22 December 2016
Our Christmas tree stands seven-feet-eleven-and-a-half inches tall. It is fragrant and full, adorned with 15+ years of photos and ornaments, wrapped in more strands of twinkling lights than I dare to count and punctuated by a sparkly star that kisses our eight-foot ceiling. It radiates joy. But tonight, on the third occasion this Christmas season, its glow has unexpectedly ceased; our Christmas tree has blown a fuse—again. This December our tree has unified and frustrated us. It has confounded us and consumed valuable time and energy. And yet this tree— with the hope, anticipation and disappointment that accompany its on-again/off-again light— might be my favorite Christmas tree so far. And so too, this year. I will remember 2016 forever.
This year was also radiant and full, marked by memories, milestones, conflict and costs. There were light days, long days and all manner of days in between. Nevertheless, when I think back on 2016, I mostly remember the light. A few of the moments that stand out include our first fire in our newly-installed wood stove and our Anniversary/Spring Break road trip from the Methow Valley to Denver, through Utah and back home again. Our kids skied for the first time, we went back to Denver for a family reunion, and we spent good time with family and friends in Olympia, LA, Houston, Mexico and here at home. I will forever remember the squealing-laughter-tear-filled night my brother called to tell us he proposed, and I’ll treasure any given Sunday when the Seahawks are playing (GO HAWKS!). This year each of us tried something new (Langley Middle School, The Odigo Group, Rooted), we reconnected with something or someone from the past, and as we continue to settle into the present, we’re looking and feeling more like ourselves.
Maya (12) remains an old soul with an incredible work ethic. She manifests things, has laser focus and pursues her desires relentlessly. She’s usually three steps ahead of everyone, and she thinks so far into the future that she often grows impatient with right now. She has teeny-tiny handwriting and a keen sense of style. She likes to watch TV (the tinier the screen, the better) and to be social (especially when selfies are involved). Soccer, Wyldlife, youth group and piano command her attention, but this year she was captivated by volleyball.
Cole’s fire still burns; this boy (11) is all heart. He wears shorts in the middle of winter and invariably, he ends up with his shirt and shoes off. Cole, whom my sister and I refer to as Jake Ryan, is super-social and he adores his friends. He rough and tumbles his way through life, loves action movies and rap, and he dances around the house wearing big-ole headphones. His writing moves me, and he too enjoys soccer, Wyldlife and youth group. His weekly guitar lesson is slowly morphing into a drum lessonJ, and he can’t wait to play football next fall.
Paul (42) sees the world through an entrepreneur’s eyes. “What are you thinking?” I’ll ask in a moment I’ve caught him doe-eyed, dreamy and lost in thought. Invariably, he’s thinking about real estate. Paul runs numbers in his sleep and picks up on missed opportunities. This year he sold a few properties, and he’s recently begun a new venture with a good friend. He meets friends, colleagues and strangers for coffee almost daily, he asks thoughtful questions and he listens. Still, he wakes up before dawn for CrossFit, chairs our area Young Life committee, assists with Cole’s soccer team, and we tag-team to drive our kids around the planet.
As for me (40), I continue to watch, to listen and to tell our story. I remain selectively-social, read whenever possible, practice yoga and teach Pilates. This year I took my first pass at consulting for Microsoft, and I fell more deeply in love with God, my family and myself. I said ‘yes’ to (and survived) a handful of things that scared me, and I celebrated my birthday—one of the best weeks I have lived—at a yoga retreat in Sayulita. There I was swept off my feet, and I found something I’ve needed more of for a while—acceptance.
Tonight, as I reflect on another year, another tree and our ongoing dance of separate-but-togetherness, my kids are tucked in their beds, and my partner of 20 years rests by my side. Even in the dark, a memory-filled Christmas tree stands tall. The wood stove creaks and groans from the fire burning within, and I am warm.
Wishing you eternal light this Christmas,
Abi, Paul, Cole and Maya
Posted by Abi T. at 5:24 PM