2008 Christmas Letter

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone! This is a fun part of Christmas: looking back on the year and considering the plusses and minuses and being grateful for them all.

As are all years for everyone, this was a busy, even hectic, year for us here on Cranberry Hill and around the country and world where we found ourselves. The late end of 2007 and the earliest part of 2008 were filled with ups and downs and eventually a very big up: Christopher found a wonderful woman and was married to her in the Bountiful Temple. That is the short of it. You know that Pattie (I) is not usually at a loss for words, and since this is the ‘detail letter’, well, there will be details!

In last year’s letter we told you that Christopher brought Shellie and darling little Taylor Ford to Vermont for a weekend in October, proposed to Shellie who accepted the proposition to become his wife. They planned to marry on 5 January 2008 and started preparations. Without going into all the details (which I previously said I would) suffice it to say that their hopes for being married in the Bountiful Temple seemed to be dashed due to paperwork issues and they decided that they would get married civilly on the day they had planned and be sealed the following year. A miracle happened and President Hinckley went into his office on 27 December 2007 and there on his desk was Christopher and Shellie’s petition that the Prophet read and approved. On the 28th of December Bob and Pattie were driving to St. Albans, Vermont to visit Bob’s nephew and family and Bob’s sister, Ginny, who had come up from Florida for Christmas. As we drove by the Sharon, VT rest area the telephone rang and it was Christopher calling to tell us of the miracle of President Hinckley working when he was supposed to be at home holidaying and gave the details that because it was so close to the 5th of January that the First Presidency office making all the arrangements at the temple for the marriage and all that the kids needed to do was show up with their recommends. By the time the call ended, Christopher had scheduled Bob and Jonathan to fly out to Utah on Friday the 4th of January after work, arriving late the night before the marriage. Pattie already had a ticket as she had already planned to attend the marriage wherever and whenever it was going to happen.

The story gets more exciting from there. Pattie arrived safe and sound for the wedding on Thursday and went to her sister Jessie’s home in Springville. Thursday evening Christopher called to say (two days before his marriage) that he had been to the doctor that day and the doctor had told him that the months of headaches and dizziness and other symptoms he had been experiencing indicated that he had a brain tumor and that as soon as he returned from his honeymoon he would need more testing, having already giving seemingly quarts of blood for the cause of diagnosis.

On Friday there was a big storm in many parts of the country. Bob and Jonathan took the bus to Boston for the airplane and found that their Salt Lake flight had been canceled. They had been put on a flight to Las Vegas, so off they went. In Las Vegas there was no flight until 6 AM the day of the wedding. The marriage was scheduled for 1 PM. They got on the plane, but because the weather was bad in Salt Lake the plane could not land and kept circling and, beginning to run low on gas, was re-routed to Boise, Idaho for fueling. Pattie, who was driving Jessie’s nice Jeep while Jessie and Johnny drove up in the truck, set off with faith that they would arrive in time, and that she would find them. The roads were terrible in Springville. And Provo. And American Fork. Eventually, by the time she got to Point of the Mountain, the snow had stopped and it was raining. The Salt Lake valley was much easier on the nerves and she got to the airport, picked up the men who had just arrived and drove on to Bountiful where Jessie had reserved a motel room for a home base during the day. Bob and Jonathan showered and after changing into wedding clothing, the three of us, and Johnny Mullinex, went up to the temple, arriving in the nick of time, or a little sooner! Jessie stayed at the motel to take care of Janus’s three little girls, Grace, Anne, and Lauren. After a beautiful sealing, photographs, and a delicious luncheon everyone else went home and Christopher and Shellie came to the motel room where the men gave Christopher a blessing after which he and Shellie left to begin married life together, staying Saturday night in SL and leaving early the next morning for a week in Hawaii. Bob and Jonathan returned home to Vermont Sunday, arriving midday on Monday, getting in half a day of work.

Miraculously, after multiple MRI’s and other tests, Christopher’s brain tumor had disappeared and he seems well and happy.

In February our good friends Liz and Rik King again invited us to accompany them to Cancun, Mexico, an invitation they had issued to us several years earlier but which we had declined because we (I) felt we should use the money to fix the foundation so we could pass on the swimming-pool-in-the-basement finally after more than 30 years. On that occasion it turned out we did not spend the money for the foundation and Bob kicked himself for giving in to my claim on that money. (It turns out that the money in our savings account came in handy when we had to replace our furnace a couple of years later, though.) So, we said yes in an instant and began making our plans to accomplany the Kings. Bob had already gotten a passport and Pattie renewed her old one from the 1993 France semester abroad.

Excitement began to build as the weeks went by. Even more so when we found that one segment of our trip had been scheduled in first class seating! We did like those nice fat leather seats and the glass tumblers with our water or juice. Nice. We had a direct flight back from Mexico and would have loved the comfy seats then, too, but…

Sean King, who had recently returned from his mission in Bolivia, was able to accompany us so the five of had a lovely week. Sean was able to smooth our way in many places because of his fluent Spanish. This was particularly nice when we took our car, heading out of Cancun towards the ruins at Chichen Itza when we were stopped by gun-toting police or military along the road. Our very pale faces were quite noticeable as we drove along, I guess. Sean was able to tell them what we were about and gave the gun-carriers confidence that we could make our trip out and back safely.

It happened that during the week we were in Mexico there was a big economic summit there in Cancun just two hotels away from the Royal Caribbean where we were staying so there was a huge military presence, including battleships and cruisers cruising along the coastline. One evening when we returned from a trip, we were in time to see 6, or maybe it was 7, helicopters returning from their own daytrip out with the Presidents. They landed on the elevated tennis court right next door. It was interesting to see the helicopters sort of wheeled away out of sight.

While in Mexico we visited Tulum, another Mayan ruin, this one on the seacoast. This was a gorgeous setting though smaller than Chichen Itza. We spent six hours walking around at Chichen and didn’t begin to see everything. The next day after that I had to stay at the resort while everyone else went out. I was too dogged out. Tulum was only about a two-three hour walking tour. We also saw pole dancers there. Beautifully attired youngish men who are very very brave hanging upside down by ropes from the top of a pole very high up, swinging and twirling and untwisting the ropes tied around their legs as one of them played lovely flute music from atop the pole while they approached the ground. Wooffff!

Another place we visited was Akumal where we developed a love for snorkeling. The fish were stunningly beautiful and the coral reef beyond words. We saw sea urchins and barracuda and sea turtles. As we were coming back into shore at the end of the first day of snorkeling there was a school of fish twisting and turning and passing us by with literally thousands of fish. Unbelievable. The colors and shapes of the fish and coral formations were nearly indescribable.

Every bit of the Mexican trip was wonderful, even walking around the local shopping areas where we found liters of pure vanilla for $2.50! (We brought some home and wished we had brought more, particularly in retrospect since the luggage weight requirements have changed!) We were hooked on Mexico and planned to go again.

We were hardly home from Mexico when Bob and friends Al and Bruce shot into high gear with their preparations for hiking the Massachusetts section of the Appalachian Trail from south to north. Pattie dropped Bob off to meet the Thielens and Al Bergeron by 7:30 AM on 17 May then, while the hikers were ferried to southern Massachusetts to meet the AT, Pattie drove south to Northampton to the WEBS yarn store which was having its annual tent sale and fleece market. What a find!! After an hour of shopping Pattie dragged herself and a bag almost too awkward to carry back to the car and rushed back north to attend a baby shower ever so briefly then pick up two sisters to go to Concord, NH for Stake Conference.

Bob and the men made better time than they expected and returned home a day early so Bob was able to rest up a bit before returning to work after Memorial Day. On July 4th Pattie drove to Manchester to pick up Christopher, who was coming to work on the barn at Riverbow with cousin Jeremiah Curtis, hoping to whip it into shape so they could begin construction on the barn apartments. (While there in South Royalton working on the barn, Christopher and Jeremiah burned a lot of brush and old boards, etc, and managed to ignite the very old two-story chicken house which was totally incinerated within minutes.) The bonus on the July 4 trip was that Christopher brought his nieces Grace, age 11, and Anne, just turned 5 a few days earlier who were to spend five weeks with Grammie and Grandpa Crossett, a highly anticipated event by all.

We did many fun things while the girls were here. Grace had learned how to knit the fall before when her Aunt Megan spent some time with her. She had knit a scarf and wanted to do some more knitting. The first week we were together the girls and Grammie went to the Green Mountain Spinnery in Putney to see how yarn is made in an old-fashioned spinnery. It was very interesting and we purchased some yarn for Grammie to work on a felted slipper project while the visit progressed. Grace did a lot of knitting and both girls and Grammie did a lot of running around VT and NH including a cruise on Lake Winnipesauke with Sister Phyllis Vogel. (Grace actually knit a beautiful blanket for her little sister Lauren, a preemie hat, and got well-started on a bag to felt, which she took home to complete.) Anne wanted to learn to knit as well but the needles we had were too long so we put it off until next year. On the day we cruised on the lake we stopped at a famous yarn shop right next to the cruise line embarkation point and discovered some lovely rich yarn and the perfect wooden knitting needles on sale, a fact which Grammie felt compelled to appreciate fully! Grammie and Grace planned cable pullover sweater which Grammie going to knit, and finally did finish while in Mexico and sent it along to Grace, who loves it. It was a satisfying project though the beginning planning/measuring/gauging stages were very lengthy. Pictures of the sweater are available at The Country Wife Knits and on Ravelry.

While the girls were visiting, Megan called us to say she had decided to marry JB Green, and the date was going to be August 8th, the day after the girls and I were to return to Utah. During Pattie’s trip to Utah, after returning the girls to their mom and dad, Jessie, Pattie and Megan had planned to go to New Mexico to visit our dearly loved and much missed friends Bill and Judy Loftus who had moved to Alamogordo in August 2007. The wedding made a change in that trip south!

As soon as Megan made her plans known, Bob purchased a ticket to Utah and Jonathan and his whole family did, as well, after receiving authorization to telecommute for three weeks. Christopher has just built a beautiful and spacious home in Herriman, Utah and had invited Jonathan, Alissa, and the boys to stay with him and Shellie and Taylor for the duration.

On 7 August Pattie returned the girls to Utah expecting to enjoy Megan’s wedding at 8 AM on the 8th day of the 8th month in 2008. No problems flying for the ladies. Pattie purchased TV for both girls so they were blessedly happy and comfortable for the whole first flight while Pattie spent the flight knitting. From Denver to SLC, on the other hand, was a different story. Grammie began to lose ground as the girls began to lose ground…No further details there!!!

Bob had another exciting travel-to-marriage adventure. He flew out on a later flight from Hartford but the weather was bad and he arrived in Minneapolis five minutes after the last SLC plane left. He called to say go on with the marriage without him as he was not going to arrive until 11:30 AM. We called the temple and eventually rescheduled the sealing for 7 PM. We went ahead with the luncheon reception anyway and had a nice time with family and friends. Pattie and Megan drove to SL airport to pick Bob up and returned at 5:15, just in time for Bob to shower, dress (again in a motel room which Jessie had purchased for a staging area for the family), and get to the temple with Megan and JB at 6 PM. Bob and Pattie stayed with Janus overnight Friday then went to Christopher’s on Saturday, stayed overnight there, and after Sacrament Meeting on Sunday Christopher and Jonathan took Bob to the airport. When they returned, bringing Julius Corwin’s luggage that had been lost at the airport earlier in the week, Pattie took the luggage and headed to Jessie’s home in Springville, and moments later set out on the 13-hour trip to Alamogordo, New Mexico through glorious geography to visit Bill and Judy Loftus…a wonderful time together as sisters, and a fabulous visit with dear friends, arriving mid-afternoon Monday and leaving just after noon on Tuesday returning to Springville Wednesday. Pattie went to Christopher and Shellie’s house on Thursday and home Friday early AM; home with the plan of collapsing in bed to sleep until October. Well, that was a nice thought which didn’t actually happen.

Our plans for returning to Mexico reached fruition when we went to Playa del Carmen, for two weeks in mid-October, this time without a Spanish-speaking guide as we had had in April. It was a wonderful relaxing time; our third vacation in 35 years of marriage, and second in six months!! It rained a lot, but was warm and lovely. Yoga, Spanish lessons, walking and running on the beach, snorkeling the last day only as the surf was too rough from a hurricane that had recently passed through the Caribbean, plus shopping in town for our groceries were our major activities. We loved the time together and thoroughly enjoyed just resting in a quiet lovely place. We spent a lot of time outdoors…though Pattie was sunburned early on and didn’t go out in the sun again for a week. She read four books, finished knitting Grace’s sweater, worked on a pair of socks, knit up baby washcloths for the concierge’s children and another washcloth for the lavandiera. Bob had a bout with a bug for some little time but he eventually snapped out of it. Pattie caught the same bug the day we flew home and spent a week down.

We plan to return next fall to Mexico and hope to have a little more Spanish by then, and Pattie hopes to be a bit stronger and fitter.

November brought Thanksgiving, our favorite holiday. We loved having Robbie and Jonathan, Alissa, Eldon and Caleb come to our house for Thanksgiving dinner…this year a little more reasonable feast than usual, but still much food to send home with Robbie and Jonathan’s family.

As we sit here in mid-December we look back at a year of miracles and joys, a year of stretching in many ways. Bob still serves in the bishopric and loves that service. He continues to work at the computer help desk at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, and spends every lunch half-hour hiking around the hospital trails, no matter the weather. Pattie still loves being an ordinance worker in the Boston temple and particularly enjoys trips when she is accompanied by other members of the ward. In March she was called to be the Gospel Principles teacher at church and loves the good people who are in her class each week. She substituted as Institute teacher for at the end of August through September and part of October. She is barely keeping up with her duties as ward webpage administrator as there seem to be endless changes in ward leadership responsibilities.

During this year we have many times felt the Spirit of the Savior of the world as He touched our lives during lessons, during meetings at church, during prayers, during acts of service to us and by us, as we saw beautiful rainbows, and just whenever He wanted to make our lives sweeter. We love Him and know surely that He really did do what He came here to do, which was to atone for our sins so that we can all return to live in His presence again one day. Our hearts are filled with gratitude for the many evidences we see of His goodness and light in our lives and the lives of those around us and those we love. We hope that each of you has this same assurance of His love and grace in your lives, and wish you the very best of new years.

With love to all, Bob and Pattie Crossett

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