Our Family Christmas Letter For 1995!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Aldriches in Texas!

We have appreciated hearing from so many of you throughout the year. Family and friends are very important to us and, although we may not see you often, you are ever in our thoughts and prayers. 1995 has been an event-filled year for us...

Rachel, 20, is a business major at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She spent the summer at home working in a law office in Galveston and taking a couple of classes at San Jacinto Junior College. She relishes the challenge that each of her classes brings and especially enjoys the relationships with friends. Rachel gets e-mail on the Internet at "Rachel_Aldrich@Baylor.edu".

Aaron, 14, started high school at Clear Creek. He has adjusted well to the large campus and busy schedule. His favorite class is 'basketball' and, as a starter on the Freshmen A-team, he continues to put his developing skills to the test. Practices are 5:00-8:00pm Monday-Thursday evenings, with games on Fridays. Since he catches the bus to go across town at 6:35am, his schedule leaves little time for anything else.

Philip, 6, is in Kindergarten at Hall Elementary (across the street from our back door). So far, he's been doing well. He goes to the morning session and his day care picks him up for the afternoon. He has been going on Fridays to a computer class near the daycare. He enjoys that and has used his new skills to play solitaire on dad's PC. He still loves construction equipment and movies.

Timothy, who will be 2 in February, is a "sweetie". He loves imitating his big brothers. Aaron, who is 6 feet tall, with size 13 giant shoes, and Philip at about 1/2 that height, and Tim, 2/3 Philip's height, make quite a sight chasing each other around the house, wrestling, shooting hoops, etc. Aaron tells the coach that Philip and Tim will be upcoming 'prospects' for the team.

Jon Craig has been traveling more often this year for Amoco to Atlanta, North Dakota, Indiana, and Chicago. The laboratories are rearranging their managerial configurations... Meanwhile, the new lab at Texas City has been completed and Jon and his co-workers are adjusting to the benefits of the new building. He took the three oldest kids and his (Keepsake Video) assistant, Quinton, to Orlando, Florida for the national wedding videographer's convention in July. They enjoyed visiting David and Diane Sander as well as Epcot Center and Disneyworld. Of course, Jon has purchased new cameras, monitors, VCR's, and other "toys" to expand Keepsake Video's capabilities....

On one of his trips North, he "kidnapped" his mother and brought her back to Texas. She stayed with us from January through Easter, when sister Connie came and took her home with her. We loved having Adelaide stay and hope she can make the trip again soon.

We also enjoyed visits with Jon's former college roommate Jim Penland and his family in January and brother Don and Lois in February. They went to the Admiral Nimitz Museum in Fredricksburg on this 50th anniversary year of the end of WWII. Our niece Signe, her kids, and their French foreign exchange student were here in March and toured Johnson Space Center and Galveston. Sharon's sister, Sandy, flew down from Des Moines for Easter weekend. (No snowdrifts here...)

This year, Jon and Sharon treated themselves to three get-away weekends: one to the Clear Lake Hilton, one to the Hotel Galvez in Galveston, and one to Fredricksburg/Luchenbach, Texas. We've also been enjoying season tickets to the Music Hall for "Singing in the Rain", "Carousel", "Ballet Folklorico", etc. Jon put the 'cherry on top' with a surprise announcement at church that, following the service, friends were invited to witness the renewing of our wedding vows in honor of our 20th wedding anniversary. He had secretly given a copy of our original vows and scriptures to Pastor Dan Osborn, arranged for a videographer, and even though the Rockets championship playoffs were in full swing, friends did join us for a precious service, with Tim as 'best man!" What a guy!

Sharon has enjoyed the change from two half-day kindergarten classes to teaching one class all day. Tim goes to day care right next door to her school in Texas City. Church choir and home fellowship group are her special activities. She spends lots of her time in the car picking up and dropping off the boys...

This summer, she and the boys drove home to Iowa, where Tim had his first haircut. Grandma Irene and Grandpa Al got to see his pretty curls before the big event. Aaron now has a 'Grandpa Al haircut' himself, so life comes full circle again. A highlight of our trip home was a visit to Norma Erickson's in Farmersburg, Iowa to the place where Sharon spent her own kindergarten year. Many pleasant memories and familiar sights reminded us of the value of 'roots' and 'heritage' and passing on what's important...

This year, we're sharing three short stories with you. All three are written from Sharon's perspective. Feel free to pass them on to family or friends who may benefit from them.


Early January, 1995, it was our turn to become acquainted intimately with words like "mass, growth, scan, biopsy..." Something about those words, grips the soul. Rachel noticed her thyroid gland was enlarged and we took her for thermonuclear scans, ultrasound, endocrinology evaluation, and eventually a biopsy.

Throughout this season of investigation, we sensed the peace of God which surpasses understanding. However, on one particular evening, I became increasingly uneasy over potential outcomes and felt as though a creepy character I called "The Gnawing Unknown" was crawling up my leg. I grabbed a nearby Decision Magazine from Billy Graham's ministries and read through an article about a woman who had been attending a prayer workshop. She usually came to God with a list of prioritized prayer requests, but she had discovered God's answer to all her needs was, "Worship Me."

She goes on to relate that her turmoil within was matching the weather outside. She looked out across the bay and observed a sailboat and a seagull in the storm. As soon as I read the phrase "across the bay" I pictured myself at my friend Darlene's house on the bay in San Leon...the gazebo, the seagulls, the boats... While the storm raged, the seagull set her wings, faced the wind, and relaxed, letting the currents lift her to a higher vantage point. Swooping down from above, she caught a fish, and continued to relax and be lifted.

Meanwhile, the sailboat struggled back and forth in the fray, many times tossed about while trying to get to safe harbor. The woman wrote that she wished she could be like that seagull and relax, but she knew she was all too often a struggling sailboat straining in the waves of life... just then, the phone rang. It was Darlene calling me from the bay, asking how I was, how things were with Rachel, how the tests had gone... The precise timing of her call touched me. God knew. God cared. ...about me... in my storm.

Later that same evening, I wanted to call our friend Russell in Dallas to ask for his prayers for us. It was Wednesday night and I knew someone would be there at church to answer the phone, but it just rang and rang and rang. Disappointed, I called Russell's mother, a school nurse in nearby Baytown. She was very reassuring about thyroids and their treatments, and said she'd let Russell know, if he checked in with them over the weekend.

Five minutes later the phone rang and Jon answered, "Hi, Russell!" I grabbed the phone from Jon and told him, "This call is for me." Jon had not known what I'd been going through that night. Russell had left services, which were still going on, because he had been overcome with a desire to call his mother, who relayed my message. Needless to say, the "gnawing unknown," crawled down my leg, pouting and whimpering, and hid his face in the corner...I knew, whatever the outcome, God had a sovereign plan, a purpose. I could set my wings and rest.

(NOTE: The thyroid condition, not malignant, is called multi-nodular goiters. Rachel will be monitored periodically for changes. She does not have to take medications or treatments and is fine.)


In August, while hanging stuff on a bulletin board, a plastic round-headed pin cracked under my right index finger, and I ended up with a deep puncture wound, a tetanus shot, a workmen's comp. accident report, and a finger that, in time, looked on the surface to be healed, but, continued to hurt. By October, when writing, typing, driving, peeling, and most anything still caused sharp pain, I talked to the doctor, who recommended soaking it...like I have lots of free time... Since I was home with Timothy, who was sick, anyway, I made time to soak it. Then, I got a disinfected needle and proceeded to investigate...

A callous was on the surface, so it wasn't too uncomfortable to start digging. Inside, I found an interesting perfectly cylindrical piece of scar tissue whose sharp point pressed into nerves when pressure was applied to it. I continued off and on throughout the day disinfecting, soaking, wiggling--like a child with a loose tooth-- until I could finally pull it out.

This time, I kept the skin pulled back away from the spot so my finger could heal from the inside out. I use the finger today with out pain, but, still have a tenderness in my memory regarding this: often, we have painful experiences that pierce us deeply. Although we look OK on the surface, our spirit's wounds continue to throb and fester, inhibiting our usefulness in the kingdom and denying the power of Christ to heal. Ask the Lord to minister to your hurts and heal you from the inside out. Unforgiveness keeps an old wound from healing. It's hard, painful scar is bitterness. Value relationship more than being right. Build bridges, choose forgiveness. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8


It's Christmas in Texas and I'm opening a bag of lutefisk, lovingly sent all the way from Iowa. (Lutefisk is a Scandinavian delicacy with a fragrance all its own.) Suddenly, I'm a little girl at the farm in Spring Grove, Minnesota, and Granny is bringing the lutefisk into the dining room. The adults are swooning, the kids are gagging, and hoping to eat fast and race to the tree for presents. (We would bury our obligitory teaspoon of lutefisk under the delicious meatballs and gravy, and acquire a taste for it much later. This year, we picked up our lutefisk at the Norwegian Seamen's Church in Pasadena, Texas.)

Click--click...I'm back in League City, again. Last year, Pixi, a nurse from Minnesota, who worked in my classroom with precious John, who has a muscle disorder, came with her boyfriend for lutefisk and lefse. Her Minnesota 'accent ' is refreshing. (In her spare time she does barrel racing in rodeos!)

Funny how smells can evoke memories of childhood... fresh bread, pink roses, new mown hay, clean sheets... How fast that time flew and now we're adjusting to life with Rachel at college--Baylor University, four hours away in Waco, Texas. I heard a timely T.V. preacher tell the story of a family with four kids who take their oldest to college. Their friends were trying to cheer them up by saying, "What's wrong? You've got three others at home to keep you busy..." But the family could not get away from the fact that one place at the table was empty...

The pastor went on to say that perhaps our nostalgia for the past is really homesickness for the future... our heavenly home, without goodbyes. Even though the Banquet Table is undoubtedly full of farmers and teachers, artists and engineers, nurses and builders... surely, there is yet another empty place...for you, for me...

We said, "So long, see you later!" to several special loved ones: Jon's brother Jim died from complications of diabetes. Timothy's birthday partner Marcelle Necessary, from cancer. Fellow choir member and teacher in my district, Marilyn Wipf Brown, a newlywed, whom Jon videotaped the wedding for last summer, bleeding ulcer complications. Four year old Laura, sister of one of my former students, infection... Aunt Edith, cancer... not "gone," just "gone on ahead..." Set a place for me...

Come back again to the stable in Bethlehem...and realize how the Savior still arrives in our midst quietly. "I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, that you may know the hope of His calling, that you may know the inheritance of the saints, which is Christ in you the hope of glory." Ephesians 1: 18 "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28

Rest in Him, beloved family and friends... merry Christmas!

P.S. Yes, we are having another baby due June 23, 1996. Isn't life fun!!!