You know those Christmas letters you get from people - the ones where everyone aced their college entrance exams, is happily married, not putting on weight, never has more than one glass of wine, and doesn't have any family members who remotely resemble Cousin Eddie in Christmas vacation?
We don't send those letters. We tell the truth. In the past years, when the kids were incorrigible we said so. When life was less than perfect we owned it. Still, every year we get letters from a few families that we pour a glass of wine before even attempting to read. I still remember the year our pastor read, from the pulpit, his worst example ever of an annual Christmas letter - one he'd really received.
Here's our Christmas letter for 2015 - a dying practice, but we're going strong after almost 35 years, so it's hard to justify stopping - it tells the truth, albeit not the whole truth, because that wouldn't bless anyone, and most of the people who were truly a trial are still alive and kicking, so that would not be real gracious anyway. They may be fodder for someday books, but not for this year's letter:
Card-sending seems to be evolving into a thing of the past, so if you haven’t sent us a card, feel free to not reciprocate. By the time you get this, Christmas 2015 will be one for the books. Here’s a quick recap of our year:
January – Idaho snow, sitting in front of cozy fires, hot cocoa and flu that caught the entire family. Right when we were all coming out of hiding, Bev’s brother, Gary died unexpectedly. So we flew back to Texas for a day, unloaded and loaded suitcases, and flew to Denver for the funeral.
In February, after the funeral, it was clear Bev’s mother had advanced dementia and needed help. March – who remembers?! We went on a cruise in April to refresh brains and bodies, before Bev went back to Colorado to see her mom. Bev turned 60 in June, and took a trip to Pennsylvania to celebrate with girlfriends. July we drove to Kansas for Bev’s father’s 90th birthday party in Goodland, Kansas. It was a highlight of the year for him. Grandkids he hadn’t seen in decades and great-grandchildren he’d never met. Wonderful, wonderful!
From there we drove to Idaho, where we spent the rest of the summer. It was beautiful, but horribly smoky from the fires. Bev’s sister, Barb and Don’s brother, Tim and SIL, Nola came for visits, plus Dan and his 4 year old, D2, came up and Dan went on a trek through Glacier backcountry with our two SIL’s, Pace and Jeremy. We were thankful nobody got eaten alive. Seriously.
We left Idaho in early September, drove thru Yellowstone where we saw two grizzly cubs in the wild. Back to Texas, via Denver, for the Gibson family reunion, and to check on Bev’s mom, now in a nursing home where she is thriving, thanks to all the Boaz siblings and Derrell’s wife, Stacey who pulled all sorts of strings to bring it about. 7500 miles later, home in Texas, Bev finally got her cornea transplant in late September, can see more stuff now although not clearly, but that’s supposed to improve in 2016 with some tweaking of stitches.
Days after the transplant our son, Dan ended up with pneumonia and sepsis that scared the life out of us. He’s fine now, thank you God. Thank you, also to whoever discovered antibiotics. October – nothing out of the ordinary. November – ditto. December – ditto, which we’re hoping is the beginning of a pattern. We dashed down to San Antonio for a quick visit with Bev’s forever friend, Tracie and her husband, Ray – a wonderful way to end the year. The plan for the rest of December, and as much of 2016 as possible, is blissful boredom, no big events or drama or trauma, which will not pan out of course. Nobody’s life works that way.
We’re beginning the slow process of major downsizing, of stuff, of houses, of weight and cholesterol numbers, of obligations, etc. We wouldn’t want to repeat most of 2015 but there have been more times this year than we can count when life caved in and God showed up. Jobs, houses, illnesses cured, finances and relationships restored. Goodness and mercy we surely do not deserve. For 2016 we’re praying for us, and for you and yours, that whatever comes into our lives, we’ll be strong enough to withstand it, have the character to shine through it, and that we’ll live in a way that blesses others, near and far away. Please stay in touch. All are welcome to venture up north or down south for a visit. No notice needed, but if you don’t call, we’re not responsible for the state of affairs.
(No family photos this year – you’ll have to trust us that, in keeping with the Lake Wobegon tradition, they’re all still above-average looking.)
Merry Christmas and love from Cub Sweetheart, Bev and Miss Lily
How about you? Did you send cards this year? Get any cards? Get a Christmas letter that was so bad it was worth reading out loud around the dinner table?