Also, a little Christmas video below too. And a song! Gosh, so many entertainment avenues in one blog post. But now, we're done.
The happiest of holidays to you and yours.
Dear Ones All,
Merry Christmas and the happiest New Year to you and yours.
Where should I begin? It’s been a few years since our last Christmas letter and, no doubt, the fault is mine. We’ve received yours (my wife reminds me, almost patiently); indeed, we’ve gladly strung your pictures above our mantle. An update, therefore, seems in order. If that weren’t enough, my festive wife told me to “write the letter”, and to “do it tonight or sleep on the couch”; alas, I sit and write.
Speaking of sleeping on the couch, Parker—now 17 months!—continues to take up an inordinate amount of space in our bed. Now, it’s not simply his size that finds me relocating in the wee hours, rather it’s more his incessant flailing about, his ungodly night sweats, his blood-curdling screams. When he sleeps, he’s sort of like an octopus, but with knees and elbows. The child should work for the CIA’s Sleep Deprivation Unit. You see, as modern, blue-state liberals, we “co-sleep”. We talk about the “cry-it-out” approach the same way some talk about those who would kill baby seals with a club. Of course, if you’re unfamiliar with “co-sleeping”, I think Dante may have referred to it when describing one of the levels of Hell in The Inferno (who knew that Mr. & Mrs. Dante were “co-sleepers”?). Clearly, teething is a major design flaw in humans. Why can’t babies be born with a full set of teeth? And no, frankly, I don’t care how such a simple solution might impact the breast-feeding experience of mothers. Ladies, it’s not all about you! Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the little guy and he’s cute as can be. He’s toddling and playing hide-n-seek, and piling trucks on our dog Gracie (why?), and just generally impressing everyone with his winning smile, good-natured personality, and enviable hair. But let’s see what these same people think when they’re enjoying his company, say, between 2-5 AM.
Lindsey is now in 5th grade. She’s funny, dramatic (“angst-y” might be more accurate), and loves to sing. If you tell her to take out the trash, she turns your request into a song, complete with three verses and a chorus. But then she forgets to take out the trash. I love the fact that she loves Taylor Swift and that the two of us got to chase Justin Bieber’s limo down the street in NYC last summer. Lindsey’s also becoming quite a clarinet player. We went to her 5th grade band concert recently. You might think me biased, but she was clearly the best one there. In fact, I wished all the other musicians (I use this term loosely) would have just gotten off the stage and let her play. After listening to their insufferable children play, the other parents would probably agree with me on this. I can hear the parents chanting next year already:
"Who do we want to listen to? Lindsey!
Do we want to listen to our own kids? No!”
You find this scenario incredible? You weren’t there.
In 7th grade, William has headed off to the BIG school now. “Will”, as he’s called by his friends and teachers (awkward, right?), is still a dreamer; he’s about the sweetest, most cuddly soul you could ever imagine. Parker agrees and is pretty much glued to his hip; the two of them could toot about the house all day. Up before the sun, William makes his breakfast, his lunch, takes care of Gracie, and heads out to the bus, rain or shine, without even a whisper of complaint. If I’m doing an oil change, cleaning the garage, snow blowing the drive-way, William’s there. I love that about him. Now that I think about it, he’s more like a Labrador Retriever than our actual Labrador Retriever. He’s been blessed with his mother’s good looks too. True story: I had to take William to school late one day a few weeks ago. When we were walking the halls to the office, the bell rang. All the students poured out of their classrooms. Being several steps behind “Will”, I heard several young ladies: “Oh, my god, its Will!! Hey, did you guys, like, see Will?! Hi, Will!! Will, where ya going?” Suffice it to say, I now keep a big stick by the front door.
Jordan, as most of you know, is a HS Senior. But the thing is, before he was a Senior, he was a relatively discontented HS Junior. Something had to give. Pulling some strings, I was able to get him into the college full-time as a home-schooled student. This has worked out better than he (or I) could have imagined. The young man needed a better challenge, a change of scenery. He got both. Now nearing the end of his first semester, he’s doing really well in Physics, Calculus, and Philosophy. On any of these subjects, you wouldn’t want to debate him. His worst class? Religion. Go figure. He’s also grown about a foot since you saw him last. In any case, we’re really proud of him and his accomplishments. He definitely marches to the beat of his own drum—I like that about him—but he’s the kind of guy who will gather other marchers about him at some point too. Let’s just hope they don’t burn the place down when they get together. Now, about the picture we sent: some of you may have noticed that Jordan doesn’t look that pleased to be part of the process by which this astonishingly bad photo was produced. Even if that were true—and it is—that’s not why he looks surly. The reason for the “when-will-this-be-over” look relates to a case of Bells-Palsy, which left half his face paralyzed. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up. The most recent update has him almost smiling (think “Two Face” at the end of Batman) and, for the most part, not dribbling liquids down his face when he drinks. He’s going to be fine and he’s a pretty good sport about it all.
Nathaniel is away at College. “Away” is a relative term. In fact, I’ll have him in a class again next semester and he’ll be doing some work for me then too. He’s in his second year, studying Business, Economics, and Philosophy and truly loving the college life: the Count Dracula-like sleep schedule, the intramural sports (like all 14 of them!), the eating mac-n-cheese at 3:30 AM, and the fact that the college, like virtually every other college these days, has two girls for every guy (finally, a biblical paradigm for dating). Yet not all is perfect in his “I-get-to-spend-four-years-at-summer-camp” world: the truth is, he’s broke. But since he hopes to get into Finance at some point, it’s probably OK. Anyway, even though I try to give him his space, it’s nice seeing him on campus from time to time. Sometimes he even pops over to my office just to chat. And one of these days, we said we’re going to play some catch on the quad in between classes. I would think that’s about the coolest thing ever. In any case, he’s turning into a fine young man.
Bridget continues to take over the blog world. She’s a gifted writer—yes, I’m also sorry she’s not writing this letter—and a creative photographer. The two make for a fine combo in the blogosphere (what a hideous word!). Given her sleep deprivation, her industriousness is remarkable. She’s like the woman described in Proverbs 31, but she likes to wear short skirts. I confess I like that too. When she’s not taking care of Parker, and the rest of us, and the laundry (you can only imagine!), she continues to whip up some of the most amazing meals. She buys organic free-range beef, cage-free eggs, and fair-trade coffee, meaning of course that, like Nathaniel, we’re broke too. Our marriage moves into its seventh year soon—Dec. 22nd—and we’re still reasonably happy with our respective decisions on that subject. Happy Anniversary, Bridget! What more could one want?
As for me, I’ve recently been awarded tenure and promoted to full professor (details which, I’ve learned, mean next to nothing in the grand scheme of things). Having published a couple of books over the last few years, I’ve got another coming out next year. I’m saving all my royalties from these projects to take the family to McDonalds over Christmas break. In just a few nights we’ll be gathering as a family to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” again. As I finish this letter, I’m thinking of the scene just before George finally meets and dances with the grown-up Mary Hatch over the swimming pool. You know, the scene with all the chaos in the Bailey House, Harry marching around with the fine china on his head, and Ma Bailey complaining about her nerves. I can’t help but think that scene describes my life pretty well. Good heavens, I’m Ma Bailey. Even so, we’re all hangin’ in there, even if it’s only by our fingernails. Maybe you feel this way sometimes too. Cherish those moments and those you love this Christmas season. We’ll try to do the same.
Love to you and yours,
Steve, for the family