Saturday, December 31, 2016

Goodbye 2016

On board the USS Midway

The perfection of Jesus’s divinity was expressed in the perfection of his humanity, and vice versa. He was God because he was so sublimely a man, and Man because, in all his sayings and doings, in the grace of his person and words, in the love and compassion that shone out of him, he walked so closely with God. As Man alone, Jesus could not have saved us; as God alone, he would not; Incarnate, he could and did. ~Malcolm Muggeridge 

Our Christmas cards went out in the mail already, but the year wouldn’t be complete without a letter. The week after Christmas is the perfect time to complete it. Or, rather, procrastinators feel compelled by the new year to act.

We mark our years by the places we visit and the people we see; 2016 was no different.

Mike’s year started off at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., to watch the arguments in a First Amendment case called Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association. The organization he works for, the Mackinac Center, had performed a supporting role in the litigation. The Supreme Court only holds about 150 people at a time; even lawyers admitted to the court must queue up at 5 a.m. to be guaranteed a seat. Tip: when standing in line for four hours in January, bring comfortable shoes, handwarmers, energy bars and a newspaper to read.

Then we were all off to sunny southern California for a mid-winter vacation. We saw the USS Midway in San Diego, Lego Land, SeaWorld, Disney Land and the Reagan Library. More importantly, we played at the beach in January. Rachelle’s parents joined us and we visited Rachelle’s brother Mark in Bakersfield (our first time visiting him since he moved to California 10 years ago). A brutal (by local standards) snow storm of ½ inch nearly kept us from getting to the airport for our departure.

In March, we trekked to Walla Walla, Washington, for Grandma Bigger’s 95th birthday and saw many aunts, uncles and cousins.

In May, we drove to Boston for two days of sightseeing and then over to New Hampshire for what was, perhaps, The Happiest Wedding Ever, featuring Rachelle’s last roommate Lindsay Jones and Ben Hansen. At the end of the month Mike and Rachelle’s dad, Rick, met Mark in Indianapolis for the bucket-list experience of attending the Indy 500. Later in June Lindsay’s parents Phil and Bev Jones stopped by during a post-wedding road trip. We were still exulting on the Happiest Wedding Ever.
Amy, Janet, Rachelle in Connemara

July found Rachelle joining soul friends Amy and Janet for a seven-day visit to Ireland. Amy lives in Olympia, WA, and Janet lives in Melbourne, Australia. So, Rachelle had the easiest trip, and still managed to get a travel virus and spend three days feeling miserable. She perked up in the invigorating sea air on a ferry ride to Inis Oirr, an island off the Galway Coast. It was cold, rainy, and gusty with some big waves. Her Viking stomach returned as she watched her fellow passengers not feeling quite as well. Despite a chilly, rainy, summer in Ireland and not feeling great, it was a great trip with good friends. Highlights: Slieve League in Donegal Co., Marble Arch Caves (in N. Ireland immediately after Brexit—interesting stuff!), the Guinness Factory Tour, music and Irish dancing in Galway, and the Cliffs of Moher—breathtaking!

Cesky Krumlov

Then in August Mike took a work/study trip to the Czech Republic, spending most of a week in Prague. The people there are courageous, having thrown off Nazi and Communist occupations in the space of forty years.

Grandma Bigger & Dad Bigger on Mackinac Isl.
In September Rachelle’s Uncle Darold and Aunt Barbara traveled with Grandma Bigger to see our adopted home of Michigan. We rented a house up north, hiked, ate, golfed and rode around Mackinac Island. (Some of us on bikes, others on motorized wheelchairs.) 

Aunt Barbara, Grandma, Uncle Darold
Parents sometimes need time away from kids, which is what we did with Mike’s brother Matt and his wife Vanessa in October for a weekend trip to New York City – our first time there together in more than 10 years. We walked (a lot), visited museums (MoMA and the Guggenheim), watched a play (Something Rotten) and took in the 9/11 Memorial & Museum.

This holiday season we were able to spend time with both sides of our immediate families, with a Reitz gathering in West Virginia and a Bigger gathering back in Michigan.

Ben (12) has taken up fencing. He continues to write adventure stories and has acquired a respectable Nerf arsenal. Kyrie (10) is our Irish dancer and Party Planner-in-Chief. Evie (7) is our gymnast and humorist.

Looking back over the year, we are deeply grateful for the gifts of friendship and prayer. Merry Christmas and a blessed new year!

Mike, Rachelle, Ben, Kyrie and Evie

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