The day after I mailed my Christmas cards this year, I came across my Christmas letter from 2009. It was in one of the boxes I brought from my parents' home. In it, I read about what each one of us had been up to that year. For one thing, I discovered Facebook that year! But we also lost our Charly Dog.
I can't believe it's been 6 years.
Immediately after reading it, I was filled with regret that, for the first time in years, I just sent out plain Christmas cards, with nary a photo or letter in sight. For some reason, I felt it was important to get my cards in the mail for a pre-Christmas arrival. That had never bothered me before. Why the heck now?
Even before I began adding letters, I tucked a photo of the kids into my card. For the past few years I've sent photo cards, but even they give a glimpse at the year's events. I love seeing photos of my friends and hearing about their past year, so of course they want to hear about mine, right?
But this year, for some reason, I just punted. Too busy? No excuse. Keeping it simple? Why start now?
So here we go ... for my sake and enjoyment more than yours ... my 2015 Christmas letter that I wish I had sent with my cards...
Hello Friends and Family,
In many ways, 2015 was just like 2014... Tom is still working at Freescale, except they sold the company again and now it's named NXP or something, and I'm still growing my real estate business and loving it. In his spare time Tom continues to work on the house or cars (they take a beating on our dirt road) and in my spare time I write and work on my photography ... except, unfortunately, neither of us has had much spare time this year, so there hasn't been much progress in any of those areas.
(Please give us some warning if you plan to visit.)
However, the kids are doing great. Tommy celebrated his 30th birthday this month by bungee-jumping over a river in New Zealand! He and Kirby are already planning their next adventures - to Abu Dhabi and Iceland! He is still a Liberty Mutual Insurance Agent (and I would recommend him even if he weren't my son!) and in their spare time they run marathons and embrace life in Austin.
Daniel is still working as an assistant librarian at the State of Texas Library and Archives, with a side job of editing short stories for an anthology. Right up his literary alley. He also just bought his first new vehicle.
TG just finished up at the University of Texas, with a Bachelor's degree in geography (also a math minor, Business Foundations, emphasis on mechanical engineering, geology, and environmental science.) She's now looking for a job, so let me know if you know of one! This fall we attended her boyfriend's graduation from Air Force boot camp in San Antonio, and he will be celebrating Christmas and New Year's with us, before heading back to training.
My mom lives about 15 minutes down the highway from us in a wonderful nursing facility. It was a rough adjustment for her, but she's in her second year and seems to finally feel at home there. Or at least she's resigned to it, and making the most of it. Her smile is never far away. I feel blessed to be able to visit her every day.
My real estate business continues to grow. I've been busier than ever this past year, thanks to recommendations from friends and past clients, and I love it more with each transaction. I earned my GRI designation (Graduate of Real Estate Institute) this year and also became a member of the Institute for Luxury Home Marketing.
I've made several trips back to Houston this year, although not for fun reasons. My sister and I are in the process of emptying our childhood home; every Saturday over the summer I made a one-day trip to sort through drawers, boxes, and closets, each time filling my car with boxes which now form a small mountain in the middle of my living room. I've named it "Phase 2".
I've also had to return to Houston for too many funerals. Within a month one friend lost her mom and another lost her son. These sandwich years are tough, but being able to support friends when they need it is a true blessing, as is having friendships that go back to single-digit birthdays.
Belle loves being a house-dog. She was a natural - no training required. Although I do wish we could train her to sweep up her own hair off the wood floors!
Thanks to record rains, Lake Travis is practically full again, along with our pond. It's an awesome sight...one I wasn't sure I would ever see again!
That's about it for 2015. May God bless you and your family in the coming year, and if you're ever out this way, please come see us!
Merry Christmas and Happy 2016!
Love, the Shallue's
Not very exciting, I know. But with my fading memory, I'm sure I'll enjoy coming across this one day and reliving 2015, and all of its ups and downs.
Farewell, old year; we walk no more together;
I catch the sweetness of thy latest sigh...
Good-bye, kind year, we walk no more together
But here in quiet happiness we part;
And from thy wreath of faded fern and heather
I take some sprays, and wear them on my heart.
~Sarah Doudney (1841–1926), "Farewell to the Old Year," in The Sunday Magazine, 1881