2013: A Year of Lowering the Bar

Holiday cards went in the mail today.  Barely.  I like to mail my cards on December 1st each year.  It’s a bit of an obsession.

December 1st typically hits the holiday sweet spot and makes our cards appropriate for our Christian, Jewish, and Solstice-Only friends.  And, mailing our cards early in the month allows me to open cards from friends and family without guilt.  I did my part and am free to reap the joys of updates and adorable photos from others.

Typically, I’ve spent the month of November designing, cutting and gluing 150 hand-made cards; refining a themed, rhyming annual update; and addressing envelopes in my best penmanship.  My cards are usually done and waiting to be mailed by my self-imposed deadline.  This year, not so much.

Luckily, the United States Postal Service did not work on December 1st this year so I had an extra day.  Even so, I barely made it to the mailbox with my hastily addressed envelopes stuffed with store-bought cards and this one page summary of the ways our family lowered the bar in 2013:

2013 Holiday Letter

I did a Google search for tips on holiday letter writing and was sad to see that holiday letters were listed just after fruitcake on a list of things that dampen the holiday spirit.  If our holiday letters have been dampening your spirits for years, I apologize.  Feel free to light this one on fire and consider your holiday brightened.  Otherwise, please proceed.

According to Google search results, the most important rule of holiday letter writing seems to be no bragging.  Now, you might think that with the world’s kindest husband and cutest kids – kids who can run faster and jump higher than yours – that I would find that hard to do.  But I don’t.

If 2013 was about anything it was about being humbled.  Involuntarily. It was a year of learning limits.  A year of lowering standards.  A year of revising expectations.  A year of almost, but not quite.  In other words, a year as two working parents living one Friday to the next.

The store-bought card you are holding is just the tip of the iceberg.

The labels on the pantry shelves that were previously used to identify jars of home-canned goods now only confuse people.  Why is the Nutella on a shelf with a pickle label?  Why is the Costco jar of raspberry jam on the shelf reserved for rosemary-peach preserves?  Is that mustard from a factory?!?

Our garden produced more clover than collards this year.  The poop to egg ratio of our urban chickens finally reached the tipping point that resulted in a Craigslist listing.  And, when the neighbor asked what was growing in our new driveway planter boxes, I sheepishly replied, “weeds.”

It’s not that we didn’t aim high this year.  We did.

In a moment of extreme hubris, I decided attempting a 150-mile segment of the Pacific Crest Trail was a perfectly reasonable way to get time with my brother.  After 40 miles of hiking in flesh-eating underwear, I used a GPS gadget to text a rescue request to Husband who managed to not mutter a single “I told you so” on the long drive home.

Learning little (except that 20-miles a day is an unfair ask of new underwear, regardless of how “high performance” the REI tag says it is), Husband and I embarked on the 90-mile Wonderland Trail a month later to celebrate our ninth anniversary.  Holy elevation gain, Batman!  The food drop at mile 35 became a ride home.

We didn’t just fail at outdoor rough and tumble adventures.  It turns out we aren’t even that great at luxury adventures.

Our “once in a lifetime” cruise to Alaska with the kids and Husband’s folks taught us that we just aren’t cruise people.  We had fun, but in the end we agreed that “once in a lifetime” sounded about right.  We appear to be better suited to crazy car trips and tent accommodations.  Although, the Princess Loveboat Dream dessert served on board was prominently featured on Son’s “what I did this summer” art summary, along with Papa, Nonna, and Uncle C.  Sadly, neither Husband nor I made the cut.

Before you think we’re too lame to be friends with people as cool as you, I should mention:

  • Daughter learned to roll her eyes, got a big-girl bike, and successfully matches her clothes at least 60% of the time.
  • Son learned to read, embraced the “faux-hawk,” and surpassed both his parents in weird animal trivia knowledge.
  • I won a scholarship to the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference and had a handful of essays published.
  • Husband tripled his girl hairstyle repertoire and has been turning heads with the best kept beard in Ballard.

So, see, we’re still cool.  Or at least lukewarm.  Admittedly, we’re a little less productive, accomplished, tidy and composed than we used to be.  But we are still glad to claim you as family and friends and hope you will continue to claim us.

We wish you all the best (or at least the best you can do) in the year to come.

From our frazzled family to yours,

The Cerises

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