My Christmas Letter: Better Belated Than Never
Dear family, friends and blog readers,
This is my Christmas letter.
I doubt that the people on my Christmas card list are surprised by the timing. They would have to shuffle out of their shoes and make their toes available to count the number of times my Christmas cards have been late. I could make excuses, but I won’t. I have used most all of them in other Christmas letters.
I realize that some of you non-procrastinators have taken down your Christmas tree, boxed up your nativity set and put away your snowman dishes. But at my house Christmas goes on! (Pray as I may, it just won’t go away on its own!)
So, on a day when I should be taking down my seasonal decorations, I am, instead, writing my Christmas letter. Come to find out, I am a good way past caring that my cards are late. What can Santa do to me? Send a squadron of elves to reprimand my tardiness? Send them on; I can use them! I would love to grab them by their little, pointy ears and force them to pack up all my Christmas crap.
If I sound a bit scroogish, it is because I am Christmas tired. Some of you won’t understand that term. But those of you who are matriarchs; who, year after year, shop and clean and cook so you can serve Christmas to your families on holiday dishes that you wrapped with festive bows that you stuffed in matching stockings that you hung by the chimney with careless exhaustion know exactly what it means.
I most always begin January in a state of Christmas tired because Northcutts tend to Christmas party like no one else I know. I blame my husband. The man is a lawyer. Businesses rely on him. Our city officials don’t make a legal move without consulting him. He is considered to be the best adoption attorney in the western end of the state. But . . . (Lord, help us all) . . . he has the mind of child.
I do not mean to say that he has developed a new mental disorder. He has not. On the contrary, Greg continues to have the same Peter Pan, Never-Grow-Up, Drive-Me-Crazy mental condition he has had since he first pulled down his diaper and bared his behind to the adult world. He still goes to work in jeans. Odds are he will have a bit of sheep poo on his shoes when he walks through his office door. He still spends his free time playing with animals and pretending to be a farmer. Old-Time Scotch Collie dogs are his new interest. (You can see them on the The Northcutt Farm Facebook page.) He still has the loudest laugh in a movie theater.
But, now that Greg has a white beard and a roundish belly, he with the childlike mind, thinks he is Santa Claus. Around the first of November, he begins to let his beard grow, fluffing it out each morning with my hair brush. He puts red suspenders on his pants, old man reading glasses on his nose and reindeer antlers on his miniature horse. His days begin with Christmas carols on the piano and end with holiday movies on a DVD. By the time December arrives, he is spreading Christmas cheer for all to hear.
He has taught me and all our children to suck every bit of celebration from the season. As a result, the Spirit of Christmas overflows from our hearts, through our house, on our calendars and all up in the business of our December days.
For the last 35 years, the first weekend of December has been spent with friends we love like family. Eleven of them and a bunch of us together every year to cook Christmas food in our pajamas. The Pruitts are a musical bunch with great voices. Thirty-five years of singing the same carols together can make for some very nice harmony.
This year, our youngest daughter, Tessa added her voice to the harmony line.
At her school, Tessa is known as the girl with the hair. She has the heart of an artist with a talent for music and drama. Unfortunately, beneath the hair, she also has the head of an artist, slightly clueless about the practicalities of life. Now a few months past her 16th birthday, she has yet to take the test to get her driving permit. She is having trouble passing the online practice tests because paying attention to driving practices has never been important to her. When asked to identify the pedals used to drive a car, she could name the accelerator and the brake. The third pedal on the far left stumped her. After a a small pause of contemplation, she threw out her best guess. She thought perhaps it was an eject button.
There were fifty people in our home for our annual Christmas party. The elf with the glasses at the bottom of the photo is Casey, Tessa’s shorter big sister. Casey never grew beyond her tiny five foot, size skinny-butt stature. So when she graduated from college she worked with a mission group in Thailand where the average Asian citizen could look her in the eye without taking a knee. After a couple of years there, she returned to Kentucky and married a guy she met in Thailand. They now live near us. He is in the accounting program at Murray State University and she works as a freelance writer in her size extra small pajamas in their 500 square foot tiny house.
Our oldest, Ben, married a patient and responsible woman, filling in the holes in his own personality. They now have their own children. He is a youth director at a Methodist Church in Vicksburg, Mississippi and will finish a PhD in ministry this year. The young lad who once laughed in the face of every responsibility now has four children ages six and under. His oldest is a perfectionist. The only boy is a carbon copy of his father. Ben’s third child is a spitfire who will, I predict, rip away his sanity as she bends to give him butterfly kisses. The youngest has him wrapped firmly around her toddler finger. Frankly, watching him flounder in the parental role is my reward for not killing him as a kid.
Leaving food for Santa’s reindeer on Christmas Eve is a tradition. Not long after throwing out the oatmeal and glitter, Emme, Ben’s middle child, who will eventually give back to her daddy all the moments of exasperation he gave to me, crawled across the porch and stuck her tongue in a puddle of puppy pee. Pay back always comes around, Benji, my boy! Yours has come as a precocious, little barbarian who can melt a heart with a glance of her eye.
Christmas cookies are also a tradition for us.
And climbing trees to gather mistletoe on Christmas Eve.
What happens to a skinny little boy who gets left behind by his family once or twice or 25 times a year? He finds unusual ways to prove to himself that his family has his back . . . or his butt to give him a lift when he needs it. Peter is quite the man now. He launders his clothes by himself and buys his own onsie pajamas. Given a couple of months head start, he can grow a beard for No Shave November. I no longer direct his every move but he works as a youth director at a church near us and has a dozen other mothers to take my place. The change of a major at Murray State University has added a year to his time there. He plans to graduate in 2017 with an English major and a vague recognition that he will need a job after he does so. He isn’t worried. He figures God has promised to direct his path. It is hard to argue with that.
The smile in this picture tells you that Micah hasn’t changed much. That is the face that drove me to the frayed end of my parenting rope, and used the excess to tie his school teachers in mental knots. In May, he graduates with an MBA and will turn his penchant for dancing around lines of behavior and conduct to the corporate world. I suggest now that his future employer instigate a casual dress policy in the work place. I can tell you from experience that after spending a day directing Micah in a task, neckties pulled tightly would make it much too easy to end the frustration. From here on, someone other than Greg and I will have to see that Micah uses his talents for good and not for evil. With love and a lack of understanding, his wife promised before God that she would always do so. Hopefully his boss will be paid well enough to help her out.
This is me during Christmas and it is a pretty good depiction of my holiday. In the kitchen . . . with a mess surrounding me . . . low on sleep, high on stress and strung out on Christmas sugar . . . directing the Christmas activity of my family . . . and loving every second of it.
We all wish you a Merry Christmas . . . 2015 or 2016 . . . you figure it out.