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1998 Christmas - Mostly in America

December 25 - January a Bit, 1998

Written December, 2016

Hi Friends and Family,

I am writing this in December of 2016, eighteen years after the events I am describing.  I developed this task when I decided to have a full record of Christmas past, but then discovered some years when the existing set of diaries had somehow missed an entire holiday season.  Nonetheless, I still had our photographic record, so the ideas to build the story from the pictures and, admittedly, faded memories.  We'll see what happens.

d19981225_02_mandjinkiev.jpgThis was our first holiday season in Kiev and we had already had required celebrations early in the month, before we headed over to America for a much-needed break. We had left for Ukraine in September with just a few days warning and had failed to appreciate how cold places outside of California could get.  We also needed a break, badly.  The first three months had been hard on us, in part for the weather, but more so for all the family and friends and comforts we had left behind.  By December, despite the smiles we might have been showing, we were having serious doubts about the wisdom of our move.d19981225_04_arrive.jpg

Somewhere around the 20th of December, we started what would become a standard holiday odyssey, Kiev to Frankfurt to America, this time starting in California.  Gabby met us at the airport and things seemed better already. 

Our first order of business was to meet up with my sister and drive up to Ukiah to see our mom.  She and her heart had been struggling lately, so it was necessary to visit at the hospital, tubes and all. Despite it all, we managed smiles. Earlier in the month, the plan had been for mom to return to Maryland with Bim, but that ended up not possible. 

d19981225_10_withmom.jpgd19981225_12_bimandmom.jpgThese are the last pictures I have of mom, although she did make it out of this hospital visit and returned to rehab and convalescent facilities.  She would be gone before either Bim or I made it back.  Almost twenty years later, there is still a sadness that hangs in my Christmas seasons.

We also visited with Aunt Betty and Uncle Bill, mom's family caregivers and folks who we owed more than we ever told them.  We would stay in touch with them after they moved from Ukiah to Fresno.


Speaking of Fresno, the next 1998 Christmas events in our photo memories was present-opening at Babi and Henry's place.  I'll admit the memories in my head can not quite differentiate from other years so that's another positive for pictures versus gray matter.  (From a 2016 perspective, these people sure are young!)

So, what happened next? No memories jump from my head, but the photo record show us flying east to Maryland.  We obviously enjoyed ourselves, visiting Bim and Ron, nephew Mike and even Brian and Geoff were there to see us off. Apparently.


And off we were, back to Kiev and our new life.  Ice, snow, and work greeted us I'm sure, all guaranteed in mid-January,1999 as well as in each of the years ahead.  Christmas had given us a much-needed break, so we were resolved to stick it out.

John & Marianne 

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