Stages of Christmas Letter Angst

Stages of Christmas Letter Angst December 18, 2006

You know you wanted to get one in the mail.

Okay, maybe not.

We debated long and hard in our house this year about whether to send out a Christmas letter. We’ve done it every year since we married (this is, then,the 16th!) and have gone through the predictable stages of family Christmas letter angst (watch out Elisabeth Kübler-Ross!): the deep certainty that everyone cares; the nagging suspicion that some people might not be as ecstatic to receive our Christmas letter as we’d originally thought; the sinking feeling that people may, in fact, be downright annoyed upon its receipt; and, finally, the deep certainty that hardly anyone who is not related to us cares in the least.

Nevertheless, we press on, including this year for our readers’ pleasure, a copy of the family picture from the church directory. (How cheesy is that?)

I’ve posted our official family Christmas letter here as a way of giving readers an option (on other words, stop reading now if you prefer to avoid it). I think this is a healthy sign, as perhaps we are moving toward closure . . . the final stages of Christmas Letter Angst. Maybe next year we’ll ditch it all together? In the meantime, enjoy. Or not . . . .

Warm holiday greetings from all of us as 2006 wraps up. Our goal in this letter is to fill you in on all our adventures without boring you to death. Here we go:

If you call our house and Hayden answers the telephone you likely will not recognize his voice, which has suddenly become very, very deep. Despite the increasingly common eye rolling and sarcasm of our 12-almost-13-year-old, we continue to enjoy him immensely. School keeps Hayden busy, and he plays whatever sport is in season at the moment: currently basketball. Hayden spent quite a bit of this past summer in Hawaii with his grandparents and cousin Josiah, truly a life-defining experience for him. It seems Hayden’s favorite pastime currently is calling your name and when you answer saying, “Nuthin’,” an activity he finds hilariously funny time after time . . . after time. Other members of the family are not in agreement with his assessment.

Hannah. Ahhh, Hannah. Hannah found a passion in life this year when she attended a camp for the dramatic arts run by the Washington Theatre Lab. Anyone who knows Hannah, of course, would say we should have known all along that anything drama-related would be her passion. Now in 4th grade she is very busy with school and social adventures, with drama classes and piano lessons. When she is not staging some activity for public performance Hannah can be found curled up on the couch reading incessantly. Hannah has become quite a cook this year, often participating in whatever is going on in the kitchen. She makes us laugh often, as she did the other day when we were assembled in the living room wrapping Christmas presents to mail to family. “Angels We Have Heard On High” was playing on the stereo. When all the “glorias” started she commented: “This sounds like music they play at the end of a movie when people are kissing.”

If you were to walk by on the sidewalk outside you might likely hear the sounds of “Alouette” ringing from our house.
Sam thinks it is the height of fun to play the song on the piano as fast and as loud as he possibly can. We’ve made a rule now that he can play it once in the morning and once at night, just to preserve what little remaining sanity we share. The piano bench is one place you are very likely to find Sam, who loves playing the piano with a passion and is learning at a fast clip. He also loves to sing and can be heard singing almost all the time. Recently the church children’s choir learned Dona Nobis Pacem . . . someone who was visiting our house asked us, “Is he singing . . . in Latin?” Uh, yes. Sam loves to play sports, too, and had a great time on his baseball team this year. He was recently chosen as an alternate member of the Geography Bowl Team in his 3rd grade class. Overall Sam has a wonderfully happy approach to life and does very well at whatever he attempts.

Mark continues his work in finance at the Children’s Defense Fund. He keeps hoping to meet Reese Witherspoon, a big supporter of CDF, but so far no luck. Mark’s sports career continues its impressive crescendo, with softball season giving way to flag football and so on. As bass soloist in the church choir he spends a lot of time keeping the rest of the gang on the right note and occasionally cantors for worship. Mark is currently experiencing a renewed passion for playing the cello, recently celebrating his first public performance in over 20 years. All the family can report that he practices . . . a lot.

Calvary continues to be a central focus of Amy‘s adventures. Looking back on a bumpy but exciting year of change at the church, she is celebrating considerable growth in the community, added diversity in the congregation, the completion of the $11 million dollar construction project (thanks be to God!) and the addition of some truly wonderful new staff members. Amy began Doctor of Ministry studies in preaching at Wesley Theological Seminary this year and is wondering what she was thinking. Most afternoons Amy comes home to supervise science projects and hang out with the kids. She still loves to read (pick up The White Masai by Corrine Hofmann) and has found great joy in writing about the mundane and profound (mostly the mundane) on her blog:

Thanks for reading our news. As we enter the season of Advent we wish you fruitful waiting, and the true celebration of peace and promise in the celebration of Christmas and a 2007 that ushers in peace for all of us. We look forward to hearing from you.

Mark, Amy, Hayden, Hannah and Sam Butler

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