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The annual REAL Christmas letter

One of my favorite traditions for a decade has been to sit down and try to write a REAL Christmas letter.  Not just the highlights, but a few honest moments as well. It started as a joke with one of my friends, thinking how refreshing it be for people to share more than just their perfect lives that we are used to seeing on Facebook and Instagram. It would be way more truthful and a whole lot more entertaining. Last new year, I had a friend ask me to come up with a word for 2018. I joked that my word was just going to be “done”. I was partly kidding, partly serious. The year ahead seemed daunting rather than full of promise and resolutions.  I had so many things to finish in the upcoming year that I needed to be “done” with: my degree, my job and my thirties. A few weeks later, my friend showed up with one of those string bracelets with the metal word “done” hammered in the middle. I wore it often, especially in those home stretches. Not taking it off until I had my last chapter writte…
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preachers and parades.

Months ago, I sat in a pew and tried to not think about the fact that you could count on one hand the number of white congregants in the room.
And I was one of them.
 I did not want to draw attention to myself, but despite the fact that I have been to church most Sundays of my life, I had no idea what to do. When to sit, stand, pray or the lyrics to any of the songs. The rules here seemed so different than my own church, just a few miles away. Filled with people who mostly looked like me.
 A few elderly African American women were seated next to me and were kind enough to attempt to make me feel welcome and tell me what to do. At some point Eunice, in a bright purple dress, slid her arthritic hand on top of mine, squeezed and tugged me to the front to pray.
 I let her lead me, because I didn’t how else to respond, and because she seemed so genuinely glad that I was there, singing off key next to her.

 It was not lost on me, that my slight discomfort was one of choice and ended just …

My annual REAL Christmas letter

One of my favorite traditions for a decade has been to sit down and try to write a REAL Christmas letter.  Not just the highlights, but a few honest moments as well. It started as a joke with one of my friends, thinking how refreshing it be for people to share more than just their perfect lives that we are used to seeing on Facebook and Instagram. It would be way more truthful and a whole lot more entertaining. I don’t set true New Year’s resolutions, because I know that I will eventually break them, but I always reflect this time of year and set a few goals. In this case, “few” might mean dozens. Last January, however, my only goal was to make it through the Spring semester. I had my first internship, my last true graduate class (that seems to be a lie because I keep having to turn in papers) in addition to my normal day job, two kids and a condition that can set me back for weeks at a time. I bought a calendar and used it religiously. I crammed extra hours into my work day by eating …

voice

I remember waking up the day after the election tired and stunned. When I got to work I went downstairs to make copies and make some tea and did not make it back to my classroom until right before the tardy bell rang. I have a large class, full of all kinds of students from all kinds of backgrounds. I had not even thought about how they would respond to the election and that since we begin school so early that I might be the first adult they saw that day.  Immediately an African American on the front row told me that she was disappointed in our country. I teach science, not government and thought that I needed to turn the conversation as quickly as I could safely back to the objectives on the board, but I could not ignore her hurt and the rest of the quiet in the room. I told her that  regardless of what candidate she supported that this country is run by more than one person, that very soon she would be able to vote, that she had a voice. Behind her, a student that also has different …

different

Someone recently sent me a meme about tattoos. I reminded them that I have over half a dozen, although none in such obvious places as the picture. I thought about it while I washed my hair, and how once my hair was also purple, and what kind of memes could be found about that. And also, my nose was pierced. Other than the first two tattoos, none of these were things I did in my youth. All were in my thirties.

Currently my hair is a plain brown in a sensible cut. My tattoos all easily hidden with most clothing and only my ears are pierced. As this decade closes I have made efforts to dress more professionally, drink less, stay on top of the laundry although I still refuse to make my bed and talk at an appropriate volume level. Yet, I only looked back on my purple-haired days with longing rather than regret.

See, I used to do those things to be different.  

Sometimes I’d feel just a little trapped by my suburban life although perfect, felt a little too predictable. I felt like I was goin…

the annual REAL christmas letter

One of my favorite traditions for almost a decade has been to sit down and try to write a REAL Christmas letter.  Not just the highlights, but a few honest moments as well. It started as a joke with one of my friends, thinking how refreshing it be for people to share more than just their perfect lives that we are used to seeing on Facebook and Instagram. It would be way more honest and a whole lot more entertaining. Now, every year I look forward to sitting down and reflecting on what I have learned, what is still a struggle, what is funny and of course the things that still make my heart want to burst in the best and worst ways. I even tried to reflect that in my Christmas card this year (well....the ones I was together enough to get out). The front is a tight shot of my family looking oh so cute on the couch....but zoom out and ...well. Truth. Laundry to hang, empty cups and of course...pajamas. It is meant to be funny, but there is also some perspective here. We usually only see ju…

break a leg

I do the math on my hand. This is my 5th end of the year dance recital and you think by now I’d know to remember to pack hair spray and snacks. Someone hands my daughter a bag of chips and I want to hug her. I want to tell her that I am not a total failure, that we did not lose the wristbands, we wore the right color tights and that I do at least have a few bobby pins in my pocket. I can not handle the crazy that is backstage. It is a whirlwind of squealing girls in sequins, lycra and tulle. Moms wielding curling hours and more eye makeup than the entire MAC counter, I start to sweat in my ponytail. I quickly look away as an entire row of dancers peel off EVERYTHING for a quick costume change. I was not made for this. I unashamedly let an eight-year-old I have never met teach me how to get my daughter’s hair in place and I make the fastest exit I can.
We sit in the balcony. Where we have been for hours. Dance recital day is all consuming. Rehersal, hair and finding the right tights. My…