Holiday Letter 2014

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Christmas is over, but vacation still feels great. And now that we’re done with all of the celebrating, it’s time for…

The Top Ten Things We Learned in 2014

  1. It’s all in your perspective. When Boyd’s traveling computer lab reverted to a regular lab, the old mini-computers took a while to get dispersed. Marjie finally resorted to trailing the computer teacher into the lab. When she objected to being called a stalker by her treasured teaching partner, Jen replied, “No, stalking is a good thing! It’s a skill. A few people have given it a bad name, but really, it’s important! … Now, what I do to you, that’s a totally different thing. That’s just being friendly.”
  1. Doctors just know. We got up early one vacation day to get to the doctor for checkups. As we were bumping around the kitchen hunting breakfast, I told Hailey she could have a small slice of our last holiday pie. She declined. “We’re going to the doctors. Even if we don’t all have appointments, I’m pretty sure they can smell an unhealthy breakfast.”
  1. Cars inspire us and scare us. Hailey has her learner’s permit, but is a still a little overwhelmed by driving. Twelve-year-old Anna, who can finally sit in the front seat, remains inspired by lawnmower driving and pretends to steer and press the pedals while Marjie drives. So Marjie took off from a red light with her hands in her lap. “Mom, you’re hands aren’t on the wheel!” Marjie calmly replied, “But you’re steering!” Anna panicked, dropped her hands, and shrieked, “Jesus, take the wheel!”
  1. We love snow days. After all those years in California where the school calendar is fixed, we love these surprise days off when we get the magic phone call, “Springfield Public schools will be closed on Tuesday, January 6th…” Except we didn’t know the tele-robot was listening. When Marjie shouted, “Yes!” the voice replied, “I’m sorry. That is not a valid response.” Baloney. The exact same response was echoing across the entire snow-covered district.
  1. Nowhere is safe. Now that we live in tornado country and have had the lake house flood four times, the girls have become particularly interested in finding a part of the world where we are safe. Our discussion wandered over California’s earthquakes, one coast’s hurricanes, the other’s tsunamis and volcanoes, not to mention avalanches, droughts, and floods pretty much everywhere. “Plus,” Hailey says, “You just can’t get away from Republicans!”
  1. Having a basement is usually awesome. Marjie loves the World Cup. Loves it. Don’t know why, but she watches it all day, every day for a month and snarls at anyone who wants the TV. The kids banish themselves to the seemingly soundproof basement. At least the kids never hear us calling them when they’re down there. Apparently Marjie was ridiculously loud during the Holland/Spain game because Anna came upstairs saying, “I almost called 911…twice.”
  1. We really need an elevator. For some time, we have been practically paying each other to bring clean clothes up two flights of stairs from the basement, but David has hit a new low. When Anna didn’t respond to a yell up the stairs, he dialed the upstairs home phone from his cell phone. When she didn’t answer that, he yelled, “Doughnuts!” It worked, but it took a couple of minutes for Hailey to ask, “Do you really have doughnuts?” Fortunately, he did.
  1. We despair of our children sometimes. We still can’t get the kids to watch Star Wars. Anna says, “Isn’t that the movie with a green koala?” There’s something sacrilegious about that. Shouldn’t nerdliness be a dominant gene? The only bright spot is that Hailey loves Dr. Who and recently, Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  1. You have to ask the right question. Anna has wanted a dog for forever, but our first choice bit Marjie’s hand. It was so hard to return Blackjack to the pound that we didn’t try again for many months. This time we asked, “What’s the sweetest dog here?” The volunteer took us to a Leonberger that had been a stray. CrackerJack follows us around the house, barely needs a leash, licks us when he wants his back scratched, pounces on squeaky toys, rarely barks, and is your basic love muffin. Our family feels complete.
  1. We live in a magical land. Anna handed us flashlights and begged us to go outside one summer evening. We sat on the porch, signaling fireflies while Anna ran on the lawn with the world twinkling around her. She is twelve, a 7th grader, a foot taller than most of her classmates, and still blessed by fairies.

We hope your holidays were magical and that your new year is blessed.


David, Marjie, Hailey, Anna, and CrackerJack


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