Back to (a New) Normal
Sharene and Harrison’s 2022 Christmas Update
Even though the world is facing challenges on many levels, we are glad to hear that many of you had a healthy year filled with family, friends, and travel. We are happy to report that after 10 years in Amsterdam we still love it here — our home, our friends, and each other! We also had a good year of traveling, visitors, seeing old friends, meeting new friends, and a wonderful summer of spectacular weather. And most important: except for the occasional illness and the universal issues of growing older, we remain in excellent health.
We have been writing a Christmas letter for over 30 years (and we love reading the ones we get from all of you). Before the Internet we addressed hundreds of cards with printed inserts and sent them by mail. The web version is still a lot of work, but it sure beats the old system. We often hear from people we see over the year, “Are we going to make it into your Christmas letter?” And the answer is, if we saw you this year, then most likely you’re in here somewhere… maybe multiple times! And because many of us felt bold enough and lucky enough to travel, you did and we did!
So our letter this year is mostly a year in photos. We start with our Favorites of the Year, then move on to sections covering Travel, Friends, and Scenic Amsterdam before closing with some movie and book recommendations.
(Note: the photos have both a caption and a longer description. Depending on whether you are reading this on a computer, tablet, or smartphone, you may see all the captions immediately, or you might have to roll your mouse over a photo to see the caption and/or description. Clicking or tapping on any photo should bring up a full-size photo or a slide show with arrows to move between photos.)
Favorite Photos of the Year
Yes, we contributed to the Revenge Travel boom of 2022!
It started with Sharene’s trip to Juicy Oasis in Portugal, a week of only juicing and exercise. She lucked out: Jason Vale, founder of Juicy Oasis, who lives in England, happened to be in Portugal during Sharene’s week there and even taught some of the classes. What an inspiration! Sharene loved her week at Juicy Oasis so much that we’re both going in 2023. We try not to proselytize in these holiday letters, but if you want to find out what they do, check out Jason’s Juice Tube channel on YouTube.
We try to go someplace interesting with Amelia every year for Harrison’s birthday. Amelia couldn’t travel in 2020 or 2021, but she joined us this year for part of our trip to the Greek Islands. We followed our time with Amelia with a catamaran trip with friends from Seattle.
Harrison grew up St. Paul, Minnesota, just a few blocks from Como Lake, but neither of us had been to the original Lake Como in northern Italy until this past August, when we met Harrison’s cousin, Phil, and his new bride, Sue, in Bellagio. Such a gorgeous place and lovely couple!
Boat Bike Tour
Our friend Barbara from Portland, who with her husband, Rich, owned a beautiful home and garden on Hawaii’s Big Island not far from where we used to live, invited us to join her and some friends on a boat and bike tour of Holland called Hansa Highlights. We do a lot of biking in our home country, but we hadn’t been to many of the tour’s destinations, and when our best friend Martin as well as Annie (of “The Girls”) wanted to go, and Cathy (also of “The Girls”) offered to cat-sit for us, we decided to accept Barbara’s invitation.
Harrison’s Trip to the Pacific Northwest
Some of Harrison’s oldest and dearest friends date from the 1970s when he lived in Seattle and worked for KING Radio. He hadn’t been back for a visit since 2018 because of the pandemic but flew there in October and spent three weeks visiting friends in Washington and Oregon.
A photo of Pete and his flute doesn’t do justice to his wide-ranging musical talent. Here’s a short video of one of the pieces he played.
We ended the year with a short trip to Hamburg, Germany, to celebrate the 36th anniversary of our first date. (See photo at the very top.) The highlight of the trip had to be our visit to Miniatur Wunderland. It’s known as the world’s largest model railway, but it’s much more than that; besides trains, it has a fully functioning airport with planes taxiing, taking off, and landing, harbors and waterways with moving boats, roads and highways with moving vehicles, and models of famous cities, landscapes, and landmarks throughout the world including an erupting Mt. Vesuvius! Everything shows an astonishing attention to detail. The photos below were taken at “dusk” (the lighting changes from day to night and back again every 15 minutes or so). Looking at the first one, you might think you’re looking at an actual landscape, but in the second one you can see spectators walking by!
Visitors and Friends
Friends who came to visit, whom we visited, or who are part of our circle here and who basically make our life so full and fabulous; we hope you know how much you mean to us.
As we said at the top, after 10 years here we are still in love with Amsterdam and we still find new things to do here and throughout the Netherlands. We feel incredibly fortunate and grateful to live here.
Movies and Books
We saw well over 100 movies in 2022 between our local Pathé theaters, Netflix, Prime Video, and Apple TV — and we don’t even subscribe to other major streaming video services like HBO or Disney. At this point we’ve forgotten many that we probably loved at the time. But these two really stand out in our memory:
And we read a lot in 2022 as well. Here are a few of our favorite books:
If you made it this far, then Thank You! Dankjewel! Mahalo Nui! We have known many of you for 30-40-50 years! (Or in the case of our families, much longer!) We have known some of you only since we moved to Amsterdam, but you have stolen our hearts and made our lives more full, more fun, more meaningful. We are grateful for all of you and for the wonderful life we have. We wish you all a healthy, stress-free, and interesting life full of whatever is meaningful to you. (One of Sharene’s favorite sayings is, “Whatever floats your boat and blows your hair back!”)
Happy holidays, all the best for 2023… and our sincere wishes for good health!