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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! For those of you new to the Holly Herald, this is our annual Christmas newsletter that Dora and I have been writing since 1984, so I guess this is the Golden Anniversary of the HH. Wow, 25 years! Dora keeps all the old Holly Heralds and we were having a blast recently looking at the back issues that were created on an Apple IIE computer and printed on a dot matrix printer in the mid- and late-1980s. We've come a long way technologically, but the news is always the same . . . Dora and I enjoy life to the fullest and love our family and friends.

As in recent years, this Holly Herald is completely electronic since most all our family and friends are online these days. I don't remember the last time I licked a stamp . . . So here's our year in review, electronically speaking.

In February, Mark and friends organized a Valentine's Day Dance at the Spiritual Enrichment Center of Peoria, AZ, home of our spiritual family. In addition to feasting on a mountain of chocolate, we had a great time dancing the night away and schmoozing with friends like Mark's other girlfriend, Dorothy.

In March during Mark's spring break, we took a quick trip to San Antonio for no other reason than to see Dora's dad Bill and enjoy some Texas fun and hospitality. Here we are out at Bill's favorite Mexican restaurant and here's a photo of Mark and Dora posing in front of Chapel #2 which is where they were married almost 30 years ago. We look just the same don't we?

Later that month, Mark took a trip to Seattle for a work conference and enjoyed seeing the sights, such as this beautiful view of the city from the top of the Space Needle. Mark also had a wonderful visiting with old friends, such as Dea Forney, a professor from his Master's program, and Tim McMahon (middle), also a former professor, along with Tracy Scott from the WIU Orientation Office.

Mark is still enjoying helping students with their educational planning as Director of Academic Advising at Glendale Community College. He stays busy supervising a staff of 14 who conducted over 25,000 advising sessions last year.

Dora switched jobs this year and has been doing Quality Control work at Banner Thunderbird hospital, reviewing medical files to ensure other health care providers are doing their job correctly.

In April, Dora and Mark drove to the L.A. area to see the Smothers Brothers perform. While there, they stopped at the Griffith Observatory, which has beautiful views of the city, including one of our favorite symbols of the L.A. area, the Hollywood Sign.

In May, we took a trip to Tombstone and Bisbee, Arizona. Memorial Day weekend was Wyatt Earp Days in Tombstone so we had a good time watching reenactments of shoot-outs and fights in the dusty streets, including the famous Fight at the O.K. Corral. Dora and I had to take a stage coach ride and then a couple of shady characters tried to hit on her before Mark had to show them who was who. We also stopped in artsy Bisbee, Arizona, which is very quaint with lots of good shopping.

In May, Taylor graduated 8th grade so we attended her "promotion" ceremony. Here we are with friend J.P. and here's Taylor with her friend Natalie.

In June, Dora and I drive to San Diego and had fun at the San Diego County fair and hung out at the beach.

After three years of classes, Mark finally graduated from Practitioner Studies through the United Centers for Spiritual Living. He's now a licensed spiritual counselor and looks forward to serving his spiritual community at the Spiritual Enrichment Center. In July, he participated in the graduation ceremony with fellow new practitioners Susan (left) and Sarah. In October, Susan, Mark, and Sarah were inducted and received their ceremonial stoles. Here's the entire group of SEC practitioners.

In July, Dora, Wanda, and Taylor went to see Dora's favorite Broadway show, "Wicked."

During the Fall, I helped teach a class at the Spiritual Enrichment Center. The course focused on how to write affirmative prayers and also on meditation. It was a wonderful experience - the best part was getting to know several people much better. Here's a photo of our fantastic class with the instructor Sue Witter, also a practitioner, and here's one with me.

Mark won first place for the second year running in the Halloween costume contest at his work. He was Zeke, the vampire geek, not much of a stretch for him (the geek part, that is)

We continue to love our kitty Sunny, who's been with us about 16 months now. He has it so easy and he is so loved. Here he is stretching out, his favorite pastime. If he's not playing, eating, talking to us, or watching the birds outside, he loves to nap with Mark, cuddle with Dora, or snuggle with his stuffed cat. What an adorable little guy.

Some of the most fun we've had this year revolved around family. Here's the gang - Mark, Dora, Wanda (Dora's sister), Mike (Wanda's hubby), and Taylor (our niece) - celebrating Wanda's birthday in July at Ah-So's the Japanese restaurant where Wanda joined in with the chef and where we saw a flaming onion volcano. Here we are for Mark's 51st birthday dinner at a great Cajun seafood restaurant, and here are the two Air Force veterans with Dora and Taylor getting a free lunch at Applebees on Veteran's Day.

Well, that's our year in review. Hope your jaws aren't sore from yawning so much. Dora and I want you to know how much we love you and are glad that you're part of our lives. We KNOW you're having a wonderful holiday season and that your 2010 will be amazing! Stay in touch!


Mark and Dora