Sunday, December 17, 2017

Thomas Christmas letter 2017

Image result for free christmas images

Time for another Thomas Christmas letter miracle!

“Slow down, you move too fast; you’ve got to make the moment last.” Words to live by, except when processing a virus or shopping for a car. Though in the latter case, one is treated so kindly at least until the moment of the purchase; after that, you’re on your own.

What really lasts? Not a total eclipse of the sun. You only get two minutes of “totality” to gaze in wonder, and the sun’s gradual reemergence is far less engaging than its gradual eclipse (like the days before and after Christmas). Living in the path of totality, we did not face the fearsome prospect of traffic afterwards, but we did have some good times with visiting family, who appeared to know more about it than I did.

I climbed a Teton this summer. Never would have planned it myself, regretted volunteering after watching videos online, but relied on an expert amateur mountaineer and a prepared friend (and energy snacks) to navigate the switchbacks, canyon, boulder-fields, snowfields, and couloir leading to the summit of the Middle Teton. Nearly four months later I still have three purple toenails, but it was a grand day.

A child who shall remain nameless asked that he and his wife be omitted from the letter this year in the interest of science. Frankly, my year may be more interesting than theirs, so why not shake things up? Remember that mountain! Plus two trips to DC for religious freedom (I ended up in a commercial); a campus workshop on that subject; a solid historical article; a plugged saliva gland the dentist tore apart while trying not to alarm; running part of 17 mile drive on the Monterrey peninsula and puking on a whale-watching cruise in the bay; a Thomas reunion in Colorado with cousins and a classy T-shirt (“Getting high in the Rockies”); ancestral travels in Colorado and Utah, including great-grandpa’s bridge over the Rio Grande; a bike to ride to work well into November, weather permitting. What could be more interesting than that? Note that Maria also vomited in the ocean, but I went first. Fun times to talk about me. Maria would like to add that she volunteered at the library and visited her dad in Oregon a few times.

And why shouldn’t our children peel off and start spinning their life-narratives for themselves? At their age, the problems are bigger and our leverage is limited; they should describe their uses and abuses of life’s precious span of years! I can cobble together a few things—none so momentous eternally—and see if you can match them to Brooke, Jordan & Hailey, or Hannah & Riley. Got fired; got promoted (sort of); bought a house; moved into new apartments; prepped for grad school (speech pathology?); painted a house with parental help; commuted from Lehi to Springville and Salt Lake for two jobs; bought a car; lived with cats who poop indoors; had game hens for Thanksgiving; ward missionary, Primary substitute, Relief Society secretary, YW counselor. Pretty much business as usual; if something big happened (e.g., grandchildren, mountain climbing) you would hear it.

Maria has spent the last two or three weeks bedecking the house with seasonal festivity. She has spent the last several weeks shopping for Christmas. Her Amazon wishlist affords me thoughtful giving (click and done). This letter, she says, is my great holiday offering. But life is hard, and trying to regale you with clever observations is not much of a legacy—I don’t want to inspire chuckles, but noble deeds and character. Just one problem: you cannot lift others unless you are on higher ground (or have a lever). As I sit in Maria’s recliner, I must admit that we are La-Z-Boy people (who Gordon Lightfoot never sang about). Some families have ambitious mission statements, like “We do hard things.” We don’t have a mission statement. One of these might work: “We do some stuff, sometimes.” “We might do more, but we’re tired.” “We do less harm than TV parents.” Out of this forgettable matter, Maria says, I must fashion art! It’s too much. To call it a miracle really does disservice to the noun. It’s more like a spasm of wit, a paroxysm of puns. This year I didn’t review prior years; it’s too much pressure. But if anyone anticipates this letter as a holiday highlight, then I have three words for you: “Light the world!” (Or, if needed, “Get a life!”)

And on that note, we wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or whatever it takes to light December.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Christmas letter 2016

Image result for free christmas tree imagesWelcome to Christmas 2016, plain and unvarnished.

Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” the word of the year. Evidently it describes “circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Fortunately, you’ll have none of that here; just clear, objective facts to move you.
Whiskers the cat was 15 when his kidneys failed and the vet euthanized him as we wept; Diabla the cat-walrus is 10 and totters toward morbid obesity. If we become like our pets, then we’re crippled, fat, whiny, & nearly dead. But just look at the enclosed family picture to know better! (Picture not included.)
Family travel is fun! (mostly) But not Hannah’s surprise summer visit; she got to Fort Hall before the engine head melted. (Thanks to Aunt Carma for meeting her at the exit ramp—we got a nice visit with her family in the aftermath.) Also not fun, a series of trips to Utah to help Brooke replace said vehicle—twice, since the first replacement failed within a week. Much more fun was the full-family trip to Oregon soon thereafter. We visited Morgans in Medford before lounging at a lovely house on the beach at Bandon for several days. Sure love the beach at morning, midday, and evening, even when cool, misty, or windy. Whales, seals, birds, rocks, lighthouses, and a petting zoo added to the fun. In April we finally took Brooke back to her mission in Louisiana. We loved meeting some of the people who enriched her service in 2009-10, enjoyed historic sites in New Orleans and beyond, and marveled at the gators and eagles who performed for chicken parts on our swamp tour south of Houma. That month we took Hannah to Arches NP, which was also spectacular and inspiring.
Maria says that graduation is more important than travel. (Yeah, right!) Jordan, then Hannah, then Hailey graduated from college this year. They all got jobs, some more than one, more or less related to their majors, and we enjoyed the visit with Hailey’s family when they came for commencement. Jordan skipped his graduation but watched his sister and wife receive diploma covers. He works for Porter’s Craft and Frame (on salary); Hailey works for Docutech (in Idaho Falls); and Hannah works at Springville Art Museum and Al Rounds’ Studio (in SLC). Hannah also checked out the national museum market in Washington, D.C. (a tad discouraging). But last month she enjoyed California, where a business card from one museum gets you into other museums for a smile. Riley got promoted at Vivint Solar due to his sunny disposition. Brooke lost a job she’d grown to hate but soon found a better job at a better wage—and they like her too. Hooray for jobs! (and breaks) Brooke and Hannah are regular patrons of the arts—visual and performing. Maria volunteers; I watch TV. Jordan and Hailey work a lot and play with their cats, who occasionally visit as proxies for grandchildren.
Hannah dyed her hair reddish and it looks “real good.” Jordan grew a beard (now gone again). Maria cut her hair short and dyed it “mahogany” (also reddish) and it looks “real good.” The rest of us maintained the status quo ante, except that I grew a mustache for a month, which made me look older and weaker. Brooke may well have tweaked nature’s design a tad on the hair front. As for Hailey and hair, I’m not really sure, but she often does yoga so that could be a clue of some kind.
Hannah wants you to know that she voted for Hillary Clinton. I want you to know that the 1st Amendment is bigger than elections (and write-in votes are fun). Maria wants you to pray for the preservation of the republic. Jordan wants you to buy more craft supplies at Brooke wants to marry an auto mechanic or millionaire. Riley wants solar energy to survive a new administration; also healthy ankles. Hailey wants someone to finally accept an offer on a house.
Lastly, remember that true hope rests in Christ—comfort for a “post-truth” world in commotion.

Merry Christmas from the Thomas family!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


Today was a difficult day.  We have been saddened by the loss of pets before but never quite like this one.  We had to put the family cat down. He was suffering from kidney failure.  So this post is just a tribute to him.  Whiskers.  Family friend for 15 years. He came to us as a kitten with his brother Mischief. 
Whiskers and Mischief

Whiskers was darker in coloring so it was easy to tell them apart.  However, one of their brothers was adopted by a family down the street and he looked just like Whiskers so they were often mistaken for each other. We have funny stories about those happenings. 

Jag, Whiskers and Mischief hanging out

Pioneer Day
Hannah and Jordan with Whiskers

Whiskers, Mischief and Hannah
Mischief in a bucket and Whiskers enjoying the sun

Unfortunately, Mischief was one of the pets we lost early on. 

Whiskers and Mischief snuggling on the sofa

Mischief and Whiskers on the sofa back

And eventually Jag left the neighborhood as well when his family moved.  But Whiskers got a new friend. 
Hannah holding Pumpa by Whiskers

Whiskers and Pumpa

Whiskers and Pumpa not looking too happy

Pumpa snuggling with Whiskers

Whiskers maybe just a little bit annoyed with Pumpa

Pumpa letting his love for Whiskers be known.

But Pumpa was also lost to us at a young age and Whiskers was alone until the next cat adopted us. She has gone through many names since her arrival on our front doorstep. Heshe, Diabla, Girl Cat and Fat Cat. Heshe is the only one that doesn't get used anymore. Girl Cat is probably most commonly used. Whiskers was not a great fan of Girl Cat so there are few pictures of them together. But here is one. 
Whiskers and Diabla

Diabla showing why she got her name.
She is a demon.
The rest of these pictures will just show Whiskers over the years. Well loved always and he will be missed greatly by the whole family. 

Whiskers being loved by Brett Hayes

Sleeping on his back. He looks like a raccoon. 

Whiskers making himself comfy with Brooke

Sitting on my Christmas puzzle

Snoozing in his basket

Drinking from the bird bath.
No wonder the birds don't come around very often. 

Whiskers' decline seemed to come on quickly. He had already lost 1/3 of his weight before we really knew why he was sick. The vet confirmed it was kidney failure and well into it. In the picture above he weighed over 12 lbs. A week and a half ago he was down to 9.1 lbs and he lost a little more than another pound before he left us today. He was so thin. 

Whiskers 15 years old
At the end he liked to snuggle up to this giant stuffed dog the kids named Seattle.

A very sick Whiskers 

So thin and so weak. He could barely walk.

And so today we said good-bye to our beloved friend. 
Good-bye Whiskers. We love you. 

As a PS I will add some recent pictures that the kids sent me.