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The Christmas Letter, Page 1 December 15, 2010

Posted by markgeil in Family.

We have a tradition in our family in which I write a really long letter every Christmas. I suppose it’s not too unique, but our letter is perhaps unusual for its astonishing lack of brevity. This year’s edition weighs in at almost 2,300 words. People have gone missing for days after they start reading it. In fact, this introduction to the Christmas letter is even the longest introduction ever. I’m not sure how long a single post can be, so here’s the letter, one page at a time.

Merry Christmas, 2010! Glad tidings of comfort and joy.

I raked a big pile of leaves in the back yard on a recent Saturday afternoon. By “raked”, I mean “got a long extension cord and fired up the leaf blower”. It was one of those resplendent Autumn days in Atlanta, where you get falling leaves in 70 degree weather. Rebekah called a couple of friends and they took turns jumping in the leaf pile, then raking it back up for the next jumper. After some time, Hannah dashed through with her own posse of friends. They were in the middle of a church food drive competition, canvassing our neighborhood at a breakneck pace. While Amy gathered contributions from the pantry they stopped long enough to get in the leaf pile and smile for a picture before they were off again. Meanwhile, Sarah was at a park just down the road, marching around with a sheet cake and shouting “Free cake!” as part of an effort to convert $10 into $100 for a charity. They managed $210.

I pitched in during an effort to stack the leaf pile taller than Rebekah, and as I turned over the leaves it struck me that the scene was a pretty good glimpse of life in the Geil family these days. There’s usually a lot of activity, but not quite too much. There’s Rebekah, with a jolly smile, enjoying childhood. There’s Hannah, running, friends in tow. There’s Sarah, using her profound gifts to change the world. There are Amy and me, sometimes bemused bystanders, sometimes facilitators. And always, there’s abundant love.

As I reflect on the 2010 that was, I’m not really struck by the big events that happened or the grand places we visited, or even the significant life changes that occurred. It’s the small stuff that makes me smile, the little bits of routine or normalcy that, like embers, provide us a steady glow and warmth.

I believe my favorite time of the week is one of those routine times, when we’re gathered around our rickety antique table for dinner. We share stories about the day and talk about Amy’s delicious cooking. Rebekah makes more crumbs and mess than a baby in a high chair, and so we tease her and she mocks offense. Sarah cuts all her food in half. No one knows why. If we’re passing the mashed potatoes for a second helping, Sarah will take half a mashed potatoes. You can’t even eat “half a mashed potatoes”, but she somehow manages. And Hannah provides play-by-play of a certain event as only she can. Something might have happened during the day, like, say, there was a math test at school. Most people would share that news by saying, “There was a math test at school.” Not Hannah. Hannah starts her stories thusly: “Okay. Well. So,” and then launches into an epic fable of inimitable detail. By the end we know the name of every kid in the class, what they all thought about the test, and somehow we learn how this one kid has a sister who goes to Sarah’s school and where they went on vacation last year. Inevitably, though, we all laugh during dinner. Usually enough to make Rebekah choke. Sweet Rebekah. She’s even taken on a new nickname this year. We used to call her “Chicken”, since she had scrawny chicken legs when she was born. That wasn’t entirely flattering, so this year Hannah decided to call her Nugget. See, she’s really cute and little, more like a chicken nugget than a chicken. Nugget got abbreviated to Nuggie along the way, and lately she’s just been “The Nug”.   

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1. The Christmas Letter, Page 3 « A Window in the World - December 15, 2010

[…] Page 1 […]

2. The Christmas Letter, Page 2 « A Window in the World - December 15, 2010

[…] The Christmas Letter, Page 2 December 15, 2010 Posted by markgeil in Family. Tags: Christmas trackback Page 1 […]

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