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The Michael L. White Family's

Annual Christmas Newsletter for 2001

In past newsletters, I've always written before Christmas and began with a review of the previous Christmas. Starting this year, I've waited till after Christmas to write so I can include a review of this Christmas in this year's newsletter. Of course, that means I also have to include a review of last Christmas as well, but that's only for this year. Next year, I will need to review only Christmas 2002. Anyway, I'll endeavor to be brief, as usual, so let the reviewing begin!

Christmas 2000, was exciting, like most others, but there really is nothing extraordinary to report about it. Gifts are nice, of course, but as always, it's the visitation with family and the delightful delicacies which truly make the holiday special for me. Last Christmas was no exception.

The New Year's celebration for 2000 wasn't very exciting for us. We stayed home and pretty much treated the day like any other. This New Year's Day probably won't be any different.

As for the remainder of the 2001 calendar year, here are the highlights. The Easter celebration was somewhat of a let-down, because we had planned this spectacular outdoor event, only to have the threat of bad weather drive us indoors, yet (to my recollection) not one drop of rain fell or one clap of thunder boomed. It was rather disappointing. The brigade chaplain has already given me notice that I am to be the project officer for the 2002 Easter observance. I'll let you know how it goes.

Amy graduated from Shaw High School on 2 June. What an event that was, too, and how very different from my own graduation of 60 or so students! There were several hundred in Amy's graduating class! We had to meet in the civic center to accommodate everyone, and we were limited to only ten seats per student for family and friends. Nevertheless, I caught all the important scenes on videotape for those who couldn't attend. Amy is currently attending the Chattahoochee Valley Community College in nearby Phenix City, AL.

During the week of 3-9 June, which was also just after Annual Conference (27-30 May), Ellen, Amy, Josh, and I joined a group from our home church of Tabernacle United Methodist in Dothan for a fun-filled trip to Washington, D.C. It was truly a magnificent time for all of us! I'm so very glad we got there when we did, before the terrorist attacks changed everything. We saw nearly all of the significant historical sights there, including the Library of Congress, Supreme Court, Capitol building, Kennedy Performing Arts Center, and at least two parts of the Smithsonian, though we missed out on touring the inside of the White House and the Pentagon, a great disappointment to me, in particular. Nevertheless, we did get to stand outside in front of the main entrance to the White House one night and take pictures. Visiting the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and Vietnam Memorial helped to make up for those shortfalls, however. The river boat cruise down the Potomac, complete with lunch and a musical show, was a delightful distraction, too.

Moreover, we were present in the Senate chamber to witness the first-ever-in-American-history, in-session change of political power in the Senate from Republican to Democratic control, although I'd gladly forfeit my eye witness of that historic moment if that change had not happened at all. We also toured Jefferson's Monticello on our way to D.C., and we toured George Washington's Mt. Vernon on our way home from D.C.

It really was a once-in-a-lifetime trip for me. Amy had been to D.C. once before with her school in Lawton, OK, and a few others on this trip had been on previous trips there, too. Our trip planner and leader, Cathy Jordan, has led her students from Emmanuel Christian School in Dothan, AL, on numerous trips to D.C. She truly made it special for all of us, and we simply can't thank her enough.

The balance of the year is really quite a blur for me. I've just been trying to keep my head above water. The terrorist attacks on 11 September, have certainly changed our nation forever. The heightened security I've longed for on Army posts has returned, but what a terrible causation to bring it to pass! Several trainees in my battalion had relatives working in or near the World Trade Center and Pentagon, but thankfully, all were found safe. We are all now eager to do our part in the War on Terrorism.

As everything was beginning to settle down somewhat, I attended a week-long training in Denver, CO, 29 October-2 November, to become a qualified trainer for the ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) program. This is a revolutionary suicide intervention program which equips those who get the training with the necessary skills and self-confidence for providing "first-aid" (intervention) to those contemplating or threatening suicide. If you get the chance to receive this training, go for it.

Thanksgiving was a bit of a whirlwind activity for me this year. I had to get all trussed up in my dress blue uniform again for the traditional appearance in the dining facility for the soldiers before I was allowed to make the two-hour drive to Dothan to be with family. Naturally, by the time I arrived, everyone had already eaten, and some had already departed, although I did enjoy visiting with those who remained. Ellen and Josh had awakened early that morning and traveled to Dothan in plenty of time for the festivities. Amy and Chris, her fiancÚ, spent the first half of the day in Dothan, then drove to Marietta, GA (just north of Atlanta) to celebrate again with Chris' family. Yes, you read correctly: Amy and Chris are officially engaged, and they chose Thanksgiving day to announce it to the family.

Amy began officially dating Chris Hurley, my chaplain assistant, on her birthday in June, right after our return from our D.C. trip. Their wedding date is set for 5:00 pm., Saturday, 16 March 2002. We have reserved the covered bridge and carriage house reception center at Butt's Mill (near Callaway Gardens and Pine Mountain, GA, one half hour north of Columbus, GA) for the exchange of vows and celebration of their wedding. It's a scenic, rural location, and the surrounding woods should be all-abloom with dogwoods and assorted other flowering plants and trees by that time. It promises to be a very beautiful, serene, and romantic occasion.

The week after Thanksgiving, Ellen and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. It's hard to believe it's been 20 years. To quote a line from the movie, Meet Joe Black, "...and don't they go by in a blink?"

Christmas 2001, as in times past, has been a very enjoyable time for us. As I did last Christmas, I've saved my personal leave days for later use. It has been a great time of relaxation for all of us. Josh has spent his Christmas break with Ellen's parents in Dothan, and Ellen has busied herself with miscellaneous holiday activities. She decorated our tree with multi-colored lights, transparent crosses, cloth angels, and crocheted snow flakes to look especially beautiful this year. As always, my favorite part was simply visiting with family and enjoying a delicious, home-cooked meal with all the trimmings.

Well, folks, that's it for 2001, another year in the life of the White family. I hope you've had a very Merry Christmas and will have a great year in 2002. Keep in touch by email, if by no other means. My email address is Happy New Year, and God bless!!