The 1996 ThomasLand Christmas Letter

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Once again Donna and I bring our best wishes of the Season to you and yours. We have a bit of help in the effort this year, an 11 pound baby boy, named Gregory Warren Thomas, who was born on October 21st. Keepers of our Christmas letters will notice a new tree in the forest - one which is sure to grow in the coming years.

As I wrote our letter last year, I had no idea that we would have a new member of our family this year. To suggest that anything else might have eclipsed the birth of our first child after these many years would not be possible. We are very happy.

Donna spent most of 1996 on a rigid diet to control her weight and blood pressure. She was the subject of a barrage of medical tests designed to check the baby's progress. Donna gained only 16 pounds throughout the entire pregnancy and is now below her weight at this time last year. She has been a real champ!

Donna had superb care by a local perinatologist, a specialist in high risk pregnancies. Mother and baby are doing fine with his help and with guidance from a childbirth class instructor and post-partum nurse. We couldn't have asked for better physical and emotional care.

Gregory plays his part as a infant well - crying to be fed, sleeping for several hours, then starting all over again. He is slowly turning into a little person who recognizes us. We've had a great time taking him shopping at the supermarket, dining at a local restaurants and, most recently, vacationing at Big Sur Lodge along the Pacific.

The lodge is located at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and is set in a coastal redwood forest about 30 miles south of Carmel and about a mile from a beautiful beach. You can stroll along the dramatic Pacific coast, hike into the mountains in search of waterfalls and wide valley vistas, or just do nothing. It's a great place to recharge.

John Muir captured it when he said, "Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves."

Much like his Dad and his paternal Grandmother, Gregory likes to go places. I'm not sure who will wear out first, but with me at age 46 and Mom at age 41, I can guess! Sleep deprivation has been the roughest part of parenthood thus far.

One of my other activities this year was launching our world-wide web site, called ThomasLand, where Internet visitors can find lots of interesting things including the latest pictures and news about the new kid on the block. Gregory even has his own email address!

ThomasLand has had almost 800 visitors since it opened in March and continues to be a source of fun for me and a way to communicate with family and friends across the country and around the world.

Work is keeping me busy, too. During the Spring, I found myself on a two week tour "down under" to conduct product training to Bay Networks sales representatives and resellers. Ports of call included Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth, Australia plus Auckland, New Zealand. While in Sydney, I stayed at the harborside Grand Hyatt where all lodgers have a harbor view and their own butlers. The hotel is across from the famous Sydney Opera House.

Upon returning to the States, I learned that Union Station in Portland, Oregon was re-opening after a major refurbishing effort and that the event would feature railroad displays, including a historic steam locomotive that I had longed to see. I grabbed my camera and flew to Portland for the day to see her.

Southern Pacific #4449 is one of the most famous steam locomotives ever constructed. She was built by the Lima Locomotive Works in 1941 as one of 26 engines of its type to pull the SP's "Daylight" passenger trains between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

If you saw the Freedom Train in 1976, you saw #4449 although she was painted in red, white and blue at the time. The event was well worth the trip.

It seems as though kids of all ages are attracted to steam locomotives. I can't wait until Gregory experiences his first railroad adventure! We have something a bit more his scale right around the corner in Los Gatos -where the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad operates. The BJWRR runs live steam with diesel back-up on a mile of track in Vasona Park.

We'll probably try Gregory out there first - especially if they let me ride in the engine again! Donna and I rode the BJWRR a few months before Gregory was born. We'll see if he remembers it!

We have a bit of a mystery, though. Donna and I spent numerous weekend mornings searching out bargains at local yard sales. With a bit of selective shopping, we have collected a complete wardrobe for Gregory through age 4 for pennies on the dollar, including like-new Gymboree and BabyGap clothes!

We also found many books, games and toys that he is sure to love as he grows older. The mystery is in this one toy that we found that looks like a seat or a step stool of some kind. Maybe that's what it is, but it seems to have a greater purpose.

Donna and I are still trying to figure out what it is. If you can tell us what the thing that Donna is holding is or how it works, please drop us a note.

Even though 98% of our medical bills were covered by Bay Networks group insurance, the little spud has proven to be expensive already! Let me see. First, there was the new car for Donna because her car was ten years old and had only two doors.

Then, there was the new heating and air conditioning system to make the house comfortable for Mom last summer and Gregory this winter. And there was the camcorder to take those special baby pictures. Maybe I can blame a new computer, satellite dish and sound system on him, too! What do you think?

Perhaps my best Christmas gift is time. It looked as though I would have to work throughout the holidays on a product launch that was pending for February. At the last minute, we changed the launch date to April and I no longer needed to work these last two weeks of the year. So I'm spending them at home with my two favorite people!

Many thanks to all of the folks that have sent cards and gifts to our Gregory. He doesn't know how lucky he is to have such good friends. We'll keep everything for him to see when he can appreciate the sentiments. As soon as he grows into the outfits, we'll make sure to take photographs. He's likely to grow up to be a ham - just like Dad!

Best wishes for a Merry Christmas and a Happy 1997!
Gary, Donna and Gregory Thomas

Copyright ©1996 ThomasLand Partners
San Jose, California, U.S.A.
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Updated December 25, 1996