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December 2012

Seasons greetings to everyone! We hope that this December finds you well and happy, and spending lots of time with people you love.

It’s time to take keyboard in hand yet again and remember the events of our last year, telling you things you don’t want to know about kids you’ve never met and sounding pompous as I recount our travel adventures of this year. As someone wrote to me recently, I do read the "dreaded" letters, but I lose track of what kid, who I barely knew, married who. I care about the parents who were my friends and now all they can say about their advancing age and changing life styles is that there's a new grandchild. And that various members of their family are in various cities.

But I mush onward in spite of complaints! I'm not sure what you write about if not your children, your advancing age and grandchildren.

Other than having to bury some 12 of our friends over the course of the year, the year has been calm and peaceful for our immediate family. Walt and I are in good health, all of our kids are in a good place, and the grandchildren are growing up healthy. What more can we ask?

Walt had some frequent flyer miles and was itching to get back to England, so he went to London for a week -- and made his stage debut there. He attended a performance of One Man, Two Guv'nors and in the show they pulled "volunteers" from the audience up on stage to help move a trunk (and to be made fun of). Walt was one of the "volunteers." I was unhappy I wasn’t there to take a picture!

BudapestSm.jpg (70052 bytes) We both took another cruise, this time from Budapest to Amsterdam, with our friends the Blackfords. We started in Prague, took a bus to Budapest boarded the ship there. It was a 2+ week cruise during which we saw just about every castle in Germany, walked far too many quaint cobblestones in old towns, and saw lots of gorgeous scenery. It was our third cruise with Viking Cruises and we just love it.   We are already booked for Ukraine in 2013, with Mike and Char again, of course.

The photo was taken on the way to the Budapest castle, and overlooks Budapest and the Danube river (which, coincidentally is not a "beautiful blue"!)

Two days after we returned home, we flew to Boston. Jeri had done the orchestration for a new musical, Paragon Park, and we couldn’t stand just "hearing" about it, but had to see it ourselves. We were so proud of her, especially when a critic singled out the orchestrations...heck, I’m a critic and I never notice the orchestrations!

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We also saw Phil working with his group of disabled young adults on the "stumble through" (their term) for their upcoming stage show.  Phil was a tree.


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The creative team for Paragon Park

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We had a good time going with Jeri and Phil to see a game at Fenway Park.   It was just hot enough to keep us comfortable and just wet enough not to let us get too hot! And best of all, the Red Sox won.


Ned and Marta moved to a smaller house this year. It’s closer to Ned’s job at Jack-FM (where he has been for about 15 years now) and Marta can take their scooter to her massage practice office. Much more convenient than where they were before. Ned has made a lot of videos ("Jack-TV") for the radio station’s web site and they are always a hit. NMB.jpg (157091 bytes)

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Tom and Laurel ran their third marathon this year. We went to Santa Barbara to be part of the "pit crew," bringing them water and Gatorade and encouragement along the route. And we were there with Brianna (4) and Lacie (1) as a cheering section when Mommie and Daddy finished. They looked entirely too fresh to have just run 26 miles!

Brianna turned 4 in April and Lacie had her big 1 year old birthday party in October.  Both girls are such a joy, and Brianna is turning into quite the 49er fan. Lacie's too young to appreciate football yet, but her mother says she is "full of mischief and loves the cheering."

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I am still a theater critic. Walt and I see about 50-60 stage shows a year. As I say to everyone, the nice thing about the job is I get to see everything. The bad thing about the job is I have to see everything!  My co-author Alison Lewis and I had to drop out of the Lamplighters history project when "life" put up too many roadblocks, but I started a volunteer job this year, working at a used book store one day a week. I just love it and try to read one (short) book from the store every week. I also joined a book club, after wanting to find something like that most of my life. I am enjoying it, though have read some weird things!

Walt continues on the Board of Directors for Citizens Who Care, a local organization which advocates for the frail elderly and their caregivers, and he continues to volunteer at his old job 1-2 days a week.

My 93 year old mother is still going strong, still living independently. Her memory is not all that great, but the demands on her are not great either and she’s happy where she is. She lives only 80 miles away, so I am able to see her often, which is nice. I realize how very fortunate I am to still have her in my life.

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4 generations

As you approach the December holiday, whichever holiday you celebrate, may you have a celebration filled with love and may your 2013 be better than 2012.  Looking on the bright side, there should be no campaigning to endure for awhile, at least!

~ The Sykes Family ~

Walt & Bev ** Jeri & Phil ** Ned & Marta ** Tom, Laurel, Brianna & Lacie
Sheila, Lizzie and Polly
and, in absentia, Paul and David

Bev's daily journal:  Funny the World

Our Compassion International Family

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Top row:   Anjali (India), Fred (Philippines), Shallon (Uganda), Briana (Haiti)
Middle row:  Emmanuella (Ghana), Henrique (Brasil), Leniel (Dominican Republic), Murugi (Kenya)
Bottom row:  Theresa (Ghana), Wainaina (Kenya), Esther (Indonesia), Josphat (Ghana)