Monday, December 13, 2010

Norris Family Christmas 2010

And so, it’s December again, and how did we get here?  Each of us finds ourselves confronted with the Holiday reveling, rushing, purchasing, partying, and some mild forms of panic.  If you are even a bit like me, you promise yourself that, finally, this year, maybe you will slow down, take some time, and ponder the wonder and waiting of Advent.  But it rarely happens.  For me, the act of sitting down to share with you a bit of our lives is an exercise in slowing down and remembering where we have been.  This past year, together and apart as family, was marked by some significant moments, which can be sorted into some categories; Adventures, Celebrating Relationships, Losses and Gains, and Thankfulness.

Adventures.  In the Spring, Nancy, Heather and I visited Boston, to look at several colleges Heather may consider in 2012.  This summer found Heather, now almost 17, traveling to, of all places on earth, Albania – to serve young people there.  Her time was remarkable, she was moved by the depth of acceptance and love among a people with whom she could barely communicate.  Just a week ago, Heather and Dad snuck off to snowy Seattle to visit the Univ. of Washington, another possibility in less than two years.  Snow in November, what fun!  The fall found Mom and Dad helping Kelly move into her new apartment at DePaul University in Chicago.  Mom and Kelly did a great job of decorating.  Dad paid for it, thankfully.  Kelly is doing well at DePaul, and loving her sophomore year, with never a dull moment.  And to top it off, from the 4th to 18th of December, Kelly has chosen to travel to, wait for it….. Zambia (!) to volunteer her time in working at an orphanage.  At this writing, she is safe in Livingstone, and loving it.  Really now, what an amazing girl!

Celebrating Relationships.  In the end, these are what make life worth living.  This summer we all were graced by the visit from Canada of Nancy’s brother Dave, his wife Pauline, and their kids, Hannah, Julia, and Tim.  Relations between our two nations were significantly enhanced.  Also this summer, Nancy headed again for a week to Lost Canyon Ranch in Arizona for Young Lives camp – an opportunity to love and care for teen moms and their babies.  Nance continues, each day, filing all our lives with order, grace, and laughter.  Earlier this year, Heather was selected for the LIFE spiritual leadership program at her school.  This is something we are very proud of, as it illustrates Heather’s care for the deeper spiritual life of her peers.  In further simple celebration, this year was graced by evenings under the stars at the Hollywood Bowl, and in the elegance of Disney Hall, experiencing the beauty and mystery of great music, shared with dear friends and family.  This fall we joyously celebrated the arrival of two new special friends, Dan & Anne Baumgartner, from Seattle.  Dan is now the new pastor of Hollywood Presbyterian Church, bringing to a close a two year search, and a massive sigh of relief and a loud Hallelujah from Nancy!

Losses and gains.  Just after I wrote you last December, we said goodbye to our dear brown chocolate Labrador, Cindy, after 12 years of companionship.  This was a hard loss for us all.  But in the Spring of this year (after some rather subversive influence from Steve), we adopted a new puppy of similar color and persuasion.  Ella is her name, and she fills our home with happiness (and, Nancy will add, annoyances) each day.  At the same time, we remember our friends who have lost loved ones this past year.  Pets can be replaced, people cannot; this life we lead together each day is such a gift.

Thankfulness.  As for me (Steve), I will not be sad to see 2010 end.  This recession has been not a ton of fun, professionally speaking.  However, by way of perspective – I remind myself daily that I am simply overwhelmed with blessing.  I cannot believe I get to work with such a dedicated and fun staff.  Further, I have been reminded to renew my commitment to use our firm to help, encourage, and nurture others who are less fortunate than us.  And so, with that thought in mind this year, a Christmas gift in the name of you all, our dearest friends, has been thankfully given to Club21 (, a community service organization in Pasadena that works to support families with kids who have Down Syndrome.  Their motto is “Together Is Better”.  Truly, having you as our dear friends; Together is Better, indeed.  For many of us, this has not been an easy year.  And yet, at the core of it all, we have each other, and we still have the relentlessly abiding love of God, expressed in the gift of the Christ child.  We dwell in Christmas Hope!  And so, reflecting this, join with us in remembering the words found on the Oval Office desk of Franklin Roosevelt during the darkest years of the both the Depression and World War II:

“Let unconquerable gladness dwell” 

May this be so in your home and in your heart, always!    Merry Christmas from Steve, Nancy, Kelly, and Heather!

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