Our Family Christmas Letter For 2003


I’m sorry I haven’t written in a while. Seems that time just flies by and the ‘urgent’ crowds out the ‘important.’  I do so love Christmas cards and hearing from you all again.  Thanks for not giving up on us while I’ve been ‘away.’ I did write at Easter time in 2002 but never got it mailed.  That ‘old news’ is posted at www.jonaldrich.com along with hundreds of photos of our recent adventures...  Stand by for the ‘fresh’ stuff…

Well, it’s another typical evening and Jon and I are out for supper again this time at a little Mexican restaurant just up the road enjoying spinach enchiladas.  (When I come back from school, he is often in critical need of leaving for a bit of peace and solitude, surely the opposite of most folks whose home is ‘the sanctuary’ from the run-around-day, but such is the case for this one who works “out-of-the-house.”) 

It’s during this quiet interlude that we get a chance to ‘share our day.’  He provides the “data dump” informing me of all his happenings, plans, decisions pending, etc. and, then, depending on if he’s sufficiently ‘up to’ being a recipient, I ‘fill him in’ on ‘what’s up’ with me.  On this particular evening I declared, “I am surrounded by remarkable people-not just ordinary, ‘regular’ folks but truly extraordinary people!”

Jon Craig Aldrich just plain is an extraordinary man.  Even though I’ve known him since first grade, I still learn new things about him and experience remarkable adventures with him.  We have taken several trips to Las Vegas over the last couple of years sometimes alone, sometimes with family members or friends.  While there, we rent a car and travel to national parks like Sequoia in the snow or the Pacific coast for New Years’ last year.  (We are going again Dec. 26, this time with brother Don and Lois!) 

He amazes me with his business sense and his video production companies (Keepsake Video, VideoComm Technologies, and AVC Audio Visual) continue to thrive.  The Internet provides global business connections!  He currently has four employees he works with daily and several part-timers as needed, each gifted and talented in their own right.

In early December, he took our family to Clifton (the Norwegian capital of TX) where we met up with sister Connie and Don and explored the ‘familiar Scandinavian heritage’ of Texas including meatballs and LUTEFISK!   Speaking of Scandinavian heritage, we were home in Waukon for a great historic milestone—Center Baptist Church’s 150th anniversary in August.  Our high school friend Gloria Jackson and ‘Craig’ worked tirelessly to put together a video history for the event.  She even sang, “Children of the Heavenly Father” in Swedish!

In November, we spent a weekend in Chicago with Rachel and her family. Our daughter Rachel is so dear.  She is a devoted wife and mother, homemaker, Brownie troop leader, room mother for Kayla’s first grade class, avid bowler, secretary in a law firm, and friend.  Although she’s experienced many difficulties in life including the death of her son and father-in-law, on-going health problems with her thyroid, her husband’s back surgeries, she remains unshakable in her faith and has a remarkable way of articulating spiritual truths.

Our granddaughter Kayla Marie Strzelecki, the amazing (of course) child, is a prolific writer and an A+ first grade student at Sandridge Elementary, where her daddy went to school.  She is keenly observant and sensitive, remembers virtually everything and, when you ask her how she became so smart, she will politely answer, “Because I am related to my Grandpa Jon!”  She loves her wonderful Daddy Adam and her adorable toddling sister Kara Ann, too.  Adam is in the pipe fitters’ program and loves bowling, hunting and fishing.

Our sons Aaron, Philip, Tim, and Ben continue to fill our lives with challenges and delights.  Aaron, 22, plans to attend a local community college, certainly a step in a better direction. Philip, 14, is an eighth grader who played football until he broke his wrist and basketball now that he is recovered.  He’s working hard in school and is close to ‘straight A’s,’ was recently transferred to advanced math, and did very well dancing with his theatre arts class in their Christmas musical.  Tim, a fourth grader, is soon 10 years old, also does well in math, and is prolific in video games.  Ben is a seven-year-old math champion second grader who wins ‘good behavior’ awards often and enjoys playing with his friend Darrell across the street.  

My mom, Irene Tweito, is without question, a remarkable woman. On the fourth of July in the wee hours of the morning, lighting literally exploded a tree in her front yard sending ‘chunks of trunks’ all over and knocking out several electrical devices in her home.  In late July and early August when we were home, she ‘let us’ hold the ladder for her while she scraped the remaining debris from her garage roof!  Right after we headed back to TX, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, a different kind of explosion, and after surgery at the Mayo Clinic and radiation treatments in Iowa City, she is hopefully 100% cured.  She’s been a wonderful wife and mother, teacher and friend, grandma, role model, and genuinely gifted person.

I continue to work with outstanding colleagues at Northside in Texas City where I’ve been teaching kindergarten for 22 years.  I admire each one for their strength of character and determination as they continue providing loving lessons for little children while being nursing mothers, having lost a loved one, caring for sick children or elderly parents, paying tuition bills for college aged children, dealing with health problems themselves, or any number of other ‘pieces of life.’  Meanwhile, they make time to encourage me or to provide ‘challenges for improvement’ both of which I need!  My students are also extraordinary—givers, encouragers, excited about life and learning despite their own personal difficulties.

This doesn’t happen often, but on a day when I was feeling particularly ‘down’ I ‘suddenly’ received an e-mail from Captain Matthew Kreider who was at the time stationed with coalition forces near Iraq.  While ‘surfing the net’ for a Christmas poster he was working on he had come across our www.jonaldrich.com website with our Christmas newsletters posted there and decided to write us.  The timing of his encouraging letter to me all the way from Saudi Arabia at the precise moment of my need was remarkable.  Throughout the unfolding history this year, we’ve corresponded and it has been a great blessing to be a part of his work ministering to our troops and their families who are giving so much in service to our nation.  He’s now back home with his wife Cindy and their two little girls at Fort Bliss, TX.

February 1 when the shuttle Columbia fell apart above the blue skies of Texas, two members of our church were aboard:  Rick Husband and Mike Anderson.  Rick was a wonderful singer in our church choir with me.  His son is Ben’s age and his daughter is Philip’s age. Both Rick and Mike were men of prayer and just great ‘regular’ guys. Being part of their memorial service was utterly profound.  The prayer chapel of our new church is being named in their honor.  Over the course of this year I have become better acquainted with Evelyn Husband and Sandy Anderson, their wives.  If you ever get a chance to hear them tell their story, listen well.  The God who sustains and comforts them is here for us all because of Christmas. 

Well, I could keep going for many pages about my remarkable friends and family and soon I’d begin your own remarkable paragraph.  You have touched and influenced our lives.  You matter to us and to God.  We appreciate your prayers for our family.  Thank you.  

We love you and pray the blessings of Jesus will be upon you this Holy Season and all year long! 

and of course Jon (Craig), Aaron, Philip, Tim & Ben