Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Our Christmas Letter 2013

Christmas Greetings from 
the Braga-Henebrys in South Dakota!
I am to recount to you the events of this past year. And there have been several! Just to clarify, your humble servant, the Writer, is Maria. Upon the suggestion of my dear mother I have undertaken to write a Christmas letter in a concise manner… and so I begin.

In April, Patrick moved to Amsterdam for an uncertain amount of time, on the suggestion of the Dutch company he works for. He has all the comforts of a European lifestyle, including being walking-distance from all the restaurants, being biking-distance from everything else he needs, and renting an apartment with incredibly steep and narrow stairs. (Dad visited him on the way back from Uzbekistan in November, and can vouch for the steepness and narrowness—along with the distressing, nearly-empty fridge!)

Claudia has officially become Mrs. Berrada! She married Othman in August in a wedding full of fun, family, and friends. After the church ceremony and not too-tiring photo-session, we headed to downtown Sioux Falls for the Dinner & Dance at the Museum of Visual Materials, which proved to be a fantastic venue. We all danced all night with Uncle Dave aka Critterman being the perfect DJ. We were so fortunate to meet our French-speaking in-laws, who had traveled to the U.S. for the joyous occasion, and we found them quite wonderful! With what little French I have, I was not exactly able to carry on a conversation with them, but I enjoyed listening to their delightfully foreign chats with those people who could really communicate. The newlyweds are renting a colorful apartment (literally colorful), and Claudia is enjoying teaching English as much as ever. She has a new blog: fourcontinentsmylens.blogspot.com.

Gus is finishing up senior year in Classical Philology at The University of Dallas, and is working in the Admissions Office. He waited tables during summer session and says it was the hardest thing he’s ever learned to do. Poor Gussie. He lives off-campus (which means he has considerably less food than before and Mom worries that he is “so thin”) and is currently trying to decide on a topic for his 80-page Senior Thesis. (I hope I don’t have to write such a long thesis when I am a senior in college!) .

Thomas transferred to SDSU in January and is double-majoring in Geography and GIS (what that is I’m rather uncertain), working different jobs including at the Rolling Acres School in Lake Benton, MN, and is living with us in our four-bedroom townhouse. He joins us in our parish church choir, too. And I just realized that I forgot to say we moved to Brookings! How could I forget something like that? Anyway, yes, we moved to Brookings in late August. We are renting, shall I say, a cozy townhouse that consists of a one-room main-floor. (We still aren’t sure where Patrick is sleeping when he comes soon to spend Christmas with us.…)

Isabel started her college life at University of St. Thomas, a Catholic college in St. Paul, MN. She is absolutely loving it. With her proximity to SD, the reason for her not visiting so often must be that she likes college better than her family.… Or maybe she is just really busy. Or that she doesn’t have a car? She certainly doesn’t have free time, what with her gazillion new friends and practicing her huge piano pieces. She is majoring in Music Education (and attempting it in 4 years) and minoring in Catholic Studies.

I’ll be 15 in March and started high school. I honestly think that eighth grade was more difficult than freshman year, perhaps because I took several high school classes last year. I take four online classes, including (gasp of delight) Fiction Writing! My teacher is wonderful, and I have enjoyed it to no end. I’m also on my third year of Latin at the Catholic High School, and my class (which consists of four people) is much further in the book than we technically should be. We finished the official “end” of Latin III in October. (Needless to say, our teacher loves us.) With all this high school credit I seem to be collecting, I have been considering graduating a year early. I have spoken with several people on the subject, the most definitive pro I could get was: “You’ll have less high school.”

Tessie started out the school year in public school. (Brookings has exactly one middle school.) She gratefully quit around Halloween, and has been appreciating the conveniences of homeschooling with renewed vigor. She still goes to the school (which happens to be across the street) twice a week for art and music. She and I have voice lessons, sing duets and solos, and Tessie auditioned and made it to State Junior Honor Choir which is coming up in January. Art is still what she spends hours and hours doing, and Mom has a special tag on the blog just for her art: “Number Seven’s Drawings”. Tessie just turned 13 and is a volunteer at the local Humane Society, where she spends time playing with the many adoptable kittens. We are all very proud of her.

Mom and Dad are trying to figure out what our new home will be like. They sold the acreage “by owner” after one open house, but finding a new home here has proven to be a much different story. So they are beginning to contemplate building a house (Tessie and I say yes!) Of course they will have to win the lottery as Mom wants enough bedrooms and bathrooms for all of us, and room for all future grandchildren to play! I guess after living in this townhouse we are all equally thirsting for space? In a book about Jane Austen I read recently, their “small cottage” had seven bedrooms. Why don’t they make houses like that anymore? Mom (of course) already knows half the parish, joined Bible Study, and started two book clubs this fall. She and I love singing at the church choir under the direction of the SDSU choir director. I feel spoiled, singing with talented musicians and such a good men’s section compared to my previous choirs! Mom requests that I add that she loves being called a belle-mère (beautiful-mother): isn’t that ever so much nicer than mother-in-law? She hopes all of us will marry French-speakers and she will be more beautiful seven-times over! She also notes that she did not cry at the wedding, but danced all night instead. That’s Mom! Dad has never been so busy at work in his life, and I don’t know why we moved here since we seldom see him! He says he is feeling a bit older after giving away his firstborn daughter. His international travel this year included first-time trips to Czech Republic (and visiting Prague with Patrick!), Japan, and Uzbekistan. He’s enjoyed walking back and forth to work this fall, and is looking forward to beginning again in the spring.

And now, that should be sufficient for updating you, my kind readers, on the happenings of the Braga-Henebry family. All there is left to say is, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, and God bless you! For the family, Maria Josephina Braga-Henebry


Tereza Braga said...

I finally read it! L-o-v-e-d the letter, thank you, Maria! Remember I asked to read something written by you at the wedding? Finally my chance. Sincere congratulations on your writing. Lots of love from Tia Tetê in Petrópolis.

Number Six said...

Thanks Tia Tete! Sorry for never doing that...I guess I got busy with moving and school. Glad you liked it! :)