This year we are sending our Christmas greetings to you from the Lone Star State – Texas. Was it fate or God’s will, but our California dream is over now. Just as our life seemed to be stable and predictable, a black Tuesday of February 11 came along – that’s when Nokia informed its employees of the closing of its Santa Rosa business. Ain’s options were either being laid off and find another job or to transfer to Finland by August. As the perspective of moving to Finland didn’t seem appealing enough at this time, we started to think more and more of Dallas and Nokia headquarters there. That meant the beginning of a difficult and stressful period, which culminated with our move from California to Texas. We had to sell our home in Rohnert Park and say goodbye to all our favorite people, places and activities. It was a painful and sad experience. 

Today Ain has a great job as Project Manager developing software for Nokia’s new smartphones. Nokia’s campus is located in Irving, consists of four buildings with approximately 2,000 people. Hopefully this operation will not be shut down overnight. Economy shows the first signs of recovery, but we have learned that nothing is stable in this world. 

In the middle of this hectic year was our journey from California to Texas. We were on the road for eight days and seven nights, we visited Yosemite National Park, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Zion, Bryce and Grand Canyons and drove through endless deserts. We captured incredible and magnificent pictures into our memories and recharged our energy. Now, during the last days of the year, we are finally almost settled in to our new home and things are slowing down a bit. 

We live in a beautiful house in a city called Grapevine, couple minutes from the lake. It’s a five-year old custom-built brick house with beautifully landscaped yard and pool. Our street has very little traffic and lots of kids. There are walking and cycling trails and nice beaches by the lake. Ain can continue his hobby of windsurfing. Although we can’t entertain you with redwoods and hikes in the mountains, we have plenty of shopping malls, mu-seums and ballgames to keep you busy. Besides, the warm Gulf of Mexico is “only” five hours away. Our guest room is always ready for our family and friends to come and stay with us. As a pleasant surprise, we met three young and interesting half-Estonian families right in our hometown; altogether there are eight Estonian kids. This will enable us to keep our mother tongue alive. 

All these big changes and new experiences were quite overwhelming to the kids. Iris, being more able to express her emotions through words, has adjusted pretty well. She had no problem in choosing her new bedroom and was very happy over the stairs leading to the game room. She started her preschool in mid-October and has picked up quite a bit of English by now. Susanna has been more emotional in her behavior than ever before. If she is sad she can cry for hours and if she is happy, that will spread all over our house as long as she is awake. She is a real chatterbox and always full of energy. Except for some heart-breaking fights over their mommy and toys, Iris and Susanna have become good playmates and pals. They miss their wonderful gymnastics, Kindermusik classes, nature walks, and all the friends who had important roles in their lives. It must be very hard for them to be apart from the people, who had become their adopted family. 

Other events this year included Ülle’s 30th birthday, our seventh anniversary, and the death of our children’s last great grandma. Away from family and relatives, these occasions turn out to be very private and secluded events. Getting a letter or a postcard from close people, either from the US or overseas really makes our day and warms our hearts. 

Fall and Christmas are beautiful in Texas. Weather is generally mild and sunny until the end of December. We are already getting used to Christmas without snow. All the decorations are outstanding. There are lots of events going on – concerts, parades, and carols. We try to focus to the Christian meaning of these holidays rather than the commercial. As this is the darkest and loneliest time of the year and there is not much to do outdoors, we spend more time reading, listening music, and enjoying our kids. 

This whole year has made us realize the importance of peace of mind and patience in the situations that don’t make sense in the beginning. Support of each other, faith and hope make the essence of life. We are grateful to all our friends who stood by us during this adventurous year. We wish you Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! 

Ain, Ülle, Iris and Susanna
Christmas 2003, Grapevine, Texas