Season’s Greetings and all that jazz from the tiny house on Teatown Road with the mismatched shutters and the garden that has not yet been put to bed for the winter. I hope this, my very first Christmas letter, finds you in a happy, holly-jolly mood. As I sit down to write, the big day is less than two weeks away. As you’re reading this, you’re probably bringing out the pool noodles and cleaning the grill. I put the “pro” in procrastination and it will be a Festivus miracle if these are even postmarked by Valentine’s Day.
Twenty-Fourteen was a good year for the human inhabitant of 14499. I began a new position with BAYADA at the start of January which sends me out on the road quite a bit. This has helped develop my once-dormant road rage and has brought a certain finesse to my side-way-stink-eye-glare at passing drivers who annoy me. (Spoiler alert: 95% of them.) I am also happy to report that I have reached the ripe age of thirty-one and haven’t found any grey hairs. And while I didn’t get the chance to travel overseas, my debit card was given a nice little getaway to jolly old England. Thankfully I was able to recoup most of what was stolen. But yes, all things considered it’s been a good year.
Winston is a still-sprightly 6 ½ year old boy of boundless energy. He’s still terrified of silverware and plastic bags and loud noises and small children and sheets of paper and…well, it would probably be simpler to list the things he’s NOT afraid of. He still insists on spending most of his days outdoors, which is fine, except he doesn’t have enough sense to know when to come in out of the rain. Seriously. Drive by sometime during a downpour and I bet you he’ll be lounging about in the yard as happy as a clam.
Eisenhower, the mystery-wonder-mutt, is 3 ½ and wants nothing to do with the rain, choosing to spend his time on the porch like a sensible pooch. He isn’t afraid of anything and barks furiously at bikers, walkers, large bugs, small birds, at a blade of grass hitting the fence… In short, he barks at everything. I am sometimes awoken from a dead sleep at 3 am by his high pitched yelp and must contemplate the likelihood that there is either, 1) an axe murderer trying to make his way in, or 2) one of the cats walked too closely to his food dish. I usually fall back asleep before I can decide which it is. So far I guess it’s been number two. (Whew)
Speaking of cats, August is busy setting a new world record for the number of consecutive hours asleep. She’s really put a lot of effort into it. There are many days when I come home from work and she is in the exact same position that she was when I left ten hours earlier. That’s dedication for ya. I hope to be like her when I grow up.
Cat number two, Artemis, is a generous girl who loves to bring me gifts. Mostly birds. Sometimes small rabbits. I found a headless black chicken in the yard this spring and I suspect she had something to do it with it. If not the decapitation, then at least why and how it ended up at my house. And while I appreciate the gesture, I wish she would focus her energy on the rouge mouse I’ve been battling the last few weeks.
And finally, Peanut, who has grown into a bit of a persnickety grump in her old age. She enjoys scratching at the front door to be let out, only to flee into the other room the moment you turn the handle. We “like” to play this game three or four times night, because the human clearly has nothing better to do.
It’s so hard to believe another year is about to come to an end. The adults weren’t lying when they would say time speeds up the older you get. As I’ve been reflecting on these last twelve months I see a lot of pain: Friends burying loved ones. I see hurts and disappointments and my own feelings of frustration when I felt things just weren’t going my way. But I also see happiness: Time spent with family. Good food and good friends. Laughter until your stomach aches. Weddings and birthdays. Birthday cake.
How appropriate that, when announcing the birth of Jesus, angels appeared in the night sky to declare his coming. Amidst all that darkness, there was light. If they had shown up in the middle of the day? Probably would not have made quite as grand an entrance.
As you look back on your year, I hope you can see your moments of light shining through the darkness; even when life was hard or seemed unfair, I hope you remember all the good and all the joy and hold onto that. I hope it reminds you to treasure your time with loved ones, to forgive quickly and seek forgiveness in turn, to share more meals with friends, to put down the phone or turn off the TV, to worry less and love more. Hold onto this and carry it with you into the New Year. When the days seem hard, these blessings will shine all the more bright.
As I look ahead to the upcoming 2015, there is certainly much to be excited for: Travel plans and baby showers. My very first niece. A wedding. The return of Downton Abbey. It will be a full year, a happy year, but probably not a perfect one. Yet regardless of the circumstances or whatever God has in store, I know there is a Light that will shine through even the darkest of nights.
And so, to you, who may be family or friend (or both, if you’re lucky), I wish you the merriest of Christmases and a bright and happy New Year. May your bacon never burn, may your socks always have a match, and may Taylor Swift’s songs never get stuck in your head.