December 26, 2020

Here I am writing my annual Christmas letter on the day after again! Instead of Boxing Day, this time I'll say it's Two Turtledoves Day -- the second day of Christmas.

In this year when everything has been so different for everyone, my church had an interestingly different Christmas worship service yesterday. Several congregation members recorded video of readings or music at home, and our pastor put together an hour long worship service using those together with music from the WELS groups Branches Band and Koine. You can watch it on YouTube at https://youtu.be/kHmAO7Qu1DE. I did a scripture reading (https://photos.app.goo.gl/QGd8E8KpJrjBwoWm6) and sang "See in Yonder Manger Low" with my guitar (https://photos.app.goo.gl/1bW4BqWK221uypht5), both towards the end. I was thankful that the sore throat I've had since Thanksgiving abated enough that I was able to participate!

I haven't gotten around to playing guitar as much as usual this year. Church was mostly online most of the year, though I did get to lead Thanksgiving worship in person with guitar. We had to cancel Tree of Life Bible Camp this year, as it wouldn't have been safe to bring so many kids and adults from all over northern California and Nevada together in July. Then I had a sore throat for a couple of different long stretches of the year, and I'm not much of a pure guitarist -- I mostly only play when I can also sing -- so I didn't do much at home either. I'm trying to stay with it enough to not lose all my guitar calluses (fellow guitarists will know what I mean!).

I've been working from home every day for quite a while, only going into the office a couple of times when I needed to touch one of the computers there to fix a configuration issue. Our offices in Palo Alto have been closed for months to all except for essential personnel, and probably will stay that way for most of 2021. I have a great setup for working from home, but it does get a bit tedious being home all day, an experience I'm sure most of you shared this year. My computer setup was already good, but I bought a new adjustable height desk and a new chair to improve the ergonomics.

For exercise, I've mostly been going for walks of around 2 to 5 miles once or twice a week. Mostly just around the neighborhood, in every possible direction to provide more variety, but occasionally I've gotten out to the bayfront, the mountains, or the ocean (an hour's drive across the mountains, https://photos.app.goo.gl/pCLiNtRsNbuWnmja8).

My Christmas tree is up this year (https://photos.app.goo.gl/cDCWtqAGZYBLXBLc7). I put it up the day after Thanksgiving, a record early date for me. Since I wasn't going anywhere, I figured I'd have plenty of time at home to enjoy it. Katinka the cat likes to play with the ornaments and hide under the branches (https://photos.app.goo.gl/LpeTq2B5vEb19J9z6).

My health has been good. Early in the year I switched to a different daily anti-cancer medication, and it is working well. I've been feeling much more energetic than on the previous one, and more important, my last few PET scans have shown less and less evidence of follicular lymphoma. With what I have, that's a very good result. Hopefully I'll continue to do well on this med for quite a few years, and my doctors tell me that if it stops working, there are still quite a few others to try next. To be cautious after I picked up a sore throat and cough after Thanksgiving, I got a COVID-19 test as well as a chest X-ray. Both were negative, so that was reassuring.

I pray that you are all well and remain so! And I hope that sometime over the coming year or so we are all able to start getting together again, safely. It's such a truism that one never appreciates a blessing until it's gone. Let's all remember to be thankful for what we still have, and for what comes in the future.

Christmas Blessings,
Tim Mann


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