The annual REAL Christmas letter

I started writing REAL Christmas letters about 5 years as ago. As a joke, in response to all the fake and cheesy ones people send out about how perfect their lives appeared on paper. A friend and I laughed about how refreshing it would be if people wrote real Christmas letters. Confessed to filing for bankruptcy or their kids straight C report card. A place where they shared the highs, but didn't ignore the lows. It would be way more honest and a whole lot more entertaining.

Most people don't write Christmas letters any more, and the Christmas cards themselves have even started to dwindle. These days we do not save our perfect lives for yearly updates. We post them in our Facebook status and on Instagram 365 days a year. And I am just as guilty. I post pictures of my kids scoring a soccer goal, not the giant tantrum they threw in the Target checkout line because I refused to buy those little toys they put on the bottom shelf. (Well played Target). I post pics of my perfect cup of coffee, not the 8 cake balls I ate for breakfast with it. I post pics of all the fun places I go and eat, not all the nights I am in pjs before the evening news.

So. Here is my year in review. The highs. The lows and some of the boring stuff in between.

I'll start with the youngest. Tess is in pre-K this year. Again. Had she been born just a few weeks earlier we would have gotten a 700$ a month raise in August. Instead, she is learning to color and stay quiet at nap time for one more year. She does not seem that interested in numbers or letters but is all about "arting" (what she calls coloring, painting or mostly making a mess and drawing on things she shouldn't with a sharpie) and singing Katy Perry songs. She is still taking dance and I can not wait for the day that she can put on her own tights. I swear those things are from the devil. Her hair is finally starting to grow. And she is so damn cute with those freckles except when she says things like "you're not the boss of me" and I send her to her room and dock her allowance or ground her from Taylor Swift tunes or her American girl dolls.
Speaking of American girls, Tess has added to her collection and now Kit has here best friend at her side. Ruthie or as Tess pronounces it, "rufie" and I am thinking she must have slipped us one because over spring break we actually took her to the American Girl store to get her dolls ears pierced. Next time I'll save the 15$ and use the drill in the garage. She started playing soccer this year too. I was afraid she'd hate it. But. She is a natural defender and not afraid to push a girl to the ground. All in all, she got pneumonia twice and has only wet the bed once and has more opinions on makeup shoes and outfits than most teenagers.

Owen is now in the 3rd grade. He is in the chess club and book club and if those things are t dorky enough he spends every spare minute playing minecraft. Or watching videos about playing minecraft. Or watching videos about watching videos about playing minecraft. Unfortunately all this us unmonitored YouTube finally payed its price by Owen dropping some un 8 year old appropriate language at the dinner table. In front of my mother in law. It was hilarious and horrible all at the same time. Thankfully he blamed his dad rather than me, my music or even Tess's Katy Perry obsession for his new vocabulary. We love 3rd grade. He multiplies like crazy, knows all kinds of ridiculous science facts, everything you never wanted to know about Pok√©mon. He has seemed to make more friends and is humiliated by my dancing and singing in public. He also had his first girlfriend. She is the only girl in the third grade who wore a bump it and wanted to sit next to him at lunch. After a long meaningful relationship ( one week) Owen had enough of her bossy ways and big hair and did what any self respecting 8 year old would do. He told a friend to tell her not to sit by him any more. And wise beyond his years he waited until the end of the day on a Friday to do this so he could make a quick drama free exit. It was completely considerate and chicken at the same time. He will make a great teenage boy.
He played baseball in the spring and soccer in the fall clocked some speedy 5K times and was movie goer #3 in his latest school play. Despite the lack of actual title, he had quite a few lines. Most of which he even got right. He loves to fish and hates to shower. He often forgets to turn in his homework and brush his hair but never forgets how much money I borrowed from his allowance.

Shaun, had quite a year too. He ran several races, grew a hideous beard, almost quit his job and  took up coaching owen's soccer team. I couldn't wait to see the beard go. The job decision finally paid off a few days ago with a long over due raise and promotion and he got red carded and kicked out of his first soccer game as a coach.
I also ran several races, unintentionally grew out the hair on my legs did not get promoted or much of a raise and did not take up coaching again...but managed to not forget snack duty even once. I read a lot of books, binge watched all 3 seasons of downton abbey, avoided grading papers and despite many things in my life being exactly the same have managed to learn plenty of lessons. Some of them for about the 10th time.
The highs: getting a new car, days on the beach, Texas wine country and getting the classes I like teaching back.
The lows: Pretty much the entire month of June, backing my new car into a telephone pole and then a few months later backing it into a Porsche.

You see, despite my attempts at an "authentic" and real Christmas letter...I've written considerably less over the last few years because it is harder and harder for me to be exposed. I have to fight the urge to protect and hide and cover up. I've been trying to figure out who deserves the whole story and who doesn't. Because maybe it isn't for everyone. I have learned that being real takes practice. Being real and letting the people around you be real takes an incredible amount of grace. For yourself and for letting the people you love be who they are and not who you want them to be. It is not an excuse to be mean and call that "honesty" or an excuse to say whatever you want. Rather it is a chance to let people see you and love you on the good days as well as the bad. To not count the likes or comments on our Instagram and Facebook feeds but to cherish the ones that check on us when we have had an awful day. The people who say "me too" or "or how can I help". It is hard to do, to be naked and real in a world where so many people are trying so hard to present their most perfect selves.
I'm sure their perfect self didn't go to dinner, the post office and the grocery store with a huge giant rip in the back of their pants yesterday with several inches of my colorful panties on display for the world to see....but I did. And it was embarrassing, but also hilarious. And it is whole lot more fun to laugh about it than to hide in shame.

In summary, I'll leave you with the two most important things I have learned in 2013
Wear good underwear.
Look before you put your car in reverse.

and if you are is last year's letter
and the year before that
and the year before that
and the original

I'm also feeling a little guilty about not mentioning...jesus at all in my Christmas letter...and turns out it is HIS I'll close with the verse I put on my cards

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." John 14:27