Holiday Newsletters 

Holiday Greetings in 1996!

The past year has been a full and rewarding one for the Bishops. A big highlight was the week in August that we spent on a 45' sailboat in the Caribbean with John as our trusty captain. The charter company's skipper that came along to check out our skills only stayed a few hours saying that we would do fine because our kids were so "switched on." (He was from England.) And he was right; they were a great crew. Our sailing school experience last summer served us well, and we were also fortunate that the weather was cooperative, the winds were good, the boat worked well, and we all stayed healthy.

Jefferson, Shannon and I scuba dived one day, and we snorkled every other day. Sara only snorkeled once, and John only twice -- it was easy to tell who the underwater people were. One day when the anchor got hooked on a coral head Shannon just dove down the 21 feet and moved it over into the sand.

The only time I didn't take my camera along when we went on land was the day that Shannon got her hair cornrowed. While we were waiting for her a boy came by and asked Jefferson if he played basketball. (How did he know? Did he assume all tall American boys play?) During the 3-on-3 pick-up game Jefferson did fine once he figured out their game, which he had to do by observation since he couldn't understand their English dialect. I'm guessing he's the only person on the Annandale basketball team who has played on an olympic court in Tevas with players in braids and beads. And me without my camera!

Another highlight of the summer was a visit from 16-yr-old Anne Skrzeczek of Berlin. She is the daughter of Sara's mentor from the previous summer, and Jefferson intends to visit her in Germany next year. Our children seem to cross international borders a lot!

Sara's summer job was an internship at the telephone company in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she also lived just blocks away from Joel Nelson, the special man in her life for nearly three years now. Part of her job responsibility in Lincoln was to assist with the name change from Lincoln Telephone to Aliant Communications. She just finished her BA from Grinnell College and will return to Aliant in January. We now have ONE college graduate with a job!

Shannon spent her fall semester in Zihuatanejo, Mexico, working out of a dive shop with Mexican marine biologist, Juan Avila. She worked on seahorse and coral projects, dove several times a week, and made friends that will last a lifetime. She didn't want to come home! But she did, and in January she will return to Occidental College in L.A. to finish her junior year.

Jefferson is still active in school sports, and last July he completed the long triathalon in Annandale by swimming 2 mile, biking 21 miles, and running 5 miles in something over two hours. Then, this fall he took to the stage. During the homecoming week talent show at AHS he told some very un-PC dumb blond jokes with his co-MC, the beautiful blond homecoming queen, while she parried with stupid men jokes. And in December he played the Jester in the annual Madrigal Dinner.

I'm still playing the clarinet and going to school. A few weeks ago a friend and I played clarinet duets in church. It went fine, but we were upstaged by a man that died during the last hymn -- then he was revived and walked out!

I recently finished the final paper for my fall class and signed up for my winter class. I really get excited planning for future classes even when I'm agonizing over the assignments in the one I'm presently taking. I'm not quite sure how I separate the excitement of one from the agony of the other; that must be what keeps me going in "student" mode, I guess.

Turning fifty this year was something of a milestone in time, but not a bad thing at all. To the contrary, it is a celebration to have reached this age and have family, health, school, lots of things, all going well. I don't buy into the youth-worship thing at all, and whether the rest of our culture agrees or not, with advancing age comes many good things -- I wouldn't go back for anything!

John continues his mission of staying afloat in the telecommunications business. The retirement of his manager of 28 years has put him in a position of more active participation in the day to day affairs of the telephone company. Even though he was fortunate to find another capable industry leader to replace the former manager, the tremendous change taking place calls for greater involvement than ever before. He also became a member of the board of directors of the newly formed Bremer Investment Funds, Inc., a mutual fund family with headquarters in St. Paul. On the lighter side, he still enjoys golf, short junkets to Las Vegas with the 'boys,' and vicarious participation in his son's athletic pursuits from the stands.

The family gathering for Christmas will be in Minnesota due to Jefferson's basketball tournament during Christmas week. This isn't the first time that the high school sports calendar has dictated the whole family's whereabouts, and it probably won't be the last! My mother, brother, and niece will be here from Florida, Tennessee, and Arizona, but not my sister and her family from California. We already have sufficient snow to make the snowmobilers happy, so now if the temperature is bearable for all those southerners, we'll have a good week.


You can reach us via email at either <> or <>, Shannon is <> at college, and Sara will be online in Lincoln in a few weeks. Stay in touch!


The Bishops wish you peace, love, and joy this holiday season and always,

John, Jill,
       Sara, Shannon, and Jefferson