Thursday, December 22, 2016

Christmas Letter 2016

Family and Friends,

It’s November and the author is feeling long overdue for a vacation…the kind with just the editor, some remote landscapes, and lots of wildlife—the kinds that don’t have first names or opinions….And now I’m having a flashback to our Easton summer vacation.  Our trusty minivan endured 3,800 miles of six kids, endless snacks, spills, hot summer sun, and road construction.  We recommend Glazed and Infused Donuts in Chicago and Kansas City BBQ.  We loved the kid and adult friendly Mark Twain museum in Hannibal, MO, historic Nauvoo, Illinois, the kids’ first big city experience, and the somehow sacred Carthage Jail.  The “vacation” was so much fun I decided to turn the last two days into a single LOOOONG one by driving 1,015 miles.  I’m pretty sure we all lived.  All it takes to appreciate home is a week away.

After the election we decided to stock up on our food storage.  Instead of buying canned goods the author recommended getting a 2nd cat as Perdita (the family cat) has been on a rampage bringing numerous mice, birds, frogs, bugs, snakes, and one slimy not quite identifiable corpse (possibly a fish) into the house to show off.  They’ve been in various stages of gut-smeared, stiff and dead, mortally wounded, and very much still alive—the best was the mouse which started in Natali’s drawer, was caught on the porch then was brought back inside and released to “attack” Natali again.  She’s still screaming. 

Natali (14) ended last year anxious for her braces to be removed and then in January at dinner on the long awaited day complained about her retainer and said, “I wish had my braces back on…”  You’ve got to be kidding me, can I get a refund?  When she turned 14 and attended her first dance she changed her tune and decided it was better not to have tinsel teeth.  She transitioned seamlessly to High School, but wanted us to attend a parent/teacher conference to get extra credit so her only A would be raised to match all of her other A+’s.  She’s still dreaming of driver’s ed and a cell phone.  She made lasting memories with the author on a trip to New England where they reenacted the Boston Tea Party, enjoyed fall foliage, counted Dunkin Donut stores, and visited her childhood stomping grounds in Hanover, NH.  Thankfully she still says “boys” with an “ugh” at the end.  She’s content to fill her life with books and music (choir, viola, piano).

Mack (13) is easy to identify on the soccer field due to his curly locks—I think he even likes the attention they bring from kids and parents alike.  Rumor has it that a real live girl actually touched his hair at school last week—shhh, don’t tell anyone.  He’s progressing well through the Boy Scout program and learning important skills like swallowing raw eggs and catching fish. Mack joined his cousin McClain for a special trip to visit Grandma Nani and Papa Randy on their mission to Washington state.

Andrew (11) never hesitates to speak his mind.  When asked about the differences between middle-school and elementary, he said they were pretty much the same.  When asked if the girls were cuter, he shriveled up his face and said, “no.”  I told him when I went to Junior High the girls were cuter because they were from several different elementary schools.  He responded, “It’s probably just because you hit puberty sooner than I did.”  Or maybe it’s because he still hasn’t figured out how to wash his socks…His world still revolves around wildlife.  We had a great time jet boating together in Hell’s Canyon and he was thrilled to sight an albino elk on our annual visit to Yellowstone.  He speeds through the neighborhood looking for mischief on his bike with no brakes.

Kate (9) begins each morning fighting with Lisa over the snarls in her hair but is happy by bed time after filling her day with ballet class, choir, and art projects.  Her favorite part of the road trip was hanging out with cousins at the water parks at the Wisconsin Dells.  She’s officially done with pink, and decided to like PE.  Kate gets the brunt of most of the sibling animosity in our home—it’s not easy being a middle child, trust me.

Emily (6) loves reading, dancing, piano lessons and choir, and will eventually realize she doesn’t have to be perfect at school.  She spent a magical weekend with Lisa at Disneyland.  Emily is the tallest Easton for her age despite preferring to pull out her own teeth than to eat something healthy.  She happily celebrated her birthday looking for moose in Yellowstone and was serenaded by a group of young Filipinas when I told them it was her special day.  Her wish was granted at the last hour when we spotted a moose on our way home.   

Lily (3) can memorize an iphone password if you let her see you, sleeps in a different room every night (at least 6 in the last month), has a great sense of direction—corrects us if we take a different route, and likes to do puzzles. She’s starting to learn letters and numbers, eats everything including Emily’s portion of fruits and vegetables, and is not afraid of our threats to eat her cute cheeks because, “I have blood and bones.”

Lisa (36) enjoyed 3 plays at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival this summer but did not enjoy being stung 4 times by wasps and learning she’s allergic.  She caught the Family History bug so badly she can’t be bothered to edit this letter which unfortunately will be a primary part of the heritage I leave for our children.  Although she laughed harder than she had in years at the delightfully obnoxious Squatty Potty video, she still had the gall to let Lily be a unicorn for Halloween.  Now she’s anxious for the ski slopes to open. 

Greg (38) survived the double whammy of having a 20 year high school and 10 year grad school reunion in the same year.  The gray in his beard after a couple weeks of travel was incontrovertible proof that he is OLD.  Added just one new mammal species the lifetime list, but it was a spectacular dolphin species on a work trip to Chile.  A single fruitful cantaloupe compensated for all the duds in his expanded garden space.  He is rumored to have put a hole in the kitchen sink with a pair of scissors (editor challenges the use of the word rumor, something about photographic proof—sa bagay—a Tagalog phrase the author uses to say “whatever”).  In the midst of a disappointing stretch to begin the BYU football season he went on a 3 week fast from any and all BYU websites, but by the time he watched BYU finally beat BSU on the Smurf Turf he decided the season wasn’t a total waste…(oops, wrote that a few weeks before the game and didn’t have the heart to change it after another painful loss).

Best books of the year—Anti-Fragile, The Wright Brothers, All the Light We Cannot See

I’m filled with mixed emotions as I watch the news and read the angst and hatred on social media.  While it is easier to remain silent, I feel compelled to share my feelings.  America is great because of our individual and collective freedoms, secured by the blood and courage of our patriot forefathers (and mothers) and an inspired constitution.  While great strides have been made in recent generations to improve equality, there is more to be done.  And yet, as we seek to expand equality we must protect our individual freedoms.  There is no room for persecution and hate, but there must still be room for faith and love of God, Man, and Woman.  This is proving more difficult than it ought to be.  It will require those of diverse experience, perspective, and persuasion to question, listen, understand where possible, and then to choose to love despite the remaining differences.  I pray and believe that We can do this Together beginning with You and I.


Merry Christmas, The Eastons (Greg, Lisa, Natali, Mack, Andrew, Kate, Emily, and Lily)

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