Christmas Letter – 2015

In a few hours I’ll be joining some rabid Star Wars fans to watch The Force Awakens. So, before I get my Wookie on, let’s recap 2015. I’m writing with a touch of jetlag, so if I doze off in the middle, just give me a nudge. Sonya and I just returned from a trip to Germany with some friends, Leon and Tina. Since Leon is nearly fluent in German, it was a chance to travel with a personal translator that we couldn’t pass up. I think the only phrases I walked away with were “Danka schoen” (thank you) and “Sprechen sie Englisch” (do you speak English). Sonya did a great job of saying English words with some kind of German accent which I’m sure was very effective. Tina would occasionally slip into Spanish and answer “Si” so we were glad to have Leon around.

Before we left our traveling companions asked what we wanted to do. I responded with “castles and mountains.” Germany did not disappoint. We visited the Zugspitze which is the highest peak in Germany. We took a cable car up the sheer mountain face to reach the summit. The view of the Alps was stunning. The country border with Austria is at the summit, so we took a quick trek to another country while we were there. Later we visited Neuschwanstein, the castle that Cinderella’s castle was patterned after. It looked like it was plucked right out of a fairy tale. I’m pretty sure I saw Tinkerbell fly by, but after the climb up the long, steep mountain road to get there, it could very well have been altitude sickness. Besides castles and mountains we visited Dachau concentration camp, the imperial palace in Nuremburg, and Kristkindlsmarkts in Munich and Rothenburg. Great trip.

Most people thought we were a little nuts to squeeze a trip into December because on Jan 1 wedding bells will be ringing. Our little girl, Cassidy, is getting hitched. She’s marrying a fine Scottish lad, Tyler McIntosh. Did I mention Leon and Tina’s last name is McIntosh? Yes, our traveling buddies are the future in-laws. So, the clans McGullion and McIntosh will be united. I suspect land will be exchanged.

They officially got engaged on Sept 22. When we talked to them about a wedding date, they originally wanted to shoot for Thanksgiving. After the laughter subsided, we realized they were serious. After some negotiations we convinced them to wait until Jan 1, which apparently is still a very short window to plan a wedding. Of course, I’m staying out of the planning. I just sit in my recliner with my checkbook and give them a check every time they walk by. We’ve turned the basement into an apartment for them to have a place of their own. They’ve got a lot on the horizon – Cassidy was accepted into nursing school, which is no small feat at KSU. Tyler will finish his undergrad next year and pursue law school. A lawyer and a nurse. Yeah, they should be OK. They apparently think they have it all under control, because they’ve adopted a dog. London joined the family a few weeks ago, because we clearly needed another living being under our roof (smh). Yeah, she’s a cutie, but our cat is none too happy.

Austin is a senior this year so the McGullions will soon be done with high school (let the pigeons loose)! He’s really starting to show some independence and maturity that all started with a trip to Colorado this past summer. He joined a couple of classmates for a 4-week discipleship adventure and really came home changed. He’s been accepted and will be attending Middle Tennessee State University next fall. He’s thinking about something in the computer science field, but he’s leaving his options open. Austin is also active in basketball again this year and will give soccer a try in the spring.

Kayla is a senior at KSU and she can see the light at the end of the tunnel. If the planets align, she should graduate after summer semester next year with a degree in criminal justice. Her plan is to pursue a career in victim advocacy. She’s got one very packed semester in the spring and then is planning to study abroad in the summer. She’s headed to Amsterdam and Germany (so our trip was a bit of recon too). We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for her (translation – I can’t wait to stop paying tuition bills). She’s currently working at Jimmy Johns where she is perfecting her “freaky fast” reflexes. She’s still active in Kappa Delta and recently held the position of ritual chair, among many others. She’s also coordinating activities in relation to her Maid of Honor position. She’s actually pretty happy when she’s telling people what to do, a trait she picks up from “you know who.”

Speaking of “you know who,” Sonya is still feeding her bling obsession by winning race medals. If she keeps this up I’ll need to add reinforcement to the medal display. She runs lots of 5Ks but the big race this year was the Marine Corp Marathon in Washington DC. We traveled up there with some friends whose husband was also running. She did great, finishing in 5 hrs, 9 mins! Much better than her first marathon time of 6 ½ hours. She still leads a Run for God group at church and encourages others to get healthy physically and spiritually. Sonya redefines the word “tireless.” She puts in waaay too many hours during the summer getting ready for VBS and kids camp. She’s always available for a middle of the night text from one of the kids who has a question or concern. Plus, she’s the Mother Theresa of Facebook, always looking for a way to virtually encourage or support anyone in need. She even manages to carve out a minute or two for me. Most of her time right now is wedding planning. Hold on, I need to write another check.

As for me, I crested the age mountain this year and I’m headed downhill. My 50th birthday was in September. We had a nice weekend with friends at a cabin in Elijay to soften the blow. I also softened the blow with a Mustang convertible. I highly recommend it for all those about to experience mid-life crises. Since I’m all grown up now, I decided to take the plunge into IT management this year. It’s been an interesting transition to say the least. I’ll be celebrating 4 years with Georgia-Pacific in January.

There are several more items to mention in 2015 – a trip to Disney, KSU and Auburn football games, concerts, a rocket launch, firework malfunctions, weddings, Data impersonation (what was I thinking), proms, ski trips, etc. But, time is growing short and I have to go get in line with storm troopers and Jedis. May this holiday season be filled with joy and the peace of knowing that the baby born in Bethlehem is also the soon returning King.

I’m outta here. Have a happy new year and (if you didn’t see this ending coming, shame on you) may the Force be with you!

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