If you don't get our Christmas letter and picture in the mail, here's the cyber version. And although you won't be getting the official MFI newsletter and additional pics you get extra commentary.
I remember, before we had kids, always taking so much time picking out my holiday cards, but since the arrival of Kaden we've fallen into the picture-as-card crowd, and it's way more work. Find someone to take the pic, schedule the pic, pick and/or buy the clothes, take the pics, if the pic's came out like last year's re-take the pics... because in this century if it has to do with Christmas it must become as complicated and tedious as possible, right?
Anyway, big thanks to our sister-in-law, Marissa, for being part of the Christmas card photo craziness for us this year. The weekend before Thanksgiving we were in Tampa for Tampa Thanksgiving and scheduled a time to take the pic. We went to Kevin's high school, HIllsborough (c/o '95!), because it's a Gothic building, almost 100 years old and figured we'd end up with some pretty backdrops. We brought candy canes so the kids would have something to hold. (Um yeah, those were all broken after like 5 minutes.) We yelled at Blue every other second to LOOK AT THE CAMERA WITH YOUR EYES because he's that kid who will smile toward the camera and look somewhere else. Oh and we did this pre-dinner, the time of day when Toby is the most tired and cranky.
Tis the season for ridiculous plans.
So, out of 1.278 million pictures (or something like that), we found about 10 that worked.
And of those ten we narrowed it down to one.
One that Kevin still didn't like because it's obvious his shirt is too big.
DON'T GET ME STARTED ON KEVIN'S SHIRT.
Oh, ok. You know I want to explain.
The color combo for this pic started with my dress purchase in early October when I was supposed to be finding ONE dress for an upcoming date night, I ended up with a dress for said date night and a dress for the Christmas season. THAT's a productive shopping trip.
I went through everyone's closet for coordinating clothes and then I shopped again to fill in the gaps. I TOLD Kevin that he'd be wearing his silver shirt unless he wanted me to get him something else. I also told him I wanted to buy him darker jeans.
He said no and no.
But from the time he put that shirt on to the time he saw the pictures to even when we ordered the pictures all I heard about was that shirt and how big it was and why didn't I get him something that fit?
Never mind that it is SO annoying that the problem is his clothes are all too BIG. Because somehow the food I cook for both of us makes him skinny and me... not skinny.
Now you know the rest of the story. (And may want to pray for our marriage.)
Oh right and here's the annual letter. (My shortest one yet! Maybe next year I'll just do a haiku!)
“And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night.” (Luke 2:28)
Just doing their usual thing, those shepherds. Working, playing with new apps on their iphones chatting about the day’s events, concerns for the flock. Maybe they lazily tossed rocks or watched for shooting stars… Then. An angel.
Just like that. From common to holy, average to miraculous.
Every time I read the story it blows me away.
Because in our current life of potty training and homework and BLUE STRATTON! STOP THAT!, and should I try that new Pinterest recipe tonight? and, and, and… It’s easy to forget the holy and the miracle.
Heaven came down. The shepherds were told where to find him, that piece of heaven, a swaddled baby, asleep in a trough. And now, stay-at-home-moms and teachers and pilots and business folks and pastors and doctors and accountants and lunch ladies… They can still go to the same place to see heaven, to find their miracle, to allow it to rupture their mundane.
That is Christmas.
No wonder we get so excited. We slather everything in holly and ornaments because things are different! We light our houses and our trees because He lit up our world! At least that’s the root of it, right? It gets a little muddled with Santa and elves on shelves and shopping lists, doesn’t it? Be spirited, have fun, but don’t let it get muddled. Please. It’s just too powerful of a message.
The Strattons had a fantastic year. We traveled. We had parties. We had fun family days where we kayaked or visited the zoo or an aquarium. We watched our 2nd grader move up to third and become a better baseball player particularly on the pitcher’s mound. We watched our pre-schooler graduate one program and then begin kindergarten! Where he reads! And sometimes comes home with a smiley face in his daily agenda! We watched our “baby” turn three. We attended the National Fragile X Conference in Miami to learn how best to help this baby as he continues to grow and show us just how non-fragile and non-limited he can be. We also watched this baby start an afternoon pre-school program. (Sigh.) We embraced a Narnia theme for Halloween. We took on an investment property for extra income. We have taught and sang and served in our church. We have tried to be neighborly and shine God’s light in our community. We have come so far. We have a long way to go.
We were able to see so many of you this summer as we came through Louisiana, Texas, Tennessee, and the Carolinas. Some friends we hadn’t seen in two years and yet we were able to pick up right where we’d left off. The encouragement from those experiences still linger.
Thank you for walking this journey with us. We are blessed.