Christmas 1980: A Year of Transition

Season's greetings from the six of us!

Our routines have changed a lot during the past year: Our family has grown, we’ve weathered a long-distance move, and now we’re slowly adjusting to life in a new community. We’re all happy and healthy, and determined to settle down for a while and establish some roots.

Undoubtedly the biggest event for us this year was David Michael’s birth on August 1, in Frimley, England. Because of his dual citizenship, he possesses both an American and a British passport, each with a five-day old photograph of him, eyes closed. Imagine trying to identify him from that photo in a year! Being both a Briton and an American, David has the right to reside and work without special papers not just in Britain and America, but in any Common Market country as well. Fortunately, though, he hasn’t expressed any desire to exercise that right — his interests are far more basic: Give him a bottle and dry pants, and a place to rest his head, and he’s quite satisfied. He’s never lacking for attention, since Cathy and especially Jenny enjoy mothering him, and Brian revels in being “big brother” to him.

Before David became such an important part of our life we were able to take two last flings at European travel. In late January, Mary and I packed our thermal underwear and flew to Leningrad for a week-long package holiday to Russia. We were greeted by snow and temperatures around -15°F. Brrrr! We spent three days in the historic city, before taking a train to Moscow, where we stayed in the shadow of the Kremlin. There was more sightseeing, a trip to the Circus, and even time for a morning swim in an outdoor swimming pool. (The time limit for a “session,” however, was 45 minutes, by which time icicles have started to form on your eyebrows!)

In April, we all took a trip to a warmer clime, flying to Athens and spending two weeks touring Greece. Mary was well prepared, having been enrolled in a conversational Greek course since September. Her spirits were buoyed when, shortly after our arrival, a Greek at a sidewalk cafe called out “Ti ora ine?” Mary looked at her watch, just as she had done in classroom drills, and replied, “Ine deka para deka.” During the first week we visited the classical sights of Greece, including Delphi, Olympia, and Mycenae. Then, because we deserved a rest from all the walking and rock-climbing we had done, we spent the second week on Mykonos, where we stayed in a beach-front villa.

When we returned to England, we began the preparations for our return. We were fortunate to sell our house to the first person who looked at it, and on a June trip to Los Angeles, I managed to get a job and buy a home. Then at the end of August, we bade farewell to our many friends, who had become very dear to us, and departed England.

We’ve settled in Newbury Park, about midway between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. I’m working for System Development Corporation, developing software for the Records Manager, a computerized filing system for the automated office. In early 1981, SDC is moving to Camarillo, only seven miles from Newbury Park, reducing my commute from an hour to only a few minutes.

The children have quickly adapted to their new life here: All have found school a “piece of cake,” after four years in a strict academic environment. Brian, now seven, has been charming his classmates with his gentle British accent, which alas he is gradually losing, as the desire to conform is so strong. Jenny, now ten, was the bookworm in England. Here, however, the sunshine has been too great of an attraction, and as often as not she’s outside with the other kids playing handball. Cathy, twelve soon, quickly got recognition from her classmates by breaking her arm during an October class outing to the roller rink. Her arm has almost healed, though, and she’s looking forward to a return engagement at the rink.

Mary has had her hands full, catering to the demands of a large family, at the same time working to put the house into shape. Her work never seems to be done.

We’ve really enjoyed seeing our relatives once again and renewing old friendships as well. In fact, one of our laments is that there just doesn’t seem to be enough time to do all the things we’d like to do.

We all hope that the Christmas season finds you well, and we heartily wish you a happy holiday season and best wishes in the new year.