Christmas snuck up on me, more so than in the past. I'm not sure if it's because of "senior moments" or because we didn't get any snow until December. But, thoughts of our families and friends are always with us, and we hope you all have had a wonderful year.

Celebrations in this household started in July with Ja-On's graduation from Wellington Massage Therapy College. It was a challenging two years for Ja and his son Soulin, with school for both guys, day care and practicums, but they came through it all with flying colours! Bill, Sue-On, China, Soulin and Angela (Ja's girlfriend) were able to attend the graduation ceremonies in Winnipeg. Ja-On received excellent marks as well as a substantial bursary. In August, the guys moved back to Brandon, much to our delight. As Ja had been doing his weekend practicums at Brandon's elite Fitness Quest, he was invited to set up his practice there. Business is doing well, and he enjoys the challenge of working with a variety of clients: www.hillmans.soupbo.com/soos/

Soulin also graduated - from French immersion kindergarten at Winnipeg's Laura Secord School! He is growing up and we are so happy to have him closer to home. Soulin is in grade 1 at New Era, another French immersion school. Because Ja is still at work when school is out, Soulin goes over to the YMCA for after-school activities. He loves his swimming lessons, gym, and he is now into indoor soccer. We really look forward to the days he gets to spend at the "big house." These two bachelors have been very lucky to have met Angela Patton. She has provided ongoing support for the last two years. Angela is an LPN, and studying at Brandon University's nursing program.

Robin has had a very interesting year. In April, he started a full-time position as IT Computer Consultant with the municipality of Red Lake, a gold-mining community in Ontario. One son moves back to Brandon, and another leaves! Housing is at a premium, as it often is in northern communities. He was only able to rent a 3-bedroom duplex . . . but it has given him some interesting roommates ;-)  His main work projects at the moment involve GPS satellite mapping and setting up a 911 system for the municipality.

However, in October, with full consent from his work supervisor, he took a three-week hiatus from his job to experience the most exciting opportunity of his life. Robin was selected by Frantic Films, as a result of his work and showbiz resume, Bill's military Websites and his three uncles' WWII experiences to become a movie star! www.airmuseum.ca/reach.html

He had a most incredible three weeks acting in a WWII re-enactment film as a member of a Lancaster Bomber crew. Robin and six other young men lived and breathed the '40s while the film crew captured their experiences as aircrew going through the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. Along with four Canadians, the cast included one each from Australia, the UK and Mississippi, USA. They spent flight training time on historic BCATP bases in Picton and Hamilton, Ontario, then flew along with five veterans (all surviving members of a Lancaster crew) to visit memorial sites in England, Belgium and the Netherlands. One of the highlights was their visit to the memorial in Stone, England, for great uncle William Campbell and his crew. www.AirMuseum.ca/rcaf   Robin returned to Canada on Thanksgiving Sunday. We were able to meet him at the airport and spent the day hearing about his experience before his flight back to Red Lake. Since his return, hes been much in demand by the media for interviews and talk shows. The 4-hour film will be shown on The History Channel and international markets early 2005 to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII.

China had an excellent first year pre-med at Brandon University and was the recipient of several scholarships from the university. Before the end of first year, however, she changed her focus from optometry to medicine. Finding a summer job was a challenge, but again, her perseverance came through. In June she accepted a position with a private caregiver service, WE CARE. This was full-time shift work and her stamina and patience were amazing. Then, Brandon Regional Health Authority called and she was offered a position with the hospital, based on her career choice. She began her position in CSR on July 14. This department cleans, sterilizes, packages and sets up instruments for the operating rooms. Along with these two jobs, she was also doing many shifts as a volunteer with St. John Ambulance at fairs and public events in and out of Brandon. In August, she performed with Dad, Mom and Robin at the Brandon Folk Festival, and also performed as solo harper at numerous weddings. In September, she began her second year at BU, gave up her job with We Care, but she is still working at the hospital and St. John. Right now, she is knee deep in exam related stress. This is hard on the old folks too! She will be performing her Royal Conservatory of Music grade 9 harp exam in January.

Bill is working overtime, as usual, on many private and volunteer Websites. His greatest joy is working for and with the Edgar Rice Burroughs Inc. (ERB, most well known as author of Tarzan and grandfather of American science fiction) and Danton Burroughs of Tarzana, Calif. At present, he has built and is building mega websites for the company as well as publishing a weekly Webzine www.ERBzine.com . Paramount Pictures of Hollywood is producing a major movie based on the first ERB novel, A Princess of Mars, which is the company's main focus. Musically, Bill makes time for his weekly jams out at the Cantina with several buddies, as well as playing lead guitar for a . . . wait for it . . . Contemporary Christian rock band which plays all over the province.. The two of us have performed for a variety of venues such as the Brandon Folk Festival and benefit concerts. Along with Robin, Bill was also interviewed by CKX-TV for a Remembrance Day feature in which he discussed the impact that WWII had on families who lost loved ones.

I have had a busy year, teaching English with international students at the university during the week, and two evenings a week with immigrants from Asia, Ethiopia, El Salvador and Mexico. These are lively adult classes, and as can be expected when there are several languages involved, it can be quite hilarious! For the first time in our university ESL dept., we have a student from Saudi Arabia. It's been a challenge with someone who doesn't speak any English and writes from the right to the left. However, it's very rewarding when we saw progress at the end of the first term.

Having a student from Arabia gave me the impetus to try out my cooking skills with some Arabic recipes. This brought such a smile to my student as he's been living on university cafeteria food. As a result of my involvement with a food forum: eGullet.com, I was invited to contribute a foodblog - a week-long food diary. This was a lot of fun and Bill has created a website of my efforts: www.hillmans.soupbo.com/soos/foodlog.html  The timing was perfect as we were entertaining musicians from the folk festival, ERB friends, Dick and Ginnie Spargur from Ohio, Doug and Jean Denby from Toronto, as well as family who were home to celebrate my mother's 95th birthday. In November, we also played host to a food friend from the forum - Ben Hong. He and a hunting buddy, Paul Bailey of New Hampshire spent a week here in Brandon area hunting (without luck) for upland gamebirds. We had a great visit as Ben is a longtime Chinese immigrant sharing much of the same family history as my family. Even tho' Ben returned to New Brunswick empty handed, he surprised us with a shipment of live Atlantic lobsters!

Our year has been full of unexpected and rewarding experiences. We hope yours has been as wonderful. Here's wishing you all a Merry Xmas, much happiness and good health in 2005. Please know that our home is always open for a visit from you!

Our Annual Xmas Card on the Web is at: www.hillman.com/xmas

Bill, Sue-On and Family:

Christmas Greetings 
from the Hillman Family
Christmas On The Web
Histories ~ Trivia ~ Scripts
Archive of Annual Newsletters
 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 | 08 | 09
A Coca Cola Christmas
Over 40 Sundblom Santas
 Inspiration Pages
VICTORIAN XMAS 3-D Stereocards
I | II | III | IV
.Norman Rockwell
Christmas Mosaic
A montage of Christmas album covers
Christmas in the Good Old Days
by David Adams
Classic Old Time Radio 
Christmas Shows
A Science Fiction Xmas
Nostalgia Xmas Comics
Magic Lantern Christmas Slides 
from the Victorian Era
Hillman Family Newsletter
Xmas 2009
Xmas Song Book
Favourite Xmas Videos