Merry Christmas 2016
Our Christmas cards are in the mail. It is the first year in decades that I did not write, print, fold, and send an annual Christmas letter. I have had an affection for Christmas letters since I was in Jr. High School. I think I wrote my parents' at least once. I would have bundled up against the Ohio cold and walked to my grandfather's real estate office where I typed the letter from my mother's handwritten notes. I likely used all of Mrs. Sauvey's, my grandfather's secretary, correction squares fixing my mistakes. I diligently read every letter our family received back then, keeping many of them long after Christmas. I still do. Annual Christmas letters have waned in popularity since I was in Jr. High. We get fewer and fewer every year as our culture moves online. Similarly, we are taking steps away from those square correction tape days. Last year I sent a paper version of our letter with our cards, but posted it online for those who know us only through following Nathaniel's journey here. I dropped the printed letter completely this year. But the goal is the same regardless of the delivery - to reconnect, to share our highlights and joys, to wish you a Merry Christmas.
Jonathan and wife Allie live nearby. Jon owns and manages a full service investment real estate and property development company, Core Properties StL. Allie works in the graduate financial aid office at a large private college. Jon and Rich recently worked together to build a custom entry wall cabinetry and shelving unit in their home. Allie and I sent texts of Pinterest photos back and forth to flood the guys with ideas. Jon and Allie enjoy traveling, friends, Murphy their dog, and reserving Sundays just for each other - a good example for all the younger siblings and even Rich and me.
Wesley is an Assistant Manager of Merchandising at Pink and recently moved into a flat above a restaurant in a super cute and trendy area of St. Louis. The street lights and activity below cast a magical feel over the apartment; it is the perfect setting for Wes. Wesley traveled to California last summer and sent a post card home from the Grand Canyon with four words - "I didn't fall in." How do these kids know that despite being in their thirties, we still worry about that sort of thing?
Bailee and Jeremy relocated to southwest Missouri at the end of 2015 and we have enjoyed having them closer this year. They work weekday jobs, Jeremy is an engineer at a stave mill and cooperage and Bailee is a Compliance Manager for Volunteers of America, but their love is working evenings and weekends on their ninety acre farm raising beef cows. Blaise Maria joined their family in June. We were delighted to be able to visit just hours after her birth. With Jeremy's two and Bailee's seven brothers, little Blaise has nine uncles looking out for her.
Andrew started 2016 in Wyoming working for the Bartlett Ranch breaking and training quarter horses. In May, he took at seasonal position as a back country horseman at Philmont High Adventure Scout Ranch. He participated in a July 4th rodeo for the third time - it is a long day waiting for that "all events are over - I'm safe" phone call. Philmont offered Andrew full time employment as a cowboy at the end of the summer season; he has spent the fall getting settled into his new job in New Mexico.
Peter lives at home (most of the time) and works for an outdoor sporting goods retailer. He spent the summer as Shooting Sports Director for Gorsuch Scout Camp and Denali High Adventure Scout Base, both in Alaska. This fall he traveled for weeks at a time to assist stores out of state - an adventure he enjoys. Peter completed NRA instructor level training for four different firearms this year and frequently enjoys shooting at local ranges with his brothers.
Benjamin is an Assistant Manager of an auto parts store and full time college student. He lives at home and when time permits, he enjoys working on welding and fabrication projects in the garage. Ben was very involved in starting a new church this year; Sundays, his only day off without college classes, find him out of the house before seven to help set up for morning services. We enjoyed taking Ben's girlfriend, Kristine, along for our annual family week in Lakeside, Ohio over the summer.
Josiah is a senior in high school and this last year for him marks our family's twenty-fifth year homeschooling. Josiah spent the summer in Wisconsin working as an intern for a photography company. He has a love of wood and like many of his siblings, a passion for working with his hands. He dreams of attending luthier school in addition to continuing to develop his photography skills. Josiah participates in our church youth group, works at Olive Garden on weekends, and responds with a cheerful "yes" to my relentless, "Will you run to the store for..." requests.
2016 was a big year for Nathaniel; the Laryngotracheal Separation surgery he had at Cincinnati Children's Hospital in February has brought significant benefits. He has had fewer illnesses and shorter hospitalizations. He started eating and drinking last summer and loves it! Nathaniel participated in a clinic based language play group last the summer, and I host preschool play group in our home on Friday mornings. It is wonderful to see how a safer airway has provided new opportunities and a more typical, less medically driven, childhood for Nathaniel.
Rich and I celebrate twenty-eight years of marriage this month. Our end the year anniversary always gives pause for reflection. Our lives and hearts are full; we are thankful for much.
from the Rankin Family
Unless noted, all photos by Josiah Rankin