Excerpts from Christmas past...one liners you don't want to miss from our Christmas letters.

On Monday, I shared with you a few tips for writing a Christmas letter everyone would enjoy.

Since my husband has been writing a family Christmas letter 
{this year will be year 13}
we have gotten rave reviews from the recipients.
One year, our Christmas letter was read by a friend's mom 
{whom we have never met}
who loved it so much that she started requesting that we send her a letter every year!
We've become Christmas letter pen pals, 
though I must confess, our letter is far more fun to read than theirs is.
They could use a few tips from my post on Monday!
A few years ago, our cousin got married and his new bride liked the Christmas letter so much that she requested the previous years letters so that she could be filled in on what she missed!
I'm not sure where to begin, but we have to start somewhere...
Let's start at the very beginning.
The year was 2000.
We had been married for two years and had a two year old.
Both of us were finishing our education and we were juggling life with a toddler and a cross country move.
My husband started with an explanation of why he decided to start a Christmas letter {after reviewing other Christmas letters that we have received} and how he planned on writing it.  He's stuck true to this style since the inception.
In the end, we have decided to adopt an approach that allows us to highlight many of the wonderful and exciting aspects of the past year, while only briefly skimming any events that cause us disdainful or otherwise unpleasant memories.  This space saving technique is quite aptly demonstrated in the following paragraphs, where topics such as Mike’s virtual love affair with his job at XXXXXXXX are delved into in great detail, while his hiring at XXXXXXX Systems Inc., and subsequent termination four weeks later, receive scant attention.  As we previously mentioned, this foray into the world of form letters is quite new to us, and any comments or suggestions that you may have regarding its effectiveness can be sent directly to our address.

Each family member gets a paragraph of their yearly highlights.  Following the "be real" mentality, Mike didn't hesitate to talk about getting fired in the Christmas letter.

After several weeks of searching, Mike was able to find work at a small machine design firm, which for four weeks dutifully served the purpose of preventing him from finding a real job.  Enlightenment came in the form of a pink slip, and Mike was soon on the road toward professional fulfillment as he accepted a contract engineering position as a mechanical design engineer at XXXXX.  Once there, he found the opportunities bountiful, and is now truly enjoying his work.  We are hopeful that the near future will bring about permanent employment with XXXXX, along with the many benefits that accompany it.

2001 brought lots of changes for our family.  We bought our first house, got settled in our professional positions {Mike with permanent employment and me as a stay at home mom} and were expecting our second baby.

There is always an introduction:

Oh, what a year it has been.  We have finally managed to take time out from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season in order to continue on the tradition started last year and write our family’s second annual Christmas letter.  (Unbearably long sentences included at no additional charge, as per tradition.)  The past year has provided us with much to be thankful for, and it is difficult to decide where to begin.

A paragraph highlighting our family:

In March we took a giant leap and bought our first house.  After months of searching, we finally found a place that we love, and eagerly (i.e. as fast as our legs would carry us) moved from our apartment.  Rachel was elated at the prospect of adding colors to brighten up the rooms, and skillfully argued her case over Mike’s objections, himself having grown up in a house where any wall that wasn’t white was probably just dirty.  They say a man’s home is his castle, and Mike is now the proud ruler over a Toasty Gray kitchen, an English Rose family room, and a Khaki den.  In true masculine response, Mike declared the garage to be his own, and with the help of his father, built a storage loft that he to this day considers to be his crowning achievement.

And an opportunity to not take ourselves too seriously:

With all her successes this past year, it should be worth mentioning that Rachel failed miserably in her attempt to teach Aidan the art of peeing outdoors.  The experience left him soaked from head to toe, and Rachel with a newfound respect for the role of the father in a young boy’s life.

Even the unborn get a shout out in the Christmas letter:

In August we learned that we are expecting our second child, and a recent ultrasound confirmed that it is a girl!  As many of you may recall, during Rachel’s first pregnancy we referred to Aidan as “Tonto”.  Wanting another in-utero nickname for our new baby, we left it up to Aidan to decide what to call his sibling.  After much thought, he settled upon “Rodo”.  Although unusual, it turns out this name is actually quit fitting, as it can be pronounced “row-dough”, as in, “This is going to be expensive”, or, maybe more appropriately, “row-doh!”, as in, “Doh! I can’t believe I’m having another child.”  In all sincerity, we are delighted to have been blessed with this baby, and eagerly await her arrival in April.
While trying to whittle down the best parts of the Christmas letter from this year, I just couldn't.
You get the whole thing, in it's entirety because I think it is just that good.
Dear friends and family,

It hardly seems possible that another year has gone by so quickly, but here we are, sitting down to write the third installment of our annual Mike/Rachel/Aidan/ (and now) Isabella Teodoro Christmas letter.  What’s that you say?  There are four of them now?  What are they, rabbits over there or something?  Patience please, more on that topic later.  For now we would just like to say that we have had a wonderful year and created many lasting memories, and are thrilled with the opportunity to share some of them with all of you.

Our family had the chance to take a few “mini” vacations this year, and we were grateful for the time we were able to spend with our families and friends.  We spent nearly a week in July with Rachel’s parents at their beautiful new home in the mountains of Southern Arizona, and then three days on a houseboat with Mike’s parents during their annual vacation to Lake Roosevelt in Eastern Washington.  In September we had the opportunity to go back to Indianapolis to attend the wedding of some of our good friends from Purdue.  We used the occasion to visit many of our old friends still living in the area, and even made it up to campus in Lafayette for a few days as well.  Mercifully a late-summer heat wave had ended the day before our arrival, and Rachel and family were saved from the worst of Mike’s climate-induced crankiness.  However, even Rachel agreed that compared to the fresh air of the Great Northwest, the humid, sticky Midwest air is just a little bit disgusting.

Mike has now been working at XXXX for two and a half years, and is still very much enjoying his work.  Designing machinery seems to be in his blood, and the projects he is involved in have been both challenging and fun.  On the challenging and not quite so fun side, Mike is quickly learning that there is downside to the dream of home ownership.  For everything from exploding washing machines to bathtubs that leak into the garage, the landlord is no longer there to save the day.  Mike has now come to dread the “Sweetie, I think something’s wrong with the (name your expensive appliance)” message he gets at work.  In addition to the emergency maintenance, there is a never-ending supply of projects on his “honey-do” list.  Although he is able to complete most of the assignments in admirable fashion, his attempt to install crown molding was a complete disaster.  This experience has left him with an appreciation for the vast woodworking differences between framing, which he is good at, and fine finish work, which he is most definitely not.
                Well folks, it has been another banner year for Rachel Inc.  She was able to increase her 
yearly production of children to one, matching her previous high set in 1998.  Surprisingly, this
 incredible output was achieved with a decrease in capital expenditures over the 1998 benchmark, 
accomplished mainly by way of a natural delivery without the use of pain relieving medications.  In 
all sincerity, Rachel had quite a busy year, but all her other activities seem to pale in comparison to 
the birth of our angel, Miss Isabella Grace.  However, it is worth noting that she completed training 
to become a volunteer at Life Choices, continuing the crisis pregnancy counseling that she began in 
Lafayette at Life Care Services.  Rachel feels a real calling to help those in need, and will begin 
working at the clinic this coming January.  In addition to her time spent volunteering, being a stay at home mom has also afforded her the time to help out with Aidan’s class, where she is a room mom 
and often joins the ‘caravan of minivans’ as a regular driver for his various field trips. 

Aidan has grown by leaps and bounds this year.  He loves to play sports, and is enrolled in classes at the local community center for swimming lessons, basketball, soccer, and hockey.  Though the children thoroughly enjoy the games themselves, the parents really just go for the calisthenics.  The entertainment value alone of watching a group of 4 year-olds doing jumping jacks is well worth the monthly membership dues.  After a year in a co-op preschool where Rachel attended classes with him, Aidan began attending a traditional preschool this past September.  Although there was some of the expected first-day apprehension and tummy-aches, Aidan marched bravely into his classroom and did wonderfully from the beginning.  His mother, however, did not perform quite so valiantly.  After dropping her little boy off, Rachel proceeded to cry the entire way home.  Here’s hoping that the transition to kindergarten won’t be quite so traumatic.
Now nearly eight months old, our baby Bella is quickly becoming a toddler with a personality all her own.  Her radiant, gummy smile is quick to greet anyone who comes into the room, and her dimpled grin spreads joy to everyone she meets.  Although she loves her mommy and daddy very much, it is obvious that she holds a special place in her heart for her big brother Aidan.  Her eyes light up as she watches his every move, and she cackles with delight at his attempts to entertain her.  Isabella began experimenting with solid foods last month, and has proven to have quite a discerning palette.  After foraging through the murky underworld of sweet potatoes, strained peas, and creamed bananas, she appears to have come up with a rather ingenious system for determining what she will eat.  She now limits herself to all foods ending in ‘eerios’.  What would the world do without that happy yellow box?

We hope that this letter has found you all in good health and high spirits, surrounded by friends and family during this wonderful Christmas season.  May God bless you all in the year ahead.
And with that, I will leave you until tomorrow, where I will fill you in on the next few years of our life through the eyes of my husband written with highlights from our year in the form of a Christmas letter.

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