Merry Christmas! 2020 – the year of canceled vacations and snickering at those who let their noses stick out of their masks. Sorry if you didn’t get the memo about us temporarily closing our doors to visitors, but they will be opened again once the vaccine is out. We hope the letter finds all of you with a greater appreciation of what should be held dear.
What a whirlwind year we had! Our exchange students, Gustavo and Norayr, were sent home early due to the pandemic. Before they were even gone, all of our children were back and filling all of the beds. With all 6 of us under one roof from March – August, we ate well and far more often than was necessary. We figured out a new routine, and we gained a greater appreciation for the adult versions of each of our kids. With our internet being responsible for the work or schooling of 5 people, we were competing for bandwidth. Both Judy and Andy will treasure the puzzles, games, and walks from those months for many years to come.
Neither Abby nor Rachel were excited about online classes, but they adapted quite well. They developed their routines, and they stuck to them. They did not seem too upset to swap their college roommates for their family. Rachel worked at Amazon and Chick-Fil-A this summer while taking a class. Abby, not to be outdone, took summer classes, had an internship at Meals on Wheels, and worked at the Chick. Both girls continue to prioritize their faith. It makes their parents very happy. Both girls have been on campus for the Fall. This is Abby’s 3rd year at Baylor. Her on campus job requires she get her “brain tickled” every couple of weeks with a COVID test. Rachel is a sophomore and has been very involved at A&M. She has especially enjoyed leading a group for freshmen women engineering majors. She claims Calculus III is almost a blow-off class. And, she takes all of her random COVID tests in stride.
Jeff left Paycom in July to begin a job at Teleflora in Oklahoma City as a Sr. Network Engineer. Tim has been “essential” since the beginning of the pandemic and was the only Gruenbaum to regularly leave the house. He continued at his restoration job and has been taking classes toward a degree in Construction Management. Just before Thanksgiving, Tim started a new job and moved into an apartment in Dallas where he and his dog Rowdy have plenty of room. In August, while Jeff was transitioning between jobs, the boys took a big adventure. They drove to California with the expected stops along the way. (i.e., Carlsbad Caverns & the Grand Canyon) They stayed in Los Angeles at an Airbnb for a few days. Since starting his new job, Jeff has bought a house this Fall in Edmond, OK, and suffered through some expenses he wasn’t expecting. The boys also used the past few months to acquire several tools on Facebook marketplace.
Judy and Andy didn’t quite have the year they expected. In the Spring, our pool was heated often; it was Judy’s favorite spot all summer long. (If we didn’t have the pictures, she would deny taking conference calls while floating.) Judy continues to work at USAA. She has worked entirely remote since March. Andy’s car wash is being built, but he is no longer involved. One of the partners on this project got very sick and then…COVID happened. As if more evidence was necessary that the Gruenbaums don’t like an empty nest, they added a hockey player (Luke) and an industrious online high school student (Chris) to the household in October. We have named them the “pandemic twins.”
Our trips were almost nothing this year. (Did anyone have a great vacation?) During Spring break, we were able to take the girls and “exchange twins” (last year’s exchange students) on a trip to Austin and San Antonio. After we returned, the world began its first lockdown. Our August trip to Italy was canceled, and we fear our river cruise planned for Spring 2021 is also a question mark. Judy and Andy took a two week trip in mid-October. We drove to North Carolina (Judy’s parents) to Ohio (Andy’s family and wedding of family friends) and then to Branson before coming back home. Branson convinced us misty, foggy weather is not desirable. But, we truly enjoyed the presentation of Noah’s Ark at the Sight and Sound theater.
Even when the world redefines crazy, we can all take comfort when we reflect on the true meaning of Christmas and the true purpose of our earthly lives. We’re so grateful for our Savior!
All the best for a great year.
Andy, Judy, Tim, Jeff, Abby, Rachel, Luke, and Chris