Friday, December 16, 2016

Our Christmas Letter 2016

For the last time I, Maria, sit down to write our annual Christmas letter. I’ll begin the yearly report with Mom and Dad. In June, they traveled to New York for the wedding of Ursula Chomicka. They had a wonderful time catching up with old friends and making new friends, and Mom ended up baking two of the cakes for the international wedding. The next week, Mom headed to Colorado to make the wedding cake for Emily Marsolek and see old friends. While in Colorado, she and Patrick took the opportunity to visit the Benedictine abbey where Patrick had his First Communion, long ago before I was born. In October, Mom and I had an amazing trip to Germany, but more on that later. Dad has been doing his usual traveling for work, and spent most of July gathering data in the highlands of Kyrgyzstan. Mom has been even busier than usual helping at church and school. She was happy to be able to grow irises and gladiolas in the backyard, and took thousands of photos. She teaches fourth grade religious education, and helped with sewing costumes for the high school musical this past November. She and Patrick will escape winter and visit relatives in Brazil in January.

Patrick comes to SD to visit at a frequency that we appreciate and hope will continue. He is still happily working and living in Chicago.

Claudia, after finishing the school year teaching at the Casablanca American School, packed her things and moved to the U.S. in July! She and Othman are going through the long and frustrating green card process so that Othman can move here soon. He came for a visit in September and they chose and bought a car together. She is working at the Boys & Girls Club of Brookings as the preschool director, and they keep her very busy. She has recently moved to an adorable apartment and we enjoy visiting her there.

Gus had a good year teaching at the Chesterton Academy of Omaha; he then switched gears to enroll in graduate school here at South Dakota State. He is studying rhetoric in the English department, where his background in classics comes in handy. This means he teaches his own class of Comp 101, and is busy either doing his own writing or grading student papers.

Thomas now works full-time for the East Dakota Water Development District. He is still active at the Newman Center on campus and in church choir. In January, he will be heading to the University of Oklahoma to start graduate studies in Geography as a teaching assistant.

In June, Isabel texted the family with a photo of an engagement ring! The family loves Matthew Wilson, almost as much as Isabel does. So, in addition to Isabel finishing her collegiate studies and student teaching this upcoming spring, and Matt attending the University of St. Thomas School of Law, they have been busy planning their wedding in July 2017.

This past summer I attended the Thomas Aquinas College high school summer program, and it was two of the best weeks of my life. I have applied and been accepted to TAC, so that’s where I’m headed next year! In the meantime, I’m taking advantage of opportunities such as honor choirs, playing piano for the youth choir at church and for two different assisted living homes, and singing for Mass. As I mentioned above, Mom and I flew to Germany in October to visit Mom’s youngest sister, now Sister Martina OSB, and attend her First Profession of vows as a Benedictine nun. From the food to the five priests concelebrating her profession, it was a magical trip that we’ll never forget.

Tessie is in her sophomore year of high school and enjoying the small-town school life. She is still involved in band and choir, and she was part of the musical this fall, as well as being selected for the second year in a row to one of the school’s three vocal jazz groups. She helps at church by assistant-teaching first grade religious education and singing with me at Mass. In June, she went on the BHS band trip to New York City, where they won their band competition! She is preparing for confirmation next fall, and works on her amazing art projects (one of which won a national award) in what little spare time she has.

When you write it all out like that, it doesn’t seem like such a big family! Best wishes for a blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year!

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