Monday, December 12, 2011

A Good Old-Fashioned Letter

There are a lot of holiday letter haters out there.  Some people even created web sites dedicated to bad Christmas letters. 

But I still believe.  I believe in the joy of getting a letter in the mail.  I believe in telling the story of our families and our lives.  A real story, well not too real.  No one really wants to know how many times I cried over the past year or how neurotic I really am.

But I do believe in sharing our stories.  And even though some of them are sugar-coated and totally fake, most of them are sort of interesting.  Especially if you care about the people.  Even though yes Facebook and Twitter have made it easy for people to connect, many people don't really tell their real story online.

And believe it or not, I do know a few people that I care about that aren't on Facebook.  Just a few.

So, in the spirit of the season, I am looking back at my past Christmas letters. 

Hopefully they tell a sort of interesting story.

Christmas 2008
The past few weeks have been interesting.  I keep waiting for the moment, you know that moment right?  When the spirit of the season takes over and you feel that all is right with the world.  I still have a week or so to go, but I am worried I won't be overtaken by a moment of utter joy and contentment.

I have been listening to the right music, baking, making Christmas crafts, decorating, singing happy birthday to Jesus and watching a new TV special every night.  But I feel more Grinch-like than ever.  One morning I swear I was re-enacting the scene from that Seuss tale with all the "noise, noise, noise!" and my adorable children were the annoying little Who's down in Whoville.

Maybe it is because I live in Metro-Detroit (not such a good year here).  Maybe I watch too much CNN and read too many political bloggers.  I mean it has not been a bad year for my family.  In fact, looking back we have had some very good moments.

Peyton started first grade and after a month of adjusting to being in school for a full day, he loves it.  He says he wants to be a writer or a baseball player when he grows up.  He is a heart-crushingly sweet boy. Lucy, 4 1/2, is doing well too.  She is still quite a spitfire with a very strong sense of self that I hope she carries with her forever.  JT has still never gotten his hair cut and is the absolute cutest 2-year-old in the world.  He is struggling with his speech, but can hit a pitch and can throw a spiral.  I have discovered JT might end up being the kid who puts his tongue on the flag pole like that kid from A Christmas Story.  He does whatever his big brother and sister tell him--there is trouble ahead.

Tim started a new job as principal of the alternative education high school and he loves it.  He is still the athletic director of the other high school.  His dedication to the kids at the school and his kids at home is inspiring.

For me personally, my Christmas felt like it was in October and November.  In October, I accomplished a goal of running a half-marathon which was thrilling.  I volunteered a lot for the Obama campaign and was overjoyed when he won.  Then a couple of weeks later I went to my first Madonna concert (a dream of mine since 1984) and was blown away.  All of these experiences I would rank as life changing. (I forgot to mention my life-changing and slightly embarrassing newfound addiction to Facebook.)

So, maybe it is the let down from having such an amazing autumn.  Maybe it is my unorganized lifestyle and manic pace.  For example, the other day trying to get the kids to school I felt like we were jumping in the getaway car after a bank heist--the doors were frozen shut on the good old minivan, so Lucy and Peyton had to jump through the back while I am yelling "Go! Go! Go!"

Maybe it is the super high expectation that I put on having a moment of utter joy, and if I am always waiting and watching I am really missing it.  Like an old watched pot, nothing is happening.  The fear and anxiety bubbling up by forcing the moment are taking the joy away.  So, I am now surrendering to the season and not trying to force Christmas perfection.  Case in point the other night, I got out the holiday plates, the linen tablecloth and the advent wreath---we were going to have a fancy, schmancy holiday dinner.  But when the whole planned menu didn't work out, I announced we would be dining on frozen pizza which prompted Lucy to tell me she likes hers cooked.  The kids fought over who would light the advent candles and then who would blow them out.  JT threw his food and Tim got frustrated that he couldn't answer everyone's questions, including mine, at once.  But it was okay; I sat back and sighed in surrender, looking at my messy-haired family full of life and love.  It was a mini-moment and hopefully more will come.

I wish all of you moments of unforced, anxiety-free Christmas joy.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Another look back at classic Christmas moments on TV (something else I totally believe in, TV!!!!).

The Brady Bunch, it wouldn't be Christmas without this very special episode.  I feel I can totally relate to this episode after having Strep this past weekend, except I don't have an Alice.  I so want an Alice.  That's right this is the one where mama Carol loses her voice and sweet little Cindy asks Santa for her mommy's voice back.  "He's better than a doctor, he's Santa Claus."  Classic.

If you missed my look back at my Christmas letter from 2007 and a great clip from Little House on the Prairie, CLICK HERE.

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