Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Christmas Card Letter, 2005

Dearest Friends & Family,
This year has gotten away from me in a way I had not anticipated 11 months ago! It’s mid-November as I begin to write this, and I marvel that I am being so wasteful as to sit and write a holiday letter when it’s one of the rare evenings that I have free in weeks. Plus the sink is full of dishes, I need to make 2 birthday cakes for tomorrow, and the new Harry Potter movie has just opened and I don’t know when I’ll get a chance to see it at all! Yes, YOU and Entertaining You this Christmas is my priority. Don’t you feel special?

2005 has been one of those Good-For-You years, the emotional equivalent of eating leafy, dark green vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Except that it’s been a Maturing and Patience-developing year. In April, the Big Ole Office Move at William Morris took place, and I survived it, but only briefly… 10 weeks later I was let go, and ever since I have been alternately goofing off and well-nigh killing myself to make ends meet. All my na├»ve assumptions of immediately finding a new and more impressive job were, alas, ill-founded, and so I have been dabbling in useful activities like clerical work, running errands, babysitting, and pretty much any McJob with a flexible schedule I could find. Including ironing.

On the more positive side, I started my own small business – House Calls Computer Service. As the name rather ...umm... creatively states, I make house calls to provide computer services... It’s enjoyable work, and I think I have a knack for it, especially in giving tutorials. I’m still in the early stages, and I find it difficult to keep myself from giving discounts to my customers so I’m not making enough from it to live on yet, but everyone is amazingly enthusiastic about my future prospects. I also started a regular part-time job working on web design for the American Economic Association on the Vanderbilt University campus – every bit helps! Now I race from house call to house call around the Nashville-Brentwood-Franklin area to keep my workdays filled.

The Latest Hobby
This year I’ve been an obsessed embroiderer – a “Stitcher” as the regulars call themselves. If I am sitting in front of the TV, I am working on a cross-stitch/embroidery project without fail. And as with every hobby, I've assembled a new batch of friends, who gather a few times each month to sit & sew. I've even started a monthly Sewing Bee (renamed "Crafting Bee" when a bunch of scrapbookers wanted in on it) at St. Bartholemew's Church.  See previous vicissitudes on the subject below... 

The Chilluns
Well, there are no new babies this year, and from what my sisters are telling me, there won't be any more in the future. So I am having to console myself with Emma, who is halfway through her Twos and hardly classifies as a baby anymore. *sigh* But she's chirpy and cheerful, and whooo! strong-willed. She wants what she wants, when she wants it, and if it means screaming for 20+ minutes, she has the strength and determination to prevail until distracted by something shiny. She Shall Not Be Moved. At the same time, she's the easiest child to put to bed, although in recent months she will stay awake for an extra hour or two, putting on her own late-night talk show over the baby monitor. Chirp chirp chirp. Plus she looks exactly like Charlie Brown's sister Sally.

Eldest Nephew Elliott is 12 this year, and my heart just SINKS when I think of it. He and George (8) are ardent Boy/Cub Scouters with their Dad, who has developed a widespread reputation in Middle Tennessee as quite the Troop Leader. They WILL be Eagle Scouts. Henry (4) is finding that Emma is an adequate playmate, since he can boss her around after being bossed around by E and G for years. The Knoxville triplet of Taylor (7) Maddie (5) and Virginia (3) have finally lost their shyness of me (what am I saying... Maddie never met a stranger!) and as a result we are having much more fun when Greta and the girls come to Nashville for a visit. We all went to the Gentry Farm Pumpkin Fest in October on what ended up being the coldest day of the month, and those girls went about wrapped in various borrowed sweaters, ponchos, and Aunty/Mimmy arms.

Year-End Picks
Books: Freakonomics, and Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince. HP is a bygone conclusion; I'm on the verge of actual memorization of the entire canon. Freakonomics is in response to the steady lean towards non-fiction I have been experiencing in recent years - it's absolutely perfect for people like myself who think Economics = Boring.
Movies: Hitchhikers' Guide to the Universe and Pride & Prejudice. Both British, both funny, charming, romantic and highly entertaining. Of course, I haven't seen the new HP movie yet... but it's British too, isn't it?
TV: The Colbert Report (Comedy Central) and How I Met Your Mother (CBS). I'm so happy to find some funny shows after what seemed to be a serious drought. Stephen Colbert is so good at parodying Fox News & CNN, and Neil Patrick Harris WILL win the Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Emmy this year.
Music: Anoushka Shankar's Rise. After gaining a fondness for Indian musical influences through my passion for Bollywood, I stumbled on this and just love it - some amazingly nifty combinations of South Asian & Western instruments.  (She's the daughter of Ravi Shankar, and Norah Jones' sister.)
Technology: the iPod & Podcasts.  This thing is awesome - yes, it's great because on a road trip I can pre-load a dozen books-on-tape or more... but then there are downloadable Podcasts, which range from fan discussions of the TV show Lost, to interviews with the historic artisans at Colonial Williamsburg, to ABC's Nightline.  I feel smarter and smarter every day! 

And now, the confession: These are practically the ONLY things I have seen/read/heard this year! It's just been really, really busy.

This coming December feels very odd to me, and I don't quite know what to expect from it.  Turning 37 (30!) does make the biological clock skip a beat (or smash it), and after 8+ years in a generously predictable pattern tied in to my job and year-end bonuses, I don't know how Christmas will turn out now that the routine is gone. The whole Holiday Season is off the tracks for me. But that's how life is supposed to work, I guess - God periodically takes us out of our comfort zone and down a different path. I just hope I arrive at the next stopping place soon and can get comfy again, despite the highly beneficial nature of the rocky hike!

May God bless and keep you this Christmas and in the coming year!

Love, Susan