A belated happy new year to you all. I had an enjoyable holiday season with friends and family. The greatest blessing was the surprise graduation party Carey threw for me on New Year’s Eve. I thought we were going to eat at a restaurant with her parents and my parents, but when we showed up at the Robinson’s house, my nephew ran up to give me a hug as many people yelled “Surprise” or “Happy Graduation” or something—I was in too much shock to fully remember. I saw my brother and sister-in-law, aunt and uncle, friends from UC Davis InterVarsity that live in Southern and Northern California, Sacramento friends, Fuller friends, Calvin Crest friends, and others. I was so caught off guard I almost cursed in disbelief. It was a wonderful evening full of reunion and friendship. I thought as I looked at all my friends and their young children (so many kids!), “I have the best friends in the world.” The last time I thought this was at my wedding. These friends and family are some of the most generous and loving people I could ever hope to know. Being around them makes me want to be a better person. They push me to pursue God. These are the people for whom I would sacrifice my limbs and life. Carey also organized friends to write me letters. Reading through them the past few days has been encouraging and humbling. For those who came to the party, for those who wrote letters, for those who couldn’t make it but sent their congratulations, thank you. Thank you very much. I love you all. You have all changed me and changed me for the better. To quote Paul in his greeting to the church in Philippi, “I thank my God every time I remember you.”
The next day friends and family came to our place and we lazed around and ate more food. It was a perfect New Year’s Day. Then, the following day some of us went to the Rose Parade. I’ve lived in Southern California since August 2002, but this was the first time I saw the flower-covered floats in person. Of course it was also the first time it rained on the parade in fifty years. Go figure. Luckily I was with good friends again and we were able to laugh at the fact that though we were in chairs a couple of feet off the ground, we still sat in puddles as the water gathered in our seats. Our wet butts and thighs couldn’t compare to the discomfort the marching bands and Boy and Girl Scouts who carried the banners must have felt, but still. We left early, came home, took warm showers, dressed in dry clothes, aired out the contents of our wallets, and went out for pho, which could warm up a Yeti.
In all, it was a great end to a horrible year—2005 was awful on so many levels—and a memorable and laughable beginning to a new year. May God bless you all as this new year begins.