42nd annual Christmas Letter

THE TODD FAMILY 42nd ANNUAL CHRISTMAS LETTER

Aloha nui loa family, friends, and MBN members! Incredible as it seems, the holidays are upon us again. We hope you have enjoyed another year of great blessings. We’ll keep the news brief this year. It has been a year of blessings for us, flavored with a moment or two of difficult change. Both of us are definitely feeling the effects of age set in. Nonetheless we are relatively healthy, absolutely happy, and living life to the fullest. The best days for us are the days we spend with our Godchildren – Lily Mae and Ryder Finnegan a/k/a “Lily-Gurl” and “Ryder-Roo.” Lily is 3½ and Ryder is 3. Godmama and Godpapa are reinvigorated by the adventures we have at the beach, at the movies, out shopping, or at our favorite restaurant – Mariachi’s (best authentic Mexican food on Kauai!). Then we turn them over to their parents again and the kids and the godparents are ready for a NAP!

We continue to enjoy the outdoors, riding our Duo-Trike along the coastal path whenever we can fit it in. Even though we have a tiny little yard, it seems that it takes a considerable amount of time for two old-timers to keep up to snuff. Kauai has been a little behind in rainfall this year – despite being the Wettest Place on Earth – so not everything has been lush and green as it is in a good year. The Garden Island is still an extraordinarily beautiful place, and we continually thank God for blessing us with this location as our home. We hope to be able to stay here for years to come. With retirement looming in the near future, though, we may have to rethink our situation thanks to the massive losses in our retirement accounts and the stagnation of the real estate market on Kaua‘i; but we have no plans to leave our current home. In fact, this summer we passed a significant milestone in our married life – we have lived on Kauai longer than we have ever lived anywhere! Just over 10 years now. God is GOOD!!! God will provide, and right now we are just so very happy together here!

One source of that happiness is our involvement with St. Catherine’s Parish in Kapa‘a. This year Chick was selected to be a member of the Parish Pastoral Council. There are around 14 members on the council, and none of them is “reserved” or shy. Everyone is willing to speak plainly, to work hard together with the other members, and to find innovative ways to meet the challenges of an American Catholic Community is the second decade of the 21st century. The members serve for a three-year term. Crucita and Chick also continue to be Lectors – persons who read the scripture passages during the Liturgy of the Word at Mass – and occasionally assist with serving Holy Communion. We have developed deep and lasting friendships in our years of service at St. Catherine’s.

Some of you have been following Chick’s blog called The Moon Beam Network at http://www/aloha-firday.org. If you haven’t signed up for the weekly message, please consider paying us a visit. Every week there is a message that focuses on a passage of scripture. Sometimes there is some family news. Nearly every week there is a list of prayer requests – the MBN is an intercessory prayer group. Crucita has been wonderfully supportive in this ministry, and Chick is grateful for that and all the other blessing that have come from this work. There are MBN members as far east as Zambia and as far west as the Philippines. We are still working on getting members in Asia, Australia, and the Americas other than the USA. Recently we got a message from members in India1

Our household is still a place of fun for our four cats – Lady Miriam (Mimi), Hercules, Frankie the Rat (our Mafia cat), and Princess Zoë. TheY hide when the kids – or most other visitors – come over. We have enjoyed having them with us – or more properly (as cat lovers know) we have enjoyed living in their house! Mimi is definitely “Chick’s Cat” while Hercules is very attached to Crucita. Crucita’s students are big fans of the Kitten Stories about their antics and unique personalities.

Crucita continues to do amazing things with her Special Education Students and is now teaching Geometry, Algebra, Economics, and Sociology! FOUR subjects for lessons plans, and each of those plans has to be “differentiated” for each individual student. She’s been telling them since the middle of last school year that she will be retiring at the end of 2013; they act as if they don’t believe her. We’re both ready for that big change – I got my Medicare card this year! Finding a way to keep adequate medical coverage will be a big issue, but again, we are sure the Lord will show us the way. Here is Hawaii, many teachers are fed up with not having time to teach; there is so much paper-work – especially for Special Educators – and endless, pointless meetings. The move toward a national set of standards will help Hawaii catch up with the 21st century in education. It is still the only state in America with a single, state-wide Department of Education – HIDOE. It is hugely inefficient because it is so unwieldy. Crucita has been using the National Standards as much as possible, so her kids are doing well. Nonetheless they come to the ninth grade largely incapable of doing four-function arithmetic, and unable to write a five-sentence paragraph that makes sense (much less with good spelling). Chick is very, very proud of her excellent track record with these kids because if they will commit to showing up and doing their work, they invariably learn far more than they, their parents, or even other teachers thought possible.

Tim is dividing his time between Oregon and Montana, but planning to make the move to Nashville in the very-near future. He is convinced that he will be able to find abundant work there and put his considerable skills to the best-possible use. It’s been a difficult year for him with a few serious ups and downs. At 33, he really is on his own, and needs to find ways to invest in developing his career enough to stay in the black – always a difficult thing to do for a musician. Since he left his job with Higher Balance, he’s pretty much been 100% musician although a recent stint in construction helped stave off poverty a little longer.

Cherie continues to live in eastern Tennessee. She, too, has had a difficult year. The area she lives in is one of the poorest in the country, and finding steady work for which she can qualify has been impossible. Her family life has also been difficult, largely because of the inability to find steady work, and recently we learned that she and her husband had completed a divorce. Normally, that would not be cheery news, but in this case, it was perhaps the best possible outcome. There are going to be continuing issues about there past conduct and about custody; we continue to pray for our grandkids – William (a very bright boy and terrific student), Charles (making good progress now that his pediatrician hit upon the correct medications for him), and our precious little Miranda – “Ana” – who has made excellent progress in developing and improving her muscular control and communication skills. All of the kids have been getting the best of medical care and educational opportunities available in that part of the country, so again, we say “God is Good!”

We close by wishing all of you a Holy and Happy Christmas. You know my heart when it comes to this celebration. The moment pictured here is something I consider to be a Family Picture. This particular photo is framed in a way that makes the moment portrayed a little more realistic. I think I have always thought of that night in just this way – a young couple in a difficult spot trying to take in all the astounding things that have happened to them in the past year. And now this: A regular-looking, squirming, ten-fingers-and-toes baby boy. A real, human, child who will become known as The Christ – the Anointed One. Since I didn’t get the ornaments, I’d like to leave you with something else from me, personally. I suppose it may seem a little self-serving, but I would like you to use this link https://www.aloha-friday.org/archives/29722 to see this week’s Aloha Friday Message. Some of you have already received it, and I thank you for that. Some of you have not, and I hope you will.

Meanwhile, in addition to the Real Reason for The Season, we also should acknowledge that in this season of giving there are many opportunities for camaraderie, celebrations, fun!, and exchanges of gifts and sincere best wishes for happiness and security. It is often easy to get caught up in the consumerism of Christmas, but the real joy of celebrating FRIENDSHIPS is basically the best part of our Christmas Traditions. With that in mind, Crucita and I wish all of you, our ‘ohana at work, a very Merry Christmas and the Happiest New Year Ever.

Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

Well, it’s time to wrap this up. We will close with our traditional Christmas Blessing.

May Hope and Peace and Joy and Love
Be yours in the coming of the Christ Child!
* Contact us about joining the Moon Beam network if you are not already a member!

About the MBN

Chick and Crucita

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About Chick Todd

American Roman Catholic reared as a "Baptiterian" in Denver Colorado.

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