Most of my family lives in Alaska. My daughter Rachel and I are the only two that live ‘outside,’ as Alaskans call the rest of the United States. My sister Melanie though resides now in Juneau, in Southeast Alaska, with her family. With Alaska being a fifth of the size of the continental U.S., or, the same size as the province of Quebec (where Jr and I also lived for a time), travel from Anchorage to Juneau is significant. Most of the state is inaccessible by car. The point is, having all of us together–Mom and Dad, plus all three of their girls and their girls’ families, isn’t necessarily common. As a result, my mom makes sure we get family photos each time it happens, though she likes the photos taken as family sets. Here are ours from this year.
My dad is 71, and my mom 68. This year they will have been married 50 years. Over Christmas dinner my dad told us about how they spent their first Christmas dating apart and realized they missed each other. My parents had met at University in the center of the state, Fairbanks, but returned to their different family towns on the Western coast for the holidays. Fifty years ago remote Alaska didn’t easily celebrate phone technology. Most homes didn’t have one and villages might share one phone for all the residents. After the New Year they, as he put it, proposed to each other. My parents have been together since. It’s remarkable to think how much they’ve lived in those fifty years together. To talk to each other once during that first holiday apart my mom had to walk across the tundra to the one phone in her small town. Now they’ve raised a family that travels the world, returning regularly to all be together in the far North. Remarkable.
from left: Dad, Melanie’s girl Mari, Rachel (aka. Jr.), Paula’s girl Melissa, Melanie’s son Oliver, Mom, Paula’s girl Emily
from left: Melanie, Me, Dad, Mom, Paula
Paula is the oldest of three girls. Her family: Melissa, now a student at NYU, Emily, age 8, Paula, husband Kevin
Melanie is the middle of three girls. Her family: husband Tim, Oliver is 5, Mari is 11, Melanie
Rachel Marie and I. I am the youngest.
Happy New Year, everyone! Rachel and I have flown from Anchorage to Juneau now to spend the New Year with Melanie’s family on this mountainous island that hosts the state capitol. It’s all mountains and water here. There is a lot of rain today but I’ll try to get photos while we’re here. Like most of the state, it’s a region of vast and dramatic, gorgeous landscape.
Lots of love to all of you. I’m spending the day today reflecting on what I’m grateful for from this last year. There is so much.
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