that, in spite of its ups and downs, 2022 has been as good to you as it has been to us and that 2023 will be even better.

Merry Christmas
& Happy New Year!

With our love,
Susan, Dustin, Fiona, Colin, & Heath

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