As Christmas is fast approaching, I am, once again, fighting the clock on getting a Christmas letter written. We have received several cards, letters, and pictures – all arriving in good time from our friends and family – yet we have not sent out a thing. After writing a family newsletter for so many years, it’s difficult for me to consider sending anything less. There is just so much to tell, right?
So while I look for writing material in the many blog posts I’ve written over the year, I can’t help but think back to the Christmas letter we sent out several years ago. It was a notable year for breakdowns and expenses, and I was right in the middle of nursing school. We were living solely off of CF’s income, and things were more than a little tight. Our savings account, or as CF refers to it, “Our SPENDING account”, was pretty depleted by December, and I remember being challenged to creatively find and afford gifts for our two small kids. I recall stuffing their Christmas stockings full of inexpensive trinkets that I knew they would enjoy, and putting a “family gift” from Santa under the tree. I even went so far as to tell them that Santa had a lot of expenses that year, and he could sure use their help in keeping costs down, like maybe sharing one bigger gift. To my surprise, and delight, they were quite understanding, and found it to be their “duty” to help out Santa.
Although I cannot recall what year it was that I sent out this letter, I am glad I saved it; as it makes me appreciate the values our children acquired from the early years. We didn’t keep up with the Jones’s (metaphorically speaking, of course), but we had what was necessary, and things were never so bad that we went without food, a warm house, and clean clothing. Those early years taught us what was truly important in life, and to be grateful for all we had. Enjoy…!
Greetings Family & Friends,
We hope this letter finds you well, and enjoying the New Year some place WARM. I apologize that my timing is off for getting a Christmas letter out, this year (again) we are sending a New Year’s letter.
We’ve had an eventful year, seems to get busier every year as the kids get older. Emily is nine and in the 3rd grade. She continues to take piano lessons and entertains us frequently with her newly learned songs. She also joined a local softball team this spring and really enjoyed it. Sid is eight and in the 2nd grade. He takes after his father with his love for watching, and playing, sports. Sid played for the local baseball team again this year; remember he is in “practice” for joining the Yankee’s some day. Since both kids played ball this summer we were running to games a LOT. It was really fun watching them grow and improve in the sport; the summer seemed to fly by.
CF has officially been at his city maintenance position for over a year now. The kids and I love having him in town, we get to see so much more of him. It has also freed up more of his time to practice ball with the kids and be able to make it to all of their games. Classes have been challenging and busy for me. Another year down, 2+ to go. I’m at least at a place in my schooling where I get to practice all the skills I’ve been learning. This January I’ll be doing clinicals in a large hospital, I’m excited!!
If there was ever a year to be “prepared” for those little emergencies and breakdowns this would have been the year. We’ve had more appliance and vehicle repairs/purchases, and animal issues, than we ever could have anticipated.
The year started out slow, nothing too eventful. Our cat Boo Boo passed away in March. Emily was especially saddened by this event, as Boo Boo was her dear companion. Even though CF and I agreed “No More Cats,” we caved for the sake of Emily and her broken heart, and we let the kids pick out one cat to bring home. Izzy became our new pet. After having her fixed and declawed, we soon discovered she had asthma. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Something inside the house brought on her asthma; therefore she must stay outside always. Oh well, easy fix if you ask me.
My car, the VW Jetta, let me know via the dash lights that the glow plugs needed to be replaced. We took it in for just that, and what do you know but the glow plugs had seized and were stuck in the engine. The head had to be pulled in order to remove and replace them. Cha Ching! Trust me, this isn’t the last you’ll hear of the Jetta.
In June & July we had a lot of electrical storms, one of which took out our washer and microwave. We decided to repair instead of replace. The microwave was fine after a $250 repair (ouch!), but the first time I went to use the washer it broke again. We ended up buying a new one :-), but not a new dryer since, and I quote, “there’s nothing wrong with it”. The first time trying out my much-anticipated, new washer proved to be quite disappointing; it had a defective pump (and did I mention we had company staying with us that week?). The repairman said it would be 2 days to get a new pump in, and that’s when I told him, “I didn’t pay for a defective washer, so someone will be bringing me a NEW ONE tomorrow and taking THIS ONE back. That, or I could come to your store in-person, and anyone within earshot will know my displeasure? Your choice!” (Oooh, what a “B” I was!)
In August I bought a new (and expensive) blender. I tried it out the first day and found it to be a lemon. BLENDID, I mean SPLENDID! The store exchanged it, of course, and before long I was blending to my little heart’s content. I found that pureeing vegetables and mixing them in with foods was the only way I could sneak them into Sid’s diet.
September was really eventful. The brakes on the Jetta were suddenly barely working, and the blinkers had been functioning only intermittently since we bought the car 2 years ago, so it was time for a fix. When I took it in, the mechanic replaced the vacuum pump and a line. We began to wonder if someone had it in for us when the brake lines on both the Durango and the pickup broke two weeks later. Weird coincidence? You’ll never guess what went next… the dryer. CF was determined he could fix it. He took it apart and worked on it for hours. He managed to get it working for a short time, but one loud SNAP and FLASH later it “fried” completely. I got my matching dryer… Cha Ching, Cha CHING!!! We also lost our beloved dog, Gracie, that month; she had been with us for 13 years.
October brought on some cooler weather…and furnace repairs. A gas valve here, a thermostat there. We did manage to (try) to get away from it all and we took a trip to see my sister and her husband in Oklahoma over fall break. It was a great mini-vacation; one we had looked forward to for a long time. Our “luck” appeared to follow us, however, when a major pipe in their well house burst just as I was starting a shower (it left me with just a trickle of water, and shampoo in my hair). CF and my brother-in-law spent a good part of the day finding parts and repairing it. The trip was really fun, and we all brought back with us some great memories. I think the kids enjoyed their daily “chicken duty” more than anything (feeding chickens and gathering eggs).
Ahh November, only one repair to speak of: a new starter for the Jetta. And in December, the hot water heater started to die. We haven’t replaced it yet, you know it still “kinda” works. Seriously, I really can’t believe our dumb luck on all those appliances & vehicles we’ve come to depend on so much. I keep thinking a much simpler life would bring on fewer headaches. But on the up side, our family is healthy, happy, and together…that IS what really matters. We are so very thankful to have each other and our dearest friends & family. Have a blessed New Year!