Goodbye to 2016

2017-1This past year has had more than its share of downs, but some good things happened as well. As I always do, I’m sharing the Merkels’ annual Christmas letter. Let’s pray for a good year next year.

Christmas Greetings, 2016.

This year, Jim came out with a book. That’s not new. He’s always coming out with a book. Lorraine spent time in the best job she’s ever had, helping senior citizens as a part-time home health aide. That’s not new, either. She does that every year, as she develops deep friendships with them and helps them to stay in their homes. We spent another 12 months loving and serving our church family in Jubilee Church. The church helps us stay Christ-centered. In many ways, 2016 was like other years.

But there were differences. We spent a wonderful Thanksgiving at the Kentucky Dam Village State Resort Park in Western Kentucky with Jim’s brother Charles and his sister Lois, his brother-in-law John and his nephew Garrett from Atlanta. We filled our bellies with Charles’ stuffed turkey breast and thighs, Lois’ delicacies and Lorraine’s homemade pizza. Yum!

Jim finished The Colorful Characters of St. Louis, a book about oddball local characters like Phyllis Diller and Yogi Berra.  He did signings, speeches and TV and radio interviews after it came out in September. In 2017, he’ll finish and promote a picture book, The Unique Homes of St. Louis. He’s adding to his income by writing for various local publications. Rest, please!

Meanwhile, we’ve grown to love the people in our church. Those coming to our midweek community group meeting include a doctor from Nigeria and his wife, a mixed-race couple and their kids, a man on disability and us. Talk about colorful characters! We had the pleasure of hosting the group in our home this fall. The church moved us from running the coffee ministry at Sunday services to overseeing a group picking up trash in the parking lot and making sure things otherwise are tidy before church starts.   We’re still running a monthly service at the Manor Grove Nursing Home in Kirkwood with our friends Dale and Yvonne. We’re not sure how long we’ve done this, but we know we started doing it before 2000.

This year, we said goodbye to our aged cat, Nathaniel. He was about 18 and was suffering from kidney disease for some time. But he was always ready for a snuggle until the day he died at home in October. Our other cat, Sammy, died the previous November of the same ailment. We haven’t decided yet whether we want to get another cat. Jim graduated from Obamacare to Medicare when he had his 65th birthday on June 19. He’s in good health, but could stand to cut out some glazed doughnuts. Lorraine is doing well in six-month cardiac appointments. She has a new diagnosis: severe obstructive asthma. That means she could go from feeling fine to needing a breathing treatment any time. She’s thankful she has a good doctor who skillfully watches over her health. Jim’s always telling her she’s cute. That helps her morale, but his frequent bad puns lower it. Like everybody else, this year we dealt with a threat to our health otherwise known as the presidential election. The next four years promise to be, um, interesting.

As always, we’ve “learned to trust in Jesus,” as Andrae Crouch wrote. Whatever happens, we look forward to another year of trusting Him and thanking Him for relatives and friends like you.


Jim and Lorraine







Published by Jim Merkel

Reedy Press published four of my books, Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side, 2010; Beer, Brats, and Baseball: St. Louis Germans, 2012; The Making of an Icon: The Dreamers, The Schemers, and the Hard Hats Who Built the Gateway Arch; and the Second Edition of Hoosiers and Scrubby Dutch: St. Louis's South Side, 2014. They're available in bookstores and online. For an autographed copy, send a check for $21.50 made out to Jim Merkel, to Jim Merkel, 4216 Osceola St., St. Louis, MO 63116.

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