Sunday, December 21, 2014

Merry Christmas 4

Once again Christmas is upon us. Here is our family Christmas letter penned by John however unwillingly as you shall see...

The Thomas Hovel, Rexburg, Idaho

Christmas 2014

    Hi! Would you like a little “behind the scenes” perspective on the family Christmas letter? You know, like a tell-all about the sausage factory, or the inside scoop on Congressional budget resolutions, or a VIP tour of the sewage treatment facility. Here’s what happens. Around Thanksgiving, Maria starts chiming, “Guess what time of year it is?” At length I reply, “Football? Holidays? Seasonal affective disorder?” Her loving comeback:  “No dear, it’s time for the
Christmas letter! It’s everyone’s favorite!!” At this I groan quietly (I think) and look to change the subject. Soon I try a new approach: “I got nothin’; it must be your turn this year.” At this, my angel bride responds in a tone that might be rendered as follows. “It’s the only d*** thing I ask of you for the whole season! I do the baking, I do the shopping, I do the wrapping, I do the decorating (at risk of life and limb), I even address and stuff and seal the envelopes. Why the h*** can’t you take one tiny task from my unending list?!!” So I reply, soothingly, “Please retrieve the past ten years’ letters.” Somehow she finds them all in a file. I read them, trying to admire the strained humor and cheap wit, and then I suggest that she simply send a greeting by Facebook—after all, then she can add all the funny videos she watched this year.  But Maria persists, unwilling to accept that paper greetings are passé in our digital world.  Soon she sends me an email summarizing events of the past eleven-ish months, based on chats with the kids. This year, like most years, it is titled “Jul letter info…” which probably merits a comment or two. “Jul” is Swedish for Christmas, not an awkward abbreviation of July. The ellipses at the end look like crumbs, emblematic of the “info” with which I am expected to
work some holiday magic. Or perhaps “…” captures her anxiety—a cliffhanger of sorts: “When will he start? Will he finish before Christmas? Will he write things we can share with mixed company? Is this the year he finally calls my bluff and simply copies what I wrote?” Here’s a sample of the “info” she gives me: “Added a son. Soon adding a daughter.” That’s an actual quote. Is it witty enough? Festive enough? Magical enough? Maybe next year.

    The “kids” are now in their 20’s, and I’m pretty sure the letter was more fun before they grew up.

    Brooke has worked for nearly two years at Marketecture, where she continues to write content for web pages. She also supervises members of her team (until they quit or change divisions, etc.). She watches “The Office” a lot and finds it distressingly similar to her own work life.  She and former mission companion Leah have roomed together in two different Orem apartments and they traveled together to England in September, where Brooke’s grandparents proved valiant hosts and guides for much of the sightseeing. Tintagel and the Lake District were special treats. Most importantly, Brooke returned with a sizable supply of edible treats for her needy and choosy father. She introduced lip-
synching to our family Thanksgiving celebration, but didn’t record her parents’ performance, Thankfully.

    Jordan continued to perfect his picture-framing skills at the craft store and soon will live above the store in an apartment he painted and cleaned for work. We’ll see how well he maintains it as a tenant, but Hailey Farr will help when she joins him after their wedding on January 2nd. They met in one of my classes last January, had their first date on Valentine’s day, and were engaged by October. Hailey was born in Idaho but grew up in Michigan and Indiana, Jordan was born in Indiana but grew up in Idaho. Super cute, no? The email says that Jordan achieved Wizard level 70, but I don’t approve of secret societies and gaming is not a sport, even if you watch it on TV. He muddles along in
Economics while Hailey parties in Communications.

    On April 26th, Hannah married Riley Barrett on a rainy noisy happy day at Temple Square in SLC. That same week Riley graduated from BYU. Since then he has grown a flowing beard and tousled hair, which looks pretty good (opinions divide more sharply on the hair) but seems a little dicey for his kitchen work at Marvelous Catering. But since he almost cut a finger off at work a stray hair doesn’t seem so big a deal. Hannah was rewarded for marriage with a Pell grant, much of which BYU took back a few months later. (Insert appropriate expletive.) Apparently she contemplated
burning down their apartment to fight back the spiders (actual spiders, not financial aid administrators). After managing the café at BYU’s Museum of Art, Hannah retired to an internship at the Springville Museum in the fall. Odd, isn’t it, that our in-laws’ names both end with “iley”? Reminds me of that well-loved tragic coyote in the Looney Tunes cartoons (Wile E., technically), but probably makes you think of how smiley we are as a family (or familey).

    As for the parents, we got older. I got to roam the California coast to make up for my fiftieth, and visiting Lars made me feel younger. Maria went with me to California for the seafood; she went alone to Oregon twice—once by air thanks to her sister, for what became a reunion at the passing of her Uncle Burns. She still does MEF (retrieve past letters for explanation) and offers you a deal on raffle tickets for a Chevy (5 for $25). It’s gambling for a good cause, and based on current sales your odds are WAY better than any lottery ever offered. As for me, I offer you a cat or two for free. I’m grateful to have a family, employment, and a lively hope sustained by faith in the Savior. I’m praying for charity and better vision—after decades of myopia, now I’m mocked by stuff up close as well!

   Best wishes for Jul and all the other seasons.