I admit it's been difficult to add a new post, not only because I've been busy (as usual), but because I've enjoyed knowing I could go to my blog and see first thing a picture of the beautiful Obama family. But time passes, and newer memories need to take their place alongside older ones.
The present is a brief list of some of what has happened over the past two months.
In mid-November Margaret went to yet another film festival (this one in St. George); later in the month we had birthday celebrations for Kaila and Julie; Julie started a new job with the "kid's club" at 24 Hour Fitness gym; and we got a new cell phone family plan, which means that Misha and I now have cell phones of our own. We had a delightful Thanksgiving, combining traditional foods with some Greek dishes that Julie prepared.
In early December I had my C. S. Lewis class over to see the movie Shadowlands (I do this just about every year); and on December 14, we had a Young family party, allowing all of us in Utah (my family, the Tucketts, the Lifferths, Daren and Steve, and Grandpa Young) to spend time together and giving Grandpa Young a chance to see his Lifferth great-grandchildren before they moved. As the month proceeded, Fall Semester came to an end, and we had a wonderful Christmas, visiting with family, sharing gifts (including the very popular "Guitar Hero"), and remembering the glorious truths that the holiday commemorates. (In the photo to the left, Misha, Julie, and Rob line up outside our bedroom door, youngest to oldest--as is our tradition--to find their stockings and presents surrounding our fireplace.)
Christmas offered a brief break in the arduous grading process I have to finish up every semester. On the very day I turned in grades (December 30), my first copies of the book I've been working on for years arrived. (See the blog on "Finishing my book" below.) Besides the milestone of my book's publication (Family Life in the Age of Shakespeare--they've actually given it a 2009 copyright date), the last couple of months also mark the completion of a further stage of Margaret's documentary (Nobody Know: The Untold Story of Black Mormons)--special features for the DVD. Margaret and those she's working with (mainly Darius Gray and Jim Hughes) are hoping to release the DVD soon, and they've been working on having the documentary broadcast.
Two more major transitions took place before the end of the year. On December 28, Margaret and I were moved to a different branch at the MTC (Branch 45, also French-speaking)--a move that proved to be more difficult for us than we had anticipated because of our strong attachment to the missionaries we've been working with. But we're beginning to bond with the missionaries in our new branch and look forward to enjoying the new branch as much as we have the old one. Finally, on December 31, Kaila and her family moved to Indiana. I had the honor of picking them up at 5am and taking them to the airport. They're now staying in a hotel in Columbus, Indiana; will soon move into an apartment; and will be looking for a house.
A word on the Young family party on December 14: Besides allowing us to get together, the party turned out to be in part a commemoration of Grandma Young--my mother Ruth. Daren made chocolate chip cookies, using the recipe that we trace back to our Grandma Wilson, my mother's mother. (I plan on posting the recipe soon.) He also made the chex mix that our mother had often made for family events. And I brought a picture of her (along with her reminiscences of teaching at BY High) that I had gotten from a BY High web site. (I found a photo too--copied below--at a related site.)
As we noted at the beginning of our yearly Christmas quiz, this has been a year of "hard exits, joyous entrances, and many transitions. We grieved the passing of Bruce's baby sister, Lynda, in April, and of his mother, Ruth, in July. Only six and a half weeks after Ruth died, we welcomed our third grandbaby into the world--Oliver Wallace Lifferth." And now we have to deal with the fact that the Lifferths--Kaila and family--are many miles and many hours away in Indiana. Though I find all of these changes and separations difficult, I believe what I've often said about this sort of thing (elaborating on an idea I picked up from Arthur Henry King): these things must be part of the plan; for one thing, if it were not for these separations, we maybe wouldn't realize how much we love each other, how deeply connected we are.
For our year-in-review Christmas quiz, see http://english2.byu.edu/faculty/youngb/christmas2008.htm--where you can take the quiz and have it automatically scored!