As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I continue my annual tradition of posting family photographs from the past year on More to Come. Despite all the turmoil in our country and throughout the world, so many of us still have much for which to be thankful in 2019.
Each December is a special time in our family, as we celebrate Andrew and Claire’s birthdays followed quickly by the holidays. Andrew did a bit of singing and celebrating with friends while in London, but both of the twins returned to Washington in late December 2018 during breaks in their school years. We were delighted to have everyone together again, if only for a few days, under one roof. The twins turned 26 last December, and less than two weeks later rolled off the family health care plan! I think that’s the new 21st century milestone for adulthood.
As he pursues his Masters in Vocal Performance at the Royal College of Music (RCM) in London, Andrew has maintained a busy singing schedule. Early in 2019 he was in a RCM production of Offenbach’s opera Robinson Crusoe, and then he sang the role of the Evangelist in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion in Buckinghamshire. Andrew’s partner Mark Bailey traveled to the U.K. in the late winter/early spring, where he joined Andrew for some sightseeing.
This was a year of milestones, perhaps most notably my departure after 22 years at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and my semi-retirement into a gap year. It was bittersweet, after more than two decades with the Trust and 40 years in the preservation field, but I felt it was time to step aside for others. My Trust colleagues gave me a great send-off, complete with a chance to play some live bluegrass! It was already too late to follow the amateur musician’s admonition to “not give up your day job,” so I just let it rip—singing that old bluegrass chestnut “I’m Sitting On Top of the World”—and had a fantastic time.
April, May and June were months of travel for the Brown family, beginning with Candice’s visit to Savannah in April to be with the “Hollywood Gang,” a group of friends from her grade-school days in Hollywood, Florida. In May, I was privileged to attend a two-week tour of Japan on behalf of the National Trust. It was my first trip to Asia, and the experiences were as exhilarating as they were diverse.
Candice and I then met up on the west coast to celebrate Claire’s graduation, with her Masters in Social Work, from the University of California at Berkeley. We loved our three days together where we could congratulate Claire on this milestone in her life.
To keep up the whirlwind pace, the three Browns boarded a plane for London, to connect with Andrew and spend almost three weeks in the United Kingdom. We had a chance to hear Andrew sing twice—once in Mozart’s Così Fan Tutte and then a few days later for his first-year RCM recital. We also used the time to explore and play, including a High Tea to celebrate Mother’s Day and Candice’s birthday.
Our explorations took us not only to London, but to the Cotswolds and Hampshire. We were in the U.K. during the 75th anniversary of D-Day, which was celebrated in cities, towns, and villages throughout the country. We also used the time to visit with friends, be guests at a wonderful Emmanuel College High Table, connect with National Trust colleagues in the U.K., and take in our second opera of the trip at The Grange Festival. A wonderful time was had by all.
Life returned to our new normal in mid-June, as Candice and I settled into my gap year in Washington; Claire and her partner Blair Kittle adjusted to Claire’s first full-time job, as a therapist in an Oakland public middle school, by acquiring a new member of the family; and Andrew traveled and sang in wonderful venues around the U.S. and Europe.
And then October arrived…and have you heard that the Washington National’s are World Series Champions!?! It was a great month of baseball, capped by my first trip to a World Series game. The Nats had a magical run that brought the entire city together, and we enjoyed every minute of it. I was pretty thankful that I didn’t have to get up and go to work the morning after each big Nationals game. What a way to spend a gap year!
November brought us back to California, as we came to support Claire’s first run in a half marathon. She did a great job, and we were so glad we could be there and cheer her on. It was a beautiful weekend, with time spent not only at the race, but with Claire, Blair, and Blair’s parents, Tracy and Logan, over a wine tasting. Very California!
Our family continues to be blessed, and for that we are incredibly thankful. We remain grateful for each of you and the friendships we share. Happy Thanksgiving to all.
More to come…
Top photo: The Browns – Together in December 2018 and looking forward to the year ahead! (photo credit: John Thorne)