Holiday Newsletters

December, 1991

Holiday Greetings!

Greetings from snowy Minnesota! It's been a while since we could say that, but we seem to be making up for all those brown winters this year. I wish I could tell you about all the skiing and skating and snowmobiling we've been doing, but not so far, I'm afraid. At least all that shoveling and bringing in firewood gets us out into the fresh air too, right?

The Bishop Family existence continues to center around the kids' activities and schedules. Starting in the middle of 1991 C summer. Last summer the calendar was so full that we didn't even go on a family trip because there weren't two consecutive weeks when everyone was available. We all had a good summer anyway, but it was missed.

I'll blame it mostly on Shannon. She was out of the state (or country) for five weeks, and two other major trips tied up two more weekends. She did her second 150-mile bike trip from St. Paul to Duluth in June, this time with a friend (not with me this year, my @#! knee kept me home!), and she attended a marine biology camp in Florida while staying with my mother in Sarasota. Both Shannon and Sara went to Europe for three weeks as part of a cultural exchange through their German class. Shannon stayed near Salzberg, Austria, just eight miles away from Sara across the border in Freilassing, Germany. Shannon experienced some serious culture shock at first but ended up loving it. Sara loved every aspect of it (except the continuous rain) and will be going back to school in Bavaria for one term starting in March. My apron strings are getting awfully frayed, prematurely, it seems!

Jefferson did his share of tying up the calendar with two camps in August and his traveling baseball league in June. In addition to Sara's three weeks in Germany, she worked at her job at the public library. I managed to get away to Zihuatenejo, Mexico, with my sister for a diving trip while the girls were in Europe, leaving the men home to do some serious male bonding. So went the summer.

Notice no summer excursions for John. Poor John. Don't feel too sorry for him though. He does his traveling during the rest of the year. In January, he went snowmobiling in Yellowstone and talked about the beauty of it all for days on end. He swears that the pictures don't do it justice, but the ones of the elk and the moose and particularly the buffalo just feet away from the men and machines were quite impressive. Then there are his annual trips to Las Vegas, supposedly for the golf and entertainment. He isn't chained to Annandale, you see.

Two other couples and John and I spent a week in Cozumel last March. After all these years of winter vacations, we are getting less touristy each year. (Forget the cruise year.) We stayed in a house on the ocean in Cozumel and rented bikes for all daytime transportation. Three of us tried our first night dive. It was dark, it wasn't scary, and we'll probably stick to daytime diving in the future. Fish sleep too, you know. But now we've done that.

The school year brings an entirely different lifestyle for all of us. Jefferson is in 6th grade and has joined the ranks of the outrageously busy: sports (all, or so it seems), piano, Boy Scouts and school newspaper hardly leave time for Nintendo these days. But his greatest passion this time of year is the new snowboard that he "earned" by abstaining from all TV and Nintendo for 8 months last spring and summer. His scout troop has a goal of camping out each month of the year. When they were outside all night in November in thirty below windchill, I was cold thinking about him all night. (Actually, he was too.)

Shannon added tennis this year to her usual school sports. She admits, though, that tennis and golf are just an excuse to be with the other kids, and only gymnastics really matters. While continuing with German and French instruction, she is finally studying a language that the school system offers, Spanish. If we ever get to Europe, Shannon should be quite an asset in helping us get around.

Sara's trip to Germany last summer turned her upside-down. You've heard about trying to keep them down on the farm after they've seen Pair-ee. That's us. But she has promised to come back and make the most of her senior year of high school in Annandale after returning from Germany in August. So far junior year has been as full as usual with Student Council, Mock Trial, Speech, several advanced courses and a college course. She actually has been seen studying on occasion this year. (This not a bad thing.)

John's business interests continue to expand. In addition to cable TV, cellular telephone, and a paging service, he is presently plowing fiber-optic cable from St. Cloud to Minneapolis to provide long distance service. The Halloween Blizzard and subsequent umpteen inches of snow have made that task more challenging. Life was so much simpler in the telephone industry before deregulation! (And did YOUR rates go down?!)

I continue to appreciate being among the ranks of the unemployed which enables me to be involved with the school in several different roles. I coach the H.S. Mock Trial Team, sit on the Talent Development Task Force, co-chair Grad Party Fund-Raising, and tutor an adult non-reader. The job that kept me out of trouble all fall was coordinating the Middle School Activity Day. It was an all-day affair putting 600 5th-8th graders in several activities from a list of 55 choices. Our resident middle-schooler, Jefferson, chose origami, juggling, free reading, and tutoring an elementary student. My leisure pleasures continue to be biking, reading, gardening, and good times with family and friends.

This Christmas season will find us down in Sarasota, Florida, with Grandma Williams. Although it seems a shame to leave this winter wonderland, the southern relatives just don't seem appreciate our weather, however beautiful to us. So we'll just go sing Christmas carols under the palm trees again. (We really do that.)

Best Wishes to you in 1992 from the Bishop family,

John, Jill, Sara, Shannon, and Jefferson
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