December 24, 2013
Dear family and friends,

This is my annual letter recapping the previous year at Christmas. All of the previous Christmas letters, since the Nanty Glo Home Page's first Christmas, 1997, can be found online through this index. Since quite a few new people are reading my posts this year, I'm giving more detail about some of the references. For example, Nanty Glo, Pennsylvania (part of which is seen in the 1960s or '70s photo above), was the business center nearest my rural home when I grew up, I spent the best times of my teen and young adult years in town and became the third editor of Nanty Glo's newspaper at age 20, so I decided to give something back by creating the hometown website in 1997, though I was then living in California.

The highlight of 2013 for me was selling my humble abode in San Jose just after last Christmas and moving to Belfast, Northern Ireland, joining the mission team at the Loom as writer-in-residence, and embarking on what may be the greatest adventure of my life at age 71 (as of May 31 this year). Though I wrote here last Christmas that I hoped to make the move in February, I arrived on March 13, just in time for my first St. Patrick's Day in that favorite saint's baileywick.

Though the weather here is all the old Irish Spring commercials suggest and much more, I've been loving living abroad and feeling that mission work has given me new purpose in my old age. (Irish Spring is an American soap, for UK readers, which used to depict the island's weather as—shall I say—misty.) Besides cross-community (Protestant-Catholic-Orthodox) activities, church involvement, and volunteer time, I've been doing lots of traveling and doing travel writing on my blogs. I've visited, photographed, and written up most of the Northern Ireland cities and large towns, but there is still much more to explore. (More than 2700 photos and videos, mostly taken here in Northern Ireland this year, are available for browsing on my Flickr site.)

I've been keeping up with the family back in the Silicon Valley area mainly through Facebook and Google+ and have discovered the social networks are a great way not only to keep up but also to get out the word of the day or the hour to a large circle of contacts. And since my camera automatically forwards all of my still pictures to Google+, I have found that that makes it much easier to produce my blogs and have been doing so much more frequently. Thus I've become more productive in my journalistic and apologetic (theological) writing, which seems fitting, considering my current title.

I'm not sure what to expect in 2014, though more changes are likely to come soon. Keep up through the blogs, and please forward them to others you think might be interested. For hour-by-hour updates, join the groups on my Facebook and Google+ pages.

From their Facebook pages: sons Kevin and wife Bernadette, left, and Mike and wife Tracy with the youngest grandchildren, Evy, left, and Lilah, right. (Sorry, daughter Chris doesn't have any all-family photos on her Facebook.)

May the babe born in the manger be born in your heart this Christmas, and best wishes for many good things in 2014.

jon
If you could have done it on your own,
what would have been the need for
the coming of the Lord? - St. Macarius

227 Crumlin Road, Belfast, UK BT14 DY7 | 44 7455 980890
jrk@nantyglo.com | http://www.nantyglo.com

Winter theme picture from Nanty Glo Home Page; origin unknown