Time for another Thomas Christmas letter miracle!
“Slow down, you move too fast; you’ve got to make the moment last.” Words to live by, except when processing a virus or shopping for a car. Though in the latter case, one is treated so kindly at least until the moment of the purchase; after that, you’re on your own.
What really lasts? Not a total eclipse of the sun. You only get two minutes of “totality” to gaze in wonder, and the sun’s gradual reemergence is far less engaging than its gradual eclipse (like the days before and after Christmas). Living in the path of totality, we did not face the fearsome prospect of traffic afterwards, but we did have some good times with visiting family, who appeared to know more about it than I did.
I climbed a Teton this summer. Never would have planned it myself, regretted volunteering after watching videos online, but relied on an expert amateur mountaineer and a prepared friend (and energy snacks) to navigate the switchbacks, canyon, boulder-fields, snowfields, and couloir leading to the summit of the Middle Teton. Nearly four months later I still have three purple toenails, but it was a grand day.
A child who shall remain nameless asked that he and his wife be omitted from the letter this year in the interest of science. Frankly, my year may be more interesting than theirs, so why not shake things up? Remember that mountain! Plus two trips to DC for religious freedom (I ended up in a commercial); a campus workshop on that subject; a solid historical article; a plugged saliva gland the dentist tore apart while trying not to alarm; running part of 17 mile drive on the Monterrey peninsula and puking on a whale-watching cruise in the bay; a Thomas reunion in Colorado with cousins and a classy T-shirt (“Getting high in the Rockies”); ancestral travels in Colorado and Utah, including great-grandpa’s bridge over the Rio Grande; a bike to ride to work well into November, weather permitting. What could be more interesting than that? Note that Maria also vomited in the ocean, but I went first. Fun times to talk about me. Maria would like to add that she volunteered at the library and visited her dad in Oregon a few times.
And why shouldn’t our children peel off and start spinning their life-narratives for themselves? At their age, the problems are bigger and our leverage is limited; they should describe their uses and abuses of life’s precious span of years! I can cobble together a few things—none so momentous eternally—and see if you can match them to Brooke, Jordan & Hailey, or Hannah & Riley. Got fired; got promoted (sort of); bought a house; moved into new apartments; prepped for grad school (speech pathology?); painted a house with parental help; commuted from Lehi to Springville and Salt Lake for two jobs; bought a car; lived with cats who poop indoors; had game hens for Thanksgiving; ward missionary, Primary substitute, Relief Society secretary, YW counselor. Pretty much business as usual; if something big happened (e.g., grandchildren, mountain climbing) you would hear it.
Maria has spent the last two or three weeks bedecking the house with seasonal festivity. She has spent the last several weeks shopping for Christmas. Her Amazon wishlist affords me thoughtful giving (click and done). This letter, she says, is my great holiday offering. But life is hard, and trying to regale you with clever observations is not much of a legacy—I don’t want to inspire chuckles, but noble deeds and character. Just one problem: you cannot lift others unless you are on higher ground (or have a lever). As I sit in Maria’s recliner, I must admit that we are La-Z-Boy people (who Gordon Lightfoot never sang about). Some families have ambitious mission statements, like “We do hard things.” We don’t have a mission statement. One of these might work: “We do some stuff, sometimes.” “We might do more, but we’re tired.” “We do less harm than TV parents.” Out of this forgettable matter, Maria says, I must fashion art! It’s too much. To call it a miracle really does disservice to the noun. It’s more like a spasm of wit, a paroxysm of puns. This year I didn’t review prior years; it’s too much pressure. But if anyone anticipates this letter as a holiday highlight, then I have three words for you: “Light the world!” (Or, if needed, “Get a life!”)
And on that note, we wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, or whatever it takes to light December.