I had every intention of sending Christmas Cards this year - we took pictures of the girls in little Santa Suits, and I compiled a few addresses. I think the problem is that I didn't start doing this until the middle of December, the same time my own mailbox was full of cards from friends and family who had started the same process in July. I know this because they are wearing t-shirts and shorts, and their pictures have a summery-feel. My girls are in velvet dresses or red outfits lined with fur, but out of 129 pictures, we didn't have one with both girls smiling. (Even with the amazing talents of my photographer-friend, Annie.)
That is only half the story though. The other half is the actual Christmas letter. I tried several times during the month of December to sit down and write what had happened during 2011. It goes without saying that most Christmas letters catalogue the accomplishments of the past year. This is where I felt stumped. Our family has accomplished things, but can you really include "rearranged the apartment for the 7th time" in a Christmas letter? And does the fact that Noel is a bit of a screamer something we should brag about? Of course, there is the very BIG accomplishment in our lives - we went from a 1-child family to a 2-child family. But I'm not sure I really want to write about the last few months of being pregnant, the rushed delivery to get Juliet here, or the first 3 months of her life when life was hazy from sleep deprivation.
The year of 2011 has had accomplishments, but they don't tend toward the grand. It reminds me of my sister's family living in Kansas. They moved there 3 1/2 years ago, and it took 3 years for them to really love the area and appreciate its own sort of beauty. They couldn't take visitors to a tourist attraction, point and say: "There--isn't that amazing?" The beauty of Kansas is sort of a background beauty - it's always there, but it doesn't jump out at you. A peaceful sort of beauty. That's how life has been for us. I can't say, "Here are five huge things that our family accomplished" - but there were little, daily things that made the background of our lives lovely.
The background of our life is the tub filled with toys, and two little girls wrapped up in towels. It's the toy chest that's empty, because Noel and Juliet have to empty it as soon as it is put away. It's the night I tried to make cheese enchiladas with homemade sauce, and forgot to put the cheese in the tortillas. The background is when Noel reaches up and wraps her chubby little hand around one of my fingers, or Juliet burrows into my chest as she falls asleep. The background is the checkered rug we have had since getting married, stained with spilled rootbeer and ground-in animal crackers. It's holding Scottie's hand while we sit on the covered patio during a rainstorm.
The background makes our life funny and melancholy, doable and beautiful. It's not the sort of thing you write about in Christmas Letters, but it is the sort of life we live. Maybe in 2012, we'll have some big accomplishments that are worthy of a Christmas letter, but until then, we'll keep enjoying the Kansas sort of beauty in our little basement apartment life.