28 December 2017

27 December 2017

red letter

A blank page. A clean slate. I’ve been staring at this screen for a while. A year ago, I wrote about a Christmas tree and one of the best years I’ve lived. I’m not going to lie—it was easier to write a letter about a year like that. This year not so much. Like each year preceding it, there was far more to 2017 than I can fit within reasonable margins in 10.5-pt, single-spaced type on a sheet of red paper. With each new chapter, as my family—this unlikely cast of characters—becomes more complex, our story arcs diverge.

Cole (12) might tell you about his friends, Logan Paul or his first football season. Perhaps he will show you the scar from a trip to Sun Valley with his dad, uncle, grandpa and their run in with a mountain lion (bike) that slashed up his leg. “You should’ve seen the mountain lion,” he’ll deadpan then wink. Maya (13) probably won’t offer much at first, but somehow the course of conversation will undoubtedly travel in one of four directions: volleyball, Christmas, Macklemore or the ways of the world according to Dwight Schrute and Michael Scott. “That’s what she said,” she will casually interject into your conversation at the most inappropriately appropriate time. If he hasn’t already, Paul (43) will invite your child to Young Life or tell you about Rooted, which recently garnered local and national media attention from outlets including the Seattle Times, the Washington Post and the South Whidbey Record, which he might also admit plastered on its front page the worst picture of Paul Tschetter ever captured. EVER. As for me (41), the midlife melancholy of “now what?” is a lot to get into. But I could tell you about my travels this year or my brother’s amazing wedding, about that one time in the not-so-distant past that I split my skinny jeans, or I could recite most words from the musical I listened to nearly every day this year and saw twice: Hamilton. 

Oh, this family. Our preferences, temperaments, love languages, social platforms, political persuasions, hobbies, tastes and paces—so many of them differ. For us, apart is almost as common as together is. In certain circumstances and combinations, we laugh until our bellies ache, but we can also push buttons and hurt feelings like only loved ones can. When faced with the question of what to do this weekend or with an endless summer, not one of us will reach the same conclusion. This has come with its challenges. 
Enter Bruce—the newest member of our four(5)some. Bruce began as a twinkle in Paul’s eye following a springtime invitation to join friends on a houseboat in the middle of America this summer. I never would have predicted what came next: we bought an RV and named it Bruce. For three weeks, Bruce was our simplified home base and a platform for this diverse family to find common ground. We traveled to see family and friends we might not have seen otherwise and witnessed inspiring acts of kindness, hospitality and creativity along the way. We encountered all manner of unfamiliar, set goals and made memories—together. In ways we’ve rarely experienced before or since, routine and spontaneity, extroversion and introversion, oil and water coexisted. We had no choice but togetherness, and we navigated the compromises it requires. It was awesome (my kids will emphatically tell you otherwise).

Tonight, we’re home with ample space to go our separate ways. A new tree twinkles in a different spot this December. Cole studies at the computer across the room, bobbing his head beneath gold headphones. Miss Maya enters the scene, chats for a while, and now she’s vacuuming her bedroom. Paul just kissed me goodnight, and Bruce is tucked away for the winter with a faulty generator and the strong possibility during a lean December of being sold. I hope not.

Here’s to the next chapter,
Abi, Paul, Maya and Cole

23 December 2017


07 December 2017



23 October 2017

30 September 2017