Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to You in 2020!
Who knew I would be wearing a mask with my hands lathered with sanitizer as I write to you this year. What a year! An election year full of riots, oops I mean protests, and did I mention this little thing we call Covid! Changed plans, changed trips, changed lives, and for some, a year of loss. But even with all of that, we have much to celebrate this year in the midst of our trials. I write this on the first day of Advent, the coming of the Christ, the waiting . . . which is what we are doing this year: waiting for Covid to go away! Well, no matter, we still tried to live as well as we could and we feel blessed to count you as friends, so here is our Christmas letter to you.
The year started out fairly normal with the New Year, great Daytona race, Super Bowl, and Valentine’s Day. And then things started to go haywire. We got snow in Midland, lots of snow. So much that we canceled school – for two days! We should have known right then that this year was going to be strange, very strange indeed.
In March I went on a week-long trip with our sophomores to the Dallas area to look at colleges and do some relationship building while seeing some of the sights. When we dropped off the students on that Friday before spring break who knew it would be the last time I would see them that school year, weird indeed.
We traveled to Phoenix to see my family. I well remember playing cards at my mom’s house when we saw the news on our phones that the NBA had suspended its season. It seems that is when we knew the virus was more serious than previously thought, by us anyway. Well, when I found out I couldn’t buy toilet paper anymore because of a shortage, I thought Americans lost their minds. Then I couldn’t buy dried beans, rice, ground beef, or tuna. On the way home from Phoenix Missy and I learned that both of our schools would not be reconvening after spring break, for how long was anyone’s guess, but neither of us guessed the whole year.
And from there nothing was the same as it had been before: masks, social distancing, hand washing, closed schools, closed businesses, and no TOILET PAPER! But we have made it through and the Freese family has had as good of a year as possible.
We have been on our homestead for two-plus years and have added lots to it: buildings, roads, trees, gardens, work areas, decks, benches, plants, raised garden beds, swing sets, pool, trampoline, grass, walkways, planters, gates, sandbox, borders, fences, bird feeders and lots of plants. Wow, that is a lot of work! But we have enjoyed transforming a blank canvas into something we are enjoying each day. And, we actually harvested some tomatoes, pumpkins, and cucumbers from our garden and are hoping for much more next year with the lessons we learned this year.
Missy is still teaching at Greenwood ISD and is enjoying it, but I have noticed she is checking her retirement balance more and more each day, six more years, I wonder if she will make it? I am still at Trinity and have added the middle school to my Dean of Students duties. It keeps me pretty busy most days, other days I have quiet and pleasant days so I try to interact with the students, staff, and faculty as much as possible to build those relationships so when I need to be the “heavy” I have an established connection with that person, so far, so good. I still teach one or two classes so I am still connected to student and teacher.
The year of Covid has been a challenge for teachers and students alike. The spring was not very productive for much of the education world. I found it difficult to teach remotely with much effectiveness. I do think I am better prepared to do so now, but we are still teaching live and in-person classes to the vast majority of our students, thank you, Lord. We are following the protocols and guidelines from our state and the CDC. Both are a moving target and I am praying that this nightmare ends soon, as I am sure you are too.
We did manage to take a trip to South Padre this summer as a family. We weighed the risks and thought we could manage them and found a great condo on the beach on this incredibly beautiful island. We swam, ate, and found time to take some great pictures on the beach and around our favorite places on the island. South Padre has become the favorite getaway for the Freese family. It restores our soul as we enjoy the mornings, afternoon, and beautiful sunsets on the island. The grandbabies spend the whole day playing in the sand and surf, we have to make them pick up their toys and come in for the night. We love watching them and enjoying the closeness we share on the island.
Todd Jr. and Meg are busy raising Kennedie and Todd III (Six and Four years old respectively), while Todd works day and night (his schedule requires him to change shifts) at an oil pipeline company. Megan works at the preschool where Todd III goes to school and Megan is painting and remodeling the house; of course, the grandbabies are growing up fast, too fast.
Taylor and Jeremy are also busy raising their two, Emmalyn and Lane (Five and two years old respectively). Taylor stays home with the kids and Jeremy is still repairing and stringing power lines all across the country. He spent a good portion of his time following storms and repairing the damage they caused. He is currently working in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He is able to come home for a week at a time, almost, after a week on.
A special note about Taylor and Megan, they created a new podcast, What the Mother. It is fantastic! I am so proud of them and the large following they have found. Please give them a listen and let them know what you think.
TK is working hard at a local steakhouse and is contemplating going back to school and becoming a coach or a sportscaster, you can do both TK. He and his lovely girlfriend, Grace, are raising two large dogs, one of them doesn’t like me very much and TK remains an expert on all things NFL and NBA. He and Grace have been a huge help and influence with Tori Kay who is studying at home for a while.
Tori has been doing school the remote route due to some health concerns and is doing well. It is difficult being isolated from her peers, but TK and Grace are helping out a great deal. She started out as a trainer and made the drama team. She has limited those activities due to the effects of Covid and being home, but hopes to resume soon. She has grown both physically and in maturity. She is taller than her mom by a few inches and is every bit a young woman.
Sundays remain the most important day of our week as all of the family, and often friends, gather for dinner and football if on and usually some games and just good old-fashioned fellowship and togetherness. Missy started this tradition years ago and it remains my favorite day of the week. We do the cooking on most Sundays and look forward to it as the grandbabies run through the door and yell, “Papa, Grandmama” and follow that up with big hugs, nothing better than that! When they leave through the same door they entered we are also glad, because these grandparents are tired, but thankful for having them and being able to spend our Sunday with them. I know we are blessed by being so close to our children and grandchildren, we are taking advantage of it to the full!
We also make time to get away from town, every quarter if possible. This year we celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary in the hill country town of Fredericksburg. We shopped, dined, and enjoyed some local wine and music. This is a picture of us as we celebrated on a beautiful fall evening. We sat next to a couple celebrating their 40 plus anniversary. We had a ball, Covid or no Covid!
Missy and I set some goals this year and while we missed several, we hit some too. We have been podcasting for several years now but were not as consistent as we hoped to be. This year we hit our goal (or will) of 54 podcasts, one weekly and two special podcasts. We invite you to listen at www.twoteachersintexas.com. We are very proud of our work and would covet your listening. We tried to launch a marriage podcast, but came up a little short of our goal, but have several ready for release beginning next year. Listen at: www.purposefulmarriage.com beginning January 1. Actually, there are a few there already if you want to get a headstart.
We wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to each of you. As 2020 proved, you never know what the new year will bring, so enjoy today as if it is your last and do so with the joy of knowing the love of the Savior, Christ Jesus.
Until next time, peace and a very Merry Christmas and the happiest of New Years!