Xmas Letter 1999

Dear Friends, Family and other Fossils,

Unlike the Queen who has to give an annual address every year, our family tradition is such that I only need to do this once per millenium. This tradition having been started in the last fortnight (I love using that word). As I review the last 1000 years of Goossendom, the first part of it appears quite dark. After some hard work, more and more Goossens began to appear in the netherlands of Holland and Belgium and even in Prussia. The Mennonite Encyclopedia (yes Virginia there is such a thing, it's just not out on CD-Rom yet) records the fact that in 1558 the hatmaker Goossen died for his faith. Maybe that explains my predilection towards collecting hats. It's genetic.

Once things settled down for the early Mennonites (how do you explain to your kids that you aren't Protestant or Catholic, that Mennonite is not the same as Mormon and no matter what their friends parents think, you don't have to wear black to be a Mennonite - although I've always considered Johnny Cash an honorary member) they spent 400 years travelling in the wilderness and settled down in Yarrow. This was fine because they hadn't been promised anything and it was far enough away from the Soviet Union that they felt safe.

Enough history. Here we are at the end of the millenium contemplating things our ancestors never dreamed about and they are probably dreaming things we can't comprehend.

Today gas was 49.9 cents/litre, and that was such a deal that I filled up the tank in the morning and then filled it up again after work. I remember when that was the price per gallon and my friends and I would each chuck in a quarter and we could drive around all night. What is it about the approaching millenium that makes everyone get nostalgic? I'm starting to long for the days when men were men and a cup of coffee cost a dime. Of course I didn't live in those times, but I did see it on TV.

Yes this is a Christmas letter. Give me time and I'll get there. In April we took the kids to see the Van Gogh exhibit in LA and then forced them to go to Disneyland as well. Boy they hated that. Not! (Isn't that a cool use of the current vernacular. Problem is, it isn't so current and I've just released that in some ways time passes slower for me than the kids and in others ways, it passes much too quickly).

We also made it to Manitoba this summer. While we were gone, we sent Mistletoe on vacation as well. (Mistletoe is our dog. If you haven't been keeping the previous letters, I'm sorry. But I can't keep retelling the same information, although it would be quicker to send out last year's letter. I just can't remember if there was one last year). Anyway to make a short dog fat, Mistletoe came home carrying a full load. In September she had puppies, Joan had kittens and the rest of us just watched all the excitement. Two beautiful puppies which were shipped off to Halifax, to bring joy and energy into other people's lives.

We've been trying to spend time at the cabin at Lac Le Jeune, when we can. Haven't gotten there enough but what time we've had has been good.

At the end of the summer, my partner and I sold our company. Oma and the Grandparents were quite relieved, now that the father of their grandchildren has actually gotten a real job. They didn't know how long this bum could go on being self-employed. Where's the security for their precious prodigy. Little do they know that my plan is to do what I really want, which is to write and paint. That ought to go over well.

Between Y2K and the end-of-time fatalists, I think it is better to look back first and to look forward last. Everything has changed and everything remains the same. Technology constantly evolves to try and improve the rough spots, but new rough spots emerge. In the end, as it was long ago, there are still rich and poor, people who are hungry and those that require justice and protection. What does God require? Read Micah 6:8. Even the Psalms, written a few milleniums back, speak to us as directly today as they did when they were written. They soar to the heights and search to the depths. The life of man has changed but the heart of man has not.

I urge you to spend a few minutes in quiet reflection. Think of the big picture and then slow down to focus on you and your Creator, and what his breaking into our world has meant for each of us. Have a blessed Christmas.

Peace and love to you,

John, Joan, Rachel, Bethany, Hannah, Tabitha, Natalie, Suzy and Mistletoe.


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