An Open Christmas Newsletter to our Friends and Family

The Markham Family Christmas Newsletter – December 2010
We hope that as 2010 comes to a close our letter finds you happy and well. We are personally on an upswing after a year of lows.
We lost Tess and Johnny in 2010. While Johnny’s passing was not a surprise due to his declining health in recent months, if you had told us last Christmas that we would be celebrating this Christmas without Tess, we would not have believed you. We are blessed that she spent last Thanksgiving here with us. By the end of December we learned that she had an inoperable tumor. She went through strenuous chemotherapy in January which almost took her from us then. We made a rush trip to Florida and God was gracious enough to let us keep her with us for a couple of more months. She passed away the end of March in her home with Johnny by her side, which was her wish. Without Tess by his side, Johnny’s health steadily worsened and he passed away in July.
Tess was truly one of God’s angels. She left behind a legacy of people who were better for having known her. She taught us all the true value of the words “if you have nothing nice to say, then say nothing at all.” She spent her life reaching out to others in kindness and love. She always was ready to help in any situation. God, family and friends were her life.
Johnny was quite a character. He nourished a love of maps in Jack. He was always there to give advice when we needed it (whether we wanted it or not). He knew so much about history and was always happy to share stories of his adventures. And we shared his love of travel which gave us endless things to talk about. He could always recommend some place to visit no matter where we were going in the U.S.
As we entered this holiday season with Thanksgiving, there is an emptiness we all feel due to the absence of our loved ones. As I look around our home and think of decorating for Christmas, I see gifts Tess has given us over the years. I think about times we shared with Tess and Johnny: campfires, meals at our home, endless games of rummy, dominoes and kings in the corner, Tess’s child-like excitement when it was time to come for a visit. These memories will keep Tess and Johnny alive as long as there are those of us who live to remember them. Their behaviors which wore off on the rest of us will be a lasting legacy, passed down from generation to generation.
Daniel worked for two months in North Carolina. But the rest of the year he has spent working on building up his own business of internet sales and he is working on an application that would be a revolutionary addition to a Kindle or IPAD. He spends pretty much 7 days a week, 10 hours a day working on one idea after the other. He is an idea machine and his ideas and hard work are beginning to pay off. Losing his mom and Johnny this year drove him to be buried even deeper in his work.
Lots of changes have been occurring as we make ‘sacrifices’ as we work towards our goal of financial independence. Daniel sold his beloved 1983 Scrambler in the Spring to bring in additional income and then we sold our 5 acres of land that Daniel’s office has been in since 1996 this past week. That will give us more operating capital, and less outlay. It does mean changes here in the house. The kids’ playroom will revert to Daniel’s office. We are going to put their toys out in the building along with whatever comes down from the office. Some games and such will come into the den…basically a lot of restructuring is on the horizon. And of course during the busiest month of the year, but that keeps it interesting
In addition, I have gone back to work. It is a bit of an adjustment after 14 years at home. I am working at J.Crew answering phones. The thing I like most about it is that I can work in the evenings and be home to homeschool and take the kids to things we are involved in during the day. A side effect is learning more about fashion (something of which I was woefully ignorant of).
Jack, Katrina and I have found a new church home. We are going to Blue Ridge Community Church. We really like it there. Jack has become very involved with the youth group at church and he is getting baptized on December 12th. He goes to weekly youth meetings and there have been pool parties and other gatherings. He has made a lot of new friends. Katrina loves going to Faith Girlz once a month which is a girls group for 2nd through 5th graders. She also auditioned for and was accepted by the AMPED team for this year (they perform during the Sunday service for the other 2nd through 5th graders). She loves performing! I was attending the Monday night women’s meeting, but had to stop when I went to work. I miss it, but there will be future opportunities. I am serving in the Common Grounds cafeteria on the Sundays that Katrina performs. It’s a lot of fun and I enjoy meeting new people.
Jack is President of the 4H Homeschool Clover Club this year and Katrina is the Recording Secretary again. We have been busy learning about the science of art (how you make paint, paper, and doing fiber arts crafts). We are going to be studying geology in the spring and are gearing up for our 3rd annual art show.
Katrina took beginning karate through a homeschool co-op this year and really enjoyed that. I don’t know if we will continue with the co-op in the spring. I am not as much of a superwoman as I think I have to have some time at home. Katrina also took part in a 2 week theater camp this past summer. She did a wonderful job in the lead role and it really lit up the acting bug in her. Our 4-H club served at the Hyland Heights Baptist Church Food pantry this past summer. Katrina and I enjoyed it so much, we have been going back each month to help on the 2nd Thursday. It’s a lot of fun, and we are glad to be part of a program that helps out so many people.
Jack volunteered at the Forest public library this past summer. He helped with the youngsters reading program and did other odds and ends to help the librarian. He earned a $15 dollar gift card to Barnes and Noble for putting in the most volunteer hours this summer. Now he is serving on the Forest Library teen advisory board.
Guess that’s about it.
Our family hopes that your family has a very happy holiday season. And we pray that 2011 is an even better year for you. If you happen to be in our neck of the woods, stop by for a visit! We would love to see you!
Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

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