Santas Sleigh

2012 Season's Greetings from the Illinois Dooleys

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A Turning of Another Year

2012 is about to end and 2013 is about to begin

Dear Family and Friends,

Saturday morning, December 15, 2012, 10 days until Christmas and 21 days until the end of the year. I am sitting at the dining room table looking at calendars and pictures reflecting back on the year almost past and thinking ahead to the year yet to be.

The past few weeks have presented the stark contrasts of the wonder of our human connections, and the wonder of the world that we are apart of; but also the tragedy of human actions and the destructive power of this world we live in with some mass shootings in this country, violence of hurricane Sandy, and in other areas of the world. I take the perspective that our human existence has always been an interplay of wonder, routine, and danger. Of what we can control and the choices we can make interacting with so much that is a part of the larger systems of which we are a part. This is our time to live thru the interplay.

Anne and JackOverall we have had a good year. The routine items are the same as they have been for the past 5 years with Jeff still being an athletic trainer at Lake Forest high school and most days still having the long round trip. I am still an adjunct instructor of College of DuPage with 2 to 3 courses per term at two of their several locations. Jeff still has some connections to the Navy Sea Cadet program and I am still with the PTA at the high school and have a few other occasional community service activities.

Gramma WMost of the rest of our year has revolved around the kids’ doings and my going back and forth to Maine, alternating with my sister. Mom is now 92 and still doing reasonably well in her assisted care home. She can not do very much on her own but with assistance she can do more than their staffing provides with her having lived in this Maine area two-thirds of her life and having family and other connections to the area.

On another note, in July we lost Jeff’s very special Aunt Marge in California after a lengthy period of decline. Although we didn’t have nearly as much contact with her as we should have, we thought of her often and will always miss her and honor her memory.

Carol and JackOn the kids, Carol turned 21 in March and is a senior at Beloit College in Wisconsin. The highlight of her year was an internship at the Navy’s Submarine Force Museum and Library in Groton, CT. A major part of her job was to review submarine tour logs for interesting tidbits to be posted. She also lived more or less on her own by renting a room in a house. In November she was in her dorm room in Beloit, got a phone call and found that her Coast Guard boyfriend Andrew was there to surprise her with a visit. He was in the Groton area part of the summer and they had several other good visits during the year. She does not have a specific plan for after graduation yet but is looking in to some possibilities.

James and Crystal are still in Juneau, Alaska. James is coming out of the Coast Guard and is in the process of applying for jobs with other law enforcement agencies, some of which he has worked with through the Coast Guard. Crystal may be coming out but I am not sure that the final decision has been made. They thoroughly enjoy Alaska and all of the outdoor activities that they can be involved in. Crystal has placed very well in several marathons this year and James tried his stamina in one marathon. I have watched the TV shows Coast Guard Alaska and Coast Guard Florida several times as it gives me a connection with what James, Crystal, and Andrew are doing.

Sarah and Jon and Jack have had quite a year and a number of their activities involved us, Carol, and James/Crystal at various times.

  • They returned to Illinois in January to attend the wedding of one of Jon’s good friends.
  • Jack and CakeIn February we went to Ohio for grandson Jack’s first birthday.
  • In April they went to Alaska for a month as Sarah (with James’ help) had arranged to do her last medical rotation at the Coast Guard clinic at Juneau and they stayed with James and Crystal. It worked reasonably well for the month but Crystal working rotating shifts created some challenges for her to get her beauty-efficiency sleep.
  • KCOM GraduationIn May Sar graduated from KCOM as a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine and was commissioned into the US Navy as a Lieutenant on the same day. Carol, Jeff, and I and Jon’s parents (as well as Jon and Jack, of course!) were all able to attend. The next day Sar flew to Rhode Island for her Navy Officer Development School at Newport for 8 weeks.
  • During those 8 weeks Jon needed to coordinate the move of their Canton, OH household to their new location of Portsmouth, VA. Carol went from the graduation back to Ohio with Jon to help in all ways. I followed when my school classes ended. About a week after I arrived they were packed with belongings loaded in to a tractor trailer, a U-Haul truck and our vehicles. Then Jon, Carol, Jack and I caravanned to Portsmouth in 3 vehicles and the tractor trailer load arrived two days later.
  • A day later Carol flew to CT to get settled in and start her internship.
  • After several days of unloading, unpacking, and generally moving in, Jon, Jack and I caravanned to Maine in 2 vehicles and used that as our base for a couple of weeks. And during that period I drove to Manchester, NH airport to pick Jeff up to join us.
  • ODS GraduationOn June 14 the group of us headed to Newport, RI to attend Sar’s ODS graduation and its associated reception and other activities. Carol and Andrew were able to join us also! Then on Sunday, the Sebbys headed to VA; Carol and Andrew headed to CT; and Jeff and I returned to Maine.
  • Immediately in Virginia Sar started her internship in internal medicine at the Portsmouth Naval Hospital.
  • They were able to return to Illinois in early November and Jon’s parents put on an early Thanksgiving feast for all.
  • Sar’s assignment for the next two years (probably starting late spring/early summer) will be with a Marine unit at Camp Lejeune, NC.

Jack Filling Big ShoesWow, what a set of doings with Sar, Jon, and Jack! Back in Maine a highlight for Jeff and me was an afternoon windjammer cruise in Casco Bay off of Portland courtesy of a Father’s Day/Anniversary gift to Jeff from James. I resist saying sail because there was not much wind … but we took it as it was – a great afternoon out on the bay. In late June I took Jeff back to the Manchester, NH airport for him to return to Illinois to work football summer camps then was able to spend that night near Lebanon, NH with college friend Joanie Holcombe – wonderful to squeeze a visit in to our busy schedules!! I was back in Maine for several days then returned to Virginia to stay with Sar and family for several days as she/they finished moving into the house amidst her juggling her hospital schedule. Mid July I left to return to Illinois doing a couple of short stops in some scenic areas and meeting another college friend Melissa Clark, near Cincinnati, OH to visit a couple of important Native American archaeological sites in the area and stay overnight; then getting back to Illinois on July 11. Multiple doings in Aurora over the next couple of weeks then returned to Maine on July 23 as several things still needed to be done at the house and with Mum.

Out of order but a group at Northwestern University in Evanston every March has been running a dance marathon for years to raise money for a selected charity. This year my nephew Scott Ritter, in his senior year at NU, was one of the chairs. My sister, her husband, and other son Matthew flew in from NY and Jeff, Carol, and I were able to join them for a good afternoon.

Jeff and JackJeff and I spent Labor Day weekend in the Starved Rock area of Illinois staying at a B and B, visiting a winery, taking a guided bus tour of the area, taking a good hike at Matthiessen State Park just south of Starved Rock State Park, and having a couple of very good dinners but not being able to eat outside due to rain.

The fall has been more routine with Carol back at Beloit, Jeff into his fall football and sports routine, me with two courses one of which I had not taught for several years. Jeff and I did a fast trip to Maine for Thanksgiving (including overnight drives both ways) and really appreciate Cousin Martha including us and Mum in their Thanksgiving hospitality – with Martha and our family combined we had 4 generations with an age span of 7 months to 92 years!

Carol and Jack in VAAnd now we are at the Christmas season. My classes have ended, Jeff is home this weekend, and we are working on this Christmas letter and our website; Carol will be home from Beloit on Wednesday, and the group of us will leave on the 23rd to join Sar, Jon, Jack and Jon’s parents in Portsmouth for a family celebration. (Jeff joked about being like Cousin Eddie in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and parking a pop-up trailer in the kid’s driveway!). There’s likely to be another photo gallery added after the trip, so be sure to check back in January.

Especially in light of the tragedy in Connecticut on December 14th, please know you are all in our hearts and thoughts throughout the year. Never miss a chance to hug each other, love each other, and spread the spirit of Christmas wherever you go throughout 2013.


From The Illinois Dooleys

Note:  Just in case you're a packrat like Anne and like to keep a copy of Christmas letters received, click below to download a printable version of the message above. The file is in Adobe PDF format. To view and/or print it, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader. If you do not have it, you can download it free at or by clicking on the first button below.


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Merry Christmas