The Cobbler and I in our 2003 Christmas letter photo during the end of my blonde phase.
Do Christmas letters annoy you or do you love them? I fall into both camps depending on who the letter is coming from. I have read about literally everything from won horseback riding tournaments and soccer games to a cancer diagnosis. Yep, I once received a generic Christmas letter from a friend announcing she had cancer. I debate every year about whether or not I'll write one, but then I look back at all the ones I've written going back to 2003 and think about how much things have changed since then. Each letter is like a year put on ice for me. It cracks me up how the letters were initially all about me and the Cobbler and what little we did aside from our jobs to all about the kids today. Just for kicks, here are some highlights from our letters of the past---
2003: With both of us working and no kids, I actually devoted an entire paragraph to our job descriptions. That must have been a thrilling read for the relatives.
2004: We went to Italy for two weeks that fall and found out Red was on the way. We got our cats too and I described them as "challenging---as baby animals tend to be." That also was the Christmas that Pumpkin climbed the Christmas tree and took up residence there.
2005: Red is 6 months old when this letter goes out. Here are my favorite sentences. This one is regarding Red --- "Her musical tastes range from classical to the great nap inducer Celine Dion to disco. Her current favorite song is “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen." And about the cats I write--- "We were initially nervous about how they would react to Red, but we are relieved to report that they have adopted her as one of their own...Oliver is constantly trying to groom her (licking her head would be one of his favorite pastimes if I let him), and Pumpkin watches Red take her bath every night (although it may be just so she can drink the bath water)."
2006: A whole paragraph is devoted in depth to Red's vocabulary (again, probably a snoozer for the relatives), declaring her favorite words to say as "cracker and cookie."
2007: Tom Thumb was born this year. There's a paragraph gushing about how he "lights up any room with his smile" and Red's room was clearly a fire hazard because "her bed is so jammed with books there is hardly room for her to sleep!"
2008: My fave passage about Red is "Her obsession with pirates is entering its eighth month. She just finally let me remove the skull and cross bones tattoo that she has had on since Halloween." About Tom Thumb I wrote "He also likes anything that has buttons (e.g. TV remotes, the telephone). If we didn’t watch him like a hawk, everything would be broken. We are now convinced that he is either going to be a professional singer (he is constantly making yodeling noises) or the next Olympic gold medalist in swimming." I wrote about how I was reupholstering our living room furniture and I hoped I would finish before the kids entered high school. On a good note, that is one unfinished project that has actually been completed since then...but I don't think I actually finished until the following summer.
2009: "The Queen of Mischief has found a perfect minion in her brother. If there’s crayon on the wall, cookies missing from the jar, or the shampoo bottle is empty even though it was full before their bath, Red's first response is “Tom Thumb did it!” And he probably did do it, but definitely with some help from his big sister. "
2010: "Red spends her free time singing loudly, interpretive dancing (it’s a hoot), reading, and making art out of anything and I mean anything. Tom Thumb practices daily to be a future super spy by climbing on counters, discovering new ways to eat peanut butter, stealing bananas then jamming them in his mouth to destroy the evidence, and commandeering any available electronic devices (including the Cobbler’s cell phone, the GPS, etc.) for his own secret missions. At his side through it all is Blue Blankie, his well worn baby blanket which he loses every single day and then cries until I find it. I told the Cobbler for Christmas I want a tracking device for it so I don’t lose my mind."
And now we're up to our 2011 Christmas letter. For those of you among my readers who know you'll be receiving a hard copy of this, you can close your eyes. As for everyone else, I unveil our very own obnoxious holiday letter---the 2011 edition:
"Red entered first grade this year. She wishes she could go to school for a couple of hours and then spend the rest of the day at home playing with me and Tom Thumb. She enjoys taking jazz and Hawaiian dance classes weekly and has joined her school’s Girl Scout troop. Red spends her spare time singing and dancing in front of the mirror in our living room, reading, drawing fairy castles, and building forts out of couch cushions with Tom Thumb. At the top of her Christmas list are “minerals and diamonds.” Obviously, she thinks she’s been extra good this year!
We don’t know how Tom Thumb continues to grow taller when it seems like he never eats! His latest hobby is disagreeing with everyone about everything. If he asks us if a stop sign is red and we say yes, he’ll say, “No, it isn’t.” His other favorite is “No, I willn’t.” Some days I feel like we’re trapped in a Charles Dickens’ novel with his choice of archaic English. Tom Thumb started taking tae kwon do in August in a preschool class called “Little Dragons.” He earned his yellow belt in November and was thrilled since his favorite color is yellow. When at home and not debating me, Tom Thumb likes playing board games and covering the floor of his room with train tracks. Tom Thumb is asking Santa for “a yellow dump truck and a yellow gumball.”
The Cobbler completed building his electric car using a 2001 Focus body in the spring. The Cobbler and his car with its “ELECTRC” vanity plate were the talk of the neighborhood all summer. My time was spent in an unending battle against dirt and laundry, while running the kids to their classes and volunteering at Red's school. I had a goal of reading 52 books this year and I’ve finished 44 so I still have a remote shot at making it. If not, there’s always next year! My favorite book this year was “Let the Great World Spin” by Colum McCann. Read it. You’ll like it!
So what do you think? Obnoxious or just right? Too late! It's already printed---ha ha!
In the end, I like our Christmas letters. This letter is like my very own time capsule. Is it gushing? Yes. Does it leave out some of the harder moments? Definitely. But what do you want to remember most? I choose the beautiful moments 2011 has given me.