The Christmas and holiday season is again upon us and so I am attempting to put something in writing that is appropriate. The political events of the year have so overshadowed our lives that it is difficult to develop a lot of enthusiasm for one’s own activities. But we want to carry on if for no other reason that maintaining our normal lives has been urged by the President as one response to these acts of terrorism that have so horribly murdered innocent persons. Never have so many people around the globe been witness to such terrible events. I grudgingly admit that but for the media and their live reports we would have never mustered the solidarity, not just in this country but throughout the world, in hunting down those responsible for these acts. It is of course also our fervent hope that some lasting good will comes out of these events in terms of human understanding and friendship. I believe that Christmas is as good as any occasion to bring out and reaffirm these values. In that spirit we want to take this opportunity to wish you and yours a holiday that will reaffirm your spirits in the goodness of life.
And now to some of the more mundane features of our annual letter. Speaking chronologically the winter was a real bummer. In December of last year it seemed we would have a winter as in the past with lots of snow, but then it stopped snowing early in January and never started up again. It really did not matter that much to us because Bill was in no condition to go skiing. His breathing got so bad that he could hardly walk up a flight of stairs. He was originally diagnosed as having emphysema, but fortunately that was subsequently changed to a combination of a chronic bronchitis and asthma which is more readily treatable and with medication he is back to his normal self. We had been looking forward to a trip to Thailand but had to cancel at the last minute because of his health problems. To get away from the blustery though snowless winter we then decided to spend a week at an all included resort in Manzanillo Mexico. It was fun and relaxing and warm, although outside of the resort there is not much to see or do in Manzanillo when you can’t play golf or tennis.
Another spring trip was out to California with time in Carlsbad where Nancy’s brother has a condo and time in and around the San Francisco peninsula visiting our good Shanghai friends Nick and Vera Shlyapin and enjoying their hospitality. Bill also spent some time at the Hoover Library doing a bit of research on the book he is writing about his time in Shanghai. Between his professional practice, which is still lingering and all the other things he wants to do, his progress has been limited. What is nice is that he is receiving a lot of encouragement.
Much of our time in the summer was spent in Omena “Up North”. Again we became the owner of more property as the Lake retreated further. Fortunately the water in our slip for the “Omania” was still deep enough so that we could enjoy some good sailing. Our great event of the year, however, was Eric’s and Dawn’s wedding. They decided on a very small wedding and both the ceremony and the dinner were held at the Yacht Club in Omena. It was a beautiful day in August and the ceremony out on the front lawn of the Club was simple with just close family in attendance. Dawn is still working on her Ph.D. in education and Eric is still teaching at Texas A&M. Dawn’s family is from Waco in Texas and I believe this was their first visit to Michigan. They could not have had a better introduction than the Leelanau peninsula at its finest summer weather. Eric and Dawn’s siblings attended and Paul and Sue stayed on for little longer. Both Eric and Dawn profess to be pretty tired of Texas, so we are hoping that they will find something further North and closer.
Both Paul and Sue and Joseph and Leslie are at the same locations in Anandale, Virginia and in Carey, North Carolina, where we spent Thanksgiving. The grandchildren all are growing like weeds and their life styles are becoming more complicated which of course adds to the burdens of Sue and Leslie. From what I can observe from our grandchildren, schools today are very different from what they were in our days. These kids certainly put me to shame when it comes to maneuvering on the Internet loading software or otherwise manipulating a computer. Michael, Paul and Sue’s oldest, for example lugs his own little laptop supplied by the school back and forth. Their school projects, thanks to the Internet, involve research that we would never have been able to undertake and with the result that they achieve a much higher level of sophistication. But from what we are told I wonder how well versed they are in the basic three R’s. Leslie and Joseph have placed their children Hannah, Zachary and Lindsey in a private Christian school, which involves a more traditional curriculum with a little more emphasis on these subjects including even Latin. Michael is learning to play the saxophone and Hannah the flute. They are all on local swim teams in the summer and play soccer or football in the case of Bryan in the fall. Bryan is also getting to be quite an expert at Tai Quan Do. Then there is roller hockey, basketball and later on baseball. When we call one sport is either starting up or winding down.
In the fall we took a tour of the National parks in the Northwest of the country including the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier that started in Salt lake City and ended up in Portland and Seattle. The natural beauty of these areas is overwhelming. Friends of ours have a lovely home on Flat Head Lake which is undoubtedly one of the prettiest spots in the Northwest. The Lake is the largest west of the Mississippi and more than adequate for some decent sailing although not comparable to the Great Lakes. Bill also attended his 50th reunion at Stanford. He got reacquainted with schoolmates and old girlfriends. That was fun. Again he spent some time at the Hoover library and attended writing classes offered to the alumni. That too was fun. However the Stanford spirit of days past that brought us all together, that made us appreciate the history of the school, that made us forever thankful for having the privilege to attend Stanford seems to be sadly lacking in today’s students. I think it is because of the school’s policy on diversity, which has allowed the student body to be split into little groups each of which is pursuing their own politically correct agenda without regard for any other group. The result is that the school is not just diverse but fractured. If there is still a Stanford spirit it was not evident to me. There certainly was more spirit exhibited by the alumni at the football game than by the students. Well enough of the discouraging stuff!
There are a many things, though that we are truly thankful for. We are thankful that our country did not fall apart as a result of the events of September 11 but on the contrary was united in a way it has not been in a long time. We are thankful for the fact that we still have the health and resources to be able to enjoy the continuing wonderful things our country offers. We hope that you can say the same of you, your family and friends.
With our best wishes for your future we are,
Bill and Nancy Sandt
© 2004 Bernd W. Sandt. All rights reserved.