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What hath 2016 wrought?

Lily Edith Christmas 2016
Dear Edith,

Everyone is saying 2016 was a terrible year. Yet years from now, your mother and I will look back at 2016 as one of a single significance: the year you were born.

Yes, right now we remember 2016 for the conflict in Syria, Donald Trump’s election, and the death of celebrities such as Prince, Muhammad Ali, George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and others. But when you are old enough to understand, I hope that these events will no longer give any cause for worry.

For your father, it has been a turbulent year. I began by saying goodbye to my employer of nearly five years, with a promising new start. That new start brought, for one thing, a shorter commute which gave me more time with your sister and mother, and eventually with you. It also brought me the stress of adapting into a new environment. And ultimately, although through no fault of my own, it led to termination, which is why I have been there to play with you every day the past eight weeks. While this has been good family time, I enter 2017 with the burden of finding somewhere else to employ my skills. As the sole provider, you really need a job.

As for your arrival, it has been a joy to see you grow into the smiling and cackling 6-month-old you have become, and witness the mutual love between you and your sister. I do also remember how the first two months were especially tough on me, as I adapted to our new situation and came to know you as a person. You will not and should not understand this until one day you become a parent yourself, at which time I will probably be too old to remember myself.

On a lighter note, we planted the berry bushes and fruit trees which I hope you are enjoying. Before you were born, your sister and parents made a short break in Bologna, Italy, our first proper holiday in several years. And we enjoyed a visit from your paternal grandparents, with the prospect of them moving back to Denmark very soon. We have missed them, and are happy to know that they will be larger part of your life as you grow up.

You celebrated your first Christmas gracefully among family at home, and tonight you will (we hope) sleep through your first New Year’s Eve.

Edith, you have blessed our family beyond measure. It is my prayer that you will be a highlight not only of 2016, but of our entire lives to come. Happy New Year!

Love, Dad

Do you remember 1998?

It’s not a traditionally round-number one, but my birthday today still stands out for its number: double 18 (you do the math). I have now been officially of age for exactly half of my life. Which, given my penchant for nostalgia and numbers, made my mind wander back to that wonderful year of 1998.

1998 was the year of the Monica Lewinsky affair and the peace agreement in Northern Ireland. It was the year the Great Belt Fixed Link opened in Denmark. We would learn the significance only later, but it was also the year Google was founded, and the first Harry Potter book published.

It was the year of the FIFA World Cup in France. I still remember the quarter-final between Denmark and Brazil (2-3), watching the match along with a huge crowd in Copenhagen’s Town Hall Square.

Back then, we were listening to Celine Dion, Aqua, Aerosmith, Shania Twain, and Backstreet Boys. We were treated to films such as Titanic, Armageddon, There’s Something About Mary, The Truman Show and The Big Lebowski. On TV (all broadcast, mind you), we enjoyed Friends and Frasier, and for some reason also X-Files and Jerry Springer.

50-17aIn my life, coming of age meant that I could finally vote (which I did for the first time the following day) and get a credit card. Within a month of my birthday I would graduate high school AND get my driver’s licence. Oh, the freedom! Having finished school, borrowing my parents’ car to drive around the country and visit friends in a wonderful Danish summer.

1998 was the year in which I chose baptism and church membership, a decision which has shaped the course of my life, although perhaps less so in recent years.

1998 for me was also the beginning of a still-enduring passion for East Asia. Visiting Beijing on a class trip had a profound impact on me, leading me to later study a full term of Chinese Studies. Since then I have been fortunate to visit several other countries in the region, and every time it is with a joy of reunion.

Although I remember the year 1998 vividly and fondly, thinking back now it is also safe to say that a lot has happened since then. In the world, and in my life.

I no longer count as ‘young’, but I am satisfied with what I have achieved. My world has expanded – geographically, intellectually, spiritually and gastronomically. In 1998, for example, I still didn’t know how to cook, now a major interest and pastime. I had never had a girlfriend. In 2016 I am still myself, but arguably a wiser and more experienced version of me. I have a growing family of my own, own a house, and have a good job.

18 years is a long time, but I take comfort in the fact that 18 years from now I will still not yet be ‘old’, regardless of what my children will tell you. And if I get to experience as much in the next 18 years as in the last, I will count myself a lucky man indeed.

Highlights of 2009

Like 2008, 2009 was a year with many changes.

The all-encompassing event of this year was, obviously, our wedding. It was a truly joyous occasion and a perfect day we can remember and cherish for many years to come. The planning ahead, and the arduous task of settling in, has consumed much time this year, but fortunately we are increasingly happy with the result.

The family has expanded in two more ways: Kat’s sister also got married this summer; and Casper got a little brother, our second nephew. Both highlights of this year.

A personal highlight has been joining Camerata, one of Copenhagen’s best classical choirs. It’s great to be performing music on a high level again, and especially the three playings of the Messiah in December were exhilarating.

Travelwise, we have been fortunate again this year. Awesome experiences in Thailand, New Zealand, Melbourne, London, and more give great memories, and a greater sense of the world’s diversity. This year’s new country was Laos (although that visit was very brief).

Not all has been good, though. 2009 was the year in which we said definitely goodbye to Australia. We left there ourselves in March, after a wonderful year in exile. And now my parents have now left as well, moving to Michigan. This will provide opportunities for returning to the USA, our first trip being this February. But leaving Oz is sad.

Another point of frustration is the trouble in finding a church. At the end of the day we’re happy living in the Copenhagen area: close to (some) family, the good opportunities of a big city, a good home, etc. But I guess some things still take their time in falling into place.

What will 2010 bring? My guess, at least, will be no relocations. My hope is that it will bring good experiences, meaningful relations, and a sense of making a difference to other people.

Happy new year!