Family Christmas letter, 2011

Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span,
Summer in winter, day in night,
Heaven in earth, and God in man!
Great little One, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to Heaven, stoops Heaven to earth.”

Richard Crashaw,”In the Holy Nativity of our Lord”

Family calendar collage
2011 in a nutshell

Merry Christmas!

Click the links for photos and more information.

On this 9th day of Christmas, we remember the year just past, so grateful for our family and friends.

We enjoyed several trips to northeast Missouri to visit both of our families. Candace’s mom turned 80, and we were delighted to come up to join in the family celebration! Rachel wasn’t able to attend, but here are some thoughts she wrote about her Grandma Phyllis after a visit in September:

Today we visited my Grandma Phyllis. It was wonderful to sit and talk with her, and to listen to the stories she had to tell. She showed us a video my dad made on her birthday of her telling stories—stories about falling in love with my grandpa, marriage, babies, being a farmer’s wife; stories full of love and humor and the beauty of life. I loved what she said at the end of it all: She skipped all the bad parts, she said, but that was because the good parts outweighed the bad. It was all worth it. She had such a light in her eyes as she smiled and told us how blessed she was, how beautiful life had been. This is coming from a woman who has been through more sorrows than I can imagine. I hope that someday I will be able to look back and say the same thing.

Phyllis, 80th birthday
Candace, Craig, Phyllis & Cheryl

Craig and Mary have a beautiful home on Lake Thunderhead, and Mike and Cheryl live in the countryside near Kahoka. What a joy to visit them and their families, more than once during the year. We just love the scenery of northeast Missouri – it will always remain home for us.

Jack and Sue, and Sue (in photo)
Dad, Mother, and Mother

Kerry’s Mother and Dad celebrated their 57th anniversary this year. Their work with ATSU bore fruit in the establishment of a new Dental School in Kirksville. Laura created a moving video tribute for Dad’s birthday, and Dad started a photo blog. We celebrated Mother’s birthday with a family gathering in Mesa, Arizona, just prior to a pell-mell dash around the Colorado Plateau along with Laura’s family, James and Anna, and Stephen’s parents. While in Mesa, we got the special treat of seeing Candace’s Aunt Bernidene, too.

In Phoenix: Hannah, Aunt Bernidene, Susanna, Candace

Magruder family in Mesa
Magruder family in Mesa

Delicate Arch, photo by Jackson Mann
Moon rising over Delicate Arch, photo by Jackson Mann
Jackson’s trip gallery.

Angel's Landing
Angels landing at Angel’s Landing, Zion National Park:
Hannah, Anna, Rachel. Photo by Stephen Folmar. Stephen’s trip gallery

Also this summer, Candace and Susanna got to spend a few fun days at the Lake of the Ozarks with Craig, his daughter Vanessa’s family, and the Luer-Comstock cousins from Louisiana soaking up some rays, singing old songs, and making great memories!

Julie continues to do amazing things as a professor at Truman; Anna is a freshman nursing student there, while James has begun special ops training for the Marines. Laura and Marvin and their boys Jackson and Jonathan keep up a whirlwind of activity she chronicles on her blog, Life at Willis Creek Ranch. Jackson posts amazing photographs at Willis Creek Photography, and Jonathan posts his takes on Willis Creek News. Marvin continues to work with horses on the ranch. Kerry was privileged to join Dad, Marvin, Dad’s brothers Charles and Mitch, and Jackson and Jonathan for the annual horse-riding weekend in Shelbina in September.

Shelbina horse weekend
Shelbina weekend: Mitch, Kerry, Dad, Charles, Jonathan and Marvin. Photo by Jackson Mann.

Marvin preparing the horses for riding
Marvin caring for the horses at Willis Creek Ranch.
(My Shelbina weekend images.)

Laura, thanks for keeping us all informed through your blog about family events in Kirksville. For more family goings-on, see Laura’s Christmas letter.

Candace is doing well in her first year after cancer treatment, but has been redefining normal due to struggles with her feet and with getting enough sleep. Perhaps many cancer patients underestimate the difficulties that arise after the chemo and radiation are over, so this has been another year of learning how to understand and encourage others in similar situations. We continue to appreciate the times we share with our many dear friends in Norman. Candace and Kerry were able to enjoy a couple of long weekends together, to Tulsa in a rustic get-away, and Christmas Fest at Silver Dollar City with Laura’s family. This year was also our 25th wedding anniversary!


For all three girls, dance remained the most significant extra-curricular activity of the year. Their various dance classes culminated with joyous performances at the recital last May – Susanna participated in 5 dances, Hannah and Rachel in 9. At the same recital, all three girls sang with Candace in a Celtic quartet, and Rachel played the hammered dulcimer. Rachel and Hannah’s Celtic Praise Troupe performed in many public venues during the year, including the Oklahoma City St. Patrick’s Day parade and in the Oklahoma History Center for the city’s Septemberfest. Only Susanna is continuing with lessons this year; Septemberfest was a joyous but bittersweet final performance by Rachel and Hannah, as divine choreography leads them on to new adventures (more).

Celtic Praise Troupe

Rachel playing

Hannah playing

Troupe at Septemberfest

Troupe at Septemberfest
Rachel, Hannah, and Sarah, their teacher (more)

In addition to dance, Susanna, 15, continues to homeschool with Candace for 9th grade. She enjoys drawing and history, reads voraciously anything related to dragons or owls, and is writing an adventure novel with the expert tutelage of friend Dotty Maynard. She enjoys lessons in Scottish Gaelic and hammered dulcimer from her sister Rachel. Her dad guides her in biology, along with several friends. During the summer, she served as a teen volunteer at the Natural History Museum, and got to dress up as Slash, one of the Museum’s friendly dinosaur mascots, for museum special events.

Susanna showing James the Museum
Susanna showing James the Museum, as a Saurophaganax attacks an Apatosaurus

Susanna and the femur

Susanna as Slash
Susanna as Slash – the tall one in the middle.
Mascot love: How fun is it, as a dinosaur mascot, to hug Boomer the OU mascot?

In the Storybook drama production for Wildwood’s Wonderfall event – a Halloween alternative for the community attended by hundreds of children – Susanna played the role of Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. And, as already mentioned, one of the landmarks of the year for Susanna was singing with the Magruder Lassies at the dance recital, their first public performance as a quartet instead of a trio.

We will remember 2011 as the year in which Susanna passed Candace and Hannah to become the tallest lady in the family!

Hannah is enjoying her senior year at OU where she is completing a multi-disciplinary major in creative pedagogy. She loved the opportunity to spend 5 weeks in Kirksville last summer, during which time she taught two summer camps for K-5th graders at Faith Lutheran School. Her fascination with living history museums was given new focus in the Fall with an internship at the Harn Homestead in OKC. Here’s an excerpt from her report, “A Day in the Life of a Harn Homestead Intern“:

We go from room to room, talking about differences between then and now, what people used to do instead of playing video games or watching TV, how they stayed warm and cool without electricity, and the phrase “Waste not, want not” as a way of life. Once we get to Ma and Pa’s room, I ask what room they think is missing from this house. We’ve seen the Living Room, Dining Room, Kitchen, and now two bedrooms, so what’s left? One little girl up front very seriously raises her hand, so I call on her. “What room do you think is missing?” I ask. Matter-of-factly she responds, “the library.” I break into a big grin, the adults giggle in the background, and my heart leaps for joy at finding a kindred spirit….

Hannah at the Harn - a day in the life of an intern

Hannah was also involved with Wildwood’s Wonderfall event, along with Susanna, and has remained active with both the college and children’s ministries. Hannah and Susanna organized and hosted a large and joyous event at our home, the Feast of Middle Earth, a festive occasion shared with many dear friends. If you’re in this panorama, we thank you for constantly enriching our lives:

Feast of Middle Earth

We’ve been delighted that Stephen and Rachel have remained in Norman this year (check out Stephen’s Flickr site and Rachel’s blog). They remain involved with Wildwood youth as shepherds of 11th-graders. The big news is that Stephen graduated from OU in August with a masters in mechanical engineering. Rachel completed her degree in linguistics last year. Regular conversations with Rachel over coffee have been one of the highlights for Kerry throughout the year. We’re not tempted to take their presence nearby for granted, as they might need to move away at any time. If so, we will mourn their absence dearly, but we rejoice with them and share their excitement at whatever the future may hold.

Rachel and Stephen at Angel's Landing
Stephen and Rachel, Angel’s Landing, Zion

It was a special joy this Christmas to have all three daughters join Candace in performing a Christmas medley at Wildwood and at the Christmas Eve service in Kirksville – the first Christmas for Susanna to participate in the group. (Download the audio.)

Kerry’s Brat reached 25 years of age and is helping Kerry feel younger than he looks. His professional blog ( provides a glimpse of his work as curator (here’s another glimpse – write me for access). Click the holly link below to read a description of the Winter Holidays exhibit.

Winter holidays exhibit

Kerry traveled less in 2011 than in recent years, but his work did take him to a digitization workshop at Cal Tech last April, hosted by the Einstein Papers project. He’s thankful to have received a new chair this year:


After his involvement with the Passages exhibit in Oklahoma City over the summer, Kerry felt honored to be named to the Advisory Board of the Green Scholars Initiative. Kerry mourned the passing of Peter Falk and Steve Jobs, and celebrates their lives with grateful memories.

After Christmas in northeast Missouri last year, we’re glad to be spending Christmas with our families again this year although, alas, there’s no snow in the forecast. In 2011, Oklahoma had a record-breaking year of drought, heat, snowfall, and its largest recorded earthquake.

Rachel's wreaths
Rachel, Mom, Laura, Julie, holding four of Rachel’s custom-made wreaths.
(Ask her about wreaths for fall, Christmas, Easter or any occasion.)

Craig's music room
At Craig and Mary’s home: Candace, Craig, Rachel, Hannah

2011 began for us with the celebration of Eric and Sarah Barfield’s wedding in St. Louis. We’re thankful we were able to attend the Magruder reunion in Iowa in July. Although we didn’t travel to see as many friends as in some previous years, we’re thankful for everyone who came to visit us in Norman, including Lisa, Anna and James, and miss all the rest of you whom we didn’t get to see personally.

Thank you for keeping in touch with us as much as possible. Please let us know if you’re coming our way! Check your address book – we’re no longer at Terryton Dr. Call or email us for directions to our new home in the country on the east side of town.

We wish you the joy of the shepherds and the wisdom of the magi both this holiday season and in the coming year.

Kerry, Candace, Hannah and Susanna


PS: See also last year’s family Christmas letter and this year’s letter by Laura. We post photos at Flickr and videos at Vimeo. Kerry’s websites are,, and

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