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!
As always; a wonderful read and peek into your lives, of which I am so happy and grateful to be a modest part of. You are wonderful and I wish you the very best for 2023!
Dear Harrison & Sharene,
Xaviera and I feel so fortunate to be among your friends and you both are an enrichment to the city of Amsterdam.
We look forward to your Christmas letters every year. Love your life!
Awe you guys really know how to live! We wish you both many more healthy years in travel and life and hope you both have the happiest New Year ever!
Jerry and Cindy
What an enjoyable adventure to experience your beautiful journey through this past year. It thrills me to think how happy you are in the country you have settled in. Living in compassion and gratitude is such a blessing and for me it has really happened also because I feel well settled finally in a peaceful place in my heart.
LOTSALOVE from Karen
PS I love Mr. S peeking over the well-set table of goodies. Also the gorgeous giant metal cat sculpture makes me want to make one for my garden.
I always enjoy living vicariously through your adventures! Here’s to another year full of joie de vivre! Aloha, Sharon
Wow! What a year you guys had! We feel SO fortunate to have been able to share in some of your fabulous adventures! It was so fun to explore the Greek Islands in a different way and to be able to meet Amelia along the way. Your newsletters are the absolute best I have ever read or seen! I so appreciate the beautiful pictures and stories. Hope to see you sooner than later. Judy & James
Wow – Happy New Year to you both. Thank you for this wonderful update! I am happy we were able to be a part of your Greece adventure (you really made it very special for us!) and that Harrison was able to get to Seattle too.
All the best and hope we get to Amsterdam!
A happy New Year to you both. Great to read your letter about 2021. So many nice events. Thank you for sending. Cees
Ah, but it is you that make our lives rich. Loved your letter, thoughts, and photos. Very happy to say that I received it.
Lots of Love, Kate
So wonderful watching all your exploits. Happy Holidays from California!
Miss seeing you guys, but many trips to Denmark are planned so we will have to divert to Amsterdam eventually, haha!
Tony, Hanne, and Nick!
Happy new year to all. Best wishes for 2023. Having read your post i have a new resolution for 2023…. to make it to your picture gallery in 2023. I can see my dad’s picture has made it in before me. Be well all and be happy and healthy !
Greetinx from London. C U soon !!