In 2009, upset about extended family issues and business matters, I couldn't even compose a Christmas letter. I was buried in some stage of grief for months.
In this year's Christmas homily Father Tim talked about John and Shelley Redmond and how their life together was plagued by his illness. The couple had a picture frame inscribed, "Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain." He said they had learned to dance in the rain, and compared them to Mary and Joseph at the time of Christ's birth.
I think the difference between Me Version 2010 and Me Version 2009 is that I have learned something about dancing in the rain - about laughing and loving and living even when things hurt.
The greatest lesson I'm taking from the last year? I learned that anger doesn't destroy love.
"Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails..."That's true. Love never fails. It survives dishonesty and distrust, anger and hurt, misunderstanding and misleading. It's possible to continue loving despite those things. I'm glad about that.
My job now is to live in patient hope that enlightenment blesses us all.
This year's letter:
Adam graduated from Monticello High School and left home in August to attend the University of Minnesota—Morris. Adam’s currently majoring in Math with an emphasis in Education. His ultimate goal is to pursue a higher degree so he can be one of those cool professors who gets high ratings on ratemyprofessor.com—AND lots of chili peppers! Kidding aside, Adam loves Morris. He never stops talking about the awesome professors and new friends he’s making. He really enjoyed playing soccer, acquiring his first RED card as goalie. We giggled when we heard his teammates’ surprise: “How does the nicest guy on the team get a RED CARD?!?!” and wondered if Adam’s playing as aggressively as he has in the past. Adam wanted to explain the card, but he only gets 7 lines in this letter!
Jakob enjoys being an only child, except when there’s tons of work to do. The highlight of his year was playing baseball with Joe in Phoenix on a Father/Son team. Jakob’s been plagued with some interesting injuries in the last couple years—a couple broken bones, knee trouble, and now (ahem!) testicular trouble, but he’s rarely missed a game. When not playing sports, he discovered he loves Woods Class. His first home project wasn’t so bad—he designed and built a radical bird house. The second project? Hmm. He and his friends crafted a crossbow and shot pvc pipe at the garage walls. They’ll be learning about patching and painting when it gets warm. He secretly enjoys Adam’s rare visits. Their catch-up conversations explode with energy and laughter, and often occur while wrestling.
Joe continues to play baseball, now not only in Minnesota and Florida, but also in Arizona. With his ability to pitch game after game and his improving batting stats, he was voted MVP and then elected president of one of his leagues! His back hurt this year though, so he’s doing some physical therapy. Testing revealed he has the spine of a twenty-year old, so odds are he’ll keep playing. He’s willing to try pretty much anything to ease the pain, so I finally have a Pilates partner! He’s working hard so he can really enjoy the gift he gave me for our twentieth wedding anniversary January 5; he surprised me with two tickets to Kauai, Hawaii. We leave January 1st for one week (and lots of hiking!) in paradise, and for only the second time in 20 years, we’re vacationing solo. Good times!
I’ve returned to school and adore being back at St Kate’s campus. I’m completing a major in Spanish and a minor in Latin with the intention of applying to Graduate School at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. I’d like a higher degree in Medieval History, mostly because I really love the discipline, but partly so my boys will have to call me “Dr. Mom” forevermore. I continue to work with Joe at the bus company during the day and participate in a plethora of volunteer activities in the evenings. In my spare time, I write and read as much as I can. In 2010, I tried my own New Year’s resolution: I would read and blog about 200 novels in one year. To date, I’ve read 194, so I’ll complete the reading. The blogging… eh, well lots of people make resolutions they don’t keep!
Our family has grown since our 2008 Christmas Letter. We have our French foreign exchange son, David, who was with us in 2008, and who returned this summer for a visit. Last year we hosted Mari, a sweet Brazilian daughter, who settled into all our hearts quickly and permanently. She may return this summer (as if anyone would be insane enough to return to Minnesota in the WINTER!), and eventually plans to marry Adam since her sister gets Jakob. In the animal world, We lost Coco to cancer a year ago just when Luna the Lunatic Pug needed a place to live. She’s all puppy with a severe case of ADHD, and we’re never really sure what she’s going to eat next. We spend most of our time explaining our things are “NOT FOR PUPPIES!” as she scampers to her kennel for sanctuary.
Many blessings enrich our lives—an ever expanding family (dare I say, I can hardly wait for daughters-in-law??), true friends, continuing education, good health… Whenever I consider the passing of each year and each milestone for our family, I can’t help but wonder, How did we get so lucky?
We pray God blesses your 2011 with peace, with hope, and with love!