December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas to all!

Dear Family and Friends,

This year, I rediscovered the holiday spirit through a second-hand sweater and a joke. Don’t worry, I’ve found Christmas cheer in weirder ways. That second-hand sweater was not the cutest puppy in the pet store. It was, redeemably, the fuzziest though, so I kept it. The more I wore it, the more I loved it, so I even replaced the buttons and patched the seams. The sweater had a beginning with me, but not a new one. As the years fly by, I’ve realized that truly new beginnings are hard to come by and that old beginnings are perhaps all the fuzzier, all the warmer and cozier for being old. What does this have to do with the holidays? Well, not to dampen your yuletide cheer, but I’ve realized that, as we celebrate the end of a tired year and ring in the new, we’re not actually ringing in anything new. For anyone over a year old, this holiday season is a like my broken-in sweater. It’s an old beginning. Every year on the eve of the last night of December, we look back—then forward. And it’s one of God’s greatest blessings. Even though 2010 is a new year to us, and 2009 the old, every year is a beginning that’s beginning again.

This year, David started college at North Carolina State University, where practically his first action was to taunt me about better football, better organized campus, and better ice cream. He’s joined the club cross-country team and plans to continue running with the club for track season in spring. He wants to major in computer science, and after getting a 4.0 GPA for his first semester, he's off to a good start. He's asked Santa for a Nissan GT-R for Christmas, but Santa's Helpers--Mom and Aunt G--have told him that the only car he's getting is a toy that will fit in his stocking.

While David couldn’t wait to begin college, now I can’t wait to graduate. In May, barring any unforeseen senioritis, I’ll walk the stage for degrees in Dramatic Arts and Photojournalism with a minor in English. In November, I completed the Battleship Half-Marathon in Wilmington, N.C., with a couple of my best friends from Zeta Tau Alpha. Better yet, 2009 will be remembered as the year that I finally made a passable apple pie, after four Thanksgivings of failures! Next year, I hope to move to New York City, own a cat named "Moose" and coax my family up to visit me often.

Daniel still enjoys working as barista and waiter at the same restaurant in downtown Asheville, N.C., although the cafe has changed names over the last few years. Now it's called Ello, so when he answers the phone, he cries, "Hello, it's Ello." Danny loves bargain book hunting and filling his external hard drives--yes, he has several--with music and videos. He’s taking classes at Asheville-Buncombe Tech studying computers, so he and David spend breaks arguing about computer coding and demolishing each other in video games.

Mom's new beginning is, in her own words, the "best Christmas present of all." In November, she started a new job at Charlotte Country Day School’s athletic department. She is thrilled to be wearing the Bucs' green and white. She still designs for Helmar Adhesives and Zutter Bind-It-All, so her scrapbooking studio is bursting with scrapbooking projects. Mom also makes a mean Texas chili, grows great tomatoes and loves having a blaze in the fire pit. She and Tony celebrated their 10-year anniversary this year, and even with all of the kids finally out of the house, Tony still loves and complains about our noisy visits home. "Crumb-crunchers," he'll grumble at us—and smile.

David brought the rest of the season rushing back to me with a joke. Aunt G asked him whose birthday was coming up in December, expecting his reply, “Mine, mine! Mine’s on the 18th!” Instead he gave a facetious grin and asked, “Jesus’ birthday?” But he’s right, you know. Of all the holiday sentiments, the spirit of beginning is what this season is all about. We’re not just beginning another year; we’re celebrating the birthday, the very beginning, of the Messiah. God’s love, made real for us in Christ and sacrificed through his body, began two-thousand years ago, and we still celebrate it today. Every day is an old beginning to be thankful for, every Christmas and New Year’s a celebration of the old beginning of the gospel.

Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas!

Tony, Tish, Daniel, Amy and David

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