What follows is another yearly installment in our family’s complete history told via the 2022 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!

2022 Flanders Family (Unmarried Kids)

The Flanders Family Update: 2022

December 2021 Happenings

We updated our zoo membership last December. As a frequent-road-tripping family of 14, we’re longtime fans of the free admission and reciprocal benefits granted to zoo, garden, or museum members and their minor children. But Caldwell Zoo allows us to bring up to 100 free grandchildren each time we visit, as well—a feature we’ve “milked like a borrowed orangutan,” as Doug is inexplicably fond of saying. Even with #20 grandbaby now on the way, we’re nowhere near full capacity….

2022 Caldwell Zoo

2022 Feeding Squirrels

Most of our grandkids joined us for our annual trek to San Antonio last Christmas. In addition to making many sweet memories together, Jennifer got a refresher on the importance of staying alert to one’s surroundings when she found herself alone in an elevator with a big burly dude built like a linebacker. He seemed friendly enough as they made small talk, but she grew increasingly nervous when he stepped off the elevator behind her and followed her to the far end of the hallway. There, still chatting away, she fumbled with her key and found it had quit working. “Ummm,” the linebacker hesitated, perplexed, “I think that’s my room.” And so it was. Jennifer had accidentally gotten off on the wrong floor! “Well,” he laughed good-naturedly once she explained her mistake, clearly relieved to learn he wasn’t being stalked by some crazy lady, “thanks for seeing me safely to my door.”

2022 at the Emma

2021 San Antonio

January 2022 Happenings

In January, Doug entered what Nana dubbed “the vest phase of his life.” He wore these sleeveless, quilted layers with everything – jeans, scrubs, khaki shorts – and bought new ones like they were going out of style. Maybe they were. That would explain why he found so many of his latest acquisitions on the clearance rack….

2022 Ben and James

2022 WWII Museum NOLA

We took our three youngest to Florida this month, stopping in New Orleans on the way to tour the National WWII Museum and listen to live jazz music in the French Quarter (less enjoyable at 2:00 AM when a big brass band began jamming just outside our bedroom window).

2022 New Orleans

2022 Biggerstaff Brewing Company

Other memorable moments included visiting a tabasco factory on Avery Island, taking a tasting tour of Whetstone Chocolates, spending a day at Sea World, learning the art of axe throwing (our guys were naturals)…

2022 Avery Island

2022 Chocolate Tasting Tour

2022 Whetstone Chocolates

2022 Sea World


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…and traversing a treetop obstacle course called Crocodile Crossing which involved no actual crocodiles but did pass over multiple tanks of alligators. Sadly, Jennifer stopped short of the platform on one extra-long zipline and flailed for what felt like an eternity before Abby could circle back and reel her in. Dangling on that zip-line (as well as the muscle soreness she sported all week as a result) was the low point of our vacation in Mom’s opinion, but watching her dangle was a high point for everyone else, who had a hard time suppressing their laughter at the memory of it. Good thing we left our phones in a locker while climbing, or footage of her floundering might have gone viral by now.

2022 Crocodile Crossing

February 2022 Happenings

We made it home in February in time for Shabbat dinner at Samuel and Bekah’s house. After the meal, Samuel passed around a new set of science books he’d bought for Nathan and Evelyn (ages 3 and 1), including Quantum Physics for Babies, General Relativity for Babies, and Organic Chemistry for Babies, among others. Benjamin flipped through a couple before ribbing his wife: “Mik?” he exclaimed in mock indignation, “Why are Sam’s kids learning rocket science while ours are reading Everyone Poops?”

Reading with James and Ellen

Doug had a medical conference in Denver this month and invited Jennifer to tag along, although it wasn’t the romantic getaway either envisioned. They flew on separate planes, rode in separate taxis, and were apart for most of their time at the hotel.

2022 Doug and Jennifer in Denver

While Doug attended meetings 14 hours a day, Jennifer stayed in the room watching the snow fall and working on her talk for the next month’s THRIVE conference.

Doug at Gaylord Rockies

Snow in Denver


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Rebekah came home around Valentine’s Day raving about a fellow she’d met at the hospital. “He’s so personable. We really hit it off,” she enthused, going on to list all his most admirable qualities: “He’s a Christian. He’s smart. He has a great sense of humor. He loves to travel and is involved in ministry. He spent time in the military and was even stationed in Germany for a while, just like David! In fact,” she went on, her eyes dancing as we sat on the edge of our seats wondering how soon we could meet this great guy, “he arrived in Germany just two weeks before Hitler committed suicide!” (“Probably because he heard I was coming,” the witty WWII vet had conjectured before confessing, “After 65 years of marriage, my first wife left me for another man… named Jesús!”) Well-played, Bek. We bought your doe-eyed description hook, line, and sinker!

Rebekah Flanders

2022 Mom with the Girls

March 2022 Happenings

We hosted a Flanders Family 5K and Fun Run in March, complete with racing bibs and water stations. Competition was fierce among the friends and family members who attended, with top finishers taking home gold, silver, and bronze medals made from repurposed salsa jar lids.

Flanders Family 5K

Our homeschool co-op sponsored a “Neon Day” this month, so Daniel borrowed Mom’s sewing machine and stitched himself a hot pink and turquoise seventies-era track suit with matching fanny pack, terrycloth headband, and duct-taped All-Stars. He had Mom pencil in a cheesy mustache and a tuft of chest hair, then strutted into opening assembly to a rousing recording of “Safety Dance” and the hysterical laughter of classmates who awarded him first place in the costume contest by unanimous consent.

2022 Neon Day

The Great Grandbaby Boom of 2022 got underway when Joseph and Emi welcomed their first, a son named Cassian Tyler, on March 11. He’s a charmer with bright blue eyes and an adorable smile.

Baby Cassian

Newest Baby

Samuel and Bekah Joy announced they, too, were expecting with a prayer request this month for “Nathan and Evelyn’s new sibling.” Then David and Bonnie let us know yet another grandbaby was on the way with an elaborate graph noting “a spike in new cases.” They questioned whether “the supply of potable water” might be contributing to the spread and promised to pray for those “most affected by this new variant.”

2022 Expecting Number 3

Daniel got rear-ended midmonth on I-20 near Canton by a heart-transplant candidate hurrying to Dallas for his pre-op visit. The man was understandably shaken over the accident, which left his truck completely undrivable. So all four kids squeezed into Dan’s backseat while Mom chauffeured the guy to his appointment, sharing Jesus along the way (two potential heart changes for the price of one)!

 Saint Patricks Day

2022 Green Cuisine

2022 New Braces

April 2022 Happenings

April found us in California marveling over the massive Sequoias but cringing at the exorbitant gas prices—over $6 per gallon and still climbing.

2022 Giant Sequoias

Even so, we enjoyed spending time with Doug’s parents, who drove out and met us in Arizona for a few days.

Peoria with Grandparents
Somewhere between Pagosa Springs and Peoria, Doug began perseverating about his job situation, which appeared tenuous amid touchy contract negotiations, and housing prices, which were starting to skyrocket, making this THE opportune time to sell our home. Since nothing Jennifer might say could convince him otherwise (mainly because he was right), we pulled off the road to say prayer and flip a coin: Heads, we put the house on the market. Tails, we table the discussion and enjoy our vacation. [Spoiler: Dad spent the rest of the trip texting our realtor while Mom tried—with only moderate success—to choke back her tears. Although she was 100% on board with the plan intellectually after that coin toss, her emotions spent the next couple of months being put through a wringer.]

2022 Playground

2022 Walk the Line

Spray Painting Cadillacs

2022 Grand Canyon

2022 White Sands

2022 Snorkling in Balmorhea Springs

We scaled the dunes at White Sands, snorkeled in Balmorhea Springs, tossed a frisbee across state lines at Four Corners, and eventually made it home, but the rest of April is ablur.


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Daniel and Gabriel served as teen staffers at the Called to Teach Convention in Allen, where we enjoyed reconnecting with old homeschooling friends from years past.

2022 Called to Teach Conference

We spent a week in Cleburne with David’s family, who’d moved back to Dallas for a pediatric dental fellowship. Nana came, too, as did Ben’s and Sam’s families, and we all had a delightful time visiting parks and museums, playing boardgames, shopping antique stores, and attending a free community movie night where we were fêted with complimentary popcorn and bottled root beer while watching Charade.

2022 Cleaburne Museum

2022 Cleburne

Rebekah graduated from nursing school, “Former Fetus” emblazoned atop her tasseled cap, and was showered with homemade gifts the rest of us had been working on for months—a special surprise Bethany masterminded but nearly blew when she accidentally included Bek in a top-secret group-text explaining her idea to the rest of the family.

2022 Former Fetus

2022 Pinning Ceremony


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Somewhere along the way, we also had a garage sale, selling way more stuff than Mom wanted to part with, but parting with far less stuff than Dad wanted to sell.

May 2022 Happenings

By May, our house had been thoroughly decluttered, repainted, staged, and photographed thanks to the invaluable help we received from our realtor extraordinaire, Joni Rudak. So we left her a key and drove to Branson while she officially put it on the market, hosted an open house, and negotiated a contract three days later for 10K over an already ridiculously-steep asking price, confirmation that God knew exactly what He was doing when He gave us the heads on listing it.


2022 With Joni Rudak

Our daughter-in-law Mikayla found the perfect house for us to rent while sorting out next steps, and we spent the rest of the month moving into it. It fit all our furniture beautifully — another answer to prayer — and within three weeks, Jennifer had it looking like we’d lived there for years.


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2022 Spice Drawer

2022 Rental House

Plot twist: After 25 years of faithful service, Doug gave notice to his anesthesia group the end of May and started searching for out-of-town jobs, as a 2-year non-compete clause meant he wouldn’t be able to practice in Tyler. Cue more tears from Mom, who’d been hoping to avoid another move anytime soon.

2022 More Tears from Mom

Her frequent crying, a departure from her normal steady state, was something the rest of our family found very unsettling. But singing always helps, so she penned new lyrics to an old showtune and belted it out day and night, as strongly as her faltering voice would allow: “Maybe we’ll get to live here the rest of our lives. Maybe we’ll have to move in a week. But isn’t it good to know—regardless of where we go—our future is far from bleak….”


June 2022 Happenings

That future took us to Indiana in June, where Doug had four job interviews.

2022 in Indiana

By some sweet stroke of serendipity, 13,000 female athletes were in Indianapolis for the USA Volleyball Girls Junior National Championship the week we were there. Daniel turned suddenly shy at the thought of striking up a conversation with any of them (beyond explaining to those who asked that, no, he doesn’t have Snapchat), but our intrepid Gabriel strode right up to one bevy of beauties, camera in hand, and announced authoritatively, “Okay, it’s time for a team photo!” Giggling their consent, the girls immediately shifted into two lines, hands on knees and smiling brightly, at which point Jennifer rushed over and offered to snap the picture for him, so Gabbers could be in it, too. As you might expect, his was the biggest smile of all.

2022 Girls Volleyball Championship

Joe and Emi bought and moved into their first house this month, which affords ample opportunities to practice their well-honed gift of hospitality. Joseph still spends days working as an electrician, but he’s also enjoying great success with a new side gig: JT the Tradesman. Live locally and need a good handyman? Give Joe a call.

JT and Emi

Rachel turned 21. After a couple of heart-rending and stress-inducing rotations in neuro-ICU and hospice, she decided to drop out of nursing school and pursue a career in sonography.


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As Rachel was leaving the nursing program, Benjamin was beginning. By working as a med-surg extern while going to school, he’s been able move his family of five into a house closer to campus. He and Mikayla gave us grandbaby #17 back in May—a bouncing baby boy named Liron Andrew.

2022 Ben and Mik with Kids

July 2022 Happenings

We toured the East Coast in July. Having turned down all job offers in Indiana, Doug was preparing to interview in North Carolina, but—praise be to God—the hospital at home bought out his non-compete, clearing the way for us to stay in Tyler after all. So Doug cancelled that interview and instead flew home in the middle of our road trip to sign papers and complete orientation before rejoining the family in New York City. While he was gone, Mom and the kids biked Manhattan, toured Ellis Island, and dined at one too many vegan restaurants, at least in Daniel’s opinion, who observed dryly, “Just once, I’d like to eat at a place that disguises meat to look like vegetables instead of the other way around.”

2022 Biking Manhattan

Visiting the Statue of Liberty

We packed our colonial costumes to wear in Yorktown, which the museum accepted as proof we homeschool—who else would wear so many layers in the full heat of summer?—and discounted our admission.

2022 - Yorktown

Granny Get your Gun

At Gabriel’s insistence, Mom filmed a reel of us doing the Virginia Reel in Virginia and posted it on Instagram so that our shuffle-loving friends, the Halberstadts, would know our family can make dance videos, too.

Virginia Reel in Virginia

Jennifer also taped the kids bounding up the steps to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, à la Rocky Balboa, but forgot to click record the first time, and by the time they finished a second run, our über-competitive Rachel felt physically ill.

2022 Philadelphia MOA

2022 Imitating Rocky

Abby earned a bunch of Jr. Ranger badges this trip, and we all collected a slew of stamps in the new state capitol passports Mom and Gabriel made everyone before we left home….

Junior Ranger Badges

2022 Washington DC

2022 Capitol Passports

Other adventures this month: Daniel attended a two-week session at Summit in Manitou Springs where his sister Rebekah worked as a camp nurse all summer.

Siblings Reunited at Summit Student Conferences

Signing in at Summit

At Dan’s request, Mom made the roundtrip twice to lend moral support during the flights and ensure he and his friend Ezra made it there and back again.

Summit Student Conferences

At Dallas Love Field Airport

Isaac, whose busy schedule caused him to miss nearly every trip our family took this year, spent the summer finishing the last of his core classes at TJC, dabbling in computer animation, and taking orders at Chick-fil-A, where he regaled customers with dad jokes while they waited for food (gotta talk fast!).

 Kids at Home

Isaac Works on Costume

2022 Jurassic World

 Isaac with Top Gun Poster

2022 Three Monkeys

August 2022 Happenings

As has been her tradition for decades, Jennifer decorated Doug’s car for their wedding anniversary in August: “JUST MARRIED 35 YEARS—and more in love than ever!”

2022 Wedding Anniversary

David brought the girls for a visit while his pregnant wife readied lesson plans at home. We spent a fun afternoon kayaking at Tyler State Park, then Charlee serenaded Grandma and Grandpa on the way home for naps while Gwen stayed to mountain bike with the big kids.

2022 Reading with Charlee

2022 Biking at State Park

2022 Gwen on Bike

Bethany joined us for a quick trip to San Antonio to visit Samuel and Bekah in their new home. Turns out, the hospital would’ve gladly bought out Sam’s non-compete, too, but he’d already signed with Lonestar Anesthesia. He loves the extra time with wife and kids his new no-weekends, no-call job affords him. It meant he was available for trips to the aquarium and frisbee-tossing strolls along the Riverwalk while we were in town, as well,

Sam and Family at Alamo


Big changes also lie on Beth’s horizon: When she thought our family would soon be leaving Tyler, she gave notice at her dental practice, applied for a pediatric fellowship (her first interview is in early December), went on a mission trip, and signed up for a medical missions conference, too. So there’s no telling where the new year will take her.

2022 Beth with Nieces

2022 New Home

September 2022 Happenings

September was packed! Between co-op days, Abby’s volleyball games and practices, a trip to Dallas, volunteer work at the East Texas State Fair and the CCC sale, creative arts competitions (with a new personal record for Abby: $213 in premiums), and lots of babysitting grandkids while Jon and Haley juggled doctor appointments (we later learned they’re expecting a new baby, too), we barely had time to breathe.

2022 Abby Playing Volleyball

2022 State Fair of Texas

2022 ETSF Volunteer

2022 East Texas State Fair

2022 With Grandkids at Pool

2022 Board Games

But we did have time to make some new friends after meeting a like-minded family—recently transplanted from Canada—at a Symphony in the Park concert who shares our love for belly laughs, board games, and beautiful music.

2022 Symphony in the Park

October 2022 Happenings

October took us to Big Sandy for a week of tent camping with kids and grandkids alike. Our family team took second place in this year’s Ultimate Frisbee Tournament, losing the final game by only one point. The reigning champs from Arkansas still beat us, but had to work harder than ever before to do so!

2022 Frisbee Team

2022 Striking Down Camp

While we were sitting around the fire toasting marshmallows, our phones all dinged with a picture of Samuel and Bekah’s new baby, hours old. When pressed for details, Sam sent a snapshot of a banner bearing pertinent stats and the name Chandler Zander Flanders. It sounded just plausible enough, we didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Did they really intend to saddle a son with that crazy rhyming moniker? Short answer: No. Samuel was pulling our leg. Much to our relief, Bekah birthed a beautiful baby girl who received an equally beautiful name: Sarah Grace.

Samuel and Bekah with New Baby

Jennifer’s mom turned 85 this month, and we celebrated with a cruise to Mexico. Worried that authorities might not recognize her by her passport photo, she packed the same shirt she was wearing in the picture “to prove it’s really me!” Also in her suitcase: the first swimsuit she’s owned in years, which she wore in Cozumel, telling us later that her only disappointment was not getting to parasail while we were there. We’ll remedy that oversight next time, Nana!

2022 Cruise

2022 Looking for Shells

2022 Nana in New Swimsuit

2022 Dining Room

November 2022 Happenings

In November, Dad surprised Mom with a new-used van. Hooray! Other high points this month: a Run for One 5K, two homeschool dances, the DBU homecoming, a marathon pie baking day, a bountiful buffet, and — if Bonnie and baby feel up to joining us — an updated Flanders Family Flannel Photo to include our newest-born grandson, William Douglas.

2022 Run for One

2022 Swing Dance

2022 DBU Homecoming

2022 Sisters Pie Baking

2022 David and Bonnies New Baby

Bek with the Newest Babies
Then it’s a full-court press to Christmas! May Jesus reign supreme in your heart and home this holiday season and throughout 2023. Write soon, but use our new address (noted on envelope).

2022 Christmas Letter Assembly Line

With love from the Flanders Family —
Doug & Jennifer, Jon & Haley, Bethany, David & Bonnie, Samuel & Bekah, Ben & Mikayla, JT & Emi, Rebekah, Rachel, Isaac, Daniel, Gabriel, Abigail, plus an ever-increasing number of grandkids

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Do you prefer to do your reading offline? You’ll find more of our family’s embarrassing moments, hard learned lessons, and hilarious family 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) 😊.

Glad Tidings - The First 25 Years of Flanders Family Christmas Letters