The Fairchild 1999 Christmas Letter

Christmas Shepherd And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Tonight a veil of fog has descended on our valley. I am reminded of other times, other places - in the realm of fairy tales and make believe. As I walked with our little Chihuahua "Oso" I felt as if I could "disappear" into the mist. I stood for a long time on the bank of Hospital Creek, embraced by a sense of wonder and awe at the beauty, watching to see if some long ago characters or even angels would step out of the "dews and damps" that lay just down the path.

Many, many days and nights a sense of magic lies on the land here. From sparkling starry nights to intense full moon rises, from shimmering dancing Northern lights to silhouetted mountain tops; the mystery of the ages feels close at hand here. One feels like bursting into song. "Then sings my soul, my Saviour, God, to Thee, how great Thou art!"

Once again it is our joy to bring you greetings from our home here in Golden, from our hearts and hearth to your hearts and hearths. It is the time of year when our thoughts turn with longing to the central mystery of our faith, the incarnation - the 'enfleshment' of God in the Person of Jesus. We are not now and never again - alone! But the story gets even better. Not only did God come to us in the form of a babe who grew to manhood; God in the person of His Son, this Jesus, then took our burdens upon Him and went to the Cross with them, where He died and rose again to conquer Death. Always at the heart of our Christmas is the greatest gift of love the world has ever seen, the Cross.

This past year, since Christmas of 1998, Richard and I have been "empty nesters." However, the nest has had a lot of visits this year. Just from the children. Shannon, my oldest, who turned 25 on December 14th while in Tasmania, was here twice. She came first in May to spend a few days with her cousin Tara & Tara's husband Nolan and their baby daughter Mo'Teak in Kamloops and a few days with us before returning to Halifax (and St. Mary's University) via CN Passenger train from Jasper in Jasper National Park. Jasper is a four hour drive from here right up the heart of the Rockies and past the Columbia Icefields. Shannon finally decided just last month to declare an advanced double major in Geography and Political Science (An arena dear to her mother's heart!). Then, miracle of miracles (I must get hold of her fiance's Aunt Mick to say "Thanks!"), she and her fiance Damon stopped in here with us for two days while en route to fly to Australia to visit Damon's parents in Mole Creek, Tasmania. We were well and truly rescued by Shannon & Damon (and by Tara & Nolan who were visiting friends in Golden at the same time). Richard and I caught the flu, a very nasty beastie and then were stricken wiith the pneumonia bug. The "kids" cooked and baked for us and brought in our Christmas tree and decorated it. Thanks heaps!

Town of David Next came my daughter Bryna (22 last April 15th) in July for a whole month. Bryna, being the outgoing and gregarious soul she is, made many friends here in that short period of time. She talks to all of us at least once a week and plans on another visit soon. She and I are enjoying a growing friendship and I rejoice in that. She's a very talented young woman who never goes anywhere without her "crayons" or sketch pencils.

The day we were returning Bryna to the Airport in Calgary (a three hour drive from here), Richard's Mark arrived - early in the morning. He and Bryna quite surprised each other in the dim light of pre-dawn. Mark (who turned 19 in May) stayed for two weeks before returning to Simon Fraser University where he continues his studies in Computer Science. Mark will be returning here on Boxing Day for a couple of days with a request, a plea actually, for my Shortbread cookies. A promise I intend to keep.

That leaves us with two youngsters who we did not see: Richard's Michael who was 18 yesterday the 15th and my Mark who will be 18 on February 6th. These two young men are working hard at discovering life. They already think they know much more than we do. BIG GRIN! Michael just couldn't pull himself away from girls this summer. My Mark finds it difficult to leave his Dad for very long, he worries about his Dad's health. But he is hoping to come see us sometime in the year 2000. We miss these two but trust in the good Lord to hear our prayers and to watch over them.

Both Richard and I feel very blessed by the children God gave us. Increasingly as they get older and we become friends, we find their company refreshing and a deep pleasure. They bring us a lot of joy and we thank God for them.

Nativity scene This year has been busy in other ways too. Twice a year we go to Presbytery. In the spring (February) we met at Westbank in the Okanagan and in the fall (October) at Kamloops. Both involved 4-5 hour drives and always over Rogers Pass - a dicey drive if the weather turns. I went to UCW Presbyterial Annual Meeting in March in Vernon and to Conference UCW Annual Meeting in April just outside of Victoria on Vancouver Island. What made that trip truly memorable was that Richard took two weeks off after Easter and we took one week to go visiting. We dropped in on my sister Rosalind and her husband Rory in Kamloops and stayed the weekend. Next we stayed with Richard's son Mark overnight in Burnaby. Michael joined us for supper and an enjoyable evening together.

The next morning we toured Gastown, a place I'd always wanted to see - especially the Steam Clock. While examining that clock we experienced an epiphany of sorts. A homeless man carrying his bags passed by us. As he approached Richard greeted him with a cheery "Good Morning." Once passed us, the man stopped. We felt uncomfortable, like we had broken some rule or had invited trouble on ourselves. The man totally surprised us. He stood there and he said, "You are the first person to speak to me today." And he thanked Richard. We were overwhelmed. Our "fear" felt unworthy. We sensed that we had experienced a visit from God, a theophany. At the very least we were enlightened - an epiphany. This incident stands out in our minds as an important event in our lives this year.

Wisdemen After checking out Stanley Park and the Lion's Gate Bridge, we headed for Tswassen to catch the ferry to Nanaimo. We were going to be visiting with Richard's Dad and wife Pam in Ladysmith and hoping to catch up with Richard's brother Michael and some friends while there. We managed to do this. But the night before (actually in the wee hours of the morning) I was due to attend Conference UCW, we got a phone call that Michael, Richard's brother had had a heart attack. What an upset! Fortunately, through Michael's recognition of what was happening, the prompt administration of "streptokinase" and excellent care, Michael did not suffer serious damage and is doing well today. Thank you Dad and Pam for a lovely stay with you in such beautiful surroundings.

Then came May. We attended BC Conference 73rd Annual Meeting in Castlegar. It was a particular joy for Richard to renew old acquaintances and for me to put faces to names. We decided to take the scenic route through Nakusp and the Galena Bay ferry and it was a good decision. We had a beautiful drive both ways as we explored an area neither of us had seen before.

We took vacation in July this year and started if off by heading to a small village in Saskatchewan where Richard would officiate at the wedding of a member of our Ontario adopted family - brother Roger Pressey and his lovely new bride Nancy. While there, we got to visit with old friends and to "catch up" on the news of folk back in Ontario. When we returned to Golden, we had about a week and then Richard got to officiate at the wedding of Roger's sister Colleen to Jim Walters. Read last year's Newsletter to learn about their visit to the Blaeberry River last year - where they exchanged their vows this year. At present, though, we have to report that Jim is battling kidney and lung cancer and we know he would appreciate your prayers. Sister Kim (of the Pressey clan) who lives 3 hours south of us in Cranbrook, is planning on a July wedding next year!. Hmmmm!

One of the things we try to do every summer is spend some time with Richard's Mom & her husband Wes in the Similkameen near Keremeos. We do enjoy their company so much and the surroundings they live in (the northern tip of the Sonorran Desert) are equally as impressive as are the Rockies. When we're there the fruit is coming in fast and furious from the orchards. The beautiful cherries! This summer we visited a small winery and were treated as if we were royalty. It was a very special experience. We brought home a bottle to celebrate our tenth Anniversary with in February. Thanks Mom & Wes for the joy of your company!

Golden Nativity We mark nearly 2 and a half years here in Golden at Saint Andrew's. There've been many Baptisms and Confirmations, several weddings and renewal of vows. All of these have a component of joy. But, in the midst of life, comes pain and sorrow and suffering. It was very sad this fall in our church family as we laid to rest two very special men who were married to sisters. Both were gentlemen of good courage and a zest for life. For Richard and I it was an immense privilege to walk with the families "through the valley of the shadow of death." As well, to our little family, has come sickness. Your prayers for healing and wholeness for all who are walking the journey of illness would be much appreciated here.

During the year we welcomed music groups in our midst. This year we had: The New Generation Singers out of Missouri, USA, a gospel group out of Alberta called Potter's Clay, and the singer-songwriter Ron Klusmeier as our out-of-town guests. Twice a year, at Easter and Christmas, Golden's own Community Choir under the direction of Greg Meeker, performs their stuff for us at Saint Andrew's and at the Golden Baptist Church. We are indeed blessed here with high calibre choral direction and superb voices.

Christ and Mary Richard is the Legion padre. There are some duties associated with that role. The most important one is presiding as padre on Remembrance Day. This year was no exception. Led by the piper, a small parade composed of the Vets, the local RCMP detachment, Legion members, the Sikh Vets, the Masonic Lodge, the Cubs and Scouts, marches from the Legion Hall through town to the Cenotaph in front of Town Hall. Golden always has an impressive attendance at the Cenotaph and this year was no exception. Standing in the shadow of the mountains whether it be bright and sunny or cold and grey or wet and misty, one is aware of something much larger than us. The same God who moulded these mountains shapes peace in our hearts. An old trapper wrote a poem, "where the Rockies touch the stars", as a young man as he was returning to the Columbia Valley when war ended. It pretty much captures the awe this place holds me in.

From all the above I believe you can see that we have a full life in Golden (and I barely touched the highlights). I'm still doing some work with my friend Terry of Bits & Bytes Computing and enjoying the creativity. Thanks Terry.

Both Richard and I encourage all who read this letter to mark the birth of our Saviour by celebrating with God's people. Don't be shy and don't be afraid. God awaits and God surprises; much like God surprised us this summer in the person of a streetperson. Thank you Lord! Merry Christmas everyone!

Photo Gallery of Us and Our Magnificent Surroundings

This year's pics have yet to be scanned. Perhaps a look at last year's will be okay for the time being.

1998 Pics
Richard and Charlene
Paradise: Blaeberry
Paradise: Kicking Horse Canyon From Mount Seven
Paradise: Kicking Horse Canyon

Special greetings to:

  • Our families: Charlene's Dad, Charles Thompson; Richard's Dad John Fairchild and his wife Pam; Richard's Mom Pat and her husband Wes Logan; children: Shannon Ashe and Damon Fox, Bryna and Mark Ashe; Mark and Michael Fairchild; brothers and sisters: Michael Fairchild, Peter Fairchild, Tracy Fairchild, and Sian Fairchild; Rosalind and Rory Mahood and Tara and Nolan and Mo'Teak Fox; Heather and David Mills, Scott Thompson, Ian and Rosemarie Thompson, Martin Thompson, and Adrian Thompson; and Our Australian family: Ed and Angela Fox.
  • Our extended families of aunts and uncles and cousins.
  • Our church family of Saint Andrew's in Golden.
  • Our friends and neighbours here in Golden, the Blaeberry, the Columbia Valley, the Windermere Valley and Cranbrook.
  • Our very dear friends in the other churches of Golden and their ministers especially.
  • Our very special friends in Ontario, Nova Scotia and British Columbia.
  • Our United Online, Kir-Shalom, A Holy Christmas and our Sermon-Lectionary friends.
  • The Pot 'O Pastors, A Virtual Web Family who I've grown to love dearly.
  • All our online e-mail friends from around the country and around the world.
  • All the visitors to our web pages.
May God richly bless you! May you richly bless others! A happy and holy Christmas to you and your families.

Love and Blessings in the name of Christ,
Charlene & Richard

Christmas Stockings

Christmas Card 1999
A Holy Christmas
Rocky Mountain Networks
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Mail a Note To Charlene
Some Holiday Graphics from Cyberspace Place Backgrounds
Some graphics are from Fantasy Land Graphics
The MIDI is playing "Mary Had a Baby."