Christmas Letter – 2013
Be filled WITH THE WONDER Be touched BY THE PEACE Believe IN THE MIRACLE
After months of contemplation, I finally came up with the ‘One Word’ that would describe me; the what you see is what you get, plain jane, practical kind of girl, all rolled into one word. It was AUTHENTIC, that was it. I was so excited with my discovery that I told my co-worker, who is a young whipper snapper half my age. After a couple of days he told me that his ‘One Word’ was Neighborly. It was then that he called me VINTAGE. Vintage? Yes, vintage. That’s what he remembered my ‘One Word’ to be. What on earth was he thinking, calling a 50 year old woman VINTAGE. I told him my word was authentic not vintage! Maybe his word should have been Forgetful.
Last winter the skin on my face was red, dry, flaky and pimply all at the same time. (No it’s not a riddle, with the answer being something in a blender). It seemed to bother the older people more than the younger people. One of our clients even made a special trip to Farm & Fleet to buy me some Bag Balm (I know, I know, go ahead, look it up, see what farmers use it for). There wasn’t a face wash, moisturizer, or homeopathic remedy that I could find to clear it up. Eventually I decided to get a mini facial to see if that would help. The aesthetician, (prior to this I had no idea who or what an aesthetician was), told me that I had the worst case of rosacea that she had ever seen. I was happy that she had a diagnosis for my face, but not exactly something I wanted to be known for! I would rather be known for my raspberry rhubarb jelly or banana bread or molasses cookies, or even be known as Vintage!
Last winter Darell started running on a treadmill to lose a few pounds and stay in shape. In March he ran in the Puddle Jump and in May he ran the ½ marathon with Rebecca. In October the family ran in the Color Run and on Thanksgiving Day we ran five miles in the Turkey Trot. But NOTHING, I mean NOTHING beats losing weight faster than making a choice that can take your life in a whole new direction. In September, after nine years at Hutchinson Technology, Darell decided it was time to give up his day job to pursue his dream job as a Field Technician. He has always wanted to be on the road, to see new places, to travel the world over. As long as his paychecks were direct deposited, I was okay with stoking the fire, changing the smoke detector batteries, shoveling all winter, you know, being the man and the woman of the house. Well, Darell made it to Michigan, Nebraska and Florida, not exactly traveling the world over, before calling it quits. When he told me he couldn’t even watch TV when he was on the road, I knew that it was SERIOUS. I’m telling you, this man can watch educational shows for hours at home and it doesn’t bother him. He came to the conclusion that my dad was right, FAMILY is important. Maybe he was just worried that I’d end up wearing the pants, gaining the other leg after 20+ years of fighting for it, or maybe he missed our arguing just for the sake of arguing. It’s possible that he didn’t have anyone to boss around or lecture to, but whatever the reason, he’s back and he’s watching those educational shows in the comfort of his own home. Thankfully he was able to find another electromechanical tech job at TTM Technologies. It’s unfortunate that it’s overnights, working twelve hour shifts, but none-the-less, it’s a job. We are going to make the best of this journey and see this as an opportunity. Tentatively, he’s planning on working and going back to school.
Rebecca is a junior at St. Norbert majoring in Early Childhood Education. She is very involved in campus life and works part-time at Festival Foods in DePere. In September she had this post on facebook: SNC Involvement Fair, How can I wear four different shirts and name tags at one time? Maybe it’s a sign that I may be too involved around here. She is still a FYE (First Year Experience) mentor, tutors, the Gala Coordinator (Chamozi Chair) for the Zambia Project, and is Co-President of Dance Marathon. This November SNC held its first Dance Marathon which raised money for Children’s Miracle Network. For 13.1 hours she had to keep moving, was one of the emcees, and made sure the entire production ran smoothly. She raised over $600 personally and the team raised $21,372.01. In October, Rebecca turned 21, a day she had been looking forward to for a long time. In January, Rebecca is teaching in New Orleans for two weeks and next spring she hopes to student teach in Costa Rica for nine weeks. She is proud that she has made the Dean’s List so far every semester.
Rachel has found college to be exciting and more challenging than her summer maintenance job at South Middle School. She spent her days cleaning gum off of the bottom of desks, using a putty knife to remove wrappers tucked in small crevices, and cleaning and waxing the floors. Rachel is a freshman at the University of MN Twin Cities Campus, in the College of Science and Engineering (CSE). Luckily she chose a college fairly close to home as she has been home almost every weekend. She lives off campus with her cousin Jacob and has a mile walk to the St Paul campus where she hitches a ride on the university bus to the East Bank Campus. The CSE received 11,563 applications last year, selecting 1,000 applicants to be admitted to the program, 297 of them were women. She has found that the 3:1 ratio of boys to girls is not such a bad thing. She has tutored some of the boys in Physics, Chemistry and Calculus class, and in return has gotten a lot of free lunches. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches start to get old after a while. Rachel has also gotten involved with co-ed volleyball intramurals where she found herself to be more athletic than most of the guys. Some had never played before. Intramural basketball should prove to be even more interesting. Some of the geeks have a hard time walking and chewing gum, let alone dribbling a basketball.
Sarah is 15 and is a sophomore. She has her temps, so she evaluates my driving and doesn’t think that I’m using my blinker enough. One day she was watching the show Girl Code. I had never heard of that show before, but I found it quite interesting to say the least. Sarah has a ‘friend’ named Andrew and Darell hasn’t scared him off yet. She played Volleyball this fall. Currently she is on the JV Basketball team and EC Air Volleyball team. The girls were straightening money one day facing it all the same way, and blamed me for their OCD. Sarah said that when she goes to other people’s houses that she wants to straighten their DVDs. I couldn’t help myself and asked if she wanted to alphabetize them too. Sarah misses her sisters and I miss my drivers. When the girls get together they have a language that’s all their own. With a single word, phrase or glance they know exactly what the other is thinking; the inside jokes that only they get.
Eva is living with us for her third and final year. She is a senior and has been taking the TOEFL and SAT exams and applying for colleges in the United States. This fall she was involved in the One Act Play the Romancers where she played one of the bandits. She will spend Christmas in Los Angeles with her parents.
In July, we headed to Williamsburg, Virginia. We got as far as Madison before the alternator went out on the van. So after spending $400 (plus $18 for my bargains that I found at the Salvation Army Thrift Store while waiting) and a four hour delay, we were back on our way. It’s frustrating when you break down on the road and you don’t have your tools. Darell, my mechanic, a.k.a the man of the house, could have saved us the labor charges if he only had his tools. Well, anyways we had a fabulous time with mom and dad once we arrived. We purchased five day jump passes to use between Colonial Williamsburg, Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. We opened parks, closed parks, took in lots of shows, partook in reenactments, rode roller coasters (Alpehgeist, Apollo’s Chariot, Griffon, Loch Ness Monster & Verbolten), played dice games, card games, cribbage, trivia, volleyball, floated down the Hubba Hubba Highway, swam in the pool and in the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia Beach, and had a complete history lesson all in one week. This year our 2,865 mile trip was driven by more than one driver and at times the radio was playing.
This Christmas remember that the best gift around the Christmas tree is the presence of family wrapped in love.