Oddly enough, I remember the evening I sat on our sofa with pencil and paper in hand to write our 2002 annual holiday letter. I had no particular theme in mind but knew I needed to incorporate an extra family member, our first foreign exchange student. As I tried to concentrate on something with an international flair, I became distracted by the disorder around me. The following letter resulted.
Dear Family and Friends,
As I wander around picking up the debris of our lives, I find myself reflecting on this past year. Scattered about our living room are a pair of Birkenstocks, a Shrek CD, a deck of cards, a Gameboy Advance, a blue hair band, a map, a clump of dark hair, a set of car keys, a German/English dictionary, a miniature shoe, the Assemblyline newsletter, a Series of Unfortunate Events book, a blue and gold jersey, the agenda from last week’s school board meeting and a hairbrush (mine, but probably last used by the owner of the blue hair band). These are the telltale signs of the frenzy we live in!
Abby is 8; an enthusiastic 3rd grader who has declared weekends and holidays unnecessary. She enjoys playing with her American Girl doll [the shoe] and organizing family games [the deck of cards]. She no longer needs or wishes for mom to be a hair or fashion consultant [the hair band]. Abby has perfected the obligatory scream or whine with sibling disputes and when otherwise aggravated. This fall, Abby entered the realm of competitive gymanstics and has earned a multitude of ribbons and medals along with beam bites, bar burns, ripsand wedgies.
Ethan is 11 and is in 5th grade. He would say school is survivable but that homework should be eliminated. He is alternately endearing and exasperating! Ethan’s world revolves around action and sound…basketball, football, music [Shrek CD] and electronic games [the Gameboy]. Ethan hopes to hone his snowboarding skills this coming winter. He eagerly traded piano lessons for playing the flute and is involved in the community children’s choir, Shout for Joy. His favorite reads for the year were the Lemony Snicket series [the book].
In August, Ethan gracefully gave up his position as the eldest child when Anne Esser, a 17-year-old exchange student from Bochum, Germany joined our family [the Birks]. She is a tall, gregarious young woman who is a junior at Fairfield High School and is proficient in English [the dictionary]. Recently, Anne has joined the girl’s basketball team and is giving the ol’ Hoosier pastime her best [the jersey]. Not only is she responsible, but she also has a wonderful sense of humor and is a postiive role model for our kids. Anne jumps at the chance to go on late night runs to Wal-Mart. She and Abby have similar tastes in room decor – Early Ransack.
As for the adults, Jonathan continues to mix supervisiory/administrative duties with patient care at Oaklawn. He joined three friends on a skiing excursion to Colorado in February. New challenges await on the horizon as he, a Fairfield School Board member; works with the community to determine the extent of needed facility improvements [the agenda]. Jonathan recently finished a 30-day roofing project 4-months later. In his leisure time, he enjoys golf, fantasy footbal, golf, softball, golf, basketball, golf, playing on the computer and golf.
My roles have remained unchanged – taxi driver [the keys], nitpicker (school nurse, remember?), referee and family historian. I traveled to New Orleans with a friend to attend the Sugar Bowl and ended up having to scalp tickets. A 6-year mentorship ended this past summer after my youth graduated from high school. In August, Abby and I went to Cleveland for a couple days to attend the U.S. National Gymnastics Championships.
Lastly, Buddy remains our faithful companion. He likes to “help out” around the house. He insists on doing dishes (licking the plates clean while the dishwasher is being loaded), dusting (with his tail) and sweeping (licking up food off the floor). Now, if I could just get him to brush his own hair [the clump]!
This past year has found us attending and growing in a new church family. We are at Assembly Mennonite Church, an open and welcoming community [the newsletter]. It’s strange at times, even thoug we feel we belong, that we may be the conservatives in the bunch!
A review of our year would be incomplete if I failed to mention a couple other events. In February, Grandpa Graber had a heart attack. Thankfully, he received prompt emergency medical care; so there was minimal heart damage. He seems to have made a full recovery and has returned to his active lifestyle. Secondly, Jonathan and I happily marked 15 years of compatibility this August! I was thrilled my wedding dress still fit!
As a family, we’ve enjoyed forays near and fall [the map]. Together with the McFadden family, we vacationed on St. George Island, FL during spring break. This summer, the kids and I visited the Dunes and Deep River Water Park. In July, we spent a couple weeks in Colorado – camped with Grandma and Grandpa Graber and then retreated to comfort in Keystone. Other highlights of the year included attending a Tom Chapin concert (with the McFadden’s), a STOMP concert, a weeklong visit from Uncle Sterling and two days at Cedar Point.
That pretty well sums it up for another year. Let us know if you’ll be stopping by – we’ll leave the light on! May your holidays be the happy beginning of a wonderful year!
Mit freundlichen grüssen (With friendly greetings)