"Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies ... Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The Most real things in the world are those which neither children nor men can see. Thank God! He lives and he lives forever."
Francis Church
"Is there a Santa Claus?"
New York Sun
September 21, 1897
Hearth Notes           Joy E. Tennison, Editor

This year's news may read much like a rerun of last year's. We worked and played; Ray traveled; we traveled; we square danced. Well, this is kind of boring, so perhaps I had better fill in the details.

Everyone will be here for Christmas this year, so it will be a noisy gathering as usual. Missed Mark, Bev and Rick at Thanksgiving. Bev and Rick spent it at Rick's brother's home in San Diego where his family joined them, and Mark was invited to spend the holiday with them, which was quite nice since he couldn't make it home.

Ray is now traveling farther, longer and more frequently up and down the West Coast, to offices in  hio, to clients and prospects in Arizona, Colorado and Texas. That 1993 temporary assignment in Texas now means he has omeone working for him there, so he gets to help him cover the territory which strangely seems to include Wal-Mart in rkansas?

The retail industry into which Ray infused clients like Walt Disney, Buena Vista, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox and Nintendo has become an "entertainment region" and he is now Retail West/ Entertainment Manager whose job it is to create an entire area for Entertainment--more work, more time...

Ray's mother in Phoenix had some health problems this year, and he was able to spend some time there with her. She is on the road to recovery now, so he is feeling much better also.

I enjoy working the minimum at the Walnut Creek law firm I have handled for several years. And still get to do as I please the remainder of the time--which ain't all that bad!

I play bridge once a month, surf the net, and hide out in the sewing room with multiple projects that I have going. I'll never live long enough to complete them all, but I keep adding ideas into there.

Our little dog, Busby, died this past summer. I miss the little guy very much. Lloyd lost his adopted cat in a diabetic coma. Although we have lost pets, everyone is healthy, except for some bad backs, some allergies, and minor complaints. We are grateful for that.

Trips in '95
Nineteen ninety-five started briskly with Ray going to Seattle, to Columbus, and then to New York where I met him for four days of theater and city. From there I flew home and Ray went to New Orleans returning the morning we left for Maui. June took us first to Chicago en route to Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama.

I visited a college friend in Pittsburgh in July. It was hot, but the company was great. We vowed to do it again.

Ray enjoyed driving on the left last year so much, we decided to vacation in England and Ireland this year.

We flew into London then traveled south from Windsor, to Runnymeade where the Magna Carta was signed, and to the white cliffs of Dover. Then to several of Henry VIII's castles built to fortify him against anticipated repercussions from Rome. In Canterbury we stood where Thomas à Becket was martyred, and visited the site of St. Augustine's abbey.

We, literally, soaked in the mysteries of Stonehenge in the rain, and then visited the magnificent Gothic cathedrals at Salisbury and Wells.

Next we traced the Arthurian legend (well some people say it is a legend, but some of us, consider it history). The ruins of his birthplace castle at Tintagel on the Cornwall coast were great, then to Glastonbury where monks found his and Guinevere's graves and built a tomb for Arthur. Was it just coincidence that the Abbey was in financial difficulty at the time, and this brought a good many pilgrims?

And the Roman Baths at, where else, Bath, were fascinating, even if the Victorians did mess with them. Then we crossed the bridge into Wales to Tintern Abbey of Wordsworth fame--and deserving of it. Also had to go to St. David's since my formative years were spent in an elementary school named after this Welsh patron saint.

From Wales we took the ferry to Ireland. First we went to my ancestral county of Kilkenny. Then we hurried to kiss the Blarney Stone, on to Limerick and Galway through the green and quite wet Irish countryside with its tiny roads. Saw castles and ruins of abbeys while driving to Dublin. In Dublin I looked up my family's parish location at the Irish National Archives. Went to Trinity College to see the magnificently illustrated Book of Kells, and the castles and cathedrals famous in Dublin.

Returned to England for stops in Oxford and Stratford-on-Avon. We spent our last four days in London, with one at Hampton Court. It was a great vacation. Almost four weeks of history and literature and legends. I picked up some kind of allergy (to Irishmen?). I'm still breaking out in rashes and scratching a bit!

We danced as often as possible this past year. Ray's extensive travel moved most of our dancing to weekends and monthly Showcase dances, plus an occasional one night excursion. A favorite January weekend was superseded by a compulsory company trip to a fabulous resort on Maui. Ah, the price of success.

Our March weekend was flooded out, so our first excursion wasn't until May to Monterey, then to the National Convention in Birmingham in June, and a great time in Watsonville in July. Labor Day weekend was in the Gold Country, then the Napa Valley and Santa Cruz in November.

Theater, activities...

While in New York, we saw Beauty and the Beast, Kiss of the Spiderwoman, An Inspector Calls, and Miss Saigon. Talk about theater gluttons.

Bev treated me to Grease when it played in San Francisco. The Walnut Creek theater did fine performances of Guys and Dolls, Singin' in the Rain, and the Student Prince.

Tommy Tune did Buskers here before he took it to Broadway, as did John Davidson and Catherine Crosby in State Fair. Really fun seeing these performers whom I haven't seen in years.

Saw Julius Caesar at Stratford which we saw there in 1972.

We play pinochle monthly, and our "Meet 'n Eat" group flourishes seven times a year.

We have just enjoyed our annual Holiday parties, including an "ornament exchange" and a Hanukkah Party. New Year's Eve will be here as usual, then New Year's Day a cioppino dinner with friends.

Some 40th Wedding anniversaries this year, so additional festivities in '96. A May Pancake Breakfast, a 4th of July Barbeque, and our November trip to Calistoga continue the traditions through the year with multiple impromptu get-togethers in the interim.

Lloyd Francis
Lloyd continues in his computer business. He is also involved in managing a small chain of dry cleaners, as he looks to the diminishing profitability of small computer sales and service firms like his.

He is on the board of the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce and also serves on the board at his condominium complex. His networking has crossed our paths with our financial planner and with a bona fide "handyman" who actually does things around the house.

Gail & Monica

The doctoral dissertation will be complete early in 1996. Her doctorate and graduation from the University of San Francisco are imminent.

While in the midst of research and working full time as Aquatic Director she took the state boards for a physical therapist and passed.

She exercises daily, usually running, and is as zealous as ever in her routine. She, too, has season tickets to the theater and again to the San Francisco Symphony.

A good friend was married in Atlanta last June, so Gail flew there to be in the wedding. She camped with Monica in Yosemite also spent time in San Diego.

In third grade this year, Monica is so grown up we can scarcely believe it. She does well in school, enjoys any sport, reading, and participating in after school activities. We attended her choral program and a play this past week. Summertime was outdoors and lots of swimming.

Pamela Jean 

Pam has forsaken the big city and big firm lawyering she was doing and is now attempting to establish herself in Contra Costa County.

She is searching for an area of specialization, as she was pretty well burned out on antitrust and securities. She pretty much knows what she doesn't want to do. She would like to work as a child advocate, but also needs to pay her bills.

Pam also has season tickets to the Walnut Creek theater and often attends the same San Francisco performances we do.

Bev & Rick 

Bev teaches 6th grade in Antioch and went to 6th grade camp in the Sierra foothills. She did a Math Presentation to the School Board and took a Spanish class for educators to help communicate with parents of Hispanic students. Happily, she had no more automobile accidents, and enjoys driving her truck which has a brand new shell.

As an Account Engineer Rick does loss control consulting worldwide for H-P and Intel. He travels in the U.S. and has been to Europe and to the Far East this past year.

They enjoyed six days in May on the Big Island of Hawaii and stayed in Kona by the lava flows which awed them, especially at night. Bev melted a pair of shoes walking on the hot lava. They hiked in Colorado in July, and in Yosemite and Mammoth in October.

Bev has season tickets to the theater but goes with a friend, as Rick isn't a theater buff. He is an eager homeowner and their home shows much of his handiwork. Their garden is awesome, as Bev would say.

 Mark Thomas 

Mark got out of Dodge, otherwise known as Bakersfield, when the opportunity presented itself and is now a Catering Sales Manager at the Red Lion near the Los Angeles airport. He lives in Playa del Rey which is practically on the beach, so naturally he has to travel inland to skydive.

He attended job-related seminars in May in Portland and in Las Vegas in March.

His vacation was to the "World Freefall Convention" in Quincy, Illinois where he jumped from seven different aircraft--including a jet, a helicopter, a biplane and a super 727. Be still my heart!

Other highlights, he tells me, include competing in a regional 20-way and 10-way jumps and attempting jumps of up to 72 people. He now has made over 520 jumps. He used to be over six feet tall and is now just 5'2". Just kidding! He loves it, and maybe by the time he reads this he will have told us about the problem he had with his chute while we were on vacation!

Paul Joseph 

By Jove, he did it. Paul has just finished his last exam and is officially a graduate in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California at Davis. The diploma will be forthcoming in a bit---I'm assuming it will be "with honors."

In February he will begin an intern position with Sandia National Labs in Livermore. In the meantime, he plans to drive in January to prospective Midwestern and East Coast grad schools.

Paul spent five weeks this summer traveling through Europe and Ireland with a backpack, a Eurail Pass and a Youth Hostel membership.

  • He flew to Paris, then on to the French Grand Prix and Nice, then Monte Carlo.
  • Into Switzerland to the Monteux Jazz Festival.
  • To Rome, Florence, Venice and Pisa.
  • To Munich, then Budapest and Prague.
  • To Amsterdam for a quick visit.
  • Back to Paris to take the ferry to Ireland.
  • In Ireland he visited a friend and did many "Irish" deeds and had a great time.

  • We wish you and yours a very happy and healthy Holiday Season. And may God be with you in the coming New Year!
                                   Joy and Ray

    Return to Christmas letters page