Sunday, January 11, 2015

Christmas Letter 2012

Well I see that we are getting close to the end of the world or Christmas.  I went ahead and shopped anyway but I’m trying to cut back since you can’t take it with you.  This convenient excuse may be a painful surprise to my children but who do you know that lacks anything but youth?  Age has its lacks but we won’t find it gifted under the tree.
Excuse me while I run the year’s narrative in reverse—my mind forgets the most recent things the most completely, such as why am I in this room? Here in Alabama, we are all doing “mahvelously” despite the teetering colossus of the world financial system that could fall anywhere anytime—crushing whatever bunker you think you have prepared.  Better to hug your kids before sending them off to school. 
It may be winter elsewhere but here in Alabama it is still football season.  I’m not sure it’s ever NOT football season but that’s the focus that makes us #1 in something (for the last 3 years) rather than next to last (as in everything else).  We went to Eli’s award ceremony recently, the team had a good year making the second round of playoffs, and Eli started on the varsity team every game.  For a sophomore on a 6A Alabama high school team that is noteworthy.  He won the offensive player of the year on JV. So before the mass market games were broadcast on Saturday, his mom and I had already watched TWO football games that week.
Lindy is ensconced at Furman studying Neuroscience, a grueling major that requires 13 courses as opposed to the usual dilettantish 8 for English, Political Science, or Art History.  She is preparing a research project for next summer and I am hopeful that it is something useful like finding the “stupid” centers of the brain, now that imaging is all the rage.  She worked as a trainer for the football team and when Lynne and I went for Parents Weekend in September we sat importantly in the “Football Section” reserved for parents of players and recruits.  We watched Furman dismantle Western Carolina 45-13 using a freshman quarterback and then learned that later in the season that hapless team was scheduled to play Alabama—a crime by money grubbing athletic departments.  How many ruined knees to pocket $1 million in appearance fees?
Hardy’s big news (or Mom and Dad’s big relief) is – he’s a college graduate!  His degree in Economics should serve him well in the Ministry.  He went to work for an Orlando Church and took their youth group to an orphanage in Acapulco that he had worked in the previous summer.  (As a side note, you buy kidnap and ransom insurance for the year, just like car insurance).  He has tried a few jobs on for size since graduation and found not doing what you love unsatisfactory.  He shares a room in a house in Birmingham with friends and is practicing his frugality skills.
Lynne and I went to Turkey in June as the guests of the Gulen Movement.  It’s a 9 day whirlwind tour of Istanbul, Kaiseri, Konya, Ankara, and Izmir with home visits, museum tours, balloon rides, archaeological sites, and way too much good food.  Our small group of 5 (+ 2 guides) was congenial and despite being a country with more history than can be consumed, Turkey seems hard at work building bridges to both Europe and the Middle East.  I wouldn’t call it a two way street yet though….
With Eli doing his own thing, Lynne got a new bike.  A super light tricked out Cannondale that despite years of infrequent riding have not left her any slower.  We have re-activated our tenuous connection to the Spring City Cycle Club and did a Natchez Trace Trip in the Spring.  We did the B&B thing and poking around Nashville suburbs seemed to keep stumbling into Civil War history. It’s been 150+ years, so  what rough beast is slouching around now preparing to rename all the names that the landscape currently contains?
We don’t dwell on grim forebodings while watching Eli play baseball.  He’s a 75% two strike hitter which is torture enough.  Why can’t he get serious on the first strike?  The freshman high school team did well (though not as good as Hardy’s JV team of 28-0) batting a respectable .285.  Eli’s pitching has gone downhill but as the cleanup hitter, he’s the run producer—batting .425 with ½ the RBI’s on the team and almost ½ the runs.  (The latter stat helped by either blazing speed or incredible luck since his on base by errors percent is incredibly high).  The joy this year was having warmer weather for the games.  Let’s put some plusses in the global warming cost benefit  analysis.
I went in February to the National Council of International Visitor’s  Conference in DC to watch my mother receive the National Volunteer of the Year for the US State Department.  They may have missed the Benghazi call but her 45 years of promoting Huntsville to International visitors was a good one. The business of America may be business but our willingness to volunteer for the greater Good  has got to be what makes the diversity project called America, work.
Bells on bobtails ring, making spirits bright and we are trying to do our part.  All the best this Christmas season.

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