Christmas 1990

I am thinking of you today because it is Christmas, and I wish you happiness.  And tomorrow, because it will be the day after Christmas, I shall still wish you happiness.  I may not be able to tell you about it every day, because I may be far away or we may be very busy.  But that makes no difference - my thoughts and wishes will be with you just the same.  Whatever joy or success comes to you will make me glad.  Clear through the year...I wish you the spirit of Christmas.
                                                                                                                      Van Dyke

Greetings from the Tennison Family to you and yours this holiday season.  We are all healthy, happy and busy and wish the same for you.  The 1990 holiday season finds the family all living in Contra Costa County, California--five different towns, but the same county.  That's pretty close quarters for this group.  The year added two more Tennisons to the property tax rolls and thus more firmly established this foreign land of California as a home base.  This coming year we will be here twelve years, but just last week as I hopped out of a cab in Las Vegas and the Sky Cap asked my destination (weary and ready to return home) I quickly answered, "Chicago."  He gave me a strange look when I adjusted that two thousand miles west.  Well, you can take me out of the city but you can't take The City out of me...or something like that.

Ray continues to travel a good deal with his job with GE.  Supposedly his area is west coast only, but with headquarters in Maryland, his boss in Georgia, and conferences/conventions all over the map, he goes to many other destinations.  A bonus is the mileage that a frequent flyers pile up that non-frequent flyers (that's me) can use.  As an independent library consultant, I can now make my own hours and tag along to interesting destinations.  We went to Chicago in March for a friend's wedding plus a visit.  Ray came for the wedding, and I stayed on for the visit.  Also did some genealogical research at Newberry Library, which is completely remodeled.  Ray and I tramped around to cemeteries to locate various ancestral grave sites.  This genealogy has me in and out of multiple libraries all over the place.  I also spend a great deal of time on the National Genealogy Echo, which is a computerized bulletin board for genealogical research.  Fascinating stuff.

In April/May we traveled to Scandinavia for a trip through Denmark, Sweden and Norway--with a quick visit to Germany.  We began and ended in Copenhagen, so we spent a lot of time in that lovely city.  Traveled by car and ferries throughout Denmark, Sweden and Norway.  Norway's capital city, Oslo, is a fabulous place--Viking history, Polar Vessels, Nobel prizes and massive Vigeland sculptures all give this city a special place in our memory.  And the unusually warm temperatures--75 to 80 degrees in early May--were a great sightseeing clime.  From Oslo we ferried back to Denmark and traveled the length of this picturesque farmland and down into the financial city of Hamburg, Germany before our wanderlust took us to a seaside resort on the Baltic called Lubek.  This German town is a must-visit if you are ever in that part of the world.  Finally, we returned to Hans Christian Anderson's Copenhagen, and his "little mermaid" for a couple of days before our flight home.  With Disney's release of "The Little Mermaid" coming quickly after our return, I enjoyed this animated tale possibly more than most folks.  Well, someone had "to take Monica" to see the latest Disney release.  Actually, everyone in the family used Monica as an excuse to see the film--we are all hopeless Disney addicts.  We have the video now, so don't have to drag Monica around. An October visit to the Midwest landed us, not in Chicago, but in St. Louis.  Nice town, been through there hundreds of times but never really stopped before.  Visited the "Arch" and several historic places.  Not a lot to do there, but it was a relaxing trip.

December's visit to Las Vegas was not to gamble but to square dance.  We attended a three-day event being held for the first time with dancers from all over the U.S. and Hawaii.  And, small world that it is, met some people who dance with my cousin in Hawaii.  We spent the week-end prior to dancing enjoying excursions to Hoover Dam, Lake Mead, and Red Rock Canyon.  We met Ray's brother, Rich, and wife, Roswitha, for a fun visit; their proximity to Vegas makes them excellent guides.  We enjoyed the visit, a Vegas show, and the dancing. 

When not traveling, we landscaped the front yard with drought tolerant plants--after all, this is a desert!  Also rearranged several rooms now that we are rattling around in this house by ourselves.

Ray and I continue to enjoy our dinner/gourmet group, which we have somewhat downgraded from gourmet to, "The Meet and Eat Group."  Good friends and good food are an unbeatable combination, no matter what you label them.  Our card playing is limited to pinochle, unless we sub in a bridge game.  Must figure out some way to get back to this, as we both enjoy it.  Went to so many birthday parties this year with wild themes that we felt like kids again--but that is fuel for another essay entirely.  Our circle of friends has parties for any and every occasion--I had one in early November just so we could thumb through "junk mail" catalogs.  Any excuse for a party is fine.  Square dance week-ends, about one per month, keep us on the road, but mostly in the Bay Area.  We take our motor home, Camelot, to anything in a 150-200 mile radius. 

Got to see many folks from our past this year.  At the Chicago wedding in March, Ray met a friend from his grammar school, and they reminisced throughout the evening--my high school friends were there also.  In August a 50th wedding anniversary brought members from both sides of my family together (another interesting story).  A visit from a friend of Mom's since the 1930's in September had us going through well-worn photo albums.  The delayed honeymoon of our Chicago friend had us enjoying a beautiful October dinner cruise under the Golden Gate.  And two of my grammar school chums who are long-time San Jose residents perused old school photos instead of catalogs at our November party.

We continue to enjoy the theater whenever we can.  With our ongoing season tickets to a local company we recently enjoyed a presentation of "Nunsense."  We had seen it before in San Francisco, but laughed just as much this second time.  Bev has tickets to this theater also.  Now with the opening of a "regional arts complex," we have season tickets to this where we enjoyed their production  of "A Chorus Line."  The whole family, and some friends, went to see "Les Miserables" in San Francisco.  Everyone enjoyed it immensely; Bev went to see it a second time later in the year.  Since "Phantom of the Opera" didn't show any signs of coming to the Bay Area, we went to see it in Los Angeles for a mini-vacation trip.  Splendid, haunting music.  Can't get it out of my head.  And the lyrics are wonderful, "Open up your mind, let your fantasies unwind." 

Lloyd's computer business is keeping him very busy as he expands his customer base, his contacts, and his knowledge of the field.  He and his partner wrote and sold a menu program and wrote a DOS utility.  He attended the annual computer convention (COMDEX) in Las Vegas in November, with a trip to Santa Barbara before the convention. October he purchased and moved into a bi-level condominium--three bedrooms and two baths--in Walnut Creek quite close to his previous apartment.  He also acquired a tiny black kitten which has grown into a cat who terrorizes our little dog, Busby.  They take care of Busby when we are out-of-town quite often, so Hastings, the cat, gets plenty of practice.

Mark continues to work as an assistant manager at the San Francisco Hilton, putting in long hours which we all now accept as an inherent part of this job.  In compensation, as it were, for the hours, he gets to attend functions with such dignitaries as the President and Vice President of the United States, heads of state of various other countries, World Series teams, the Blue Angels and a host of others I have long since forgotten.  Mark is now fully settled in his Walnut Creek condominium he bought last year and is watching his siblings struggle to get settled in theirs as he did last year.  With the drought conditions out here, his (and everyone else's) skiing has been somewhat limited, but he gets away whenever possible.  He vacationed at the Caribbean Club Med in Turkoise where he worked previously.  His tales of scuba diving and "free-falling" off the continental shelf, sound mystical but frightening to me. 

As an associate attorney at Broad, Schulz, Larson & Wineberg in San Francisco, Pam is now commuting from Walnut Creek.   In November she purchased a condo a short distance from brother, Lloyd's.  Her three-bedroom two bath is on four levels--interesting floor plan.  She is still buried under boxes and hopes to emerge sometime in 1991.  Suburban living dictates that she must purchase an automobile and will do so as soon as she has a chance.  A leisurely visit to Chicago in August was occasioned by her 10 year high school reunion.  So, she visited with high school friends, neighborhood friends and visited many of our old stomping grounds--the Art Institute, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum, etc. etc.  She, too, is hoping for a better ski season this year than last.  Work related travel had her in Washington, D.C. (the week she closed on her condo), in New York, in Los Angeles, with possible future trips to Chicago and to Virginia.

Gail and Monica are now living in Concord.  Just before Christmas last year they returned to the East Bay, and in spring Gail and Dave decided to divorce.  Monica lives with Gail but sees Dave multiple times each week.  Gail is as busy as always.  She taught adaptive education for Foothill College at the California School for the Blind in the winter and spring quarters.  Now at Diablo Valley College she is again teaching adaptive education and works as an exercise physiologist doing stress testing, exercise prescriptions and programs.  She also is an exercise physiologist for John Muir Medical Center, running a senior citizen facility.  Additionally, she teaches aerobics at the YMCA and gives CPR and First Aid classes whenever she can.  She attended the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Conference in San Diego again this year. Monica was three years old in April--can hardly believe it.  She is quite grown up and independent in many ways.  She goes to preschool while Mom works and loves it.  Following in Mom's footsteps, she does gymnastics weekly and took swimming lessons last summer.  She plays with her new friends, enjoys stories, and listens to children's music and books with tapes. When she comes to Grandma and Grandpa's house she visits with Busby, our dog, and Bilbo, our black cat who loves all the attention from Monica.  Sometimes she even says hi to her grandparents.

Bev is living in Martinez, attending school in Berkeley and teaching in Vallejo.  She continued to teach pre-school through June, vacationed in San Diego visiting friends in July, and returned to attend U.C. Berkeley, her alma mater, once again in August.  She is now in the graduate school of education in the ERA (Educational Research and its Application) teaching credential program.  The year long program has her teaching three and a half days a week and attending classes one and a half or two days throughout the year.  She says she is so busy she hardly has time to breathe, but that is what keeps her going.  She will have two different grade levels in the program, and this past semester with her 5th graders, in what is euphemistically categorized as the "tough" district, she has taught and been taught a lot.  This is her first exposure to kids from homes where no English is spoken, where their only meal that day may be the one they receive at school, and where a little first grader describes a shooting he witnessed.  She has found it challenging but extremely rewarding.  She says, "I look forward to having younger children next semester but will have a place in my heart for these older ones."  As an avid football fan she is feverishly working to get a trip together with friends to go to the controversial Bowl Game Berkeley will play in Arizona.

Paul's Pleasant Hill house is still home to him and his roommate, but a few other roommates have come and gone.  They have almost decided that the burden of the extra rent they must pay may be more favorable than hazarding another unknown companion.  Time will tell.  Paul continues to attend school at Diablo Valley College and to work for Longs' Drugs where he has been since high school.  His plan to enter an engineering program is awaiting the "vesting" of some funds at work.  Meanwhile, he does work on automobiles for family and friends plus his own--his garage is a veritable autoshop.  He has done extensive work on our motor home, Camelot, this past year.  Did manage to get him out of the grease and into the dirt when he helped re-do the landscaping in the front of the house and put in the drip-irrigation system.

Well, that's about it for the 1990 Tennison Chronicles.  If you have read this far and have been getting these letters for several years, you may wonder why?  Well, they have been going on since 1967, the year Paul was born, and were conceived out of desperation due to a lack of time.  They have grown to be a family history.  A few years ago I compiled notebooks for everyone and inserted all the Christmas Letters to date.  Now they are used as sort of a family encyclopedia of events.  If there is a doubt as to when something occurred, someone goes to the bookcase and whips out the binder with the Christmas letters to verify the date.  So, your subscription to the chronicles continues with no obligation stated or implied. 

We wish you a happy holiday season and a healthy and happy 1991.

                                                                                      Love from,
                                                                                              Joy, Ray and family