What follows is another yearly installment in our family’s complete history told via the 1995 Flanders Family Christmas Update. To see a full listing, see Our Christmas Letters. For tips on writing your own family history in this fashion, follow this link. In the meantime, enjoy!
The Flanders Family Update: 1995
January 1995 Happenings
We had high hopes for accomplishing great things this year, but when Doug returned to his anesthesia residency January 3, it quickly became evident we needed to re-evaluate our priorities.
The seven pages of “Goals for ’95” Jennifer had outlined a week earlier were reduced to two main objectives: 1) survive and 2) preserve some vestige of sanity.
This we’ve managed to accomplish, for the most-part, but only by the rich and abundant grace of God!
February 1995 Happenings
Our tireless David turned three in February. Almost overnight, he progressed from saying single words to speaking in complete paragraphs.
David loves to “read” books, work puzzles, eat popsicles, and explore the great outdoors.
He’s a cheerful helper, although his unsupervised assistance is somewhat counterproductive (as when he fed our fish this month by pouring a full cup of milk and dropping half a pimento cheese sandwich into their 20-gallon tank — the fish pulled through, but it took three months for their water to clear!).
March 1995 Happenings
Doug’s mother was hospitalized with a collapsed lung in March, which has unfortunately been a recurrent problem for her all year. Jonathan and Bethany went with Doug to Burnet, Texas, to visit her and to see Granddad’s new church and parsonage. Doug had ten days vacation this month — just enough time for a stomach virus to make its rounds through our family. We spent an uneventful week resting in bed, tending sick children, and polishing our card game.
Dallas had a terrible hail storm toward the end of March which totaled every roof in our area. Providentially, it hit while Jennifer and the kids were out of town, thus sparing our new Chevy Astro van any hail damage. Doug was on call at Parkland all weekend and therefore unable to attend our church’s “family retreat” at Pine Cove, but the rest of us went on without him, stopping in Tyler on our way to see the magnificent Azalea Trails.
They were absolutely breathtaking. Although Jennifer’s lived on the same street for thirty years now and has no desire to leave, she found herself hoping that if ever she has to move, it will be to a place like Tyler.
April 1995 Happenings
Doug became editor of Anesthesia Airways (the department’s monthly newsletter) in April. He also began a two-month rotation through Zale Lipshy Hospital which proved to be even more time-intensive than Parkland!
Despite the grueling schedule, he set aside enough time on his off-call nights to read aloud J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, much to the delight of Jennifer and the older children. He kept us mesmerized through all 1800 pages of this brilliant tale, sending shivers down our spines with the creepy lisp of “Smeagol” and making us smile with the sing-song voice of “Tom Bombodil”.
Jennifer’s aunts came to town the end of the month for their yearly “sisters reunion” with her mom. Uncle Herbert drove over from Fort Worth to see them and brought along some great new educational software for us to use with the children. Thanks to him, our kids are already more computer-literate than their technologically backwards mother.
May 1995 Happenings
May brought heavy and persistent rains, causing some of the worst flooding Mesquite has had in over 30 years. The children insist that next time the waters start to rise, we should all camp out in the new tree house Papa built for them in his backyard. Even before it was finished, Bethany and Jonathan began riding their bikes over every afternoon to play in this three-level stronghold.
Also this month: Our 12-year old Honda bit the dust, so Doug was able at long last to get the car of his dreams — a new, emerald-green, full-size Chevy truck. David took a tumble on Jonathan’s skateboard and broke his left thumb. Jennifer redecorated our second bathroom using 50-cents worth of paint and wallpaper she’d bought at a garage sale. She sponged the lower half of the walls wedgewood blue, then pasted up an early American floral border at chair-rail height.
Jonathan turned seven May 31. He is such a responsible boy — I don’t know what we’d ever do without him, although it looked as if we’d surely find out a couple of weeks earlier when we had our house exterminated.
Jonathan complained that the fumes made him feel light-headed and went rollerblading to get some fresh air, but was nowhere to be found come lunchtime. We spent over an hour combing the neighborhood for him, and when that yielded no clues, we were frantic. Doug raced home from the hospital, while Jennifer dialed 911. After the operator had deciphered a very emotional account of what was wrong and had dispatched several police units to come investigate, she asked, “Have you thoroughly searched the house?”
Of course, we’d already looked everywhere, but to humor this woman, Jennifer checked inside again. She was utterly dumbfounded to find Jonathan sound asleep in his room, where he’d apparently been the entire time. He seemed confused to wake up amid so much hysteria, but he’d have really been bewildered had he woken earlier to an empty house while his delirious family was out beating the bushes for him!
June 1995 Happenings
June was filled with the usual summer fare: yard work, swimming lessons, book club, and Vacation Bible School. Jennifer planted over 200 flowering bulbs and perennials in front of our house this year, six of which actually bloomed.
Doug learned to do a 1½ flip off the diving board-something he’s wanted to try since junior high, but only now found the nerve to attempt.
Each of our three oldest children took a turn spending the night with Uncle Jeff and Aunt Kimberly, who had by this time gotten settled into the new, four-bedroom house they bought last December….
David got his first bicycle this month. We had no idea he could even ride a bike until he hopped on a 16″ model at Sportstown one evening, pedaled to the front of the store, and parked in front of the cash register!
July 1995 Happenings
July took us to San Antonio for Doug’s ten-year high school reunion. This time around, we won the “Fertile Myrtle” award without even counting baby-on-the-way.
Jennifer’s parents, brave souls that they are, came along to baby-sit. They rode down with Jennifer and the kids Friday morning, and then Doug flew in to join us after work that evening.
Those of us on the road stopped in San Marcus to visit Wonder World and shop the factory outlet. There was time for more sightseeing in San Antonio between Doug’s class-sponsored activities. We saw the Alamo, went to the zoo, strolled the Riverwalk, toured the Buckhorn Museum, explored the Japanese Tea Garden, and spent a fun-filled, 12-hour day at Sea World. We stopped in Burnet on our way home to feast on some delicious home-grilled hamburgers with Doug’s parents and sister.
August 1995 Happenings
Bethany finished ballet lessons, Jonathan began baseball, and Jennifer taught Samuel’s Sunday school class in August. We celebrated our eighth wedding anniversary this month, albeit a few days late due to Doug’s call schedule. We really can’t complain, though. Parkland’s anesthesia program was put on probation this summer for “overworking residents” (a glaring understatement) and for requiring them to do too much trauma: the consequent changes that have since been made to the program have resulted in more tolerable hours, if only for a few rotations.
September 1995 Happenings
Doug began OB anesthesia in September. He routinely deals with such bizarre cases at Parkland that he is seldom surprised by anything that happens there. Nevertheless, he was fairly shocked this month when a patient grabbed his hand during a contraction and bit his finger so fiercely that he bled for half an hour! Thankfully, the woman was free of communicable diseases, but we had to sweat a three-day wait for her test results to come back….
Our precious Bethany turned six this month. A thoughtful girl with a tender conscience, she was baptized this summer as testimony of her faith in Jesus. She is also a voracious reader, which enables her to stay right in stride with Jonathan on his second grade studies. The two of them played on the same soccer team this fall, though Bethany really prefers dolls, dancing, drawing, and dress-up to sports.
October 1995 Happenings
Our towheaded Samuel turned two October 2. He is a meticulous child, careful to keep doors shut, drawers closed, gates latched, and toilet seats down. Regardless how many snaps, buttons or zippers are on the pajamas he wears to bed, we often find him stark naked in his crib the next morning, calling loudly for his socks and shoes, please (Heaven forbid he should face even a warm day barefoot! This his parents — who wear imitation Birkenstocks or nothing at all — can scarcely comprehend)….
We attended the Texas State Fair this month, as Jonathan had an award-winning Lego assembly on display there, but between Jennifer’s advanced stage of pregnancy and Samuel’s new interest in toilet training, we spent as much time hunting restrooms as we did viewing exhibits.
Our little Benjamin Noble joined the family October 16. Although this labor was much longer (16 hours) than any of our previous ones, it was easy enough that Jennifer was able to finish a couple of needlework projects and do some light reading in the midst of it. She spent the rest of the time napping and playing cards with Doug, who’d been graciously excused from his call duties at Parkland so he could be with his wife at St. Paul.
Benjamin was our second biggest baby: 9 lbs. 10.6 oz. and 22 inches at birth. He already has those ebony eyes which are so distinctive of our Flanders boys — they turned brown before we ever left the hospital.
November 1995 Happenings
Jonathan and Bethany resumed their studies in November after a two week post-partum break. David, being MUCH TOO BIG now for afternoon naps, began joining his older siblings at lesson time, working through a little pre-K curriculum of his very own.
All three of them have been very good about lending a hand with household chores, as Mom’s hands are occupied with Benjamin for much of the day (at least they were until Daddy got the baby swing out of the attic!). We spent Thanksgiving Day in Oklahoma with Jennifer’s family. Nana double-buckled with David so that we could all ride up together, and Benjamin slept the entire trip.
December 1995 Happenings
Another December is upon us now, and what a splendid month it is! We love the music, the lights and decorations, the festivals, the home shows, the parades and pageants and concerts.
Jennifer and the kids will be singing in our church’s Christmas program again this year. Samuel belts out his own version of one carol with grateful enthusiasm: Jesus “came down from heaven to diaper (die for) our sin!” The Chapel Singers will be presenting Part 1 of Handel’s Messiah on December 16 at 7:30. We’d love for any of you who are in town to come and hear us.
Although much of the gaiety of our family traditions and seasonal celebrations springs from our spending time together, the true joy of Christmas has as its source Christ Himself. To those for whom this is a very difficult or lonely time, we wish the deep comfort and peace that comes only from knowing intimately the Savior whose birth we commemorate. God grant us all a meaningful and joyous Christmas, and may we grow in His grace through the coming year.
Doug, Jennifer, Jonathan, Bethany, David, Samuel, and Benjamin
Do you prefer to do your reading offline? You’ll find more of our family’s embarrassing moments, hard learned lessons, and hilarious antics all in Glad Tidings, a compilation of the first 25 years of Flanders Family Christmas letters. It also includes a few favorite recipes, seasonal quotes, time-saving tips, and fun family traditions. Volume 1 is on sale now. We’re hoping to release Volume 2 in the year 2037.