Holiday Letter 2009

(Photo credit: © Royalty-Free/Corbis)

We are not any too early this year, but we are no less enthusiastic. So here it is…

The Top Ten Nine Things We Learned in 2009

9. It’s easy to make a child happy. We let the girls drag us into an overflowing McDonald’s on fundraiser night only to be cheerfully greeted by their teachers. The girls got to order whatever they wanted, combine every flavor from the soda machine, and giggle with their friends. Then a rumor swept through that the ice cream cones were not only free, but kids could make their own. They raced off and returned to the table with huge smiles, mini cones (we were astonished), and glowing praise, “This is the best day of our lives!” Who knew it could be so simple?

8. John Deere green trumps race car black. David has long used black baseball caps, most of them with some sort of racing logo on them. For twenty years, he wore successive hats to a tattered gray… until we moved to Missouri. His brand new lawn tractor came with two free hats. The best one had a little pocket to hold golf tees on one side and a John Deere golf ball marker magnetically attached on the other. David doesn’t play golf, but you wouldn’t know by looking at him.

7. What you teach surprises you. Marjie had to adapt mightily to her new school. For example, she never expected that tooth brushing would become part of her curriculum. Some of her students hadn’t brushed in months. One actually didn’t know how. So with the help of donors, she added it to the morning routine. It became a huge party, but it was hard to tell how much impact it was having until one morning one of the never-brushers stomped into the classroom shouting, “Ms. DeWilde, I need a toothbrush at home! I’m supposed to brush 14 times a week and I only brush 5!”

6. When April Fools Day calls, you have to answer. Marjie’s class was only supposed to take over the computer room for a couple of months, but her trailer didn’t get built any too fast. Then she moved in and out twice before occupancy was finally approved. Finally on March 31st, both toilets backed up when a tractor rolled over the sewer pipes. The next day the principal agreed to tell the students we’d have to move again. He was brilliant and said there was a possible methane leak. Marjie passed out the moving bags. The students looked stricken, but started packing their desks again. When they finally figured out what day it was, the room didn’t need methane to explode.

5. T-shirts can be misconstrued. For every camp the girls went to, they got a t-shirt. Even David got one when he took the girls on a Me & My Guy weekend campout. However, we would like to gently point out to the Girl Scouts that “Me & My Guy” on a girls’ shirt has an entirely different connotation than it does on a dad’s.

4. We still have to work to understand our own children. Seven-year-old Anna, in obvious distress, told us she had a European infection. A what? We finally figured out that she needed to see the doctor because it hurts when, “You are…”

3. The kids are serious about wanting a pet. Now that we have space, the girls have begged for a pet more interesting than Harley, our old cat. They have asked for a horse, a pony, a dog, chickens, a hamster, and a few other animals. However, Hailey has been relentless about a guinea pig. She even came home from school with three full pages of handwritten notes. Who knows how much of her reading time she had devoted to finding out things like it’s normal for a guinea pig to eat its poop?

2. The girls are developing their country credits. Anna mostly wants a horse, but is worried about what to do in certain situations. Eleven-year-old Hailey’s advice? “The top of a horse is the best place to be when it poops. Trust me.”

1. Don’t give clever wedding presents. When David’s sister Karen got married, the girls wanted to give her a toaster. This was a little bland, so Marjie had the brilliant idea to include gift cards in the toaster slots. The girls wrote notes on the envelopes and we repacked the toaster before wrapping it up. Unfortunately, the newlyweds weren’t as thrilled with their gift as we were. The good news is that Crate & Barrel has incredibly competent staff that found the cards before restocking the toaster. 

We hope you’re on the top of the horse or wherever the best place is for you and your family and that all of your gifts this year turn out to be wonderful.


David, Marjie, Hailey, Anna & Harley


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