As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I continue my tradition of posting family photographs from the past year on More to Come… We have much for which to be thankful in 2016.
During a year when our country has seen much distrust, hatred, and focus on the worst aspects of our common life, we – like so many of you – are working hard to recognize the many blessings we have shared individually, as a family, and within our communities. Not everyone in our families and in our group of friends agrees with our outlook on life. But no matter where one stands on the political divide, it is clear that we have a profoundly broken country at the moment. Our family will try and be advocates for a loving, inclusive country that recognizes the gifts of all and the bounty available if we will only embrace the “we” as well as the “me” in our communities. I know we have to do more.
Last December, I gathered with all my brothers and sisters in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Not only was it a time when the family could come together to grieve the loss of Carol’s husband Raouf, but it was also the last time I would see my father – although I didn’t realize it at the time.
December is also the time when we celebrate Andrew and Claire’s birthdays. Now that they are adults, it is always fun to enjoy a nice dinner (with wine pairings!) at wonderful restaurants such as the Iron Gate.
2016 was the year Andrew’s professional focus shifted towards music. In January, he sang his first gig as a sub at the Washington National Cathedral, where he once sang treble as a Boy Chorister.
With the children grown, Candice is able to travel with me for work on occasion. In late February I had a speaking engagement in Bedford, New York, and we took the opportunity to spend time at the Marcel Breuer House on the grounds at Kykuit, a National Trust Historic Site.
In early March, Andrew was invited to join Lady Gaga and other survivors of sexual assault onstage at the Academy Awards as she performed “Till it Happens to You.” Among the many people he met on that emotional trip was Vice President Joe Biden.
The family’s biggest 2016 adventure was my six-week sabbatical at the American Academy in Rome during March and April, and an additional two weeks of sabbatical during August in Maine. Candice joined me for the entire sabbatical and both Claire and Andrew came for visits of several days while we were in Rome.
Claire’s visit was early in our stay, and we used the occasion to explore Tuscany, as well as some of the very familiar sites in Rome.
We were lucky to be able to celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary during my time on sabbatical. The evening brought back many memories.
In addition to wonderful food and wine, Rome was full of beautiful architecture and new adventures (for us), such as Holy Week in the Eternal City.
Andrew arrived in Italy after Easter, and we took advantage of his visit to travel to Venice. What an incredible city.
All of us made like Italians and drank caffe at every chance we could get.
Throughout my visit, I posted pictures and observations from some of the most beautiful places in the city. The Protestant Cemetery and Borromini’s San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane were among my (many) favorites.
We returned to the states in late April, in time for me to welcome musician Ben Folds to the National Trust’s headquarters in Washington.
In May, we said good-bye to the most wonderful father, father-in-law, grandfather that one could hope for. Daddy passed away as he was nearing his 91st birthday. It was a joyous celebration with hundreds of friends and family members.
2016 was a good year for baseball in the Brown household. I checked off two more stadiums from my bucket list, including Anaheim Stadium with Claire, and Candice joined me to cheer for the National League Eastern Division Champion Nationals as they closed in on the division title in September.
Our summer was filled with celebrations and time with friends. In June we all descended on Philadelphia for the wedding of Julia Pentz and Barry Katz. Candice and I also joined friends Oakley and Margaret Pearson at the 2016 Red Wing Music Festival in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley.
Claire wrapped up her year with the Episcopal Urban Intern Program in Los Angeles, but stayed in Pasadena to work for a second year at Hillsides Educational Center. Her EUIP experience was fulfilling and life changing.
August took us to Maine for the second part of my sabbatical, and then to Murfreesboro, where Andrew and I brought back a truck of furniture, books, and other memories from Daddy’s house.
I was lucky to take a second trip to Italy in 2016, this time to Milan and Lake Como with the International National Trusts Organisation (INTO).
This fall has seen Claire and Andrew stretching their wings. Claire has been exploring Southern California, and took a hike up Mt. Baldy on the day the Supermoon was at its height. Andrew was on a plane to Norway that evening, to join a singing ensemble, Trondheim Vokalensemble, for a tour of the country. We lived their adventures through their photographs!
As you can see, it has been a busy and fulfilling year. During this Thanksgiving season, we give thanks for you, our wonderful friends.
Have a terrific Thanksgiving holiday with friends and families.
More to come…
Image: Andrew, Candice, Claire and DJB on December 20, 2015 (Photo by John Thorne)