Wednesday, January 1, 2003
Our mantel is bursting with holiday good wishes from our friends and relatives. We are so grateful that so many people remember us at this time of year. We particularly enjoy knowing how those important to us (but sometimes not in as close contact as we might prefer) have grown and progressed over the course of the past year. With the turning of the New Year comes the continuation of our tradition of using this occasion to update our friends and family via the annual overhaul of our family web-site.
This past year was happily highlighted by three extraordinary family life stage events: Gary's dad's 80th birthday, Susan's dad's 75th birthday and Jessica's Bat Mitzvah.
Gary's dad had a very hard year, burdened by ill health. We visited him in February and again in March, but unfortunately spent most of the time visiting with him in the hospital or helping him return home after a brief hospital stay. It was a real joy when the whole family was able to celebrate his 80th Birthday with him this past August when he was in relatively good health. The date was set a little early to accommodate everyone's busy schedule. It was a wonderful trip highlighted by everyone telling their stories about their favorite Paul/Dad/Papa recollections. Carol and Gary returned to Florida on his actual 80th birthday in September for another celebratory dinner.
With quite a bit of help from his wife Rena, Susan's dad marked his 75th birthday surrounded by his family in Boston. It was a fabulous weekend. It started with Friday night dinner at Rena's daughter Kathy and her husband Mike's home. The Shabbat service at the O's synagogue honored Susan's dad and included both Susan and Jessie reading from the Torah (as well as virtually everyone in the family being honored in some way). Saturday included two lunches (one at the synagogue and one at a hotel) and culminated with an informal dinner at Judy & Doug's house. It was great to see everyone and use the opportunity to demonstrate our love, regard and respect for Susan's dad.
Befitting Jessica's Torah portion - Noah - it rained the entire weekend of her Bat Mitzvah in October. It was nonetheless a miraculous weekend filled with family and friends. It started with Friday night dinner for about forty out-of-town relatives at our house. On Saturday morning Jessica did a remarkable job leading the service, reading from Torah and delivering her D'var Torah speech. The party on Saturday night was a blast and we topped the weekend off with brunch for 70 out-of-town family and friends at our house on Sunday. While totally exhausted and significantly poorer, we mostly felt proud and blessed. It is a true miracle to watch your eldest child evolve into an independent, accomplished, poised and beautiful young adult.
Beyond these landmark events, our girls continue to amaze and delight us virtually every day. They are both doing extraordinarily well in school, have wonderful friends, and are true gymnasts and champions. Jessica came in 3rd at her first Level 7 State Championship on bars and beam and 6th overall. Hannah finished 1st on bars in her first Level 6 State Championship, earning a third place medal on the floor and 7th on beam. She was ranked 4th overall for her age group.
We are still enjoying taking advantage of the East Coast. Our culture quotient included excursions to Broadway to see The Lion King, Mamma Mia, Oklahoma, Top Dog/Underdog, Frankie & Johnny in the Claire de Lune, and Hollywood Arms. We've become Lincoln Center fans and managed to catch the NYC Ballet and the Kirov Ballet (Swan Lake) as a family. Gary augmented that with several New York Philharmonic performances and a great evening of Benny Goodman music performed by Jazz @ Lincoln Center. We vacationed in Williamsburg, Va. and The Berkshires over the summer and spent Christmas Day in New York City at the W Times Square Hotel and saw the Radio City Christmas Extravaganza (again). We were also blessed with several visits from friends and family throughout the year. Besides several trips to Florida and Boston, our travels brought us to St. Louis, Chicago, St. Paul, Iowa and Maine to visit with friends and family or to attend various Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.
Susan continues to devote herself to her family having single-handedly planned and executed the Bat Mitzvah while also maintaining our home and family life (neither is an easy task). She continues to spend a few hours a week at Banana Republic where she is one of the leading sales people. Gary continues at McKinsey & Company where he had the opportunity to work with some leading financial service and pharmaceutical companies on some pretty interesting marketing issues.
We hope that 2003 finds you well and that the New Year brings you health, happiness and prosperity. We also hope that we are able to spend some quality time together throughout the upcoming months. Come visit. Your room is waiting.