Sunday, December 30, 2012

Article #13 "The Perfect Christmas Letter"

Every year I attempt to write the "perfect" Christmas letter. You know the one, bragging on my three "precious," "angelic," and "oh-so-intelligent" little boys; my "strong," "hard-working," and "sensitive" husband; and the job that I "absolutely love." Christmas is a time for joy and the spreading of good cheer, so naturally we write Christmas letters to our family and friends of only the pleasantries from the past year.

The year 2009 was a rough year for my family, and I remember all too well that early December evening as I sat down with my laptop, cursor blinking on a blank Microsoft Word template, awaiting the first tap tap taps of my "jolly" news from 2009 for our annual Christmas letter. I began to type:

"Dear loved ones,

I hope this letter finds you rested and content during this busy time of the year. 2009 has certainly been...."

And then I paused, searching for the perfect word to describe what 2009 had brought for my family. The year flashed before me, and a thought crossed my mind: what if my letter wasn't all rainbows and lollipops? What would my letter look like if I was honest about it all, and I didn't leave the "bad" out?

"Dear loved ones,

We are flat broke. We embarked on a basement/master bedroom remodel that is now going on year two. All of our savings are going into this major headache of a project, and we had to use the Christmas money that we get from my father to purchase gifts for the kids...from "Santa.” Mark and I have had four major arguments this year, one in which I stomped out and "hid" at my office for eight hours (but boy, did I get a LOT of work accomplished)! I've been diagnosed with diabetes on top of my epilepsy, and my skin cancer has returned for the fifth time, requiring me to receive radiation (golly, that's always fun). Jackson still struggles with his reading, Benjamin quite frequently gets a spoonful of horseradish for foul language, and Hayden...well, he's a teenager (that should sum it up for you). My job is extremely stressful, and the probability of me meeting my goals are slim in this economy. Mark has traveled more this year between his job and his obligation with the National Guard than he has in the eleven years we have been married, leaving me (sometimes weeks at a time) to be alone with the three boys and all of their extra curricular activities. My license was taken away for six months due to the epilepsy, and so I was dependent on others for even small things, such as going to the grocery store for a gallon of milk. Mark had to have a root canal, which set us back an entire house payment, and the family doctor had to write him an excuse to give to his commander stating that a bad knee would keep him from completely participating in the National Guard PT test. My father is suffering from MS, my mother suffers from constant worry about my father, my brother, my special needs sister, and the world in general, and my siblings...well, that's another letter. Some days I feel like I'm going to explode; other days are great, and that is the beauty of mood swings..."

I sat back in my chair to evaluate what I had just typed. I had to smile. This is why Christmas letters are limited to only the "good,”- my goodness, I wanted to jump off a bridge after reading all of that!

But I continued my letter...

"and yet, despite all of these struggles, God has been so good to us! In February I accepted Christ as my Lord and Savior. In April we became members of a church that we adore! In May, Mark and I were baptized. The boys have made new friends through youth groups and Sunday school. Mark and I have been blessed through the church with new friends who have the same morals and life goals as we do. Just last week our oldest son Hayden was baptized, having accepted Jesus has his Lord and Savior. We have a roof over our heads, food on our table, and we both have jobs that we are passionate about! So to sum it up, 2009 has been LIFE CHANGING for us. We are coming to know Christ in a more intimate way, and we are amazed at what we were missing out on before!

And so I write to you, wishing you a very Merry Christmas! May the Lord bless you as he has blessed our family: with faith, knowing that He is God; with commitment, to build on our relationship with Jesus; and with light, the light of God to help us find our way through the darkness!"

There it was, my "perfect" Christmas letter! The good, the bad, and the ugly! This has become our new annual letter - a way for us to share with everyone we love a message that no matter how bleak life may seem, there is always light!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year,
The Dudenhoeffers

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