Merry Christmas 2014 from the Belgravia McDonahs

christmas card 2014

Our Christmas letter, written in early December:

It has been a large year in the McDonah household. At this time last year, the countdown was on for our west-coast trip, gathering memories rather than things. It was a magical Christmas, spending time with each other and avoiding all of the franticness that goes along with the season normally. The kids discovered they did not miss the afternoon gift-opening and enjoyed hiking a dormant volcano before a peaceful Christmas dinner instead. We’re committed to the less-is-more philosophy, incorporating a family gift and an afternoon of naps, reading, and playing games in front of the fire. The themes of 2014 in our home were travel and education. In addition to our Christmas trip, which saw travel through 11 states in 13 days, D’Arcy and Alex travelled to Brazil for two weeks in March, Evan went to Quebec on a class trip, and I went back to New York to finish my certification at Cornell. We managed to get an overnight in Cape Breton while my cousins were here from the States this summer, and a night in PEI while taking the boys to Curling Camp in August. Evan turned 16 in September and has been learning to drive. He anticipates being fully licensed in a few weeks. He has transitioned to life as a high-school student with ease and continues to curl on Team Spinney with Alex and two other boys six days each week. We were proud when he won an award for co-operation and sportsmanship at the end-of-year banquet. Alex, now 14, had an adventure-filled year, with a lead in his school’s musical, major awards at the Truro Music Festival, an opportunity to sing “O Canada” at NSCC convocation in English, French, Mi’kmaq, and ASL, and a two week adventure to Brazil; he is vice president of his school’s student council and a top student. He moved outside of his comfort zone this fall and joined the cross-country running team, improving with each race. Sarah has turned 10 and continues to march to the beat of her own drum; we hope this never changes. Her personality has changed dramatically, and she is flourishing. She sings, plays the trumpet and piano, dances highland, jazz, and ballet, and curls. She played baseball this summer (much to her mother’s dismay) but proved to be a natural! She loves doing crafts and wants to be a scientist when she grows up. She recently got contacts, which took some getting used to for those of us who look at her. It was an amazing moment when she saw her bare face for the first time and declared, “Now I don’t have to look down when I do the sword dance; I can just move my eyes!” She still puts her glasses on to go to sleep so that she can see her dreams. So sweet. Olivia, age eight, keeps up with her older siblings. She also sings, plays piano, dances ballet and jazz, and curls. She is an animal lover and social butterfly, always wanting to be around other people and is thriving in French Immersion at school. She continues to outgrow her allergies, and her list currently rests at just peanuts, eggs & soy. She will challenge Brazil nuts after Christmas, which we are confident she will pass. I had many successes this year, earning the internationally recognized credential of “Certified Hotel General Manager” which earns me the letters CHGM after my name. In June, I completed my Certification in Strategic Management from the Hotel School at Cornell University – a bucket list moment for me! In August, I earned my Community College Education Diploma, which was the final step to becoming a permanent employee of the Nova Scotia Community College! D’Arcy & I are both permanent employees at schools in Pictou County and enjoy our daily commute together. We are thankful to my parents who keep the after-school activities running smoothly while we are out-of town. We celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary last month and can’t believe how quickly the years have flown. D’Arcy received his 10-year pin from Scouts Canada in June, and recently took a workshop to become a curling coach. He is has just organized a spelling bee at his school, and will be the lead when six Brazillian students arrive to Nova Scotia in January. As I write this letter, he is working stage-crew at the girls’ production of The Nutcracker (it’s dress rehearsal). We were happy to host 44 people at this year’s annual McDonah family Thanksgiving Dinner, and look forward to seeing everyone on Christmas Eve at D’Arcy’s parents’ home. Both sets of our parents are well and stay active. A highlight for us this year was when we were able to get to know my cousins from the States and form new bonds. The B&B continues to thrive and 2014 was one of our busiest years yet. We welcomed many returning guests and new friends too. We hope this greeting finds you and your loved ones surrounded with peace, hope, joy, and love. From our home to yours, we wish you happiness in 2015. Blessings, D’Arcy, Anne, Evan, Alexander, Sarah, and Olivia

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